These week, we talk to acclaimed guitarmaker Mark Whitebook. In the 1970s, Whitebook had a cult following for his handmade guitars and a client list that included James Taylor, Carly Simon, Phil Keaggy and Clarence White. But in 1980, having built around 70 instruments total, Whitebook left the world of lutherie and pursued a career outside of the music industry.
Thirty five years later, Whitebook has returned to building instruments (he kept all of his original tools and equipment all of these years). During this two-hour long talk, we chat about his background, how he taught himself to build his first guitar (with help from Irving Sloane’s now legendary book on guitar construction), the Southern California guitar scene of the 1970s (including his time spent with David Russell Young and Chuck “The Duke of Pearl” Erikson) and how his dreadnought instruments stray from traditional Martin construction. We also learn just how hard it is to make a living building guitars. Whitebook is a near-mythical figure in the world of guitars; we hope you enjoy this exclusive chat.
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For our 150th episode of the Fretboard Journal Podcast, we turn the tables: Luthier Meagan Wells (guest on episode #134) interviews Fretboard Journal publisher / editor Jason Verlinde. We talk about the origins of the Fretboard Journal magazine, Jason’s love affair with the musical saw, his favorite guitars, some of our most memorable video and interview sessions and a lot more. We hope you enjoy this little peek into the making of the FJ and all of our projects.
This episode is sponsored by Retrofret Vintage Guitars.
Follow the Fretboard Journal via www.fretboardjournal.com. And, if you like our podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. And don't forget to subscribe to the print edition! Use the discount code PODCAST and you'll get $5 off just for listening to our show.
Minnesota’s Tom Nechville may very well be the closest thing the banjo world has to Leo Fender. For the last 30 years, he’s innovated the five-string banjo with revolutionary products like the Heli-Mount, the Cyclotronic Tone Ring and the Flux Capacitor. On this week’s podcast, we talk to Nechville about his inventions, his banjos (acoustic and electric) and some of the challenges of building forward-thinking products for a market that largely leans towards the traditional. Even if you’re not a banjo player, you’ll enjoy hearing about how Nechville found his calling in the world of fretted instruments and some of the R&D that he goes through with his instruments.
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This episode is sponsored by Retrofret Vintage Guitars, which has its own fair share of banjos, along with guitars, basses, mandolins and more.
Subscribe to the Fretboard Journal Podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fretboard-journal-podcast/id394447340?mt=2
“I’ve always been into the older, cheaper Sears’ catalog-type guitars,” Nic Delisle of Island Instruments explains on this week’s podcast. That influence is clearly apparent when one looks at Island’s unique guitar lineup; you can see familiar Silvertone, Kay and Stratotone shapes but with refined hardware, ergonomics and pickups. During our talk, Delisle walks us through his numerous electric guitar models, explains his love for reclaimed materials (he recently made a guitar using reclaimed floorboards from the Boston Symphony Hall) and more. We also talk about the La Conner Guitar Festival, which took place May 12-14, 2017 in La Conner, Washington.
Want to become a professional luthier or repair person? Are you already a working in the field but want to up your game? If so, you’ll love this week’s podcast episode. We’re talking to luthier Bryan Galloup about his annual Northwoods Seminar, a four-day retreat where you can learn the finer points of guitarmaking and repair from some of the biggest names in the business, including Bob Taylor, Richard Hoover, Dan Erlewine, Andy Powers and others. This year’s event takes place August 21-24, 2017 and includes music performances by Bill Kirchen and Redd Volkaert. On the show, we also talk to Galloup about his Galloup School of Guitar Building and Repair, his own guitar creations, the unique presentation he gave at our Fretboard Summit and more.
Galloup is one of many luthiers who will be on-hand at this year’s La Conner Guitar Festival, which takes place this weekend (May 12-14) in La Conner, Washington. The Fretboard Journal is proudly sponsoring this event. We hope to see you there.
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Northwoods Seminar Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/409974032696325/
The first time Matt Hampton sought out to harvest Red spruce for guitar tops, he, quite simply, "searched Google Earth for dark patches on top of tall mountains." Matt and his brother Nate are now continuing the legacy started by Ted Davis and John Arnold and making a full-time living hunting down Adirondack red spruce for luthiers and larger-scale guitar manufacturers.
