A musical family is always a wonderful thing. Old vinyl on the player, the musical knowledge, growing up with the odd old banger with brown cheese grater strings, wasting away in the corner of the living room, and the rare glimpse through the older brother's gig bag, of that Fender Strat.
I was encouraged to love music. So much so that all my hard earned weekend job money was spent on ska and punk CDs (and my 18th birthday gift of money..... sorry Mum). I remember my first electric guitar. A Tanglewood FST-32K Strat copy in ocean turquoise. Luckily the CD buying habit didn't live too long into my marriage, but my amazing wife and three kids still have to put up with the guitars!
Playing live in bands and as a worship leader at churches, my interest in "the guitar" rose and after pursuing a failed theatre career, I ended up working for Cliff Sanders at Unisound in Bromley. They say its "who you know" in the music industry and this is true to an extent. I would have never have got the job if my brother hadn't worked there a few years before. For this, I feel very blessed. Cliff taught me most of what I know about guitars and servicing. Through the tutor, and good friend, Alex, I started also working for Tanglewood Guitars, where I still consult with today, and there my love for mandolins grew.
I took a year long evening course at Merton College, and completed my first mandolin build. I never was confident at DIY, but this course, and the encouragement from my tutor, birthed a realisation of my potential in luthiery.
What amazes me most about the music industry is how many guitars are out there, how much rubbish there is, but also how much good goes to waste. Alex brought, what was to be Temple Mandolin 001, into the store one day. He had found it in a skip and it had no headstock. He birthed the idea and three years later, it finally became a fully working, professional grade, mandolin. It worked! The seemingly impossible worked, and worked well!
I wish to capture the original aspects of the guitar, but in mandolin form. If it had a gloss neck, so will the mandolin. If it has chrome hardware. so will the mandolin. If it has a telecaster headstock, so will the mandolin. I use as many materials from the original guitar, including what I can salvage from inlays, rosettes etc. Even name labels. If it starts off as a Washburn, I want it to continue life as a Washburn. After all, it was originally their instrument.
Its an amazing feeling, to give life to an instrument that has been sentenced to the furnace. So here's to many more.
- Jonnie Temple (The Guitar Upcycler)
Special Thanks to:
Nessie, my amazing wife and my children. Cliff at Unisound. Alex Panos. All the guys at Tanglewood Guitars. Mark from Merton College. All the guys in tEMPLE, Little Blue Light and previous bands. My family at Hope & Beulah. Chris Roe. Custom Cooletch, Everyone who has encouraged my ideas at thefretboard.co.uk (sorry for nicking your comments as quotes!!)