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"These Phosphor Bronze strings have just the right amount of body and twang – which is vital for my sound. I give them a hard life and they still sound great."


We continually ask ourselves what makes a great guitarist, or what makes a creative, and truly awe-inspiring musician? There are multiple answers of course, and endless variations of greatness come along with credible innovation.

In the spotlight on this occasion is a truly unique and individual player who utilises a contemporary style built around exquisite rhythm techniques combined with percussion, and finished off with a strong & dynamic vocal capability.

There really is nothing more engaging than listening to and watching a player who's not afraid to push the boundaries and seems to be on a continuous path of invention that leads to a multitude of possibilities on the instrument in hand.

This week is the gifted and extremely well-versed, technical magician, who's enjoyed continued success with his own material and has definitively carved out his own sound and style; a contemporary guitarist of the future definitely deserves the title "hand built by robots" 🤖

The prestigious Newton Faulkner. 🎼 

Image Credit - Future Publishing

New Wave Style Bohemian 🥁 🎸 

Stereotypically when we envision an English singer-songwriter we tend to automatically default to the historical image of one man and his guitar with four chords and the truth, something that is essentially perfect in every way and instantly identifiable. So when such a historically refined method evolves it takes something truly special to start the evolution.

Sam Newton Battenberg Faulkner (born January 11, 1985) is an English singer-songwriter and musician from Reigate, Surrey. He is the second child of Sally and Keith Faulkner, growing up with a relatively normal background, the draw to play music came as he moved towards his teenage years.

Like many young minds he was initially indecisive, first having a go at learning piano 🎹 and also finding a magnetism towards the drums. Neither of those instruments really stuck with him until he picked up the guitar. Interestingly the piano and drums would prove to be crucial influences on his evolved technique in later years.

Taking to the guitar as an instrument around the age of 11–12 Newton had found his calling but not in the conventional way, at a very early stage of developing on the instrument Newton was wholeheartedly inspired and transfixed on a local player of great prestige who had adopted an unconventional method and approach.

Image Courtesy of Newtonfaulkner.com

To this day Newton praises and recognises Eric Roche as his core inspiration for technical wizardry.

"For me, this whole thing really started with Eric Roche,” says Newton. Newton first met Eric when he was a student at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford. Eric was head of guitar at the time and his virtuosic, visual and unconventional style of guitar playing really struck a chord with Newton. Tragically, Eric lost his battle with cancer in 2005, but not without passing on his passion, skill and knowledge to the very capable hands of Mr Faulkner."

Newton Faulkner - BMG.com

Coming of age Newton was able to attend the prestigious Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford. It's here that he met some incredible fellow musicians and truly talented rising stars. Newton spent two years at the establishment honing his skills and gaining and collaborating with many fellow students as well as Bob “crazy guy” Cranham who would be a great mentor and influence.

Newton spent two years at the establishment honing his skills and gaining a diploma and a higher diploma under the tutelage of the late great Eric Roche.

Eric was a visionary player and a master of his contemporary craft, evolving the instrument taking in such an inventive direction, the biography on his official website defines him perfectly. ✌️ 

 Image credit: James Sheppard/Acoustic Magazine

“Lead, rhythm, bass and percussion all flow simultaneously from Eric’s guitar, in a sound so big that it is orchestral in its impact. And yet it is tender and considerate, with every intelligent chord tugging at the emotions. Music like this is rarely heard on your radio. It is too personal, too heartfelt, and too deep to make light entertainment. Eric’s music is music for the soul.”

Eric roche.com - Biography

Mainstream Success From An Inventive Songwriter & Musician 🎵 

Newton Faulkner is an incredibly hard-working musician in the studio and live, and this work ethic was key to his initial recognition and formative success.

As he progressed away from his studies his first band was a Green Day cover band in which he played bass guitar… interesting 🤔 🎸.

He then moved on to form a funk rock group with some fellow musicians he had associated with on the circuit, “Half A Guy” played numerous gigs and were together for two years and produced 2 demo CDs.

