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The Impact of 'The New Islington' Guitar: Sam Shjipstone's Key Role in Yard Act's Sound




I first approached Sam about building a guitar for him just after the release of their first album.  I loved the sound, his playing and the ethos of what the album was saying.  Ancoats Guitars had only been going for about a year so it was a bit of a punt but he generously got back to me, visited the workshop and we worked on the design together. They were still playing small club venues back then but I think we all knew they had something special and had the capacity to go on to ‘big things’.


A little background about Yard Act


Yard Act's rise to prominence is a testament to their talent, perseverance, and unique approach to storytelling through music. The band, hailing from Leeds, UK, burst onto the scene with a fresh sound that blended elements of post-punk, indie rock, and social commentary.


Formed by vocalist James Smith, guitarist Sam Shjipstone, bassist Ryan Needham, and drummer George Townend, Yard Act quickly gained a loyal following for their sharp lyrics, infectious melodies, and energetic live performances. Their early singles garnered attention for their witty take on contemporary issues, drawing listeners in with clever wordplay and thought-provoking themes.


As Yard Act's reputation grew, they caught the eye of both fans and critics alike, leading to high-profile appearances at renowned festivals such as Glastonbury and on prestigious platforms like the Jools Holland show. The band's onstage charisma and captivating presence solidified their position as one of the most exciting acts to emerge in recent years.

Fuelled by their DIY ethos and a desire to push boundaries, Yard Act continued to impress with their debut album, earning critical acclaim and further solidifying their place in the music scene.


Through their relentless dedication to their craft and a fearless commitment to artistic integrity, Yard Act has carved out a unique space for themselves, captivating audiences worldwide with their incisive lyrics and magnetic performances.

As Yard Act continues to evolve and expand their musical horizons, one thing remains clear – their rise to fame is a testament to the power of authenticity, creativity, and the unwavering belief in the transformative nature of music.


The fact that one of my guitars is playing a small part in this gives me great pride.  There is nothing better than seeing one of my favourite bands and guitarists play my guitar on telly or at my favourite festival in the world, Glastonbury (first went in 1997!)


Now, a bit about the guitar


Crafted with precision and passion, 'The New Islington' guitar stands out not only for its sleek design but also for the incredible depth and versatility it brings to the music of Yard Act. Sam Shjipstone's masterful handling of this instrument has elevated the band's performances to new heights, making them a must-watch act on every stage they grace.


It’s a very customised version of The New Islington guitar.  Sam has a favourite bridge pickup which is a G&L MFD https://g-l-online-store.myshopify.com/products/mfd-sc-asat-classic-bridge-pickup its a high output tele style with a really harsh tone which is where he gets the majority of his signature sound from.  This was a must! I had free reign in the neck though so I worked with Jaime of Creamery Pickups and he made a tapped single coil which has 2 output levels which can be switched by a mini toggle. He also never uses the tone knob so we didn’t include this in the circuit. We instead put a rotary pickup selector switch.  We also added a kill switch because, why not?


Colour wise we went for a golden yellow body, brass pickguard and green pearl rocket fins - bold choices for sure! Material wise its swamp ash body with a maple fretboard (another must from Sam) and Mahogany neck.  As an aside I’ve noticed that Sam puts tape at certain points on the back of the neck so he can feel the 3rd, 7th and 12th fret without looking - this is something I'd not seen before but it's certainly a good idea.


Conclusion


Working with artists isn’t always easy but Sam has been an absolute legend. To be able to see my guitars on shows like Jools Holland and at Festivals and large venues around the world is amazing for me.  All made in a tiny shipping container in Manchester.  It’s all a bit mad really.  Thanks Sam!

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