Friday, December 11, 2009

Old Style Oddity

Short-scale homemade octave guitar in stunning Makita blue. From the Mark Ramos-Nishita collection. A gift from (and presumably made by) a fan which was presented to Mark after a show. This guitar makes me chuckle. PRS-esque headstock, DiMarzio (da-mazzio if you're from Queens) humbucker, and string-through hardtail Strat bridge. Three-piece maple neck-through construction. The pickup was rattling around freely in its cavity and that was addressed. I should probably replace the pickup mounting ring but was moved to keep it as original as possible. Any major alterations might be regrettable, like when I cut the legs off that Chippendale highboy to fit it in the bedroom. I thought Leslie Keno was going to beat me with a broom handle for that one.

With the pickup back where it belonged, I gave the guitar a new set of strings and the intonation got a nudge. Plugged it in and it sounded pretty damn good! I would recommend this one for the shorter guitarist as it will make you appear considerably bigger on stage. Coupled with a pair of Prince's stiletto heels, all eyes will now be on you!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

El Gato Negro

A genius idea shared with me (and invented by) by the peerless Mark Ramos-Nishita (AKA Money Mark). On the left is his 60s Teisco which he converted to an electric version of a Tres Cubano. Wouldn't have been the same if he'd chosen a Swedish Hagstrom guitar to Latinize. A Japanese manufactured Teisco seems to make more sense for this particular mash-up. Mark, I believe, first recorded with the Guittres on his record, Push the Button. Traditional tuning is G, C, E, but Mark likes his G, B, E.

My version began by placing Mark's guittres on a piece of kraft paper and tracing the body. No laser-holographic imaging of any kind was employed for this first, crucial step. I have been living in Los Angeles for four months now and am beginning to acclimate to my architectural surroundings so rift-sawn oak was chosen for a Craftsman-style Gustav Stickley vibe. The wood was dyed black with Sumi ink for a touch of the mystic east. The pickup is a Bill Lawrence 560 mini-humbucker from the 1970s.

$Mark is often referred to as the "fourth Pep Boy" and is currently dazzling audiences on tour with Harper Simon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

(G)old Style

There's Max Hyder's gilder's tip which was given to me by the sculptor, Richard Knox. Max taught me the intracacies of gilding at The Cooper Union in the early 90s. Mr. Hyder is also a dead-ringer for late Walt Whitman and legendary raconteur who also helmed the Cooper Union sculpture shop. Imagine being a pea-green art school freshman beavering away at a band saw and Walt Whitman in overalls appears out of your blind spot, exclaiming, "I want to lick your balls!" Lewd but not lecherous, maybe it was the delivery, and "too much for Chinese television" as my pal Jonathan liked to say. The CU sculpture shop was legendary for its holiday and end of year parties. Mr. Hyder lured many an art-school boy into the privacy (not that privacy was all that crucial) of a welding booth. Another sculptor (and CU faculty), Ersy Schwartz, annexed the wax room to build a kitchen complete with a Chambers stove. This ensured the parties were well catered. Anyhoo, one new and one revised guitar that were gilt. The short scale guitar is a refin and appears in a previous post. The f-holes (easy Max) can be better seen now and the gold looks good paired with the lap-steel pickup. The other, standard scale, guitar is equipped with a 70s, dec0-style, Stratocaster neck and a pair of Jason Lollar Imperial Humbuckers. Chopped Tele bridge and hollow, cherrywood body. -So the guitar is a mash-up of a Stratocaster, Telecaster, Gibson 335, and a Les Paul. Blissfully light! All the praise for Lollar pickups is true by my experience!

