Few guitarmakers travel the globe as much as Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars. On any given day, he may be at Taylor’s massive El Cajon factory, at his ebony mill in Cameroon, on Hawaii replanting koa trees or offroading in Baja. On this week’s podcast, we catch with Bob (who was thankfully at home in California) to get his thoughts on CITES and the state of the guitar industry as a whole. We also hear about a guitar he recently built entirely by hand, learn about the impact that Andy Powers continues to have on Taylor’s product offerings and much more.
Back in the 1980s, Lindy Fralin didn’t set out to be one of the world’s most-trusted pickup winders, he just wanted to earn a living as a guitarist. With a tight budget, he’d buy cheap guitars and fix them up for himself or do minor repair work for friends. Eventually, though, the pickups took over. Today, Fralin has seven employees, a growing product line of guitar and bass products and a bustling pickup repair shop. On this week’s podcast, we talk to Lindy about his early days, some of his latest creations, the intricacies of pickup winding and much more.
This week’s podcast is sponsored by Retrofret Vintage Guitars, who happen to have a brand new website. Check it out!
Today we’re talking to guitarist Steve Marion, aka “Delicate Steve.” When his old band’s major label record deal imploded, Marion invented his Delicate Steve persona, crafting over-the-top rock instrumental records loaded with great playing, a ton of effects, humor and plenty of references to the musicians and genres he loves. On this week’s podcast, we talk to Delicate Steve about how these albums come together, why he prefers guitars that make him feel uncomfortable and about the time he was asked to play alongside Paul Simon.
On today’s podcast, we talk to stellar singer-songwriter Amy Helm about growing up in a musical household, working alongside her dad (Levon Helm of the Band), her forthcoming Joe Henry-produced album and much more. This episode is sponsored by Retrofret and Dying Breed Music.
On today’s Fretboard Journal Podcast, we talk to the amazing guitarist Luke Doucet of Whitehorse. Doucet tells us about his upbringing in Canada and his relatively late start into the world of guitars, along with the fateful day he met his original guitar teacher in Winnipeg. We then hear about how Doucet is turning his own young son Jimmy onto music and guitars and how Jimmy (at the ripe old age of three) inadvertently helped shape the sound of Whitehorse’s 2017 album, Panther in the Dollhouse.
We also talk guitars, including Doucet’s Gretsch White Falcon, his Fender Custom Shop Jazzmaster, his Creston Lea offset and others.
This episode is sponsored by Retrofret Vintage Guitars.
The Fretboard Journal Podcast welcomes its first professional athlete, tennis player / coach Murphy Jensen! Murphy and his brother Luke were considered the rock & roll duo of tennis during their heyday, eventually winning the French Open in 1993. Jensen tells us about his childhood growing up in Northern Michigan; his early love for rock & roll; his rise as a professional athlete; and why so many pro tennis players gravitate to the guitar. We also hear about the annual “Wimbledon Jam;” Serena Williams’ love for Nirvana; the time Jensen brought Roger Federer to the Bowery Ballroom the night before his US Open match; working with Val McCallum and much more. Trust us, it’s a great guitar chat even if you don’t know anything about tennis. Jensen also talks to us about his new Seattle-based healthcare technology company, Weconnect.
On this week’s podcast, we check in with legendary guitarmaker Ken Parker. The archtop creations that Parker has built over the last decade are truly works of art (in fact, one example is in the permanent collection of the Met). Parker was the subject of a mammoth two-part Fretboard Journal feature in both the FJ #38 and FJ #39, penned by author Joseph Skibell. On this week’s podcast, we catch up and hear about some of this builder’s more recent developments. He tells us about the importance of hide glue in his instruments; we learn about a new pickup he’s using that was developed by Bob Palmieri; and we hear about his recent acquisition of some wood from the famed “The Tree” and what he plans to do with it.
This week’s episode is sponsored by Retrofret Vintage Guitars.
Singer-songwriter (and former Men at Work frontman) Colin Hay is addicted to guitars. “Once the bug hits… you keep finding guitars that you can’t seem to live without,” he says. On this week’s podcast, he talks about his growing guitar collection, which includes not only Martins and Gibson but numerous luthier-built guitars. We also talk about songwriting, the music industry today and much more.
