Blog & new arrivals

  • Old Wave mandola/mandolin USED.

    Old Wave mandolin/mandola, tuned CGDAE, in great shape with some dings, with hardshell case.

    It has a sixteen inch scale and plays beautifully with great depth of tone, solid well defined bass notes, rich and full mids and clear trebles. Add the mandola low C to the mandolin and you have a very versatile instrument.

    Used mandolins, click here.



  • Weber Yellowstone F4: F style, oval hole, honey/tortoise USED.

    Save £855 on the new price!

    Weber's Yellowstone in Adirondack/red spruce and beautiful flamed maple with an oval soundhole. Great looks - the honey and tortoise is one of my all time favourites - and oh that sound.

    Many oval hole mandolins (particularly flat - tops) lack definition and clarity and have hard wishy-washy bass, this beauty has fantastic balance with sweet and well defined bass notes, complex and warm mids and wonderful clear and characterful trebles.

    It comes with Weber's superb hardshell case. In fantastic condition.


    Weber mandolins, click here.

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  • Baranik Retreux Parlour 'Bee's Knees' USED.

    Very lightly used with two small dings on the top, too light to photograph.

    This really is the bee's knees. Its the fifth Parlour Retreaux I've had from Mike. The figured Bubinga is the most spectacular I've seen. The tone is very warm with fantastic depth.

    Used guitars, click here.

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  • Northfield Big Mon F5 Engelmann spruce top.

    Big Mon with Engelmann Spruce top, violin varnish neck, engraved Bill James tailpiece. This one comes with the Airloom case at no extra charge - see photos - it would normally add £250.

    The Northfield Big Mon has been creating quite a stir. It has a big fat tone with fantastic volume and projection. Created as the ideal bluegrass hoss (or cannon if you prefer) it has an amazing chop and great depth and richness of tone to take on pretty well any style, with great responsiveness from the lightest touch to the heaviest attack with a thick pick it is fantastic for all types of playing.

    From the Northfield website. "Our "Big Mon" Mandolin is something we created in our shop. In an effort to try and create a little more mid range and bass response, with a nice airy sound, we developed this model to have a distinct voice. Here's what we did..

    The "Big Mon" body style is just slightly different than the standard size. We've increased the width of the body, at its widest point, by 5mm. We've also adjusted the depth/width of the sides a little in a few places. Everything is in proportion to this change, so it results in a slightly larger body overall. It's not very noticeable unless you compare it directly to another standard size by lining them up back to back."

    Northfield mandolins, click here.





  • Triskaidekaphobic?

    33% BANNER




    Make sure the 13th is lucky for you by getting a massive 33% off a new guitar!


  • What's more important than cards & flowers on Valentine's Day....








    ....taking advantage of the '33% off every new guitar' offer of course!

    And if you can't get down to TAMCO by Wednesday, simply email us to register your interest in one of the new guitars and we will keep the sale price for you until close of business this Saturday 17th February.

    Here's a reminder of all 30 new guitars that are included in the sale:


  • The Random Musings of an Acoustic Guitar Lover - episode 3

    Are handmade instruments expensive?


    IMG_8046Because of a very unsuccessful love life, I have had conversations about the cost of handmade acoustic guitars with a number of women. Let’s call it GAS excuse training. I am now an expert.

    Here are the facts:

    It is likely to take a one-man-band luthier 80 to 100 hours to make a truly handmade guitar for you?

    At Tamco, whilst we have a selection of very expensive new guitars - £6,000 to £17,000 – the bulk of our stock is in the £3,000 to £6,000 price range.

    Let’s consider a guitar smack bang in the middle at £4,500 and divide that by 80 hours to get £56 per hour for labour. That’s about the same as I paid a plumber recently and lower than the hourly rate that BMW charges for a basic service.


    Would you agree that a luthier is worth at least the same as a plumber and a mechanic?

    Yes? OK we’re getting somewhere. No? Don’t read any further.

    But that’s not it, because the luthier doesn’t get that £4,500. Deduct £1,000 for the materials remembering that some sets of back and sides wood alone may cost that much - £3,500.

    Deduct the £175 fully insured carriage to the UK £3,325.