The humbucker guitar is currently on loan with Paul Banks' alter ego, Julian Plenti, who has been giving it a test drive. The other gold guitar is down in the basement, playing video games, being a general layabout, wastrel, and profligate.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Above the Paving Stones - the Beach! Pia Dehne, Gentle Situationist

...from the archives:

On October 13, 1978, rock behemoth Queen released the double A-side: “Bicycle Race” b/w “Fat Bottomed Girls” from their new LP, Jazz, which would appear in record stores the following month. As a publicity stunt, and in the spirit of the band’s propensity for all things decadent, a nude bicycle race was orchestrated. Sixty-five women rode sporty white touring bikes rented from the British cycle shop, Halfords. In addition to these shiny new ten-speeds, each rider was provided with a pair of black leather shoes and white ankle socks. Approximately half wore white cotton cycling hats and three women wore red hats. (The riders look suspiciously tanned for English women.) Examining the (in)famous photograph from the race, it doesn’t appear to be a rock’n’roll party atmosphere at all; the racers have their game-face on and are poised to compete. The photograph documents the beginning of the race, presumably the moment before the starting pistol was fired. All of the women sit astride their bicycles in the ready position with two exceptions: one woman takes a sip from a water bottle while another stands with her back to the camera to reveal, yup, a fat bottom. The rentals department at Halfords was so shocked by the use of their bicycles they insisted Queen purchase all sixty-five seats! Where are those seats today? I imagine an unlucky EMI intern spent a couple hours with a crescent wrench replacing the sullied seats, pining the likelihood of ever meeting the band members.

The queens of Queen are a bit puzzling. On the one hand you have the lyric, “Fat bottomed girls, they’ll be riding today” –from “Bicycle Race”- and the fist-pumping stadium songs “We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions.” On the other hand, you have those harlequin tights and the Excalibur-sword half mic-stand. Thus, when Freddie’s mind-bending operatic tenor belts out “Bicycle! Bicycle!” it is easy enough to mentally replace it with “bisexual.” Yet, how many mid-western high school basketball teams in the 70’s and 80’s exploded onto the court for warm-ups to the tune of “We Will Rock You”? Hundreds. And how many of them knew that Freddie was, like, gay? Not many. So…OK…jock straps…locker rooms…it’s beginning to make a little sense. The male fantasy of sixty-five girls in a bike race filmed in a lo-fi Leni Reifenstahl style. Check it out on You Tube, folks. Perhaps I’m thinking too much which is decidedly un-rock and a flotilla of naked women (or men) is a perfectly pleasant idea – gay or straight. Which brings me to the matter at hand.

Pia Dehne has staged a tableau vivant of the Queen bicycle race as a neo-happening and inspiration for a series of paintings and drawings. This isn’t the first time she has staged such a scene. For her previous Deitch Projects show in the spring of 2004, Dehne recreated the original UK cover for Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, using a collection of New York artists and musicians as models. An eighteen-foot painting on black velvet was made from the photographed event. (To my knowledge, Dehne is neither a pot-smoker nor does she own a blacklight.) This “monumental velvet” sat as the centerpiece of the show and was flanked by sketches, small paintings, and other source materials as tributaries leading up to the large painting. For the new work she has inverted the process by using her carefully staged and photographed re-creation of the bicycle race as her port of disembarkation. I find this new work to be a vast improvement upon her previous solo show at Deitch. Dehne views her tableau through her own secret prism, abstracting and molding her source material.

For the re-creation of the bicycle race, Dehne’s riders were not naked. A “nude-suit” (a Queen-sized oxymoron) was pieced together with two pairs of sheer stockings; the first pair was worn normally with a flesh-toned g-string underneath and the second pair’s legs were made into sleeves with the feet of the stockings cut off to free the hands and the crotch was cut out for the cyclist’s head. Other accessories, as described above, such as hats and shoes, were faithfully reproduced. Prosthetic breasts functioned as oversized pasties and were held in place by the upper pair of stockings.

Pia Dehne is a social dynamo. She can be seen at almost as many New York City art events as that older gentleman with the gray mustache and crazy Monchichi hair. (Don’t pretend you don’t know whom I’m talking about.) She has no trouble assembling a group such as this, as all of the participants are personal friends of hers.