This week’s podcast is a banjo double-header of sorts: First up, we talk to musician Laura Baird (the Baird Sisters) about her debut solo album, I Wish I Were a Sparrow. This mesmerizing album features both traditional and original ballads featuring just voice and banjo. Next up, we talk to author Richard Jones-Bamman about his new book, Building New Banjos for an Old-Time World. The book is a scholarly take on the contemporary world of old-time, open back banjo makers and their place in banjo history.
Next week, we’ll talk singer-songwriter (and Men at Work founder) Colin Hay. Subscribe via iTunes to make sure you don’t miss it.
RIP Tom Petty.
On this week’s Fretboard Journal Podcast, we’re joined by fingerstyle guitar legend Michael Gulezian. Michael is talking to us from his new home in Paonia, Colorado and offers us an insightful, thought-provoking glimpse into the life of a working musician. He tells us about his childhood and the impact that Middle Eastern music had on his own compositions. We also talk about his time with John Fahey, Michael Hedges and Robbie Basho and the sad downfall of Takoma Records. Michael also explains why so many great guitar players have come out of Minnesota, talks to us about his choice of acoustic guitars (built by frequent FJ contributor Todd Lunneborg) and much more.
This episode of the podcast is brought to you by our friends at Retrofret Vintage Guitars.
Michael Gulezian's official site.
This week’s podcast is a bluegrass double-header. First, we talk to the one-and-only Billy Strings. He’s about to release his first solo album, Turmoil & Tinfoil and we talk about the making of the record, his guitars of choice (he recently switched from his Noble dreadnought to guitars made by Preston Thompson) and a lot more. Over on fretboardjournal.com, you can hear a stream of “Pyramid Country” from the new album right now.
Next up, we talk to the IBMA’s Paul Schiminger about the organization’s mission, it’s annual World of Bluegrass festival (happening later this month) and the future of bluegrass.
This episode is sponsored by Retrofret and Dying Breed Music. Check out their offerings and tell them the Fretboard Journal sent you.
Next week, we talk to fingerstyle guitar legend Michael Gulezian!
This week’s podcast is a bluegrass double-header: First, we talk to the one-and-only Billy Strings. He’s about to release his first solo album, Turmoil & Tinfoil and we talk about the making of the record, his guitars of choice (he recently switched from his Noble dreadnought to guitars made by Preston Thompson) and a lot more. Over on fretboardjournal.com, you can hear a stream of “Pyramid Country” from the new album right now.
Next up, we talk to the IBMA’s Paul Schiminger about the organization’s mission, its annual World of Bluegrass festival (happening later this month) and the future of bluegrass.
Next week, we talk to fingerstyle guitar legend Michael Gulezian!
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Singer-songwriter Pieta Brown has had quite the journey. On this week’s Fretboard Journal Podcast we talk to her about unique upbringing (her dad is famed folk musician Greg Brown), her early attempts at songwriting and the fateful day her father showed her a vintage guitar. She also talks about Postcards, her 2017 album that features collaborations with Mark Knopfler, Calexico, David Lindley and others. Watch for a video with Pieta soon on fretboardjournal.com.
As an added bonus, we share a quick story David Rawlings shared with us about his Epiphone Olympic, featuring luthier Joe Glaser.
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Our guest on today’s Fretboard Journal Podcast is Chris Young, founder of Union Tube & Transistor. Chris walks us through Union’s history, his current pedal lineup and the story behind his pedal collaboration with Jack White. We also hear about the time he gave a pedal to Tom Waits and about some of Union’s latest products, including their new Lab compressor pedal.
While Chris was in Seattle, we also took him to Johnny Sangster’s Crackle & Pop studio to do a quick video demo. Watch it on fretboardjournal.com.
The second installment of our interview with Zack Vex of Z.Vex Effects covers a lot of ground. Zack gives us an overview of Z.Vex’s current offerings, he then gives us his thoughts on the guitar effects industry today and he walks us through his latest invention, an all-new microphone that has to be heard to be believed. Plus a lot more...
Listen to part one of this two-hour interview here.