    Then deduct the UK dealer’s margin, let’s be generous and say 30% - that leaves £2,325. So in this example the luthier gets about half the UK selling price of the guitar without even considering their other overheads and taxation.

    Finally, let’s divide the £2,325 by 80 hours and you’ll get a truer hourly rate of £29 for an expert luthier’s time, which I class as an absolute bargain.



    Some invaluable words from Ed our brilliant in-house luthier, as this is a subject close to his heart…..

    The thousands of hours and dollars the luthiers have spent learning and honing and individuating their craft. Personally I worked in a hellish job for 3.5 months in Italy in order to afford the plane fare to Canada and the cost of Sergei de Jonge's course. Then a further £10k for a 2-year course in London.

    The cost of a luthier’s climate controlled workspace and the specialist tools required. Jig -making takes time also! Designing instruments. Learning about wood and which qualities of grain make a good top/back. I've seen some articles about Jean Larrivee and his focus on travelling the world and choosing woods for his guitars.

    GAS = Guitar Acquisition Syndrome

  • The Random Musings of an Acoustic Guitar Lover - episode 2

    27544919_1864157230324270_2966585682614030225_nNote - that whilst there are middle-aged ladies that are acoustic guitar and mandolin owners/players, what follows is NOT aimed at them!

    This 2nd episode touches on the 1st episode's topic of ‘bracing’. Remember that word in italics.
    So….you’ve made the first monthly re-mortgage payment for that extra capital which you told the bank’s financial advisor was to build a small auditorium at home, as you are a musical family and you love to entertain guests. The auditorium that you actually purchased was a six-string with a cutaway and a Baggs Anthem. You didn’t lie, but you stretched the truuuuuuuth (see what I did there?)
    You’d spent hours in that guitar store playing lots of high-end gorgeousness and you even benefited from hearing the guitar that you ultimately bought, from your 'auditorium guests’ perspective.…(huh yeah!) as the store’s own young slim guitar demonstrator played it brilliantly for you. ‘Slim’ is pertinent.
    You got the guitar home, spent several hours over several evenings, strumming, picking, plucking, whilst supping your favourite IPA, trying to get the guitar to sound the way it did in the store; but it isn’t happening.
    You have a set of expensive coated strings on it, it was set up to your requirements, it is perfectly built, it had even sounded fabulous when that young slim shop assistant, much to your dismay, hit it but explained, “don't worry this is modern percussive fingerstyle”. At home, somehow, the clarity has disappeared. (Please note that no guitars were harmed during the writing of this article).
    So it’s time to go back to the store and return/exchange it. You explain to the sales assistant that either your ears needs syringing or something has happened to the instrument. You are surprised when he replies:
    “sir, do you enjoy a beer?”
    yes I do, is that relevant?”
    ”sir, do you enjoy several beers?”
    yes but only when there’s a ‘y’ in the day”
    “sir, these ‘y’ in the days, the back of a guitar and its bracing are very important. The vibration of the back makes a significant contribution to tone, clarity and sustain. Your beer erm belly has nowhere to go but rest against the back. In the same was as your face starts to numb as the alcohol kicks in, your guitar is suffering its own kind of numbness”.
    “There’s nothing wrong with the guitar sir. Had you purchased a Jumbo rather than an auditorium, I would have struggled to get through this conversation without saying that you'd bought the most appropriate guitar!”
    Well, that told me.
    I am 56 and I drink IPA so this is largely - pun intended - autobiographical. These days, it’s only by mimicking scoliosis that I keep my happiness bulge away from the guitar. Guitar now sounds great again and the IPA still tastes great, though I now only drink when there's a vowel in the day. The sacrifices I make!
    Ladies – I trust that you are comfortable with my decision not to include you in this.
  • The Random Musings of an Acoustic Guitar Lover - episode 1

