5/03/2015

Vermont Life Note #1

Today we're doing a heavy Spring cleaning around the store building. One of the old outbuildings is finally going to come down sometime soon and I'm thankful for that. It's a bit terrifying -- The Leaning Shed of Rochester. We've been at it all day moving piles of old lumber (as in, late 1800s old for some of it) and having that special kind of "sunny day bonfire" to be rid of the punky and bug-rotten old stuff. Feels good after schlepping stuff all over.

Maybe grilled cheese and picking after closing? Or perhaps more barnboard guitars are in order? We'll see.

I did finally manage to glue up a bunch of maple laminate blanks for electric guitar necks. Getting excited about that... and getting excited by a whole lot of cool customer gear to finish up in the near-term. There's a gorgeous old Weymann parlor guitar, multiple Kalamazoo KG-14 type guitars (and a 12 fret version of the same), more old Martins hiding in the woodwork, and several Kay-made, National-coned resonator guitars (40s/50s) in the works as well. It's a happy herd.

5/02/2015

2015 Airline Bojotar (Modified)


Over a couple days this week, Bow Thayer and I have been modding up his prototype "Bojotar" -- swapping out electronics and optimizing it a bit. He'd already raised the cone off of the back of the inside of the instrument with an add-on ring below it to coax a bit more acoustic tone, but he wanted a bit more something on the electric side of it and a bit more something on the acoustic side of it, plugged-in.

We swapped the original mini-humbucker pickup for a GFS lipstick pickup and replaced the bridge piezo unit with a two-sensor K&K unit. All the old wiring was removed and we popped a Les Paul-style 3-way switch on the upper bout and vol/tone for the electric pickup and volume for the acoustic pickup. Of course, the saddle got a bit of better intonation at the same time, too.

The result is a remarkably balanced (for mixing an electric with an acoustic pup, mind you) sound that hits a bunch of sweet spots. It all exits the guitar in a simple mono jack, too.

1938 Bacon & Day Sultana Tenor Banjo


This morning's jam was pretty darn fun! Mr. Paul from up in Burlington came down and picked up his TG-0 but while he was at it he played some tunes with us and showed off this "new to him" B&D tenor. Of course, I had to snap a few shots.

The serial inside dates it to 1938 and aside from the tuners and head, it's all-original and in great shape. I know he'll need to get his frets leveled and dressed later on, but for the time being they're good enough for gov't work. The "Sultana" moniker corresponds to B&D's Silver Bell #1 model.

5/01/2015

1910s Medio Fino 4/4 Violin


This is a customer's old 4/4 violin that was in for some work. It's a French-made Jerome Thibouville Lamy "Medio Fino" instrument an awful lot like this one. I'd say it probably dates from the 1910s or early 1920s and is a relatively plainly-adorned model -- but boy, it sure sounds good. This one has a fuller sound than the instrument linked-to just above. Woods are standard: spruce over maple -- and also standard issue: they're rather plain. Still, it's built in a sturdy fashion and has a good carve.

Work included gluing on a new (well, vintage parts-bin) ebony fingerboard, some crack repair, replacing tailpiece, pegs, and bridge, and general cleaning and soundpost adjustment/setup. I used my usual John Pearse Mezzo strings on this one and it's well-suited to the sound of those. This is not surprising since most folks were using comparable-tension/voicing gut strings at the time this was made.

4/30/2015

Spring Cleaning: 1930s Gibson Squad Photo


I'm swapping around ephemera in the shop and so some of my collection is for sale (and framed, too).

This one is an original 1930s 5x7 in a newer wood frame. It's absolutely awesome from the point of a Gibson fan like myself: a late 20s/early 30s-equipped band entirely toting Gibson instruments! And, unlike earlier Gibson "orchestras," this one has a number of Gibson flattop Hawaiian guitars, old "Robert Johnson" style L-0/1s, and a host of nice old mandolin-family instruments along with a Mastertone 5-string banjo. Sheesh! And... how often do you see a mandobass this late in the game?

Spring Cleaning: 1930s Wildest Band Ever Photo


I'm swapping around ephemera in the shop and so some of my collection is for sale (and framed, too).

This one is an original 8x10 in a vintage plastic (50s?) frame. This is one of the coolest photos I've ever owned as the band is intensely awesome. Check out the gear! Bottle-rack percussion, rare L&H teardrop tenor guitar, old Regal/Washburn 30s 000-size flattop, "barrel" bass/cello, trumpets, taropatch and ukes lying around, musical saw, drums, jub, everything... including a nice old Gibson A mando! I feel like these guys have to be in some sort of event hall, too... just check that place out.

Spring Cleaning: 1940s WWII Jazz Band Photo


I'm swapping around ephemera in the shop and so some of my collection is for sale (and framed, too).

This one is an original 8x10 in a vintage wooden frame. Presumably these guys are a WWII-era little jazz (?) band picking out tunes on base. I love the simple drum kit and 40s Harmony Monterey archtop (would've been brand new). The expressions are also killer... as are the drummer's tie and glasses!

Spring Cleaning: 1940s Oahu Amp Duo Photo


I'm swapping around ephemera in the shop and so some of my collection is for sale (and framed, too).

This one is an original 5x7 in a newer black frame. I love the old Oahu "suitcase" style amp with both the lap steel and electrified Epiphone archtop sharing the inputs. What a cool/odd sound that must've been!

Spring Cleaning: 1940s Hawaiian Sharps Band Photo


I'm swapping around ephemera in the shop and so some of my collection is for sale (and framed, too).

This one is an original 8x10 in a vintage wood frame featuring the "Hawaiian Sharps." Interesting instruments include a Martin soprano uke, Epiphone (aftermarket-electrified) archtop guitar, nice old double bass, and unknown lap steel. The old Harmony PA units (late 30s? early 40s? as I recall) are pretty kick-butt as well.

Spring Cleaning: 1950s "Juniors" Quartet Photo


I'm swapping around ephemera in the shop and so some of my collection is for sale (and framed, too).

This one is an original 8x10 in a vintage wood frame with satin-y glass. Pictured are two cool old National amps, a standard National catalog-style lap steel, older Lange-made (?) tenor banjo, 1930s Gibson L-00 flattop guitar, and a mid-50s National electric archtop (with adjustable neck). Also: way cool shirts! Cowboy fever.

Spring Cleaning: 1950s WKAX Western Recording Session Photo


I'm swapping around ephemera in the shop and so some of my collection is for sale (and framed, too).

This one is an original late 40s/early 50s 8x10 in a newer black wood frame and features a "western" style band in a recording session (WKAX in Russellville, AL?). Cool instruments abount with a 40s Harmony acoustic archtop with added pickup, Martin D-28, late-40s Kay jumbo guitar in sunburst, nice old Gibson F-style mando, and of course fiddle, piano, and double bass. Note the cute vintage amp, too.

4/29/2015

Ephemera: Tamburitza! (1920s)


Another fantastic tamburitza orchestra shot... this time in Philadelphia, PA.

In other news: if you've been trying to peg me down for talking-to, today, please excuse slow response: it's been nutty in-shop all day! I will get back to you and thanks for your patience.