View Full Version : Fylde Touchstone Octave Mando

steve V. johnson
Aug-12-2004, 7:42pm
Today I picked up a Fylde Touchstone OM from the post office, sent on to me by Paul Lawrence, as advertised here on the Cafe Classifieds.

The b/s are sapele wood (looks JUST like mahogany on the Fylde Octavius I used to have, which is great, pretty red), the top spruce, the board and bridge are ebony and the bridge has a bone insert. The nut is standard Fylde plastic with a zero fret. I'm liking it a lot but we haven't really gotten to know one another just yet.

The body is pretty large for the 20+15/16" scale, so it has a pretty punchy bottom, tho it doesn't go terrlbly low. There's a little oddness with the intonation on the G course... I removed the cast tailpiece and fitted a couple of black felt pads: One between the tailpiece and the top and the other on the bottom of the forward rim, the piece that touches the strings. The Allen tailpiece on my Crump has one, so I emulated that on this one.

It came with pretty heavy strings, .052, .038, .024w, .016. I changed out to the G & D sizes as on the Crump (which has a 24.5" scale), and the heavier A and E, which are .048, .038. .024w, .016. The A & E are good, the G & D might balance better by being smaller.

The neck width at the nut is 1.5", really wide for this scale, and the string spacing at the saddle is pretty wide. Also, even with some truss rod massaging, the action is pretty high. I'm not a fiend for low action, since I mostly play chords, but this one is a tad stiff...

There isn't much height on the bone saddle, so I haven't a lot of room to lower it, so the obvious alternative is to take some of the bottom off the ebony bridge. I'm not really very eager to do that. I'll try and take a bit off the bottom of this bone saddle. I have other bone bridge blanks, so I may just start anew... That way I could bring the string spacing a bit closer together a bit.

The tailpiece is ball-end only and has ten holes. When I put the new strings on it I left the two center holes open, but if I change the saddle and course spacing, I'll use the center holes and leave the two outside open... Of course.... I wonder... about re-fitting it with an Allen tailpiece..... (<GGG>)

This one has had an undersaddle transducer pickup in it, so it has a hole thru the ebony bridge and the top (aaaaacckkkk!!! I hate that...) and it appears to have a 1/4" endpin jack, but i haven't unscrewed it to look yet. I don't see any wires inside, so the person who put the pickup in took it all with 'em. 'S okay, I wouldn't use a UST anyway. In the pickup thread I gush about the PUTWs, so that's what I'd use anyway.

The sound has loads of overtones, and is deep and clear. I'm impressed! It also sounds really young, like the top hasn't really limbered up yet, but then I am most accustomed to the cedar top of the Crump, which was live and warm the day I got it, so I owe this one some patience and Quality Play Time. <GG>

That will really start at our Friday Irish session tomorrow.

Wow... I've really rambled here... Sorry if I've over done it...

I'll make and post some pix soon.



Aug-13-2004, 9:28am
Congrats Stv! Let us know how the various tweaks work out! And post some pix when you can...

steve V. johnson
Aug-13-2004, 9:49am
Hi Otter,

I still haven't had a chance to take any pix, but in the playing the main thing that strikes me about this Touchstone is the width of the neck. 1.5" at the nut is fine, but, compared to my Crump, and the narrower Mid-Mo and Trillium, this thing feels like a classical guitar! The Fylde website says that the string width at the nut is 1+7/8", but it really feels wide... Hmmmm....

I hope all is grand with you and the Trillium!


steve V. johnson
Aug-13-2004, 10:28am
OK... Here are some pix. This first is of the Crump B-II on the left and the Fylde Touchstone on the right. Note the different shapes of the necks and fretboards.


steve V. johnson
Aug-13-2004, 10:30am
I was fighting reflections in these pix... Here is another of the two, straight on this time.

steve V. johnson
Aug-13-2004, 10:36am
The difference in the body shapes of the two is pretty interesting, but here's another perspective. #The Crump is over 3.5" deep, and the Crump scale length is 24.5", while the Fylde Touchstone has a 20+15/16" scale. I guess that the odd 1/16" has to do with the zero fret.

steve V. johnson
Aug-13-2004, 10:38am
Here is the Sapele wood back. There are a few more reflections here than I had hoped. The grain is a bit less dramatic and less spotted than it appears here. It's interestingly different from the mahogany wood of the neck.

steve V. johnson
Aug-13-2004, 10:40am
Here's the top of the Fylde. It doesn't show up too well, but there are two nice, dark stripes just outboard of the soundhole adn then some darker grain out at the edges of the top. I'm sure they'll come out a bit more as I drag this thing to sunny parks and smoky pubs... <GG>

Aug-13-2004, 11:12am
The tailpiece is ball-end only and has ten holes. When I put the new strings on it I left the two center holes open, but if I change the saddle and course spacing, I'll use the center holes and leave the two outside open... Of course.... I wonder... about re-fitting it with an Allen tailpiece..... (<GGG>)
I have the very same tailpiece on my Fylde Bouzouki. My guess is that it's identical to the ones used by Fylde for their Citterns, thus eliminating the need to produce more than one tailpiece.

I use the first 4 holes on either side and they seem to space the strings perfectly well across the body. I must admit that I did get confused once or twice when re-stringing, and put strings together at the middle of the tailpiece.

By the way, my Fylde zouk is niether the Touchstone, nor the Octavius but the 'long scale archtop' with a cedar top and sapele b and s. The neck width on my zouk is the same as your OM - and I really like the extra width, compared, say, to a very narrow neck such as on the Trinity College.

Now, before I'm accused of 'dissing' anyone. I LOVE my Fylde bouzouki! I really do.

But...the tailpiece is already 'tarnished' after owning the instrument for only 9 months. Some of the 'silvery' finish has peeled away, on a bar just above where the ball-ends sit. A bit like gold leaf might flake, leaving the dull finish of the cast metal. (I'm so technical - I bet you wish you had my command of the jargon).

It's a small price to pay and hardly noticable. But, just thought you might like the 'heads up'.

Steve Power

steve V. johnson
Aug-13-2004, 11:48pm
Steve, I thought your Arch-top Bouzouki was a longer scale than this! Amazing! Esp. from the pix... I thought that the Freshwater was the short one and the Fylde the long one... Do I have that backwards?

I don't mind the rough metal look. In fact, I was going to go to a jeweler and get some metal tint and make it look a little darker. The gold color or brass of the Allen tailpiece on the Crump is nice and shiny and that's fine, but most of the time I'm not a big fan of brightwork.

This one may yet get an Allen retrofit... maybe...

Anyway, you can sure play this one when you come over!



Aug-15-2004, 7:34am

No, you have it right. The Freshwater is much shorter than the Fylde. My Fylde has a scale length of 668mm (26 5/16 inches). It is longer than the Freshwater (I don't have the spec for that on me), but the Freshwater is classed as an Octave Mandola, not a bouzouki. Can't wait to try the Touchstone.

I'm considering the Fylde 'Signature' long scale bouzouki at some point in the future when this one is worn out and I'm filthy rich (whichever comes soonest). Does anyone know about that model?

Steve Power