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On this week's podcast, we talk to Zack Vex of Z.Vex Effects. Over the last twenty-plus years, Zack has been at the forefront of the boutique pedal movement. But, as you'll hear during our lengthy interview, his love for electronics and science goes way beyond just guitar effects. Zack walks us through his childhood, his first guitar repairs and the early days of his now-flourishing company.
On next week's episode, we'll hear about Z.Vex today and some of Zack's most recent inventions including the Candelas Vibraphase and a brand new (and mind boggling) microphone.
Subscribe to the Fretboard Journal and use the discount code PODCAST to get $5 off your order.
Musician Christian Lee Hutson is one of the most impressive young songwriters we've talked to in recent memory. On today's podcast, we talk to Chrstian about getting hooked on guitar (thanks to Nirvana), dropping out of high school to pursue music and his latest recording projects, including a forthcoming album featuring members of Dawes. We'll have videos of Christian at the Fretboard Journal coming soon. In the meantime, check out some of his music performances online to get a sense of his unique songwriting or catch him on tour opening for John Moreland.
This episode is sponsored by our friends at Retrofret Vintage Instruments.
On this week’s podcast, we talk to builder Todd Cambio of Fraulini Guitars. While a lot of guitarmakers focus on traditional Martin or Gibson-style instruments, Todd loves to focus on models built by more obscure vintage instrument brands, including Stella, Larson Bros., Lyon & Healy and Oscar Schmidt. During our talk, Todd talks to us about his start in lutherie and his love for early blues and 78 recordings. He then explains the research he did to recreate Lydia Mendoza’s 12-string guitar and his new attempt to create a replica of Lonnie Johnson’s 12-string guitar (both, it turns out, were originally built by San Antonio’s Acosta family). Cambio is equal parts luthier and history detective… it’s fascinating to hear how he cobbles together information and grainy photos to build some of these instruments. We hope you enjoy our talk.
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Sam Amidon is, quite simply, one of our favorite musicians. His visionary music is mesmerizing, he somehow melds traditional Appalachian folk with experimental music. On this week’s podcast, we talk to Sam about his music-filled childhood (his parents are folk singers Peter and Mary Alice Amidon) and his transition from being a professional traditional fiddler to a groundbreaking solo artist.
Sam tells us about his discovery of avant-garde music and free jazz, what it was like to get lessons from Leroy Jenkins and his time in the indie band Stars Like Fleas. He also discusses his collaboration with hero Bill Frisell (2014’s Lily-O), the energy he finds in primitive field recordings, why he wore a kung fu outfit to his first solo gig… and a lot more. Sam has had a fascinating musical journey and he walks us through it all.
Sam’s 2017 Nonesuch album, The Following Mountain, is his first recording to feature his own songs. We can’t recommend it enough.
Audio note: There’s some cell phone distortion in the first ten minutes of this call; it gets better as the conversation goes on. Stick with it.
For guitar collectors, Zeke Schein is best-known as the long-time salesman you see at Matt Umanov Guitars. What you may not know is that Zeke is also the guy who discovered what may very well be the third photo of Robert Johnson ever unearthed (an eBay find erroneously listed as a BB King photo).
Since purchasing that small photo over a decade ago, Schein has had quite a roller coaster ride. He went through hurdles to get the photo authenticated, he gave the rights to the Robert Johnson Estate and he’s witnessed his unlikely eBay find get reprinted in national magazines. He’s also faced the wrath of blues historians, some of whom rabidly dispute that this is in fact a shot of Johnson at all.
Zeke has written a new book entitled Portrait of a Phantom: The Story of Robert Johnson’s Lost Photograph. Though ostensibly about the discovery of this image, Zeke’s book is about a lot more, too. He writes about his love for the blues, his time at Umanov’s, the New York music scene and why some of us are so compelled to learn more about our music heroes. On this week’s podcast, we talk to Zeke about the photo, his career selling guitars at one of the world’s most famous stores and much more.
This episode of our podcast is brought to you by Retrofret Vintage Guitars.
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Our dear friend Bill Collings, founder of Collings Guitars & Mandolins, passed away on July 14, 2017 after a long battle with cancer.
