After a visit to David Dykes amazing stock of instrument tonewoods (https://luthierssupplies.co.uk) I have started building a suite of celtic mandolins which will have fully carved tops and backs with either sycamore or mahogany necks. Tops are AAAA European spruce but the backs are quite special, made from 200 year old Sussex yew. Yew is a wonderful wood for instruments, it is a l;ively resonant tonewood and looks stunning when finished, but boy it can be a challenge, full of unwelcome surprises as the boards are processed! Finding lengths with straight(-ish) grain is bad enough but carving down into wedges sometimes exhumes knots and splits that were really not obvious in the starting stock... As for perfect bookmatching of grain - forget it! It doesnt matter, the gorgeous honey colour and fabulous grain patterns win you over but its all about tone and projection - the the lively resonance of yew makes for a sweet sounding and powerful mandolin. Some yew backed celtic (A-style soundhole) mandolins will be available later this year, watch this space... as they say...
We had a wonderful time showing, playing and listening to instruments at Wickham this year. The sun shone, it was scorchio and the heat wreaked havoc with keeping things in tune! It was great to meet and talk to so many people about guitars and music. Looking forward to being back at Wickham and a few more festivals next year :)