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Val played 6-string and 12-string guitars, tenor ukulele, U-Bass bass ukulele, and dabbled with keyboards and glockenspiel. Jimmy played 6-string and 12-string guitars, tenor ukulele, harmonica (occasionally) and also messed around with the mixer, digital recorder, video camera and PC.

Most of the time you would see jiva out and about with just the guitars and ukuleles.

jiva used Taylor guitars, Kala ukuleles, the Bose L1 Model 2 sound system, AER Acoustic Amplifier, Elixir guitar strings, Aquila ukulele strings and ClearTone instrument & microphone cables.

For recording we used sE microphones and Magix Samplitude Pro X Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software, our video editing software is Magix Video Pro X6, and our graphics design software is Magix/Xara Designer Pro X11.

We were not sponsored by any of these companies (chance would be a fine thing!), but fully endorse and recommend them.

Taylor Guitars logo and link
Bose logo and link
Kala ukuleles logo and link
Magix logo and link
Elixir logo and link
AER logo and link
ClearTone logo and link
sE Microphones logo and link


Taylor 855 - 'Missy' SOLD

June 2005: another Taylor? Yes, it's true. this 12-string is gorgeous. The distinctive, rounded jumbo shape combined with the Taylor headstock is a sight to behold. The 12-string fretboard is wider than our 6-strings, but the sleek Taylor neck makes this guitar eminently playable. And the sound is unbelievable - top end tinkling Taylor clarity, mid-range sweetness, a resounding bottom end and the added sparkle of 12 strings. Wow!

When we bought Missy she had Taylor mini-tuners and an EMG ASQ3 system with under-saddle pickup with EQ/volume controls on the shoulder. She now has superb Gotoh 510-mini gold tuners and a new bone saddle.

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Taylor 910CE-L7 - 'Rio' SOLD

September 2007: surely not another Taylor? Yes, absolutely. This guitar is a truly wonderful example of Taylor craftsmanship and attention to detail at it's best. Brazilian Rosewood back and sides with Engelmann Spruce top mean that this guitar looks superb and sounds incredible. The intricate Cindy inlay for the fret markers is a beautiful touch.

It sounds great acoustically - the treble possessing the bell-like quality that we love, and the balance through mid-range to bass is light and clear. The Taylor Expression System ensures that every nuance of playing is captured and faithfully reproduced when plugged into the PA.

In October 2008 we had the Expression System taken out and replaced with a brand new version 2 Expression System. This was replaced under warranty in 2011 with a brand new version 3 Expression System.

We've also upgraded the black ivoroid Taylor tuners with super Gotoh 510 cosmo-black tuners - excellent gearing with silky smooth and precise action, great control and stunning looks!

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Taylor 910CE - 'Nams' SOLD

September 2007: gasp! No, really - this is not a mis-print. Jimmy has a brand new Taylor 910CE-L7 (see above), and Val now has a brand new 910CE sister bought on the same day, but 200 miles further away! This is the perfect companion - it has the same immaculate construction, differing only slightly in that it has Indian Rosewood back and sides, super Gotoh 510 bronze tuners and the 900 series fret marker inlay pattern reproduced on the bridge.

Its acoustic sound is excellent... bright, crystal clear across the whole range - and beautifully captured by the Taylor Expression system when amplified. The two 910s together produce a subtle, uncluttered blend that is distinctively jiva.

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Custom Build Taylor Jumbo 12-String - 'Chalise'

August 2009: on 10th August we visited the Taylor Guitars factory in El Cajon, California, prior to our wedding there on 12th August. We both fell in love with this gorgeous 12-string... Cocobolo back and sides, sunburst Sitka Spruce top, super Gotoh 510 mini tuners - awesome crystalline sound. We sang to each other during the actual service and Val played this guitar. So it's no surprise that we couldn't resist buying her.