The event took place September 9th, 2006 as a part of Jeffrey Deitch’s 2nd annual art parade. Each participant was assigned a number corresponding to a cyclist from the original photograph in order to more closely replicate the prototype. The women (see if you can spot the one in drag) met before the parade at Sara Delano Roosevelt Park near Stanton and Chrystie Streets for the photo session. A crowd of gawkers quickly assembled and got in touch with their inner hard hat. A group of men playing soccer on the adjacent field showed more hustle than usual. One of the footballers paused to view the spectacle through a chain link fence. After the session the cyclists relocated to West Broadway and Houston streets to lead off the art parade. The short parade route covered only a few blocks to the Deitch space on Wooster Street and, apparently this brief ride wasn’t enough for the emboldened cyclists. Feeling a strong sense of unity and empowerment, Dehne’s cyclists continued en masse on a random route through SoHo for another thirty minutes, turning heads and stopping traffic. Cabbies forgot about their lower back pain for a moment. Shoe shoppers at Camper noticed nothing. The rented bicycles were returned without incident, seats and all.

Simplicity and purity are difficult to achieve in any medium, especially with the subject matter Dehne has chosen. Work such as this is often accompanied with a didactic whomp on the head. I’ve emerged with no unusual aches or pains and feel pleasantly enlightened. Perhaps the most poetic aspect of this work is what Dehne did not do – at least actively. Her cyclists were not instructed to deviate from the defined route, slow pace, and art savvy audience along the parade route and break away to redefine the parade on their own terms. A corny metaphor, sure, but illustrative of the humanistic and utopian aspirations of the work - sentiments that seem to limp along in obscurity in contemporary art practice. As Diana Vreeland once said, “The only thing worse than bad taste is no taste.” Play this record backwards and you will hear Pia Dehne summoning you to, “Form some opinions, your happiness depends upon it!”

But sometimes a naked bike ride is just a naked bike ride. As a closing thought, here’s Duchamp talking about his first and most famous readymade from 1913:

“The Bicycle Wheel is my first readymade, so much so that at first it wasn’t even called a readymade. It still had little to do with the idea of the readymade. Rather it had more to do with the idea of chance. In a way, it was simply letting things go by themselves and having a sort of created atmosphere in a studio, an apartment where you live. Probably, to help your ideas come out of your head. To set the wheel turning was very soothing, very comforting, a sort of opening of avenues on other things than material life of every day. I liked the idea of having a bicycle wheel in my studio. I enjoyed looking at it, just as I enjoyed looking at the flames dancing in a fireplace. It was like having a fireplace in my studio, the movement of the wheel reminded me of the movement of flames.”

Friday, October 30, 2009


Eventually every double-neck Steinberger finds a loving home and this viola-shaped guitar will certainly find a good parent in due time. Built on spec last month from my last bit of mahogany from Rosenzweig Lumber (est. 1910) in the South Bronx. My all-time favorite lumberyard and located just four miles south-east of 1520 Sedgewick Avenue. (...and six and a half miles from the intersection of Ohm and Ampere Avenues!) Guitar has a hollow body with no f-holes and black lacquer under clear-coat on back and sides. Great-sounding 60s Teisco pickups which took much fussing with shims to get the output balanced between neck and bridge. Old, 1930s (??) tailpiece and Tune-O-Matic bridge. Mahogany and rosewood neck with the undeniably great Tonepros vintage repro tuners. Very lightweight.

