Sponsored By
 
1988 Fylde Caliban
 
An unusual flattop built with Selmer-inspired aesthetics.
February 10, 2020

Fylde instruments have been built by British luthier Roger Bucknall and his team since 1973. Although not that well-known to North American players, Fylde guitars are very popular with English guitarists, and the company’s citterns and bouzoukis are legendary among Celtic musicians. Named after Shakespeare characters, Fylde instruments have a distinctive aesthetic that sets them apart from American instruments. I recently had an opportunity to spend some time with a 1988 Fylde Caliban, owned by Bay Area guitarist Bruce Victor, who is half of the duo Noctambule, with Peghead Nation Irish Mandolin instructor Marla Fibish

The Fylde Caliban challenges preconceived ideas of guitar design. At first glance, the guitar’s “grande bouche”– style elongated soundhole and distinctive cutaway shape might give the impression that it is a Selmer-style Gypsy jazz guitar. However, the guitar has a standard flattop-style pin bridge (albeit a distinctively shaped one) instead of a tailpiece, and a look inside reveals double-X bracing, which, while somewhat unusual, is more like typical flattop design than the ladder bracing found on Selmers. Fylde was among the first builders to build steel-string guitars with cedar tops and on this Caliban, a cedar top is matched with Indian rosewood back and sides. In another departure from the norm, the instrument’s back has a three-piece design similar to a Martin D-35. 

Because Bruce plays primarily in CGDGCD tuning, he had the guitar set up with a custom set of strings that included a very heavy sixth string. Since I also play in this tuning, I chose to leave the Caliban that way for the demo. I found the guitar to have a really cool and distinctive tonality. Its strong midrange gave it a penetrating voice, with excellent note separation, ultra-quick response, and great sustain, especially on the open bass strings. 

At a time when most guitars follow a familiar template and tonal ideals, it’s refreshing and fun to play an instrument whose maker thought outside the box without reinventing the wheel. The Fylde Caliban is such a guitar, and I can’t wait to get my hands on this one again! Fyldeguitars.com

 

Related Fine Lutherie Posts
 

Fylde Single Malt Alchemist

Built with oak from reclaimed whiskey casks, this mid-size steel-string has a distinctive look and sound.

Read More

 

Custom Lehmann Flattop

Kinloch Nelson demonstrates his wide-neck steel-string guitar.

Read More

 

Bourgeois Soloist 30th Commemorative LE

Eric Schoenberg demonstrates the anniversary edition of the cutaway OM he and Dana Bourgeois designed 30 years ago.

Read More

 

1993 Lowden O-25c

San Francisco Bay Area songwriter/guitarist Kyle Alden demonstrates the Lowden that’s been his main guitar for more than 20 years.

Read More

 

Huss and Dalton 00 Custom

A contemporary take on the 12-fret 00 built with beautiful sinker mahogany.

Read More

 

Lowden O-35 Custom

Slack-key guitarist Stephen Inglis demonstrates his fanned-fret Lowden.

Read More

 

Bruce Sexauer Dreadnoughts

A trio of custom flattops based on Martin’s classic blueprint.

Read More

 

1982 Lloyd Baggs Classical

Read More

 

Lowden Baritone 50 Fan Fret

A multi-scale baritone guitar built from African blackwood and sinker redwood.

Read More

 

Froggy Bottom Model K

The custom Froggy Bottom Model K acoustic guitar is a beautiful cutaway small-jumbo built with Indian rosewood and Adirondack spruce.

Read More

 
Sponsored By
 
 
 
Peghead Partners
 
Sarah Jarosz and Mike Marshall: “Mansinneedof” | Northfield Mandolins
A great mandolin duet of Sarah Jarosz’s original tune, recorded live at the Marshall Mandolin Summit.
 
 
 
 
 
  Follow Us:  
 
  About Us       Shop         Support         Contact Us         Email Sign up         Advertise         Sitemap         FAQ         Privacy         Terms         Subscribe   Sign In  
 
    ● Courses
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com
 
 
    ● Courses
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com