Named 'Chalise' after our friend and contact at Taylor Guitars she is already creating a stir wherever we go - stunning visually and sonically, this guitar provides the most wonderful blend with Jimmy's Taylor 910CE-L7 (Rio) and our 855 12-string (Missy). She sounds smooth, clear and perfectly balanced both acoustically and amplified through our Bose L1 system.

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Custom Build Taylor Jumbo 6-String - 'Coco' SOLD

April 2012: unbelievable but true. On 30th April we attended the Taylor Guitars Roadshow at JG Windows (Metro Centre, Gateshead, UK) and found the 6-string brother of 'Chalise' (Val's custom build Jumbo 12-string). Same specification - same tonewoods, fretboard, headstock, tuners, inlays, sunburst, but the 6-string doesn't have a cutaway. Absolutely irresistable... we bought him on the spot.

Named 'Coco' in recognition of the breathtaking Cocobolo back and sides, this guitar has the sweetest clear sound that puts us in mind of clear mountain streams with water tinkling over bare feet on a gloriously sunny day. Acoustically, it's an inspiring guitar to play and we love the sound of 'Coco' and 'Chalise' through our Bose L1 system.

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Taylor 914CE-L7 - 'Jacques' SOLD

September 2012: five years to the day since we bought Rio we welcomed another L7 Limited Brazilian Rosewood 6-string to the family. For quite some time Jimmy had mulled over the possibility of a 914CE, and when the opportunity of trying the L7 Limited model came about it was too good to pass up.

Unbelievably, this guitar combines the best of Chalise and Coco and the best of Rio to produce a truly breathtaking sound... the sweetness of the trebles and the perfectly balanced bass are magical. The acoustic balance with Chalise and Nams is perfection to our ears, and, through our Bose L1 system, it just gives us goosebumps.

As with Rio and Missy, we've upgraded the Taylor tuners with super Gotoh 510 cosmo-black tuners - excellent gearing with silky smooth and precise action, great control and stunning looks!

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Taylor 954CE-L7 - 'Jackson' SOLD

September 2013: another year, another Taylor. 12 months on from buying Jacques (914CE-L7) we were thrilled to add the perfect stablemate in Jackson (954CE-L7 Limited Brazilian Rosewood 12-string). It's a long story but, suffice to say, when an opportunity like this arises, you do whatever it takes to make it a reality.

'Stunning' does not do justice this gorgeous guitar - the craftmanship of the build, the beautiful premium woods, the playability - and, oh, the sound, the sound! It is the unmistakeable signature Taylor sound with delicious 12 string chiming... the same, but different.

As with Rio, Missy and Jacques, we've upgraded the Taylor tuners with super Gotoh 510 cosmo-black tuners - excellent gearing with silky smooth and precise action, great control and stunning looks!

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Yamaha FG580 - 'Fair Lady Guinevere' SOLD

Since buying it in 1978, the Yamaha FG580 6-string guitar has been Jimmy's constant companion and favourite instrument. During a period of madness and generosity he loaned the 580 to a fellow musician and, when it was returned, it only had 5 working machine heads. So the original Yamaha tuners were replaced with Grovers. At the same time, a Martin Thinline under-bridge pickup was fitted - this was replaced in November 2003 with a Fishman Rare Earth Humbucking soundhole pickup.

He's resisted many offers from people wanting to buy it for considerably more than his purchase price.

Although his main 6-string is now a Limited Edition Taylor 914CE-L7, we couldn't bear to part with the FG580, and so plan to keep her busy with alternative tunings (eg D-A-D-G-A-D).

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Yamaha FG630 - 'Lancelot' FOR SALE

It took 15 years of searching before Jimmy found the perfect companion to the FG580 - the Yamaha FG630 12-string. It has the same materials as the 580 - Brazilian Jacaranda Rosewood back and sides, spruce top, and ebony fingerboard. In July 2004 we swapped the previously installed Fishman Matrix Natural II under-bridge pickup for the Natural I model.

Like the FG580, this guitar has served us well, and was an important feature in establishing the jiva sound. Our main 12-string is now 'Chalise' (Val's Custom Jumbo Taylor), and Jimmy plays 'Missy' (Taylor 855), so it's unlikely that the FG630 will appear in our future live performances, but this guitar will remain part of our treasured collection.

