A pair of handcrafted one-of-a kind musical instruments are to be auctioned off in aid of The Leanne Fund.
Dr Ali Whiteford of Garrabost, Isle of Lewis, who makes and repairs string instruments, has created a beautiful bespoke Long Island guitar and a Mandocaster mandola and has kindly offered to sell them to raise funds for those affected by Cystic Fibrosis.
The instruments are the fruits of labour of Dr Whiteford who is well known luthier and musician.
Anyone wishing to view the instruments can contact The Leanne Fund office on 01851 702020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Bids for the guitar will start from £600 and £400 for the mandola. Sealed bids should be sent to or hand delivered to The Leanne Fund office before 5pm on July 31st.
Chrisetta Mitchell, Development Manager for The Leanne Fund said: “We are so grateful to Ali for offering to auction these beautiful instruments in aid of The Leanne Fund.
“They are stunning unique instruments and we’re sure there will be a lot of interest in them.”
Describing the inspiration behind each instrument Dr Whiteford said:
Long Island guitar
The inspiration to make this instrument came a number of years ago whilst at a concert in the An Lanntair Arts Centre given by well known local singer/songwriter/musician Willie Campbell. The stage backdrop to Willie’s performance was a large map of the Western Isles, the most northerly isle being the Long Island of Lewis and Harris. For one number, Willie was playing a solid electric guitar. The outline of the Long Island, with the large indent of Broad Bay seemed a natural fit for the body of a guitar, Broad Bay coinciding with the neck cut-away in the body of a guitar which allows for easy playing at the top end of the neck. The immense amount of musical talent that lurks in these islands was the other inspiration. With other things on the go the idea was put on the back-burner until a couple of years ago when I was given a Fender Stratocaster copy in payment for some repairs to various guitars. The neck from this guitar became a donor item as did the selector switch.
The body is made of ash and mahogany, ash being used for Lewis and mahogany for Harris. The thickness of the body was carved to give a comfortable playing position and reduce weight. An exact outline of the coastline for the body would not lead to a stable structure so the coastline is defined by using an inlay of black ebony wood. The chrome pickups are Artec Vintage units and the potentiometers are long shaft items. The ends of the tremolo arm and the selector switch are carved mahogany with chrome ends. To keep the front of the instrument clean, the jack plug is on the back, behind Harris. In the middle of the Point region of Lewis, just below the Broad Bay cutout, is a mother-of-pearl dot indicating where the instrument was made - Garrabost. The neck end is covered in iconic Harris Tweed, with the truss rod cover being a Harris Tweed label. The Harris Tweed has not been varnished so that it remains tactile but the edge has been treated to avoid fraying. The body was finished in seven coats of gloss varnish which was then treated with steel wool to give a satin matt finish.
To give the instrument some soul, it was handed over to well known island guitarist and guitar technician, David ‘Doylie ‘ Macdonald, who worked his magic to produce an instrument with a good action and excellent tone. As part of the set-up, David replaced the bridges with steel units, set the action using a neck gauge, reworked the nut and wired the pickups to his own spec with separate tone controls for the neck and bridge pickups.
I am no connoisseur of electric guitars but when I first heard David playing it -the first time I had heard it make a sound - the hairs on the back of my neck stood up! He is a genius.
The mandola was designed and built as a result of a commission for a solid electric instrument but, subsequently, the commissioner sadly passed away. The instrument has elements of Stratocaster design in the neck end and scratch plate. The neck, made from mahogany, runs straight through the body - eliminating the need for a neck/body joint - with the body being built up with ash, again with the thickness carved for comfort and weight. The finger board is made from ebony with mother-of-pearl inlay dots and a bone nut and fretted with medium-fine gauge wire. The bridge and string bar are aluminium with the bridge being free as in mandolin construction. The instrument is tuned a fifth below a mandolin with the strings in pairs from tenor A through D and G to bass C. The pickup is an Artec Vintage with a simple circuit with a volume control. The mandocaster, finished in high gloss, has a good action and produces a bright sound.