Most, or all, violin-shaped guitars and basses are somewhat stylized in their design but the body shape here is taken directly from a Google images search for 'Viola' and scaled on a Xerox machine at Kinkos. I'll do a dual dedication to LA's Paisley Underground and my pal Dan, America's biggest Beatles fanatic!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Halloween from Harry Partch

-portrait by Jonathan Williams
Two recent, similar, guitars. The top one was built for Sufjan Stevens and the bottom one, shown leaning against the amp, (and came first) made for Bryce Dessner of The National. The old-growth Western NC cherry wood was once a kitchen shelf in a cottage at Skywinding Farm in Scaly Mountain, North Carolina. Remarkable wood. Super dark and dense wood. Tap it and it sounds like porcelain.
Before the orange paint was unleashed (looks like a coat of puce Sherwin Williams under there too) in the 60s or 70s, this cottage (for a summer in the 1950s) once housed the great, avant garde composer, Harry Partch. Partch was the guest of poet Jonathan Williams though I wonder how much composition could have been accomplished as Partch built a large fieldstone terrace above the main house which could have taken all or most of the summer. Whether the terrace was a thank you for room and board or he was hired by Williams' parents is unknown. One summer Williams, Thomas Meyer, and myself would often dine on the 'Partch terrace' and on occasion bring out a portable record player to listen to the original vinyl issues of his compositions while we dined! Harry Partch is the inventor/builder of many instruments including the Whang-Gun, the Quadrangularis Rerversum, Cloud Chamber Bowls, the Zymo-Xyl, and the Kitharas.

Whether or not Partch composed during his Scaly Mountain visit there was inspiration for a future composition. One Saturday evening that summer, Jonathan Williams brought Partch to the (Macon) county seat of Franklin to show him mountain clog dancing at the Courthouse square. As a result, Partch was inspired to compose Revelation in the Courthouse Park.
Anyway, I like to think that the cherry lumber (recycled from recent renovations to the cottage) soaked up lots of Harry Partch ju-ju. -Or he at least set a can of baked beans or tomato soup on the shelf.

Both guitars are fitted with a single, Jason Lollar Chicago Steel pickup which is based on Oahu lap steel pickups from the 40s. It's built like an iceberg! Huge magnets lurk underneath. No other pickup sounds like it. I believe Lollar intends the pickup to be used in the bridge position but it sounds damn good in the middle position. Sharpie marker was used to color the sides of both and Sufjan's version is slightly smaller than Bryce's.

Bryce and his brother Aaron have been a tremendous help in the Old Style R&D department this year. More on the Dessners in a future post. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Old Style Inspiration Part 2

J.J. Cale's heavily customized Harmony flat top. Some amazing footage of the guitar can be seen in this youtube clip. Cale once remarked that tooling on guitars was his "golf" and this one seems to represent all 18 holes, well played, complete with water hazards, sand traps, and a flask of Cutty Sark. Certainly one of the funkiest guitars on the planet. A whole lot going on. In the video clip, Cale flips over the backless guitar and you can see the turnbuckles that hold it all together!

Cale on his Harmony, from the Gibson website:

It's pretty much inoperable now. The airlines messed it up pretty badly. That was one of the reasons I kept modifying it, or trying to fix it. In those days I didn't know as much about modifying guitars. I took the back off it, because an airline had crushed it. Also, it was an acoustic guitar, and we were starting to play bigger gigs, and I needed to play louder. This was before piezo pickups. When I put a magnetic pickup on it, I would get up to a certain volume level, and then it would feedback. In those days there wasn't a good way to prevent that. One reason I took the back off the guitar, and put a rod through it, was so it wouldn't generate feedback any more. (Full interview here)

Other implied guitars: any number of Eddie Van Halen's home made guitars , The Les Paul 'Log', and Brian May's 'Red Special' or 'Fireplace.'

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chestnut guitar for Chan Marshall

A favorite guitar from a couple years ago built for Chan Marshall who records as Cat Power. A youtube vid of the guitar in action here. On tour for "The Greatest" her famous black Danelectro was accidentally knocked over by a live sound engineer and the headstock cracked. A few months (weeks?? I dunno) before the Danelectro was busted, I dropped in at the Mercer Hotel in New York where Chan was dazzling the press corps. I brought along a guitar for her consideration but she wasn't too keen on its old Mustang neck and said she would much prefer a Silvertone neck. She had her Danelectro with her which I had the great pleasure of strumming a few chords on. Die Zauberflote! I thought, as it was Dreadnought-loud played unplugged! Very pleased to have one of my guitars in the mix but have fingers crossed for a rebirth of Chan's Danelectro.