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Taylor Big Baby - 'Taylor'

This was our introduction to Taylor guitars - we were looking for something smaller than than the Yamaha dreadnoughts for Val, and the Big Baby was easier for her to play (she's only little, 5' 2"). For such a small guitar the Taylor produces a big, crystal clear sound - so much so that Jimmy also wanted a Taylor (and now we both play Taylors). In October 2003 we decided to 'electrify' the Big Baby and had a Fishman Matrix Natural I under-bridge pickup fitted. In July 2004 we swapped the Natural I for a Natural II pickup, thus reducing the bass boom. In May 2007 we removed this pickup and installed it in the Taylor 810-L1.

Val now plays the magnificent Taylor 910-CE but, along with our Yamaha FG guitars, the Big Baby has a special place in our past and will remain in our guitar archive.

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Our full-size Taylor guitars come with high quality Taylor cases - but we use Hiscox guitar cases for the others - great product at a good price, and excellent customer service.

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Kala KA-KTG-CT - 'Duke' and 'Luke'

September 2010: Quite a departure for 'gentle, tinkling' jiva... We've thought about ukes for some time and finally took delivery of a matching brother and sister pair of tenor ukuleles from Kala (at the time Taylor didn't do ukuleles, but 2012 sees some limited edition 'builders reserve' models). Hawaiian Koa back and sides, Cedar top, beautiful purfling and fretboard and headstock inlays coupled with Aquila nylgut strings make for beautiful looks and great sound.

We've had Mi-Si Acoustic Trio undersaddle pickups installed - this is a marvellous system... not only does it sound great, it also doesn't need a battery. Just plug the mains adapter into the endpin socket of the uke for a minute or so and you have up to 16 hours of playing time! Simple, brilliant!

As they don't come supplied with cases, we bought a pair of Kinsman hardshell cases. Unfortunately the clasps/latches were not of great quality, and we've since bought a couple of Thomann cases to protect our little beauties.

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Kala U-Bass - 'Baz'

June 2012: For quite some time we've been toying with the idea of an acoustic bass. Jimmy actually found a Taylor AB-4 for sale (alas, in Germany), but we didn't get it ... ah well, let's not lose hope, maybe another time. However, we couldn't resist a Kala U-Bass bass ukulele - a diminutive gem in mahogany, much more attuned to the size of Val's fingers.

Within the space of a week we had the makings of a new song (actually a re-arrangement of a two year old song that had never made it to the live performance repertoire), and soon afterwards we worked out an arrangement of a song we've been wanting to do for eight years!.

It's a cute, irresistable little instrument - but it certainly packs a punch with a rounded warm sound that has fitted in straightaway with our music. We think it will become an important element of the expanding jiva soundscape.

We bought the Kala-built case specially designed for the acoustic U-Bass.

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This is a Westfield flatback acoustic in a beautiful, deep sunburst finish.

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Jimmy bought a Kawai K1 in 1988 because of its rich string sounds. He still can't play it very well but Val, having played piano, adapted quickly to the K1.

We bought a Yamaha PSR1500 workstation which, because of its onboard speaker system, gave us the option of including keyboards in an acoustic (ie without PA system) venue. However, it was such a complicated machine with so many buttons and settings that we seemed to spend more time twiddling than actually making music with it. So the Kawai crept back into favour until we bought a superb Roland FP-4 piano for Val.

We're concentrating on guitar-based songs with the occasional uke playing too, so it may be some time before keyboards become part of the live set.

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Techie Stuff


  • 6-string guitars: Elixir Nanoweb light gauge
  • 12-string guitars: Elixir Nanoweb extra light gauge
  • Mandolin: Elixir Polyweb
  • Ukuleles: Aquila nylgut

Elixir strings are more expensive than normal strings, but we find that they sound cleaner and brighter, and retain their clarity longer than any other make we've tried. (And no, sadly, we're not sponsored by the makers of Elixir strings.) Similarly, Aquila uke strings are renowned as being one of the best brands around.

