Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums

Great Meet Up With Tom Barnwell and John Farley Some Gibson Content (By a Neck)


bayoubengal1954
 Share

Recommended Posts

Almost everyone knows Tom Barnwell (tpbiii on this Forum) for his wonderful collection of Vintage Guitars as well his gracious sharing of cool videos and his knowledge.
Well I got to meet Tom last weekend! Here are the circumstances.
 
This is a bit long, but I hope you like the story.
Tom has earlier posted photos on this Forum of some Frankentars built by his friend John Farley, a well renown flat picker in the Atlanta area. I was so knocked out by the tones of them that I contacted Tom and asked if he wouldn’t mind contacting John to see if he had anything lying around or was working on any projects. As luck would have it, John had two finished guitars that he would be willing to sell.
 
Then Tom offered to do something way beyond the call of duty. He offered to pick up the guitars and make some videos at his place for me to check out to see if I was interested in them. Care was taken in doing this due to the Virus, and of course I wanted Tom to feel comfortable at all times. 
Well he sent me the demo videos, I quickly called John Farley, we made a deal and plans were made for me to drive over from New Orleans to pick them up at his house a few miles north of Atlanta. This past Saturday I arrived. Tom showed up, as well a friend of theirs named Mark who also builds guitars and is a great banjo player as well. John’s lovely wife Debbie was there. We all were masked up and practiced Social Distancing. 
 
Now the photos...
This one is a Mahogany B/S Sitka Spruce Top D. John’s recollection is that the Mahogany was from a D-18 from the 60’s. The Spruce Top, we are not sure of the origin, but it’s been roughed up a bit. John worked his magic on the insides. He had no neck, so he ended buying a ‘30’s Gibson L-30 just for the neck to use on this project! He had to use some shims because the 24.75” scale length had to be adjusted to the Martin standard of 24.9”.
 
https://imgur.com/AXKhnWkNext up is the Rosewood D. The Spruce Top came from a ‘67 Martin D (not sure if it was an 18 or 28, but it doesn’t matter). I believe John added the Herringbone. John then bought some East Indian Rosewood directly from Martin, he believes sometime in the 90’s. You could do that then without being a Certified Martin Repair Person. He believes the neck was from a Martin that had some Mother of Pearl that he didn’t like and he stripped it away and refinished the entire neck. Not sure of the year of the neck. 
                                                      DGvTw28.jpg
la5VbNA.jpg
 
Both guitars sound fantastic, dry, resonant and very articulate. They are extremely light in weight like Vintages would be.
 
Here is John with the Mahogany. He only took his mask off for the photo. 😉
NbzN1A9.jpg
 
Here is Tom, the man who put this all together.
bbirTGF.jpg
 
 
Here is Mark, a great banjo picker and guitar maker.
wkjTCLr.jpg
 
Here is John’s wife Betty. She removed her mask for the photo. 
ejfkleX.jpg
 
I ended up staying nearly two hours  hearing some great stories from everyone before heading back for the long, but happy drive home to New Orleans with these two guitars in tow.
 
What a great day to spend in the midst of all of these challenges. I met three wonderful people and acquired two great sounding unique guitars.
I never would have met these cool people if it weren’t for this Forum!
I should be able to post a demo video comparing the two by the end of the week. Thanks for reading if you made it this far!
Edited by bayoubengal1954
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here are the demos I sent Patrick.  The first one is quite short -- a rhythm comparison with some serious competition.  Guitar 1 -- 1935 Martin D-18 -- Guitar 2 -- 1940 Gibson J-55 RW

 

 
These next two are quite long -- but you can skip around.  Rhythm -- flatpick - fingerpicks -- bare fingers



 
Let's pick,
 
-Tom
 
L
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, tpbiii said:

Here are the demos I sent Patrick.  The first one is quite short -- a rhythm comparison with some serious competition.  Guitar 1 -- 1935 Martin D-18 -- Guitar 2 -- 1940 Gibson J-55 RW

 

 
These next two are quite long -- but you can skip around.  Rhythm -- flatpick - fingerpicks -- bare fingers



 
Let's pick,
 
-Tom
 
L

Thanks, Tom! I didn’t want to share those without your permission!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was a fine event -- the most exciting thing that has happened to me since my front porch light burned out three weeks ago.  Here is a picture Debbie Farley took -- probably we look better because of the masks.