The follow-up guitar, as it were, arrived a month or two later after I was able to hunt down a Silvertone neck which I'll guess to be a '59 or '60. As with Fender necks, Chan has an allergy for switches on guitars. So the two, early 60s, neck and middle position, lipstick tube pickups are wired with just a volume knob and no three way toggle. The original 250K potentiometer was later replaced with a 100K volume knob to remove some of the twang that you'll hear in the youtube video.

The body is made of wormy Chestnut and is light as a feather. Guitar has the feel of playing a cloud. The lumber had a former life as a bookshelf in the home of poets Jonathan Williams and Thomas Meyer in Scaly Mountain, North Carolina. The shelf was removed many years ago to reclaim some wall space for Williams' collection of modernist photography and am trying to remember what books were once shelved there. I have a dim memory of R.H. Blyth's four-part Haiku series, Aperture's Masters of Photography Series, Stephen King and Peter Straub first editions, others.

Finished guitar was delivered in a brown shopping bag from APC following the inspiration of seeing a photograph of The Ramones with Joey Ramone's Mosrite in a shopping bag in lieu of a case. Band looking sharp on the G train probably headed into the city for a gig at CBGB's. Transfer at Queens Plaza for the R train into Manhattan??

Friday, October 16, 2009

First Bass

First bass built in the standard Old Style style. Fender bird's eye maple neck, P-bass pickup by Lindy Fralin and my stock of cherry wood never seems to dry up so book matched cherry top and back. Light and resonant. No bass amp in the Old Style test kitchen, just my old Fender Princeton, so I will have to hunt one down for R&D. Mark Ohe, famous art director/graphic designer and bassist for Endless Boogie was over a couple days ago and suggested the action be lowered a bit so I lowered it.

Endless Boogie played last night at Avalon in the shadow of the Capitol Records HQ on Hollywood and Vine. Jesper Eklow, EB guitarist, took this guitar out for an airing. The guitar came together earlier this year at my gallerist's eastern Pennsylvania home. I set up a plywood and saw horse table in front of her 18th century barn over Memorial Day weekend. Note the guitar's combined POW/MIA and PA Dutch vibe. Late 60s Danelectro/Coral neck, 19th century mahogany body, Lollar P-90. Sumi ink and wax finish.

Collin Wilcox Paxton 4 February 1935 - 13 October 2009

Collin Wilcox Paxton, stage, film, and television actress died on October 13 at her home in Highlands, North Carolina. She was 74.

Best remembered for her role in the film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird as Mayella Violet Ewell, she also had a long and successful Broadway career. (Her IMDB page here) I know her as the founder of a number of non-profit arts organizations such as The Studio for the Arts and The Highlands Cashiers Players in Highlands, NC. The Studio for the Arts occupied a former forest service garage downtown and students from Highlands School would be bussed to 'The Studio' for classes in visual arts, acting, and dance.

My earliest recollection of a class at The Studio would have to be about second or third grade, when I was guided through the drafting of a black and white bunny in pastel. The instructor was Elsa Sibley, a tall and wiry artist and horse enthusiast (and dead ringer for Patti Smith) and I remember very clearly Sibley introducing the class to the work of Toulouse-Lautrec.

