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Secret Valentine CD and Guitar

Secret Valentine CD and Guitar
For the last few years, Gordon has been involved in a project with Loughborough University and Cool Acoustics to develop a revolutionary new range of polymer / wood hybrid guitars.

Secret Valentine is the first complete commercially released CD to have been recorded entirely using the new guitar of the same name..... Secret Valentine.

Cool Acoustics plans to manufacture an exclusive limited edition batch of Secret Valentine guitars that will appeal especially to guitar enthusiasts. The negotiations for the manufacture are now underway and the resulting instruments will be made to the exemplary standards of the handcrafted guitar used by Gordon.

Gordon writes:
About eight years ago I was approached by Loughborough University to see if I was interested in the new developments there to produce a guitar made of materials other than wood. Rob Armstrong was going to be making various prototypes, and of course any opportunity to be involved with Rob had to be good. I was and still am a great devotee of his instruments. The man is a genius and innovator par excellence, and is in my book along with Roger Bucknall one of THE great guitars makers around.

Over the years there have been a few Armstrong prototypes made, and I used one a while back to help with the semi launch of this project at the University. Now we are several years on and Rob has made an instrument that really is a blueprint for a production model. It was this guitar that I used to record the new Secret Valentine album.

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The main thing about this guitar is the fact that it doesn't sound like plastic and has in fact a really good sound. I'm sure all you folk who buy the album will testify to this statement. There are plans afoot to have the Secret Valentine guitar manufactured and made available for purchase in 2008. An exact price has yet to be set, and this of course is not my domain.

In choosing material for the album, it had long been my intention to release a CD with all MY personal favourites which just happened to be the slow, romantic, reflective pieces, hence the title.

Speaking long term, I have no idea how the public will react to this instrument, all I know is that the album so far has been very favourably received by those who have been involved with it, namely Rob Armstrong, who made a point of calling me to say that he thought it was my best album EVER! Dallas Simpson who did the final mastering (it was Dallas who produced the 'Live at Ambergate' Binaural album a few years back) said he felt it was the finest performance he had heard of my music, Paul White who engineers all of recorded output these days said the same, and so it goes. Obviously from my perspective, I just went into my home studio and played to the best of my ability and the end result is what it is.

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Secret Valentine track listing:

Maddie Goes West
Under This Blue Sky
Simply Margaret
The Picnic
Elegy (The Death of Chatterton)
Down The River
By Angle Tarn
A Christmas Carol
The Lord's Seat
Prayer for Philippa
Isabella's Wedding
The Eccchoing Green / London
The Kerry Dancers
Secret Valentine

The astonishing thing about the Secret Valentine guitar is, (by the way it's only the front of the guitar that is made of the polymer material, the rest is all wood) that it just responds superbly to microphones, because the recorded results are to my ears very pleasing. The sonic qualities obviously have something that make this an ideal recording tool. This guitar has many advantages over a traditional instrument, the main one being stability and strength. Because it is made of synthetics it won't be effected that much by temperature change. I could imagine a player like Tommy Emmanuel with his very percussive approach to the guitar making full use of the fronts durability, there is no way you could dent or mark it!

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I have been using it on a regular basis in my live shows this year, (see Sue Holton's superb photographs in the Gallery) and the reaction has been interesting from guitarists and non guitarist alike. It also is the perfect vehicle for my humorous comment about this instrument being responsible for getting me on to the front cover of the magazine Plastic and Rubber Monthly...grin...nuff said.

Who knows what the future holds for this guitar? For me wood is still the best for making instruments, but I'm open to change if change can help create a superior sounding guitar. There is of course a green issue here, but in no way am I in a position to comment on that one!

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Secret Valentine CD was released on 26th Nov 2007 and is available to purchase via Voiceprint For more information, including audio samples, take a look at the Discography page

Visit the Secret Valentine microsite for more information on the Secret Valentine guitar project or read our earlier Polymer Guitar article