Off for a couple...

I'll be out and about here and there for the next couple days and will try to return emails but please be patient if I haven't gotten back to you in a prompt manner. It's been nutty busy the last few days! I'll try to get back to you all as soon as I can. Thanks!


c.2012 Gibson TV "Split Pea" Doublecut Les Paul Junior

The clip above is my little 2W tube amp through a mic -- just jamming a bit in open D tuning. Anyhow, this guitar came to me in a trade and is actually a "Billie Joe Armstrong" model LP doublecut Junior based on said player's '58 TV yellow model. It's got a produced-date of 2012 and the finish is actually more of a "split pea soup" green rather than a traditional TV yellow color but that's "all plus" to me. I like "different."

The signature "skull" decal that should be on the pickguard is now long gone, as well, because the Mr. who I got this from had put an automotive-style bumper sticker over it and half the skull came off while getting that gunk off. No worries there, though... I didn't want it on the guard, anyhow, and now the guard itself has a repolished "brushed" look that gives a bakelite sort of vibe.

c.2010 VT Steelz Lap Steel

Vermont Steelz are made be a fellow named Andy Foster and I had no idea about them until this came to me via a trade deal. It's a cool rig with a double-row "soapbar" style humbucker, big old (ash?) body stained green, and a flamed maple veneer on the top of the body with an additional flamed maple "pickguard." While the workmanship is folksy here and there the sound is big and bell-like and I like the aesthetics. I have to admit that I'm a bit of a fan of the satin colored-stain look and part of me has been eying those new Fender "rustic" series guits because of that...! I don't know what year it made by the serial on the back of the headstock suggests maybe December of 2007?

With a 2 1/4" nut and 24 1/2" scale length, this thing feels a lot more substantial than most vintage steels. For the layman: this means more stretching room which means an easier time keeping your lead work clean. The long scale also gives it more tension so it feels a bit more like a Dobro than a shorter 23" scale lap steel. I like it. The soundclip above was recorded with a mic from my little 2W tube amp.


Shipping Price Increase

Hi everyone -- I hate to say it but my "shipped" prices in general from now on are going to be going up by $10-30 depending on the size and insurance cost of the instrument in question as the new shipping rates are higher. It now costs $40+ just to get a guitar or banjo halfway across the country going Parcel Post vs. the $30 it was before and let's not even get into the blown-out faster-service rates!

That said, if you're at all local, keep in mind that also means a steeper discount if picking up in-shop.


c.1920 Harmony-made Supertone Extra-board Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

Just like the Harmony-made uke I finished yesterday, this is that company's sort of trademark "peanut" shape from the late teens through the late 20s. By the 1930s the shape had changed to reflect a more Martin-y or Gretsch-y look but this is their original-style, smaller-width and cuter variety. It's all solid mahogany with a dyed-maple fretboard and nice long fretboard extension which gives it a "dressy" look.

It plays spot-on with hair-above 1/16" action height at the 12th fret and it has that signature mellow but snappy Harmony tone. I like these a lot for sweet fingerpicking.

Cinema: Shugo Tokumaru @ KEXP

The last couple years we've listened to Shugo's music every time the snow starts thawing to hopefully get that sap running in the maple trees. I always thought that his recordings were fun "studio projects" in the way they were so complex. I had no idea that a 5-piece band played all that stuff live. So fun.


c.1890 Buckbee-made 5-string Banjo

This is a fun old 5-string setup with Aquila Nylgut (Red Series) strings as it would've originally been strung with gut (steel is not safe for this era of banjo, despite how most folks tend to try to string these old guys). It's got a simple spunover pot and the top edge has the "curled over a hoop" construction as well as the bottom which means this has a "tonering" built in.

At 25 7/8" it's almost at the 26-ish" scale which became fairly standard for 5-strings by the early 1900s. The pot is 10 3/4" diameter and I've installed a new Remo Renaissance head to replace the lost/torn original skin. Though the hardware is a mixup of vintage (and a few new) parts, the whole thing came together looking pretty authentic. The sound is direct, snappy, and pretty darn loud and it plays great.

c.1920 Harmony-made Flamed Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

This pretty little uke has a nice, warm, creamy sort of sound. I've worked on a bunch of these and they always turn out pleasant. This one has a little bit more flame/curl to its mahogany than usual and it really pops in the sun. These are made in the late-teens, early-20s standard "Harmony peanut shape" which is slightly smaller than a modern (read: Martin-imprint) soprano uke. It's got a straight 13" scale length and the rope detailing around the top edge and soundhole sets it apart from the general mahogany pack of the day.

c.2014 Richard Wylie Robson Barn Swallow Parlor Guitar

I didn't manage to grab a soundclip but I did procure a set of photos of Dick's newest build. Last year I shared his 2006 octave mandolin and this year he's finished up this stunningly-gorgeous little "parlor" guitar. Initially he was going to build a pin bridge design but as he went along the project turned into a tailpiece/floating bridge project similar in many ways to old teens-era steel string guitars.

His guitar is x-braced, however, and features both fancy detailing and also locally-ish sourced woods: Adirondack spruce top, flamed maple back and sides, and a butternut neck. The ebony for the bridge, tailpiece, and fretboard, however, are tropical of course.


Workshop: Double Bolt Tiple

I wrote a few posts back about this 30s Regal tiple's neck joint being a bit wonky after (and, for that matter, before) old repairs and here's my "two bolt" solution.

In addition to these bolts the flat of the heel will also be glued to the sides (after I prep them, of course) for further rigidity. This is, in many ways, similar to the modern Martin-style tenon joints save that mine will (hopefully) be more reliable over time as there's two decent-sized bolts taking the load and keeping neck alignment rigid. This same mounting is also used in pretty much all Gibson banjos since the 20s.

Repair Updates

I've finally gotten around to updating the repair list over on the repairs page. It's hard to stay on track as so much stuff comes in for quick setups, too, but that'll give current long-term repair customers an idea of what's going on.

c.1938 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-14 Guitar

KG-14s don't come around too often as they're simply rarer than the more-often seen KG-11 model. They're also even more desirable as they're essentially a ladder-braced, non-truss rod variant of the coveted L-00 14 3/4" lower bout guitar shape. It's pretty obvious why, too, as they just have "that sound" that sits so nicely in folkie, blues, and old-time settings. These flatpick and fingerpick equally well and have that sort of darker, huskier, boxier Gibson sound when compared to a similarly-sized period Martin. It's sort of like "all the good" of the fun 30s Harmony/Kay/Regal flattop sounds but a step up in tone and many steps up in terms of durability, playability and structural integrity.

When I bought this one I knew I'd have a tug at the corners of my gear-obsession complex so I made sure not to play it more than a half hour after stringing it up Thursday morning. Unfortunately for said complex, my buddy Rick came in midday and picked for at least an hour or so on this while I was taking calls and I got to hear it from the audience perspective, too. Loud and proud, this'n.