Friday, July 31, 2009

an appropriate mod

Here's Trevor (R) going over an appropriate modification of Jackie Greene's super light and supercool '66 Gibson SG Special. The slots on the original studs didn't fit the original bridge very well. Trevor has installed a TonePros non-compensated aluminum wraparound bridge along with the matching TonePros locking studs. The bridge improves tone and the studs hold the bridge down to improve stability and intonation. Jackie favors older guitars and has us make non-permanent modifications (pickups, hardware, etc) to enhance overall instrument stability and consistency during touring and recording.

some things you always remember...

"Trigger" came to us just before soundcheck for a show Willie & Friends had at the Fillmore Auditorium, here in SF. Willie's trusted cohort/runner never allowed the instrument to be more than three feet away from his body while Leo was repairing the output jack. We were, however, able to document the occasion by stealing a memorable photo of Leo holding Willie Nelson's famous guitar. Naturally we stayed open after hours to do it.

Speaking of staying open a little late, we (as we've probably mentioned already) are predisposed towards the Macintosh OS and use Filemaker Pro on a Mac network to keep track of all our data on instrument repair and modification. Naturally we're interested in streamlining our operation for the sake of working smarter. One of the ways in which we'll improve is by modifying our Filemaker system. So...we're looking for a crack Filemaker maven who likes guitars! Email us at if you'd like to work with us.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

ask for him by name!

Kevin P. (L) knows how Tim works. Every time Mr. K. falls in love with another foundling instrument he wraps it in swaddling clothes and brings it directly to Tim. He says to Tim: "do what needs to be done.", and Tim makes it so. These beautiful guitars then reveal their hidden powers; reminding us why, after all these years, we still love them.

Friday, July 24, 2009

"josie and the pussycats!"

Every once in awhile an instrument comes along so full of charm, good tone and feel it requires a mention of its own. We all fell for this Hagstrom at first glance (it had us from "Louie, Louie") but when we saw the original case, we flipped. While we were bickering it was purchased, right out from under our noses. She deserved it, she's the right person to have it, and the instrument is right for her. At least, that's what we'll tell ourselves tonight as we drink ourselves to sleep in grief.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Billy was a Seabee...

 WW2, out in Hawaii and Ruthie was his girl. He liked to sing and play guitar. He etched his name, and her name, and his general service location into the metal of his Slingerland-built May Bell acoustic. He also placed a small sticker of his military unit on the pickguard. The guitar wasn't with him when he lost his life in action, far from home. But it's made it to 2009, a reminder of humanity in the face of violence.

Friday, July 17, 2009

cooperation is the seat of work!

Here's Tim happily assisting Gary attach a custom fabricated thickness sander. If it takes two to tango this dance wins the first place ribbon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dark Star Pickups for your Bass.

Hammon Engineering has recreated the Dark Star Bass Pickups. They were the Hagstrom single coil bass pickup used on Hagstrom Coronado IV, Guild Starfire and M-85 basses. They are tone!! They are also kind enough to make the shims that fit under the pickup to mount the pickup at the correct height and angle. Here is a Stock Epiphone Jack Casady reissue bass. We left the stock pick configuration completely intact and added the Dark Star pickup harness around it. This bass can now go into 2 channels of a mixer or 2 channels of an amp. If you are really feeling it how about 2 SVT's!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Quality control, using the "good" part

Here are a pair of 1/4" jacks the kind you would see in your average electric guitar. One is an actual Switchcraft and the other is a reproduction by a major distributer. About 1/3 the price and claimed to be the same, as good, etc..... So we checked it out. Guess what, not a good fit. Sure we could bend them all into place and hope it is as strong.....But why... I called the company to try to explain the problem and even sent photos. Of course they took them all back but it was a frustrating experience... I am sure they cared , but it was a tough sell, I would hope that would want to not sell inferior product.......
The point is we try to check out the parts we stock and make sure it will last and keep you up and running.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

RMC install in a Parker Guitar

The tricky part was getting the new pickups to fit and mount clean. We broke off the the legs of the pickups and mounted them into the wood with 2 of the pole-piece screws. The holes were enlarged to fit the larger and deeper pickups. The Rmc piezo loaded saddles are a little bit taller than the stock ones. We deepened the bridge route to keep the action low. The wiring harness we built up from scratch to keep all of the signals, piezo acoustic, neck mag, bridge mag and midi assembly separate. The pre-amp is the RMC Poly Drive 1.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How to make a Firebird rock a little harder

We have here a before photo of the stock Firebird, white, mini humbuckers and the stock bridge and tailpiece. The client took a photo of the guitar and drew up what he wanted in photoshop and here is the real thing reproduced. I had the tuning machines gold plated, painted a black "racing stripe" down the center, routed the body to fit 2 full size humbucking pickups and a battery box on the back for quick change at the gig. The pickups are EMG 60 in the neck and 81 in the bridge. Notice the pickup selector has been moved to the bridge pickup volume position. The old switch we left in as a dummy. Last but not least the Gibson gold vibrola trem tailpiece. WHat you can not see is the trem has been stabilized by screwing down the spring section to the body and filling the hollow section of the spring with a solid piece of wood. It was a great tip from the Gibson guys in Europe. Thanks!!

Making a thin weak bass neck practically unbreakable

About or at least twice a week, ok sometimes even daily.....some kind of broken guitar neck comes in. This one was carved thin before the break so we took some extra measures. It will be painted black to match the body. I like the way it looks in this state. We glued up the neck, carved it back to make room and laminated in the graphite layers. Then sand it smooth so it feels seamless. Just that easy, so it looks. On other guitars we laminate matching wood on the back to reinforce the break.

Very Old Musical Instruments, Guitars and fun in NYC

Here are a couple tourist shots from NYC. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a great exhibit of the history of Musical Instruments. In the showcase here is a Martin from 1848 along with a couple of very old ramirez guitars. It was great to see these as well as a great display of the history of many instruments. It was very cool to see that, Bruce BecVar, who was a Northern California guitar builder and musician has a guitar that he built in the permanent collection of the Met. He is still making some amazing music. Check Bruce out at the Met
Also having not a-lot to do with guitars.....Seeing dinosaurs all put together is a mind bending experience even if it is not the first time.