Matt describes the process and how one tree can yield up to 500 tops, their unlikely start in the world of guitarmaking, their relationship with John Arnold and more. He also busts a few myths about spruce. We also hear about the brothers’ quest to find quality domestic back and side tonewoods. It’s a fascinating story, they sound almost like the American Pickers of trees.
Watch the Brothers harvest a Red spruce tree here on YouTube.
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Today we’re talking to the one-and-only Ben Harper. Ben tells us about a very special guitar he just received from luthier John Monteleone. It's the first lap steel guitar that Monteleone has ever made, a guitar that John has dubbed a Radio City Special Deluxe (see pictures and video at fretboardjournal.com).
In addition to talking about the origin of his Monteleone guitar, we talk to Ben about his new Reverb store, some recent recording projects (including a session with jazz player Bruce Bishop) and a lot more.
Ben Harper's Official Site: http://www.benharper.com
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Lastly, this episode is sponsored by Retrofret, one of our favorite vintage instrument dealers in the country. Visit them online or at their Brooklyn showroom.
On today’s podcast, acclaimed luthiers Linda Manzer, David Wren and Tony Duggan-Smith gather around Manzer's kitchen table to talk to us about their new Group of Seven guitar project.
The Group of Seven consisted of Canadian landscape painters Lawren Harris, J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Franklin Carmichael, Frank Johnston, F.H. Varley and A.Y. Jackson. These seven artist friends were prolific through the 1920s and early '30s and are now considered highly influential.
Manzer saw similarities between the bond these seven legendary artists had and the one she shares with fellow luthiers and friends who studied under Jean Larrivee, decades ago. She decided to pay homage by having seven guitars built. Each luthier would focus on a different Group of Seven member.
The luthiers participating include Manzer, Sergi de Jonge, Duggan-Smith, Wren, George Gray, Grit Laskin and Jean Larrivée. The luthiers also built an eighth guitar as a group to pay tribute to painter Tom Thomson.
The project launches May 6, 2017 at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection outside of Toronto and the guitars will be on display through October in a room right next to the art that inspired them.
Andy Powers is a force of nature. He’s a gifted musician, an avid surfer and, of course, a stellar guitarmaker. As Andy tells us on this week’s podcast, he’s always had the guitarmaking bug. In fact, he attempted to build his first instrument when he was still in elementary school and, when he was barely a teenager, he had enough of a guitar repair business brewing that he earned himself a letter from the IRS.
As an adult, Powers had a bustling business building archtops, guitars, ukuleles and mandolins and doing restorations out of his Oceanside, California workshop when he decided to switch gears and become a full-time Taylor employee. At Taylor, Powers has tirelessly worked on new lines and improvements, including the Grand Orchestra model, revamping the 600 and 800 series lines of guitars, the new Academy series of instruments and the GS Mini-e Bass. During our chat, we talk about these models, the recruitment offer he received from Bob Taylor, the state of affairs when it comes to Taylor sourcing wood, his R&D process and much more.
This episode of the Fretboard Journal Podcast is brought to you by Retrofret Vintage Guitars in Brooklyn, New York.
On today’s podcast, we talk to Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett. Chris tells us about growing up in Santa Barbara; starting out on guitar; his early love for metal; how he landed the Foo Fighters gig; why he started playing Telecasters; and the making of his new solo country album, ‘West Coast Town.’ Chris also talks to us about his weekly podcast, ‘Walking the Floor,’ where he’s interviewed a wide array of artists including Marty Stuart, Bob Mould, Lucinda Williams, Buddy Miller and others.
Watch our video with Chris playing "Goodnight Little Rock" from the new album here.
For a limited time, use the coupon code PODCAST and save $5 off any Fretboard Journal subscription or order.
Tune in next week when we interview Andy Powers of Taylor Guitars. And don't forget to leave us a review on iTunes.
