Artists win fight over steel guitar strings

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A campaign led by musicians including Billy Bragg, Dave Gilmour and Radiohead's Ed O'Brien has overturned a ban on prisoners using steel-strung guitars.

The group of 12 musicians joined forces earlier this year to write an open letter calling on politicians to scrap the law which was introduced in November last year and prevented inmates of British prisons from being given access to acoustic guitars with steel strings.

The campaign to overturn the ban was also backed by MP Kevin Brennan, who says: “This is a victory for common sense and I’m pleased after months of campaigning the UK Government has listened. The power of music to help prisoners to rehabilitate is well documented.”

Billy Bragg, who runs the Jail Guitar Doors rehabilitation initiative, adds: “As an incentive to engage in rehabilitation, individual access to steel-strung guitars can really help the atmosphere on a prison wing. I’ve had a number of projects involving guitars on hold which now will be able to go ahead, and will allow those using music in prisons to get on with this important work.”

Other artists who backed the campaign included Johnny Marr of The Smiths and Elbow’s Guy Harvey.