Fretsireland.com is Terry Cromer. I started making my first instrument, a Gibson EB3 copy in 1969 but it took until 1978 to make the first original one. Fretted instruments is a wide ranging term. It usually covers acoustic and electric guitars and basses, but for me it is also includes mandolins, banjos, bouzoukis, dobros, resonators and lap guitars and anything of a 'slidey' nature.
My profession is as an acoustician and have designed over 100 recording rooms, including the current Windmill Lane and all of U2's studios from Achtung Baby to Hanover Quay. I have over 35 years working at the highest level in the audio industry, interfacing with the TV, radio, multimedia, music and film industries. I have worked as a recording and mix engineer, producer, I currently also work as a freelance supervising sound editor and sound designer for film, and a forensic audio and restoration engineer. This mix of disciplines has given me not only the ability to hear good tone but also the ability to design and create it. Further information is available at my limestreetacoustics.com website.
I've always worked with my hands as a cabinetmaker and wood turner and am a great believer in using hand tools to work wood. I despair at computer-controlled cutting machines churning out dimensionally identical pieces of an instrument that makes no allowance for the wildly varying nature of strength and tonal variation of the wood used.
When it comes to making instruments some may vaguely resemble factory instruments. This is where the resemblance stops. All are different, fundamentally designed from the ground up. I'm not a factory so I don't have to rigidly follow manufacturing procedures that more to do with fast production and nothing to do with tone improvement.
Most decent musical instruments are built to last a long time if they’re looked after. There are many over a 100 years still going strong having paid a visit to someone like me for a bit of TLC along the way. My job is to help you get the best tone and playability out of yours, whether you’ve just bought some lovely vintage instrument or a brand new one that isn’t quite the way you want it. I’m also there to pick up the pieces when disaster happens, and you need to get your axe back in shape.
When you feel factory instrument tone is not all its cracked up to be I can squeeze the last drop out of it. Many of the well known makers produce over 500 guitars a day. Most of these end up on the walls of music shops and get a scant set up before leaving with the customer. Electric instruments are relatively straightforward to set up for playability but set up doesn't necessarily mean improved tone. Attempts to improve playability on acoustic instruments frequently result in lower volume and poor tone.
All the major glue joints of a quality instrument are reversible, so more complex work is carried out in the traditional fashion with hot hide glue. This centuries-old method means replacing fingerboards, bridges or neck resets are easy in the future.
I have a great fondness for old instruments as they probably have accompanied many musicians and would have some wonderful stories to tell. Repair and restoration work is always sympathetic with age and use. Structural repairs are generally hidden and as such keep the instrument playable long into the future. Cosmetic repairs should always be approached with caution and as a rule I generally will not refinish but do spot touch up. I have considerable experience with the older varnishes and french polish techniques as well as most of the natural oils finishes.
Don’t forget to check out the picture galleries of instruments and construction. I look forward to hearing from you!