I last saw Collin in June when she hosted a cocktail party following the launch of my log cabin book. She gave me a copy of, "Boyhood Photos of J.-H. Lartigue" (Ami Guichard, Pub., 1966) that had been given to her by Tony Walton, Tony award winning scene designer and former spouse to Julie Andrews. As a remembrance, I will look forward to passing the book along to someone interesting in 2045! Of the kindest, most generous, and interesting folks I have ever known. She will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mystery Steel

Pickup found recently on.......perhaps you've heard of it.......eBay. I'll take a stab and say early or mid 1950s. Vacuum molded lucite cover backpainted gold. Surprised there is not a tone knob on the bass side which seems a bit odd. Seven digit potentiometer code wasn't recognized by the Guitar Dater Project, odd as well. Let me know if this pickup looks familiar to you. The coil is P-90-esque in its construction and sounds, er, golden. The neck is from a 1962 Fender Duo Sonic with original Klusons. Chopped Telecaster string-thru bridge which, for a couple months last winter, I thought was an invention of my own. -But nothing new under the sun as the saying goes. Tra la. Double-cutaway cherry wood (poplar sides) body is hollow with Dobro-homage mini F-holes. Strung with .13 gauge roundwounds for extra whomp. Action is set up to follow the contour of the neck radius but the bridge could be adjusted to a flatter radius for a slide player.

This 3/4 scale guitar reminds me of John Lennon's 1958 Rickenbacker 325 during the period that it was painted black. That guitar has an even shorter scale, 20.7". Nearly five inches shorter than a Telecaster!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

'53 Premier Pickups

Finished guitar with the 1953 Premier pickups mentioned in a previous posting. 70s (poss. earlier) Bigsby B-5, Tune-O-Matic bridge, Warmoth maple/rosewood neck, original (and rare) white Daka-Ware pointer knob, Klusons. Like all the other guitars from the past several months the control plate is 40s Melamine recycled from dark-slides from cut film holders for large-format view cameras. You might remember Melamine as the material that bowling alley ashtrays are made of. Nasty stuff. The body is book-matched cherrywood with poplar neck and bridge blocks. Sumi ink finish with a thin lacquer clear-coat.

Pickups were pretty fussy to mount as the plastic covers have shifted a bit over the decades. Pickups were originally for a guitar with a much more acute neck angle than this which made a 1/8" poplar shim under the neck pickup (like on the bridge pickup of Scotty Moore's ES 295) necessary.

Expectations are best kept low with wild card pickups like these but they sound pretty fantastic. Low output by today's standards but with such a great warm and open tone. Pickups are fairly microphonic but no biggie. The temptation was there for wax potting but thought it might be like throwing water on the wicked witch of the West with a cloud of magenta smoke the only thing to remember them by.

Old Style Inspiration

The Originator, Bo Diddley profiling with futuristic, tail-fin/jet-age guitar sometime in the 50s. Supro neck with Gumby headstock and white button Klusons, two DeArmond Stratotone single-coils in the neck and middle positions, rosewood bridge and a very old tailpiece probably from an ancient mail order flat-top acoustic. I'm barely making out tone and volume knobs on the upper horn and a pickup switch could be lurking in there somewhere. I dunno? Jet silhouette painted below pickups and are those sequins up top?!! Not sure if any color photographs exist of this guitar but I'm going to guess white with red airplane, etc. And check out that 8x10 cabinet in the background! -Wonder what he had powering that beast? Rock N Roll take on the Heisman Trophy pose, new suit, stylish V-neck sweater, and great hair. The whole package.

One of my all time favorites after the primordial electric solidbody built by Paul Bigsby in 1947 for Merle Travis. Not quite sure where this modified Stratocaster ( with built-in drum machine fits into the mix but it's clear to me that it never traveled as carry-on baggage. Viva Bo. 30 December 1928 - 2 June 2008

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oldies but Groovies

Multivox Premier (???) single coils from the 33 week (mid-August) of 1953 according to the 6 digit code on the Clarostat volume and tone pots. Same summer that Elvis went to Memphis Recording Service to record "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin." "Rocket 88" was two years old when these came into being and in two years Little Richard would begin recording his great records for Specialty. The Les Paul guitar was one year old.

