Wednesday, December 30, 2009

been a long year and a longer decade

Here is Trevor after hours, patiently guiding superthin copper wire onto the bobbin of an old single coil pickup. It's the 11th hour for the Twenty-Oughts and we're so very ready for the second decade of the 21st Century. The Eternal Optimist, our plucky little shop forges onward, every day (since the Spring of 1986) an infinitely unfolding adventure of experimentation and experience. Lucky enough to love our work, we're keen for any opportunity to make a guitar better.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

a little for the pot, a little for the cook

no....not really, though visions of Julia Childs swinging a fifth of brandy liberally over a simmering pot are inescapable. Here Tim has put together a stew of bestine, shellac, olive oil and Everclear to hand finish the area where he laminated a piece of mahogany to strengthen a standard Gibson neck break. Not only strong but beautiful.

Thursday, December 24, 2009's happening right now!!!

top photo: our local deli, Ted's, loves us, and we love them.
bottom photo: the girls prepare to destroy all your careful wrapping.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"hey, put on some music would you?"

it died and we replaced it

This amusingly named onboard bass guitar preamplifier has given up the ghost. This occasionally happens and, when it does, we attempt to match the replacement with the existing pickups as well as with the owner's needs and tonal expectations. In this case, the pickups on this Spector bass were already EMGs so it made the most sense to install an EMG BTS control circuit.

Problem solved!

Friday, December 18, 2009

if you're going to have only one sticker on your guitar

this is the one to have

It's time for a Realtime Holiday Contest!

Wasn't it sweet of Ibanez to send us this cute little iPod holder along with a holiday greeting card? It's lovely blue velcro-fastened neoprene corporate logo branded envelope will gently caress your precious compressed digital audio player and the handy pocket is large enough to contain your earbuds. It also features a handy clip enabling you to dangle the object provocatively off your fashionable rucksack or pannier!

The first caller to our shop line (available on our web site) thats utters the seekrit password* (starting from the moment this post is published [today - 11AM PST, 12/19/09]) will receive not only this item but also a free set of strings when you bring in your six string electric guitar for a set-up!

Call now....operators are standing by!

Set-ups cover: truss rod adjustment, string height over the fretboard (action), intonation, string path slots at the nut and saddles, buffing the frets and fretboard, changing the strings and six (6) months of free tune-ups, while you wait, in our store.

* - "gadzooks!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

the dog ate my homework (a new twist for an old saw)

Gary R. likes his dogs, and they like him. Gary R. plays guitar and his dogs apparently like guitar too, up to a point. Maybe it was a particular solo Gary R. took or maybe it was that time he played the acoustic parts of "Wish You Were Here" all the way through but blew that one lick. No matter, the dogs make their own judgements. Gary R.'s pit bull, named "Lenny" (after Leonard Cohen), took a bite out of the guitar.

A cat would not do this.

Friday, December 11, 2009

what happens to all that wire, anyway?

Pickups occasionally need to be rewired. It's a slow process; the tech gently holding the wire between the roll and the bobbin, thousands of turns by the little armature on the pickup rewinding machine, an hour (or more) of your life you'll never get back. But what happens to the old wire? That material taken off of the bobbin and magnet? In the spirit of reuse and recycle, Gary keeps his pate warm with vintage copper.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Coals to Newcastle (an employee's calling)

When not building his own line of custom handmade archtop guitars or repairing and modifying any of the thousands of instruments he's worked on during his tenure at the shop, Tim Frick builds furniture. When a piece of furniture is ready, Tim has a party to celebrate it's completion.

(top photo: two unidentified party guests pose fabulously on the Orange Couch, bottom photo: Tim's legs and the Orange Couch)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Recently a man...

...wandering down our street with a box of random electronical parts and a small object not unlike a guitar was caught on camera with a wry grin.

in case there's not enough in your life already

with this knob you can increase it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

solid maple vs. stainless steel

Maple wins.

The owner wanted to use Schaller strap locks on his beautiful Gibson ES 355. He couldn't use the stock Gibson strap button screws with the Schaller buttons because the screws are too wide. He replaced the stock screw with a stainless steel #6 screw which, it turns out (and among other things), was too long. As the owner recounts the sad tale, he didn't pre drill a pilot hole in the solid maple block and, of course and in hindsight, the screw snapped off. That's where we come in.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Acts of God and other Mysteries

There are many ways a guitar finds its way to us, and many stories. Stories create their own set of questions, ones that, without the ur-story, would not have been asked in the first place. In this case, one of those questions is certainly: "Is there no other place besides the bathroom to store your guitars?"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Guitar Tech-ing for Billy Bragg

The wonderful and outspoken Billy Bragg came to town to play a solo show at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass followed by 2 nights at the Great American Music Hall. While in town I was hired to guitar tech for him. Billy came to town with his stage manager and get it done guy Vaughn and his "able to dial up great sound anywhere" long time engineer Grant. My job was to be sure the guitars were always in tune and ready to go from sound check to pack up. The other job was to be sure they went home with at least as much as they showed up with. Everything went great and I saw some great performances.

The Devo Potato Chip, Cloud electrical problem.

We had fun working on this blast from the future. Devo was in town for 2 days and had a frozen pot issue.
The little circuit in there controls the flashing blast off lights that comes on with the pre-amp. What could go wrong?

Happy Halloween!!!!

A few random shots

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

we're just going to leave this right here...

two great tastes that don't necessarily taste great together

When it comes to Gibson guitars one may well think of innovation, occasional brilliance, and a remarkable musical longevity. And one may well think of Moog Music as equally brilliant and an organization comprised of fearless risk takers. If we add these two together it stands to reason the results will be orders of magnitude beyond what either entity might accomplish on their own.

Not so. Here Mr. Bill T. has kindly requested that we remove the perfectly enormous motherboard and wire the late 1970's era Gibson RD Artist as a simple two humbucker solid body electric guitar; the kind we are all so familiar with. Mr. T. would like the instrument to be a player. Sometimes the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009 in the Bay Area

The San Francisco/Bay Area comes together for Halloween, and all the freaks come out even more than usual. This year, however, there'll be another opportunity for community for those celebrating in San Francisco but traveling from the East Bay: a BART commute. Our lovely bay bridge, part of which is in the process of being replaced, has developed a potentially dangerous flaw and so must be shut down for a time, and at the height of our traditional revelry. Taking public transportation is good for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is running into people you know. It's community, and that's what we're all about.

(above: the quiet bridge toll booth and repairs, pics coutesy of Caltrans)

Friday, October 30, 2009

to make it your own

Mr. P. Chan preferred his own pickguard design over the stock shape (his design is the lower pickguard in the bottom photograph) originally installed on his new Rickenbacker 620 12 string. He brought the guitar to us, along with a graphic of what he desired us to accomplish and Tim fabricated the custom pickguard using material from the Big Box of Plastic we keep upstairs. Mr. Chan is pleased!