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  • Fishman Matrix Natural I - fitted to Yamaha FG630 12-string
  • Fishman Rare Earth Humbucker - fitted to Yamaha FG580 6-string
  • EMG ASQ-3 - fitted to Taylor 855 12-string (Missy)
  • Mi-Si Acoustic Trio - fitted to ukuleles
  • Taylor Expression System - included with Taylor 910CE (Nams), Taylor 910CE-L7 (Rio), Taylor 914CE-L7 (Jacques), Taylor Custom Jumbo 12 (Chalise) and Taylor Custom Jumbo 6 (Coco) from new

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If you have excellent instruments and a state of the art sound system, then you owe it to your music and your audience to use good quality cables. After years of experimenting and trial and error we have finally settled on cables that we believe to be the best we've ever used.

ClearTone cables from Award-Session are made to order using high quality cable and genuine Neutrik connectors... they deliver a crisp and uncoloured sound which to us is the perfect match for our Taylor Guitars and Bose L1 sound system.

  • Balanced - Right Angled Jack to Male XLR: used for guitars with the Taylor Expression System (Taylor 910CE-L7 6-string 'Rio', Taylor 910CE 6-string 'Nams' and Taylor Custom Jumbo 12-string 'Chalise')
  • Unbalanced - Right Angle Jack to Straight Jack: used for guitar with EMG pickup system (Taylor 855 12-string 'Missy') and ukuleles with the Mi-Si Acoustic Trio pickup system (Kala KA-KTG-CT - 'Duke' and 'Luke')
  • Balanced - Female Straight XLR to Male Straight XLR: used for microphones

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Sound System

Bose L1 Model 2

Bose L1 Model II Cylindrical Radiator speaker system...this high tech, high spec system is phenomenal - it combines classy, cool looks with an amazing clarity of sound that seems to effortlessly fill the stage and the venue. Our setup comprises:

  • L1 Model II power stand base unit
  • L1 Model II Cylindrical Speaker array ('the stick')
  • 2 x B1 bass module
  • 2 x T1 ToneMatch mixer/pre-amp module (one for Val, one for Jimmy)

With this superb system there is no need for separate stage monitoring and Front of House systems - all we add to the above is our guitars, ukes, leads and:

  • 2 x Sennheiser e845 Supercardioid vocal microphones
  • 2 x K & M boom microphone stands (not only for mics but also for harmonica and holding our T1s within in easy reach)

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AER Alpha Plus 2 Acoustic Amplifier

Small but perfectly formed, this diminutive amplifier gives us clarity and quality in more intimate venues where the Bose L1 might be just a bit too imposing. AER sound quality is legendary, and is the first choice for many acoustic musicians. Now that we've experienced it ourselves, (using our Bose T1 ToneMatch mixers and taking the T1 master out into the AER channel 1 input), retaining the perfect mix and tonal characteristics, we are amazed!

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Recording, Editing, Mixing

  • sE condenser microphones:
    • sE X1
    • sE1A matched pair
    • sE2
    • sE3A matched pair
    • sE2200A
    • Z3300
  • BeyerDynamic M300 dynamic microphones
  • SoundCraft EFX8 Mixer
  • Behringer UB1204-Pro mixer
  • Dell XPS laptop
  • Dell Vostro i7 desktop PC
  • Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 external (USB) audio interface
  • Edirol R-09 portabledigital recorder
  • Zoom Q3HD portable digital HD video recorder
  • Canon Legria HF-200 HD camcorder
  • Canon Legria HF G25 HD camcorder (x2)

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  • Magix Samplitude Pro X - professional multi-tracking audio/MIDI DAW
  • Gold Wave - brilliant shareware audio editor, feature packed and can handle a multitude of file types
  • Magix Video Pro X6 - professional video editing
  • Cyberlink Power Director 10 - 'prosumer' video editing
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