GvSvAZq.jpg

To me it was a missed opportunity of great proportions -- particularly now when everything has shut down.  In this room were some great musicians (not me) -- great pickers and great singers.  Spontaneously playing in such a situation is to me the top of the musical food chain, particularly if I am allowed to sit in -- for me that is all currently lost to the pandemic  It is the only art form where the product is gone as soon as it is created -- you have to be there and  it only survives in our memories and our souls.  Maybe later.

Of course it does not always work out -- in the words of the late great Dale Earnhardt, "sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you wreak."

Debbie did sing one song with Mark -- she use to sing it with my wife and she sang it at my wife's memorial.

 

 

Mark and John have been like brothers since at least the late 70s.  They had a band in the early 80s that swept all the prizes at Bascomb Lamar Lunsford's ASHEVILLE FOLK FESTIVAL -- band, fiddle, guitar. and banjo -- twice.  In those days, that was pretty much the National Championship.  John cares nothing for cosmetics, but he consistently creates -- often from pieces -- some of the best sounding instruments I have ever heard.  And if I can brag a little, I have heard great instruments in my life.  Mark on the other hand is one of the best luthiers out there -- for him every aspect must be perfect.  He is one of the handful of luthiers that I believe is qualified to work on my serious old vintage instruments.

If you look, the world is full of wonders, and these two guys qualify.

I have one spontaneous video of Mark playing banjo -- the opening song in a memorial celebration of my late wife.  This one in Nova Scotia. 

 

 

That is the end of the color commentary.  Now we need to hear Patrick make music with those guitars!

Let's pick,

-Tom

Edited by tpbiii
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 minutes ago, tpbiii said:

It was a fine event -- the most exciting thing that has happened to me since my front porch light burned out three weeks ago.  Here is a picture Debbie Farley took -- probably we look better because of the masks.

GvSvAZq.jpg

To me it was a missed opportunity of great proportions -- particularly now when everything has shut down.  In this room were some great musicians (not me) -- great pickers and great singers.  Spontaneously playing in such a situation is to me the top of the musical food chain, particularly if I am allowed to sit in -- for me that is all currently lost to the pandemic  It is the only art form where the product is gone as soon as it is created -- you have to be there and  it only survives in our memories and our souls.  Maybe later.

Of course it does not always work out -- in the words of the late great Dale Earnhardt, "sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you wreak."

Debbie did sing one song with Mark -- she use to sing it with my wife and she sang it at my wife's memorial.

 

 

Mark and John have been like brothers since at least the late 70s.  They had a band in the early 80s that swept all the prizes at Bascomb Lamar Lunsford's ASHEVILLE FOLK FESTIVAL -- band, fiddle, guitar. and banjo.  In those days, that was pretty much the National Championship.  John cares nothing for cosmetics, but he consistently creates -- often from pieces -- some of the best sounding instruments I have ever heard.  And if I can brag a little, I have heard great instruments in my life.  Mark on the other hand is one of the best luthiers out there -- for him every aspect must be perfect.  He is one of the handful of luthiers that I believe is qualified to work on my serious old vintage instruments.

If you look, the world is full of wonders, and these two guys qualify.

I have one spontaneous video of Mark playing banjo -- the opening song in a memorial celebration of my late wife.  This one in Nova Scotia. 

 

 

That is the end of the color commentary.  Now we need to hear Patrick make music with those guitars!

Let's pick,

-Tom

Tom, please thank Debbie for taking that photo. And, Tom I cannot thank you enough for being the facilitator for what turned out to be a very rich experience. To meet all of you on Saturday and to be able to be a caretaker of John’s instruments is one of the biggest joys of my life (this is not an exaggeration) . 

I’m glad we got to jam a bit. Tom played some cool harmonica licks on a couple of songs I played when I was demoing the guitars, and John backed up Debbie and Mark as they sang “Wayfaring Stranger” (and I backed John softly). And Tom is much too modest regarding his guitar playing ability.  I do wish we could have done more, but we were smart not to push things.

One day we will get together again and I will bring John’s instruments, but until then I will cherish the memories of that day.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've always felt there were lots of great guitars  out there up to and including the Folk Boom of the 60s.  Not necessarily great sounding - but containing great pieces of wood that could be 're-imagined' if paired with other good pieces from other guitars.  If, for example, Brazil was intent on clearing their rainforest, and could sell the wood instead of burn it - I'm assuming it was used by many guitar makers other than Gibson and Martin. Currently, I've read rosewood is used for panelling and furniture in China - albeit for the nouveau riche.   So, it is especially heartwarming to read about a luthier extraordinaries who salvages  great pieces from guitars to combine them into masterpieces.   

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...