Similar to the leaky vital organs of my old Ford pick-up truck, these pickups seem to be holding together by sheer will but function fine. A guitar is in the works for these so I am hoping they will hold together a short while longer. Took them apart a bit, but not too much, as I fear they're going to turn to dust like the frescoes in Fellini's "Roma" found via the subway tunnel construction which vanish when exposed to the outside air.

Each pickup has two magnets. The first has a coil wrapped around it and is covered in the type of Johnson and Johnson tape that you would wrap a sprained ankle with. This magnet is not attached (by tape or mechanically) to the coil. The second magnet (like the first, it is just sandwiched in there) has height adjustable screws built in and forms a sort of "T" shape with the other magnet. The whole works sits in a galvanized steel "cup" that was formed out of sheet-stock. Fairly crude so am wondering if it is original or not. Both pickups weigh in just under 6K ohms. If they can handle a bit more jostling I will be very excited to hear how they sound.

Guitar pickups are of the most simple, mysterious, and interesting devices that I know of. Perhaps coming in a close second after a radio receiving a broadcast or electricity passing through wires powering my Cuisinart. Copper wire is wrapped around a magnet and is placed in close proximity to a vibrating string at tension. Literally millions of electric guitar sounds/tones exist and are all delivered by variations of this simple device. Oramus!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Eric Bachmann

Guitar built for amazing Eric Bachmann in, me thinks, 1997. In the background that's Miranda Brown, another golden throat. Photo is from a 2009 tour and here's a vintage video (VHS??) from olden tymes of the guitar in action in the mid-west:
Guitar is made of cherrywood which was given to me by Leon "Deadeye" Potts of Highlands, NC and was harvested near Bryson City, NC. When I was running the wood through the planer I found several specs of lead buckshot; presumably where some hunter was shootin' at some food. The neck is a CBS-style Stratocaster built in Canada by Brian Monte (Monty?) bought at Mojo Guitars on St. Mark's way back when. Brian, if you're out there, give me a call. Bigsby came from Matt Umanav Guitars and the pickups came from a couple blocks away from the compelling and creepy Music Inn. They're 50s or 60s DeArmond Dynasonics that they found after fumbling around the shop. I asked if they had any interesting pickups for sale and a drawer was pulled out, several fistfulls of plastic bags were cast aside, a medium-sized piece of Ivory ("You didn't see that") was found, and then the ratty DeArmond box was produced. $95 with wiring harness!
One of the owners of Music Inn was the go to guy in the 60s if you wanted to learn enough sitar to get your Norwegian Wood on. My brother took some lessons from him when he was doing his residency at Bellevue. I would often see him waiting for the bus at 9th st and Second Ave and I used to see his partner at the Chelsea flea market buying a beat up French horn or some bizarre oceanic instrument.
Eric's guitar has aged amazingly well considering the caustic sweat that drips from his body. -Was rewired and restored by Gil Divine a couple years ago (he said he found a grocery list written in pencil inside the control panel, hmm) and sounds better than ever. Perhaps this is the guitar that sired Emo. Quien sabe?? Eric is currently in Taiwan teaching English and recording new songs. We're all waiting for an Archers reunion but "Your Control" off his most recent record boggles the mind. One of America's great greats. Don't be a fizz, buy the records.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pine plank found on either E. 10th or St. Mark's earlier this summer. Can't remember but I do remember the traffic flow being east. Final few days in NYC before following the golden rays of the setting sun west to LA. Almost passed this board up but the white Cadillac across the street and the weathered white board, etc, etc. Smelled great when I split it on the table saw for book-matching so it's certainly very old pine.
The back is recycled maple from a a 60s piece of Salvation Army furniture and the sides, neck, and bridge block are poplar. Sharpie finish on the back and sides! '83 Bullet neck in honor of Junior Brown and a Lindy Fralin Telecaster pickup. No tone or volume controls.