2017 Jake Fuller "Purnell" SP/CH
|Back & Sides:
British luthier Jake Fuller
has been building guitars for nearly two decades. His passion for making classical guitars resulted from a combination of his early woodworking background (inherited from his father and grandfather), as well as being a guitarist himself. His Cornish grandfather was a wheelwright and made almost anything which could be built with wood such as carts, wheelbarrows, gates and furniture. Jake's workshop contains several of his grandfathers tools and even one of his tables that is used for the workbench. Jake sadly never met his grandfather for he lost a leg in WWI and died fairly young (he even built his own wooden leg!). Jake therefore uses his name - "Purnell" (which is also Jake's middle name) for his guitars as a tribute to this inspirational figure. Grandfather Purnell passed on his interest in woodworking to Jake's father who is a toy maker. It was growing up in the toymaking workshop where Jake learned his initial woodworking skills. Jake spent what would be essentially be his apprenticeship with him making toys in Suffolk.
Playing the guitar was something Jake had always done, and he is continues to play to this day. At 16 he started classical guitar studies which launched his fascination with the instrument itself. After graduating from the London Guildhall University (where he studied with David Rouse and David Whiteman), earning a BA in Musical Instrument Tech, Jake set up a workshop first in Laxfield and then in Reydon, Suffolk where he has been making guitars ever since.
This is an excellent and very impressive guitar all around. As with all of Jake's guitars, workmanship is clean, simple and refined. The sound itself is textured, with ample overtones yet excellent clarity and balance - a wonderful synthesis of the Spanish and Northern European styles. The body of the guitar is very light in weight making it respond like an early 20th century Spanish guitar, but it has a slightly "weightier" neck and stiff neck joint which gives it noticeably increased sustain, balanced across all registers. Playability is a breeze with a very easy and comfortably shaped neck profile. Suitable for any size auditorium - also a wonderful recording instrument.
In terms of materials used, best to let Jake tell it in his own words: "The old spruce is from a violin wedge some I got from a cello maker. The guitar has a four piece top and a three-piece English cherry back. Sounded good from the first strum. I was offered a few pieces of this spruce by the violin maker, who was given them by a retired cello/violin maker (now deceased). You can tell it’s old when you work it. The best way to describe it is fossilized. This guitar was made from one of the best wedges. You can see the darkening of the wood at the ends from years of being stored. It must be over 50 years old at least to get to this state. The old spruce wood seems to give the guitars a played-in feel from the beginning. The English Cherry came from a local wood dealer who specializes in indigenous hardwoods. It came from a large pile of reclaimed floor boards. It’s one of my favourite woods for the back and sides. Firstly, it’s satisfying to use wood from my country. It’s a wood of medium density, sitting between cypress and rosewood, similar to maple. Unlike maple, which has a dullish tap tone, it has a nice clear ring to it, more like a rosewood. Subsequently it gives the guitar a wider range of qualities, from the warmth of maple, to the presence of rosewood. It also has a wonderful colour with a subtle figure."
Overall a beautiful looking and sounding guitar by any measure.
Photos of this guitar taken during construction.
Luthier Bio: Jake P. Fuller