We’re working on a tribute for Bill in the next issue of the Journal (and if you have any great Bill stories, we’d love to hear them). We also decided to share this talk he gave at the first Fretboard Summit in 2015. During this session, Bill was interviewed by Mark Stutman (Folkway Music). It was a lively, unfiltered chat full of laughs. We also fielded questions from the audience, talked about Waterloos and more.
RIP Bill. We’re going to miss our chats with you. –Jason
Twenty years ago, Lluís Gómez heard Banjo Paris Session, an album featuring the playing of Jean-Marie Redon and Bill Keith. It completely changed this Spanish musician's life. Gómez would go on to obsess over the five-string banjo, eventually tracking down lessons with Keith, Tony Trischka and Pete Wernick. These days, Gómez is considered the “Spanish King of the Five-String Banjo.” He’s a prolific performer, educator and music promoter, bringing a distinctly American music to new audiences in Europe. On this episode, he tells us about the state of banjo in Spain today, his excellent new record Dotze contes, the instruments that he loves and much more.
We are now shipping the Fretboard Journal #39. Use the coupon code PODCAST when you check out at fretboardjournal.com and get $5 off your order.
Lluís' site: http://www.lluisgomez.com/index-en.html
Today we’re talking to Jas Obrecht, acclaimed music journalist and editor. Jas is the author of the recently published anthology, Talking Guitar: Conversations with Musicians Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music. The book is filled interviews Jas conducted with music icons such as Nick Lucas, Ry Cooder, “Pops” Staples, Ry Cooder and Jerry Garcia. He tells us a bit about how it came about, what these amazing interviews were like, his days working at Guitar Player and much more.
The Fretboard Journal’s 39th issue is now mailing. Use the coupon code PODCAST when you check out and you’ll save $5 off any subscription, just for being a FJ Podcast listener.
This episode is sponsored by Retrofret Vintage Guitars.
Talking Guitar: Conversations with Musicians Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music by Jas Obrecht (Amazon link)
Thirty years ago, luthier Dana Bourgeois (Bourgeois Guitars) and performer/vintage guitar dealer Eric Schoenberg teamed up to create a guitar that was at once both very traditional and very forward-thinking, the Schoenberg Soloist. The Soloist was Eric’s dream fingerstyle instrument – a traditionally-built Martin OM-style guitar built with a wider neck and a cutaway built into the body. On today’s podcast, we talk about the making of the Soloist and hear about the limited run of Soloist 30th Anniversary guitars that they’ve created. We also discover why Eric loves Martin necks from 1930; the tonal differences he hears between 12 and 14-fret guitars; and much more.
On this week’s Fretboard Journal Podcast, we talk to luthier Nate Wood, out of Springfield, Oregon. Nate regaled us with guitarmaking tales at last month’s La Conner Guitar Festival so we quickly hatched a plan to bring him on the show. Before launching his own guitar and guitar repair business (Stahman Guitars), Nate went to school at Roberto Venn and then honed his chops working for Ryan Thorell. His own inventive guitars are inspired by some of the funkier American guitar designs of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Nate is also a big fan of using reclaimed woods and eco-friendly materials.
This episode is brought to you by Retrofret Vintage Guitars.
The music of singer-songwriter Vikesh Kapoor has always defied logic. Here’s a 20-something artist—born in small town Pennsylvania to immigrants from India—who seems more inspired by Pete Seeger, John Jacob Niles and Woody Guthrie that any popular music from the last few decades. On today’s podcast, we talk to Kapoor about his upbringing, his influences and his favorite guitars.
Kapoor has a new single out, entitled “Down by the River.” “It was one of the first songs that I wrote and I never had it recorded in a way that I liked,” he says. Kapoor wrote it while inspired by Seeger’s “Dink’s Song” in essentially a day, right before his 23rd birthday.
We also talk about guitars, including the ‘70s Gibson J-50 Deluxe that Kapoor found in a local shop, almost by fate. It served as the primary songwriting instrument behind The Ballad of Willy Robbins [Kapoor’s 2013 album] and "Down by the River."
This episode of the Fretboard Journal Podcast is brought to you by Retrofret Vintage Guitars and Dying Breed Music. Kapoor’s new recording is available at all the usual digital music outlets and can also be purchased as a flexi-single from Mama Bird Recording Co.
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