120845 walnut slab ni web.jpg

A large slab of 2 inch English Walnut, dug right out of the ground to get the beautiful root section you can see - more than three foot wide even after being sawn in half down the centre of the tree! The two bookmatches shown bottom left of the pic below are from this board, with more currently cut and seasoning in my workshop. You can just see a two and a half foot wide board of two inch thick Rippled English Ash below, from which came the first Naiad body.

All of the timber I work with is from trees grown and harvested in the UK, mostly in England, the Walnut above was from the grounds of an estate in Northumberland.

I have access to some of the finest timbers for instrument making in the world right here in my home country. I always have a good knowledge of the origin of the timbers that I buy, I know that they come from good sources and that their growth, life and harvesting have been a positive benefit to all.

In my years in professional woodworking I've used a vast array of timbers from all over the world, in large quantities. Now that I make the decisions, this is my choice. The woods I choose sing, they look fantastic, and they perform their function perfectly. When holding one of my guitars there is no barrier, no bread of sorrow.

james crisp halflight guitars timber choice bookmatches.jpg

A Selection of bookmatches for bodies- Walnut, Sycamore, English Lacewood (London Plane), Splated Elm and Olive Ash shown above, more are available- Rippled Ash, Cherry, Yew and many others. Any standard Naiad includes your choice from my stock. As a custom order, any UK grown timber that is suitable can be ordered, though a choice of timber that is not in stock might sometimes mean a year or more of wait for seasoning- well worth it!

The seasoning process is very important. After long air and kiln drying, the timber is brought into the workshop and gradually cut in many stages towards its final shape, with plenty of time in between for it to acclimatise and settle. My workshop is evenly warm and dry at all times. This care and consistency, along with many design and construction details, is a critical part of creating an instrument that is stable and consistent in the long term.

Wood choice combines with all the other factors to make the whole. Because of amplification, electric guitars can actually take advantage of some of the more subtle tonal colours of each unique piece of wood, some of which might not be so evident, or might be expressed in a different way on an unamplified instrument.

Experience has taught me that to talk of wood by species alone can be misleading. Two pieces of wood of the same species, from the same tree or even the same board, can have massively different properties, especially considering the subtleties and requirements of musical instrument making. Wood lived, it is an organic material, with all the variety and mystery that that entails, and this informs the way that it should be worked and understood. Every piece of wood is unique, a part of the neverending journey.

That being said though, there are recognisable qualities to the sound of different species, and this can be used to fine tune an instrument towards a specific colour of sound, as part of the whole process of design and construction.

The wood from which I make my instruments is chosen with knowledge and respect for the material. The suitability of the properties of each part are evident in the stability and playability of the instruments, and the sound of a finished guitar speaks for itself.