Martin Carthy, 24 April 2017

27 April 2017

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 27 April 2017

Here are a few shots from when I caught up with Martin in Stockport a couple of days ago. The Midway is a regular venue that probably seats less than a hundred and has a classic folk club feel. This was a re-arranged gig after Martin had been too ill to perform two weeks earlier.

He again made a comment about “leaving things behind”, this time when introducing High Germany. The set was very similar to recent gigs but with the unusual addition of Bows Of London, played on guitar for apparently only the third time in public (as an attempt to ‘challenge himself’).

There were noticeable cracks in both his Martin and Fylde guitars which he reported were made at the hands of airport baggage handlers. I’ve tried to highlight the damage on these cropped images but they’re not very clear. All but one of these are of the Martin guitar:

First set:
Her Servant Man
High Germany
The Trees They Do Grow High
The Downfall Of Paris
When I Was A Little Boy
Sir Patrick Spens
Bill Norrie
A Stitch In Time

Second set:
Long John
The Heroes of St Valery
Oor Hamlet
Bows of London
Willie’s Lady
The Devil and the Feathery Wife
Harry Lime Theme (encore)

Photo Gallery: Carthy & Swarbrick, 26 October 2013

26 October 2013

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 26 October 2013

As mentioned in an earlier post, Martin has recently been playing his new PRS guitar on tour with Dave Swarbrick. I got a chance to see the pair at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and, as usual, took a few shots of the gig. Afterwards Martin was kind enough to sit for a moment while I took a few shots of him playing the new instrument and some close-ups that I’ve used to update the earlier post.


Carthy tours with new PRS ‘Martin Simpson’ guitar

27 September 2013

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 27 September 2013
Updated: 26 October 2013


In a previous post I wrote about Martin Carthy’s signature model 000-18MC Martin guitar which replaced the 000-18 model he’d been playing almost exclusively since he bought it in the mid-sixties. The new version has continued to be his everyday guitar since he debuted it during the first 4 Martins UK tour in 2002 and if you’ve seen him play live at any point in the last 50 years you’ll almost certainly have seen him play one of these two guitars. Only occasionally is he seen playing anything other than a Martin – the blue Fender Telecaster from his time with Steeleye Span springs to mind and he still travels to virtually every solo gig with his trusty Roger Bucknall Fylde, even if he rarely uses it for more than two or three specific songs.

However, audiences on the current Carthy & Swarbrick tour will have seen Martin playing a quite different guitar. The immediately obvious difference is that this new model features a slightly larger, rounder body with a cutaway section at the top of the neck. This is in fact a Martin Simpson signature model Paul Reed Smith (PRS) guitar that has been specially adjusted to suit Carthy’s playing style. The guitar is based on the PRS Angelus model but what sets it apart is that it’s one of the ‘private stock’ builds, which means it’s made from Paul’s best woods and is only available at a premium or to his friends.

The guitar was a gift from Simpson himself to Carthy and before he handed it over he asked an old friend of mine, respected luthier Stuart Palmer, to make the adjustments necessary to accommodate Martin’s unique turning. There is no zero fret on the PRS, unlike the unusual adjustment that was built into the Carthy signature model 000-18MC (unique for a Martin Guitars model) but Stuart did recut the nut to allow for the heavier strings. He also replaced the machine heads and gave the guitar a ‘general tweak’.

The photograph below is of mine and Stuart’s friend Mick Swinson giving the guitar a trial run in the back room of Stu’s workshop at Electro Music in Doncaster, South Yorkshire in October 2012. Mick explained to me the significance of Stuart’s changes at the time, “To put things in perspective, the most common gauge of top string is probably a 12, though thats a bit heavy for some. Carthy uses an 18 – the man’s a beast! Curiously he also uses an 18 on his second string as well, which is just plain weird.”


A month after this post was first published I saw Martin in Manchester and he was kind enough to sit for a moment while I took a few shots of him with the guitar and a few close-ups which I’ve now added to this post.


Thanks to Mick and Stuart for the photograph of Mick and for providing additional information on the guitar and thanks to Martin for his time and patience. 

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