Monday, February 22, 2010

Ibanez JS-1000 Painting Metallic Silver

The Ibanez JS 1600 comes in a very cool metallic silver finish. Brian's JS-1000 was only available in black. Our mission (which we did indeed choose to accept) was to convert anything and everything black to silver. First we asked Dimarzio to custom make us Mo' Joe and PAF Joe pickups with silver bobbins. The Ibanez logo was custom cut out for us in black, instead of silver (so the logo would bump from a silver background). The silver paint is actually a fine metal flake material mixed into the clear finish material and then built up on the body. The tuners, bridge, nut, knobs, strap buttons, pickup rings, screws and all the black hardware were swapped out for silver. The newer Ibanez Edge tremolo bridge was changed back to the original Edge 2 trem. The countersink for the trem was a little bigger so we did that prior to painting. It was a lot of work and came out beautifully.

This is the original Black JS-1000

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Installing a Sadowsky Pre-Amp hidden in a Fender Jazz Bass

Mr. Crumpler is a working bassist with a fondness for the Fender Jazz. This instrument, his most recent acquisition, needed a wider frequency range and higher output to suit his style of playing and match his tone appeal. Trevor removed the stock pickups and preamp, and installed an ivory (color, silly, not illegal endangered species materials!) EMG J Bass pickup set. Under the hood, he wired in a Sadowsky preamplifier and routed the back of the body to accept a battery box.

Mr. Crumpler tells us that the end result has turned the original signal upside down!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dead at 57: Doug Fieger

Mr. Fieger and band, The Knack, blew the doors off the pop music world in the summer of 1979 with the longest running single of the year and possibly the cheapest. Recorded, mixed, and ready to ship in eleven days, the first album by The Knack "Get The Knack" was purported to have cost a mere $18,000. It went gold thirteen days after its June 11th, 1979 release, staying at the top of the charts for six weeks in a row.

Twenty-seven years later we received a telephone call from Mr. Fieger. He was curious to learn if we could PLEK & set-up thirteen guitars, which he would be willing to drive from his home in Los Angeles up to our shop in San Francisco. The only catch: we had to do it very quickly. We agreed and Mr. Fieger arrived in early April of 2006 in a small European station wagon completely stuffed with thirteen hardshell cases; each one containing a brand new, American made Gibson solid body electric guitar.

After getting the details for his instruments it came out in conversation that Gary And Mr. Fieger grew up in the same neighborhood, with Mr. Fieger preceeding Gary by a mere three years (a lot of time when you're a teenager). They knew the same bands, the same pizza joints, and the same hangout areas. After a long and amiable discussion about the merits of a youth spent in Detroit's Northern suburbs during the late Sixties and early Seventies, Mr. Fieger returned to his home in Los Angeles and we folded his array of instruments into our already full schedule.

Several days later, and running out of time, we brought to bear every resource we possessed to complete the thirteen instruments in time, even briefly shutting down the shop for all other projects.

Four years ago, in Spring, Mr Fieger pulled up with his station wagon and we loaded him up with his completed guitars. He expressed regret that he did not live closer to us, as he would've returned often. As it was, he left for his planned tour and we never saw him again. We mourn his passing.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sustainer install in copypasta Les Paul type guitar

The guitar in the above photographs is actually an "Agile" and is a pretty darn nice copy of the Gibson Les Paul "Axis." The Axis itself is a copy, by Gibson guitars, of their own custom artist series guitar: the Neal Schon Les Paul. The Axis (and also the guitar in these photos) features the Floyd Rose and neck heel cut-away of the Neal Schon Les Paul but does not include the Sustainer circuit and custom knob layout. The owner wanted to modify this copy of a copy to be as close to the Gibson NS guitar as possible (at a fraction of the purchase price of an actual Gibson NS LP). To accomplish this modification we moved the master volume knob to more of a strat-oriented position so it would be easy to do volume swells. The other three controls became: a passive tone control, a sustainer gain pot and a Chandler Tone-X (a wah-wah on a push pull pot). Now the owner can sustain an infinite note, change the pitch anywhere along the string length while simultaneously making a wha-wha sound.

Talk about multi-tasking!

Amazing Guitar Paint

This is a beautiful example of how detailed and beautiful a guitar paint job can be. This was painted for our customer by Daneen. She has done work for many a guitarist and has mad skills. We took the guitar apart, prepped the body and then reassembled and set up the guitar upon completion.

we share space

with a vintage buy/sell/trade store called Real Guitars. During your visit you can wander through a small forest of "pre-owned" instruments, amplifiers and pedal effects. Twenty-five years of accretion at your fingertips. You never now what you'll find here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

sometimes the relic is too accurate

Here's a picture of the saddles on a brand new relic guitar, direct from the manufacturer. Close observation reveals the saddle screws on the A string are slightly higher than the others, resulting in the owner shredding the fleshy part of his palm, where his thumb meets his hand. This was hurting him, and he wanted the pain to stop. We contacted the manufacturer to replace the offending saddles, which they gladly did.

Small jobs are important too.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

incipient Spring

Here in San Francisco, we may be in the middle of a fierce wet period (thunderstorms, flooding, high winds, etc...) but the perennial plants know what's coming. On our little South of Market, San Francisco city block several members of the fauna world are announcing light at the end of tunnel!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

one small sector of a service industry

So in the simplest terms; we provide a service. And, like any other service oriented small business like, say, hairdressers, we exist through word of mouth and repeat visits. And that's because, like the girls at the beauty parlor (each with her own station, guiding the clients around from sink to chair to that over the head large plastic drying bubble object), our technicians gently guide the guitars from case to workbench, sometimes to the buffing wheel, sometimes to the touchup finishing area, often to the computerized fretmill (PLEK) device and back to the workbench before finally easing the instrument back into its case for delivery to it's owner. And like the hairdressers, we charge money for what we do. But it's way more than just that. The money pays the bills, sure, and makes it possible to own more guitars, but the real transaction here is community.

Any decent, thriving service-based business starts at the level of community. There's lots of colorful characters out there purporting to know how to work on a guitar. Some of them actually know what they're doing, too. But what is it that makes the simple give and take of our service into a functioning and desirable community? Is it that we listen to the owner? Is it keeping our word? Is it a comfortable workplace environment? Is there some unqualifiable cool factor involved?

We're lucky, as we've mentioned before, because we love our work. Maybe that has something to do with it.

(pics: daily activity!)