As a young musician and occasional busker like us all he managed to play with some interesting people in his time, like this guy off the telly 📺 … 🤨 for example... 

Image via - www.independent.ie

After his initial venture and experience with bands he began to perform solo and work to his strengths along with showcasing his individual techniques and approaches to both the instrument and performance, almost presenting the legacy of Eric Roche to a new generation.

Perseverance paid off after some great festival slots and a number of appearances on BBC Radio. Traction began to build and Newton Faulkner was being recognised as an artist to watch in the future.

Subsequently this amazing momentum resulted in him being signed to Sony BMG and on the 30th of July 2007 he released  his now iconic debut album “Hand Built By Robots 🤖 🤘 

This album is incredibly intoxicating and invites the listener in both melodically and technically, even to this day it's so refreshing to see an artist that is less confirmative and more contemporary in his own style and expression to feature in mainstream music charts.

Hearing this unique style and approach to this day is artistically mind blowing with an everlasting impression of era-defining creativity.


The ethos has always remained to this day, as the man himself states:

'To see Newton live is truly unimaginable and people are often quick to assume that there are backing tracks or some sort of musical wizardry going on behind the scenes. However the only magic that happens will be right there under your nose the whole time.

“We don’t use any backing tracks, loop pedals, offstage performers or any of that stuff, what you see is exactly what you get.”

Faulkner prides himself on being a performer and his character both on and off stage is truly one and the same. He truly is a musician for the people and of the people.'


Known for his incredible translations of modern classic covers they have almost become his trademark in someways and we almost expect him to translate iconic anthems via his unique soundscape. This cover of Massive Attack’s Teardrop is absolutely astonishing. 😮  


Every part of his technique is displayed here and it’s mesmerising to watch and of course listen to. Players and fans alike are continually intrigued to understand and possibly learn his abstract methods.

Newton is not only a gifted musician but a generous soul and is always looking to convey his magic and pass on his evolved approach to guitar playing. 🙏 


Strings That Tap & Slap 👋

“Elixir gave me a bunch of strings and they genuinely lasted a really long time.”

Newton Faulkner - musicradar.com

The pivotal moment has come where we assess and analyse the man in questions string choice. 👍

Upon early predictions you would venture a guess that Newton is going to require a heavy duty string, possibly a heavier gauge that is both extremely durable and also highly reliable with exceptional tuning stability, all these features are surely a necessity with such a physical and enduring technical approach.

Great guess! You’re absolutely right 😉. The mainstay gauge is 13-56 Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor bronze!

Newton is of course a very experimental player so there is room for a degree of experimentation with variable tunings involved.

“I’ve increased my string gauges and it sounds great. I’m tuned very low; my sixth string is a C. I’ve got a baritone that’s down in A, and at one point I was just using strings that you get over the counter and it was getting a bit rattly. We went up to 75s and its crazy string gauges; wound B-strings.

“The way that the pickup and the mic reacts to that is such a good sound. I now have a completely custom-gauge sets of strings which, to be honest, is a pain in the arse! I have to have a database for what strings are on what guitar, like an Excel spreadsheet.”

Newton Faulkner - musicradar.com

From the beginnings of his journey as a player Newton has been reliant on the great quality that Elixir Strings offer. The strings themselves really complement his approach and clearly they have the right chemistry to never let him down in any performance. Why do people choose a high-end premium coated string? Elixir can summarise that in the following brief statement:

“–Newton Faulkner
Acoustic Phosphor Bronze, Medium (.013-­‐.056)

What makes Elixir Strings a favourite among artists like Newton Faulkner?  It’s their great tone, smooth feel, no string squeak and extended tone life. And for Newton, it’s the Phosphor Bronze wonderful depth of tone and playability that enables his guitars to sound and feel their best in the studio and at shows.

Elixir Strings is still the only brand to coat the entire string – protecting not only the outer string surface, but also the gaps between the windings. As a result, Elixir Strings retain their tone longer than any other string, uncoated or coated.

Elixir Strings player survey via acousticguitar.com


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