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!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"with rings on her fingers & bells on her toes...

...she shall have music wherever she goes"

Here at the shop we encourage musical development in our country's youth and, to that end, we'll move heaven and earth to make a kid's guitar play correctly. How your child expresses themselves through music is pretty much up to them (see pic) but we'll make sure the tools are working right!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


A technician (in this case, Trevor H.) prefers that a bridge clamped stay put. These particular clamps, manufactured by Stewart-MacDonald, perform their task in a special way, making them uniquely suited for this kind of work. Not only are they lightweight and shaped correctly to fit inside a soundhole but they also have adjustment screws on both ends of the clamp to clear internal braces. The right tool for the right job.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

a bin of beans

like pushing your hands into a bin of pinto know you love that feeling.

like brothers...

...but which one is the elder? Working together for decades, the two of them trading insults and stories, and all of those guitars...we're very happy for his band's resurgence.

Friday, October 16, 2009

"it's exactly what I wanted Gary to do - I'm going to go home and play it for hours."

So said Raleigh E. upon receipt of his beautiful Gibson ES355. Gary completely rewired the instrument using volume pots manufactured by Hamer, tone pots manufactured by Mojo and a long-threaded no-load pot (carefully modified by Gary) installed in place of the stock Varitone switch to act as a sweeping master tone pot. Doing delicate work correctly inside of a hollow body guitar is time consuming, painstaking and requires a keen focus.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"put the good stuff on it 'cuz i'm gonna play the shit out of it"

A lot of folks bring their instruments to us for parts upgrades. Their are many levels of build quality in aftermarket products and, while the most expensive is only occasionally our sincere recommendation, sometimes the owner knows what she wants. (pic: three of a perfect pair)

"you have failed me for the last time..."

because it's Fall

Here's three small pumpkins stacked up on the dining room table with a big knob on top.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

some of our extended family

Edith isn't semantically articulate or even always phonically comprehensible, but she likes her BC Rich guitar and we keep it running for her. She appreciates being treated like a human being. We thought we might someday ask her what she was up to in the Sixties but well...maybe better not to ask. She's a member of our downtown San Francisco extended family and has the coolest taste in jewelry.

change the tone

Jim B. brought us his 5 string Modulus bass the other day. He wasn't pleased with the overall sound and told us he was looking for more warmth, more clarity and more fullness. As Gary is fond of saying: "You give me adjectives, I'll give you answers." Of course we looked under the hood first and, whaddya know? What the hell is that? Also, it did have a lot of knobs and, while many controls and switches are not necessarily a sign of less than appealing tone, simplicity does have a habit of cleaning things up. We ended up removing the original motherboard and running the perfectly good Bartolini pickups through an Aguilar OPB-3 onboard preamp. We also used one of the existing switches to make it possible for Jim to run in active mode or bypass the preamp altogether. This bass sounds great now.

a straight up mod

Trevor has fabricated an angled block of cocobolo wood to raise the back of the vibrola tailpiece on this Gibson Firebird. Raising the tailpiece up allows for correct downward pressure on the saddles which, in this case, helps the string to ring true by fitting solidly in the saddle slot.