CLC Newsletter September 2017

Chris Larkin Custom Newsletter September 2017.

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Hello again from the West coast of Ireland,

Lots of stuff around the house over the month. Possibly the biggest thing is the wall. Until now we had a blue wooden fence in front of the house but it took a hammering from cows and horses leaning over it to try to eat our garden and it was always needing repairs. We decided we needed a wall. Monty dismantled the old wall and dug the foundations with the mini digger.

And then he proceeded to build us a beautiful, solid block wall which he plastered. The road now needs re-surfacing!

So what did the cows make of it? Completely un-phased they found it useful to scratch that annoying itch!

We still have to paint it when the plaster has had time to dry fully and we have agreed on a colour. 


Syra has entered the following paintings into an on-line competition. Please take a look and, if you feel moved, you can give one or all 3 paintings  a vote. 

Here are the links:​

For further details about the competition please visit Works selected will be exhibited in Milan. If Syra's works selected she will there too! (and I'll be there as her lovely assistant!)


 Tech Bit - Fitting a New Sprayroom Fan - Part 1

The little exhaust fan in the sprayroom has done great service for over 20 years but it was time for a change. I wanted something with more power and also a filtration system for the air. Due to the nature of the vapours a sprayroom fan has to deal with they have to be sealed from any chance of lacquer getting into the motor which could cause an explosion. These flameproof fans are very, very expensive!First job was to remove the old spray hood. I used to hang the instruments here and spray into the fan area. The shape of the hood directed the overspray into the fan.

The original fan had an 200mm (8 inch) diameter hole through the wall to the outside. The new fan requires a 300mm (12inch) hole so I needed a specialist to create this. So here are Brendan and Pat with some heavy duty tooling!

It took about ten minutes to cut a perfect hole through the cavity wall.

There was a nice gale of wind howling through it so I needed to seal from the outside. The sprayroom is on the first floor so time for some ladder work. First I had to remove the old cowling.

Then fit the smart new louvre that came with the new fan.

For efficiency the fan needs to drive the air through a smooth tube. I had some galvanised steel sheet which I bent into a tube and encouraged it to fit the hole using a strapping clamp.

Happy with that I mounted the new fan.

Next month I hope to have built a new spray hood and filtration system which will be Part 2.  If you have an idea that you think would make a good subject for the Tech Bit let me know and I'll see if I can include it in a future Newsletter. I will do something on your suggestion another time Simon!  


In the Workshop.

I was away for several days during the month so not as much activity as usual. Pat McGarrigle came in to try the pretty little parlour and also the Stocklist ASAS Jazzer.

Good to see Martin McGinty trad player from Boston again. He was in the workshop while on his holidays. He also took the Parlour for a spin and seemed to enjoy it!

The jazzer is for sale but not the parlour - although I have had several offers!

Somebody commented about this which hangs on the workshop wall and watches me at work.

Many years ago Syra had a work experience student once a week from the local college in her studio. At the end of the year all the students on that course had an exhibition which Syra attended and bought this for me. As the dust has gathered on it it has become very spooky!

Not In the Workshop.

Not in the workshop but very important was the message in the latest issue of the Martin Journal from Martin Guitars. In it Chris Martin IV writes about moving away from non-sustainable materials in guitar making. This is a very big change on behalf of Martin who have a long tradition of using rosewoods, mahogany, ebony and shell inlay materials in their instruments.

As you may know I have been involved with The Leonardo Guitar Research Project the purpose of which was to show that great instruments can be made without using tropical woods. The EGB (European Guitars Builders of which I am a member) have been promoting The Local Wood Challenge with the same aim. To see such a change in emphasis from one of the leaders in the acoustic guitar world was very encouraging and I believe that the LGRP and the EGB were at least partially responsible for this. I have been using non-tropical, and particularly Irish woods wherever possible in my instrument for more than 35 years. Maybe I am becoming current at last! You can read the Martin article here.

Dom O'Driscoll is a long time friend and one of the leaders of the Clonmel Busking Festival which I really need to go to some year. Here he is giving it some at this year's event.

In 1997 the Irish national broadcaster RTE came to the workshop and made a short film about me. Two of my customers, Ray Murphy and John McGrath, played for the cameras. Last month RTE posted the piece on their Archives page. If you would like to see me as a child then click here.

T-Shirts and Straps. 

T-shirts (same old logo) and only in black, M, L, XL and 2XL) available. Price is held at €15 each and postage will depend on where you live. These are going well.


The new batch of the exciting Chris Larkin Custom straps are in stock. These are highest quality Levy's Leathers straps custom made with an embossed leather oval. Price is also €15 with the postal shipping costs depending on where you live.

I can't guarantee that these will improve your playing but they will certainly lift your image!If you would like to purchase either of these items please contact me and we can sort it out. 

The Stocklist.

I try to keep some instruments in the workshop for visitors to try. These instruments are also for sale. Here are some pics of what is in stock at the moment. There are more details and pictures on the Stocklist page of the website. Backs this month!

A beautiful ASAS Archtop Jazzer  This is an exceptional instrument with the classic combination of spruce and Irish fiddleback sycamore in a cherry sunburst.

 An ASAPB5 acoustic bass guitar with back and sides of Irish walnut, adjustable bridge and RMC pickups. This one is amazingly loud acoustically and has that 'woody' sound.

   For solid bodied basses there is a Syra 4, passive in fetching pink...

    ...and an SC5 throughneck with headstock in figured Irish maple and all the active EQ trimmings.

These instruments are all available to try if you visit the workshop and if you would like to know more about any of them please contact me and I'll be glad to help.  


Lindesay, who has a house on the hill behind us, took this shot of the free roaming horses that we have  around us most days. You would swear they were posing.

...Finally, finally...

Some garden stuff. The little apple tree behind the workshop has produced the best crop ever. some of the branches are so heavy that we have had to prop them up. Each day there are a couple of fallers that we are eating before the birds get them.


 I was given the task of removing two phormium plants. These are also known as New Zealand flax and have mystical significance to the Maoris who got their own back on us as whatever insects lived on the plants bit us to bits!

 ....So Finally, Finally, Finally....

If you have any ideas for the Newsletter, would like to send me a recipe, an article for inclusion, want to promote your band (if it has one or more of my instruments in it), an event, pics of your Larkin, any YouTube video of you playing one of my instruments or anything else suitable, contact me and I'll see what I can do.  Feel free to forward this Newsletter to anybody who it might interest. The mailing list can be joined by filling in the form at the bottom of any page on the website.