Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Beech Cathedral

Sitting amongst a collection of Beech trees
church-like, golden green into coppery gold
there is a sense of congregation,
the poet's spearheads falling to surround you
like ideas that become your friends.
Prosperity seems inevitable. Although,
you may need to wait until Spring.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Arrowhead Truss Rod Cover

This is Chris. Chris plays a few guitars, but my favorite is this Gretsch guitar. It's the Tim Armstrong model.

photo by Glenn Hall Photography

Chris is not a punk rocker. Which is to say he wasn't so crazy about the Tim, Anarchy symbol-rmstong truss rod cover. For the last year I've said I would make him a new one, but haven't had a pencil or screw driver on hand. Quite a feat given the amount of shows, practices and general rabble rousing we've done.

At last week's show my memory kicked in and while Chris was schmoozing, Chops McClintock and I hijacked the truss rod cover. Now I don't want Chops to end up in the clink like Hatchet so I should specify that he was merely an accomplice… more of a passive onlooker, day dream Johnny. At any rate once Chops removed the truss rod cover I took off for the night.

I guaranteed a new truss rod cover in the next 1-2 years, but last night I decided to drill the holes and cut the rough shape when inspiration took hold of me. For a couple years now I've had an idea rolling around in my head about making weapons out of wood—artifact-like. The idea of making nonfunctional weapons really appeals to me—it's popped up in my sketches, but not in three dimensions… until now. Here's my first fake artifact, the walnut arrowhead. Maybe Chris will like it, maybe he won't.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Electric Brenda: Part One

I always get a little wired on a show night so I might as well blog. Over the summer I bought an acoustic which I modified and named Brenda. Unfortunately Brenda is a little feedback machine at the volumes I play at, so I set about building Electric Brenda. I cut out Brenda's silohuette on a grocery bag, bought some wood and got to work—not my usual planning process.

The raw materials are heat treated ash, which smells like a campfire when you work with it, poplar and sitka spruce:

I worked pretty quickly on this build. The ash made the back of the body and the poplar made the sides and I used all my clamps.

Then I spent a lot of time sanding out the inside facing side of the ash…

For measuring purposes I put the 2 Brendas side by side and made my marks for the bridge placement. 

Then I made some beefy brace bars for the sound board.

I glued together the body, got to work on the bridge and tailpiece. Here you can see the pencil marks for the pyrostriping…

I embedded the piezo pickup in this bridge with epoxy which turned out to be a mistake. Thanks to some guidance from Rob Allen, builder of beautiful bass guitars, I know where I'm going now, but it does mean building a new bridge.

I jumped ahead in the timeline just a bit.

Before discovering my electrics didn't work I strung her up to make sure she played. I did the final touches (filing the bridge and nut) while camping at Mammoth Cave National Park. I wonder if building a bass in the woods is like eating a cheeseburger in front of a cow…

I have to say this is a beautiful playing and (acoustically) amazingly voice-like sounding bass. I'm really happy with myself. So, I've dismantled her and have started finishing touches—more to follow.

My template became a bit of a sketchbook during the build process—check a look. And now it's 3am and I'm pooped.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

(sketch for) American Totem

Le bien, le mal. As it turns out my camping neighbors offered as much inspiration as the trees only in a less positive way. Who knew "fuggin" could be used in place of so many pronouns and adjectives?