After Martin, Scherzer and Staufer, guitars
Nick Pyall builds guitars using hand tools. He specializes in instruments inspired by Viennese guitars of the early and mid-nineteenth century, including those with extra bass strings, and the mid-twentieth-century guitars of the North American 'golden era' of acoustic guitar making. Nick is also a player and teacher of the guitar. In recent years his passion for the instrument has led to him studying its development and societal history. In 2009, he was awarded funding from the Arts and Humanities Council of Great Britain to pursue his doctoral studies. In 2010 he was awarded funding to take up a residency at the Library of Congress, Washington DC, as a British Research Council Fellow. He submitted his PhD thesis on The Influence of Nineteenth Century Viennese Guitar in North America in October 2013.
My doctoral research examines the technological developments of the nineteenth-century guitar that provided the basis for the emergence of the steel-strung instrument. It investigates changing use, cultural significance, and shifts in social association, during this period.
- Musical Instrument BSc (Hons)
- Introduction to Guitar Making Short Course
Nick Pyall's PhD thesis investigates the work of the Viennese string instrument maker Johann Georg Staufer (1778-1853), his influence on guitar design, and the cultures of the instrument’s use in North America throughout the 1800s to c1920. It evaluates the extent that Staufer’s innovative designs inspired his contemporaries and immediate successors, signalling changes in the instrument’s form, use, and repertoire, which appear to have been associated with a shift in prevailing social and gender associations, to extend from the middle class additionally to the poorer classes, and from female to male players. Significantly, the adoption by makers of certain of his structural innovations and then later the emergence of steel as a stringing material (c1880) together, witnessed a new form of the instrument, which, breaking away from the parlour tradition of vocal accompaniment, was used to play dances, marches and light classical music, predominantly though not exclusively by men, in civic halls, clubs, bars, and open spaces.