    An opinion piece - feel feel to dispute.
    What to write about first?
    Well that’s a tough one as I always have a lot on my mind. Just ask my partner! She is continually frustrated that I 'hear' but don't 'listen' to what she says. But she doesn’t appreciate how much thought it takes to be a guitar player: What shall I buy next? What shall I let go? How do I hide all traces of how much this one cost? Family holiday or a new OM?.... It’s a full-time preoccupation.
    I think I’ll kick off with personality….luthier personality that is, not mine and I’ll start with a basic statement: handmade guitars have more personality than production-line guitars!
    Contentious? Well....I agree that someone will have designed the production-line guitar, decided on types of wood, bracing, string gauges, tuners and so on. What personality there is at that stage, however, then gets watered down by accountants/business managers and the profit needs of the business: What’s the cheapest we can get the mahogany? Let’s go with exactly the same bracing on every guitar. What's the maximum build time per guitar that we can afford? How many can we make in a day? Our buyers don’t mind that we consider them as a demographic not as individuals. Let’s pick a uniform selling price. And more….
    Compare that to a typical North American/Canadian luthier that TAMCO represents. He or she will probably already have tucked away, great sets of wood that are decades old and that they have kept aside for the right build. If they don’t have the right wood for your build, they’ll go and get it. These sets are almost certainly more special and unique (and yes more expensive) than you’ll find in a global brand that churns out 500+ guitars each day.
    Then there’s the chance for a buyer to commission a build and to have direct communication with the luthier, allowing the buyer to state their preferences and to tell the luthier about themselves and their playing style.
    For me, however, the single most important part of the building process and which decides its personality and demonstrates that of the luthier is…..
    If you’re lucky, you’ll own a guitar that has a top that spent considerable time being held up to the luthier’s ear and tapped (the top not the ear!)….a minute slice of wood is then removed from a brace….the top tapped again….another razor sharp chisel deftly guided to shave another tiny sliver of timber….and so it goes until the luthier is convinced that the top's potential has been realised. Note that the luthier decides this not the buyer. I don't think that the buyer will be allowed in the workshop at this point.
    For me, this is where the personality is. I’ve heard maple guitars that sound big and fat. I’ve heard mahogany guitars that sound bright and thin. I’ve heard parlours that ring for days and that could be your one-does-it-all solution (and no I would never tell my partner that nor should you). I’ve heard guitars that are so quiet that you could play them in bed without waking your bedfellow. This is the bracing effect; how much or how little does the bracing allow the top to do it's important vibrating thing.
    Apprentices will confirm that tap tuning is taught and learned, but I believe that the truly gifted luthiers, the ones whose brilliance and consistency I admire, have an innate ability that raises them above the ‘very good’ luthiers.
    I won’t name names but I am thrilled to own two guitars by two of the ‘special ones’. I can’t afford the guitars of another two that I admire. One of those made a Koa guitar that I played a few weeks ago that made me intensely emotional and it has set an unattainable benchmark against which whatever I play in the future will be compared…a bit sad that! I have also spent considerable time with guitars by luthiers whose place in luthiery legend is already cemented and yet I really don’t like their work at all.
    This is both the beauty and the dilemma of having a handmade guitar. You can choose a luthier with an incredible reputation, you can be excited by the choice of timbers and specifications, you might even be reassured by the 2nd mortgage you’ve taken on to pay for it BUT you won’t know if it floats your happiness boat until it arrives….your boat might spring a leak.
    For this reason I have only ever commissioned one guitar. It was lovely and I kept it for 30 years and learned my craft on it….thank you Kinkade in Bristol.
    These days though, I prefer to purchase those handmade guitars that weren’t loved enough by previous owners. I on the other hand, love these guitars, I love the luthiers' personalities; my happiness boat doesn’t leak. 
    • I have played and owned very good factory produced acoustic guitars and I appreciate that many people do not have the finances to even start to consider handmade. I still own a mass-production parlour and I like it very much, it just wouldn’t be the guitar I’d rescue in a fire.


    • To imagine that a few thousand tops will each reach their potential with an identical set of braces.....that's takes great imagination.


    • I do not aim to discourage players from commissioning their own builds. It's just that am not a risk-taker, preferring certainty, though that of course means there is less excitement in the building of my collection (I don't do rollercoasters either).


    • Buyers will happily spend £2,500 to £3,500 on a factory made hand finished acoustic, when that money puts them into 'used' handmade territory.

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