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A's for Q's, September '05
9/10/2005 (updated 9/10/2005)

Could enquiring minds know the tuning used on '1952 Vincent Black Lightning'. So far, I'm using standard tuning w/ 3rd fret capo to get to concert b-flat, but I know this isn't 'correct'. Thanks for your attention. Don Myers, Des Moines, IA USA

Tuning is CGDGBE at third fret. This tune will be in the upcoming songbook, volume one.

Hi, just a touring question. Any news on whether RT will be back in Australia? Missed him last time he was here, won't make the same mistake again. Barry Tudor.

There are plans to visit Oz in Spring 2006….not definite yet. Please check this website for further news.

Hi there--Hopefully this will be an easy question... Normally, I'd ask for one or two songs, but I was wondering if it'd be possible to get the tunings for each of the 13 tunes on Parlour Ballads. It's a fantastic album, and I'd like to noodle around with the songs, but the tunings would help me greatly. Thanks in advance for your help, John Rockwell

Boys at school – Drop D Capo 2
Cressida – Drop D
For Whose Sake – Drop D
Garden Grow – Drop D capo 5
Let It Blow – Drop D
Miss Patsy – Drop D Capo 3
Mutton Street – CGDGBE capo 5
My Soul – standard – on stage, drop E to A
Old Thames Side – Drop D capo 4(?)
Precious One – Standard
Row Boys Row – Drop D
Should I Betray – Drop D
Solitary Life – Drop D

Gosh, what boring tunings!


Hi Richard. Just wondering if there's anything in the works for the BBC documentary on you, "A Solitary Life," to be aired or released in the U.S. I'd love to see it. Thanks.

I doubt it. The BBC would have to do a deal with a US company – I don’t think they’d show it on BBC America – and rockumentaries are not hugely popular with viewers. But you never know.

Hi Richard, I have only recently discovered your music, and having recently seen you perform in Edinburgh, am coming to the realisation that you are indeed the dug's bawse (am sure no translation required). My question is simply, do you have any idea when you may be returning to Scotland to play? Austin.

I’ll be back to Scotland with Danny in January, playing Perth on the 23rd., and Glasgow on the 24th.

I heard your hurdy gurdy was a kit, and was wondering who/where you got it from, and were all the pieces pre-cut or do they just give you chunks of wood and tell you to start carving? I'd like to get a hurdy gurdy some day (when the kids are outta school or when the proverbial ship comes in--they are expensive) and was curious about the one you've got. There seems to be only one manufacturer in N. America from what I see on the web. They seem about as easy to play as a dulcimer, seem tuned the same way. Do they use fiddle rosin on the wheel or do you need something else? Can you fit them with gear tuning pegs instead of friction pegs (as with the dulcimer my Dad made, I am not that much a traditionalist--I want the thing to get in/stay in tune)

I bought mine as a kit from the Early Music Shop in the UK, in the 80s. At the time, it only cost 120 Pounds, I’m sure it’s gone up since then. The key box was preformed, and the wheel was cut, but everything else needed some, or a lot of, work. The Early Music Shop rated it as ‘difficult’ (but not as hard as a harpsichord). It took me well over a year to make it, because I would get frustrated, curse the poor diagrams, and throw it in a drawer for months at a time. Danny Ferrington seriously baled me out on several occasions, sprayed on the lacquer, and cut out the little cutesy moons and stars.

I would say, not as easy to play as a dulcimer, and far, far harder to keep running. It’s crucial that the wheel is revolving accurately, and rosin is required to keep the strings biting properly. Mine is currently suffering from a knock, and the wheel has shifted. If it is possible, geared tuning pegs will save huge amounts of frustration. To play a basic drone and a simple tune (about my level) is not too hard, but to play like Nigel Eaton will take great application and dedication. If you admit defeat, and just hang it on the wall of your living room, it’s a fine conversation-piece.


I've seen RT play solo acoustic several times (at The Birchmere) and can't recall seeing him use a capo. Does he? If not, is there a reason other than simply not needing one? I've heard some guitarists say that a capo can adversely affect tone, while others maintain that some fingerings (perhaps on "covers" with signature riffs) are well-nigh impossible without one.

Time for new glasses – or were you at the back of the stadium? I do use a capo, and far from reducing tone, it gives you a better platform to generate tone. Artists like Ry Cooder will capo up high on a baritone guitar with heavy strings to get a great, meaty tone on records.

-have you ever released your version of 'Substitute' anywhere? Saw you once perform it, possibly at Cambridge Corn exchange and would dearly love to have it in my collection.

I don’t think so, and I’m not sure I should.