On this week’s podcast, we talk to Ethan Gruska (Belle Brigade) about his 2017 solo album, Slowmotionary. As Gruska tells it, he innocently recorded a handful of songs thinking they would serve as a sort of business card to remind musician pals that he could do session work for them. Little did he know he'd eventually synch up with producer Tony Berg, record an entire album steeped in ‘60s and ‘70s singer-songwriter sounds and end up releasing it on Sire records. Gruska talks to us about working with Berg on the project, Blake Mills (who plays guitar on the album's second track) and what it was like to co-write a song for John Legend ("Right by You" on Legend’s Darkness and Light). Though Gruska says “the guitar is a series of happy accidents for me,” he’s a stellar player. Watch our video with him playing “Reoccurring Dream” on fretboardjournal.com.
This episode of the Fretboard Journal Podcast is sponsored by Retrofret Guitars. Visit their website or Instagram and tell them the FJ sent you! http://retrofret.com
This week, we have a fun talk with Doug Kauer of Kauer Guitars, Titan Guitars and DRS racks. Doug tells us about how his family’s cabinetry business gave him the experience he needed to build instruments, why he utilizes CNC machines in his production facility and the unique business model behind the Titan line (an American-made electric guitar starting at $1300 with plenty of customization options).
This episode is brought to you by Dying Breed Music. Dying Breed has an amazing selection of Golden Era Martins, Gibsons and other instruments available: http://www.dyingbreedguitars.com
Another highlight from the 2016 Fretboard Summit: Rick Turner, Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna) and Dan Schwarz have a candid talk about the evolution of instrument amplification and tone from the 1960s to today. Casady talks about his desire for higher fidelity bass sounds, even as rock concert sound systems got bigger and bigger, and the electronic experimentation that ensued. Schwarz talks about the fateful day in 1973 when he walked into the Alembic guitar factory. Meanwhile, Rick Turner discusses the back-and-forth collaborations that happen between luthiers and their clients. It's a deep (two hours long) talk that covers a lot of ground...
This episode of the Fretboard Journal Podcast is sponsored by Dying Breed Music.
Subscribe to the Fretboard Journal print magazine here.
Banjo virtuoso Noam Pikelny joins us on this week's Fretboard Journal Podcast to talk about his new (and excellent) solo album 'Universal Favorite', some of the instruments in his growing collection (including his 1930 Gibson Granada, his 1941 Gibson TB-7, his 1953 Martin D-28 and his 1953 Fender Telecaster) and a lot more.
Get Noam's tour dates and order 'Universal Favorite' here:
This episode is sponsored by Dying Breed Music:
Subscribe to the Fretboard Journal Podcast via iTunes:
Relic’d guitars are nothing new in the world of electric instruments, but they’re relatively unheard of when it comes to acoustics. Pre-War Guitars – the duo of Wes Lambe and Ben Maschal – hopes to change that. The pair of veteran luthiers are creating guitars that tap into the vintage sound and feel of Martins and Gibsons of the 1930s and ‘40s with hide glue, ultra-thin finishes and torrefied top woods. But they’re also adding scratches, dents and play wear to each of their new guitars (they offer a variety of distress levels based on a customer's preference). On this week’s podcast, you can hear about how this company came together, how they're constructing these instruments and why sometimes a little wear can result in a better sounding guitar.
This week’s episode is sponsored by Dying Breed Music. Check out their Gbase page here: https://www.gbase.com/stores/dying-breed-music
Don't forget to subscribe to us via iTunes and please leave us a review if you can. Our 38th issue of the Fretboard Journal is now mailing... with features on Daniel Lanois, Leo Kottke, the first "Loar" mandolin and a lot more.
If you love a good story, you’ll want to tune into this week’s podcast with luthier Wyatt Wilkie. Though he comes from a musical family, Wilkie is a completely self-taught instrument maker. He built his very first instrument, a mandocello, while working in New Mexico as a gravedigger. He then moved to a small town in Wales where he honed his craft and eventually found himself in Georgia apprenticing for archtop guitar icon Bob Benedetto. Wilkie is now nestled in the Comox Valley on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, where he divides his time today between mandolins and archtop guitars. Nearly all of his work is exquisite and custom… and no two guitars are alike.
This week’s episode is sponsored by Dying Breed Music: https://www.gbase.com/stores/dying-breed-music
On today’s Fretboard Journal Podcast, we talk to Jason and Pharis Romero of J. Romero Banjo Co. From the tiny town of Horsefly, British Columbia, the Romeros craft some of the most coveted new fretted instruments being made. They currently have a five year waitlist and, as they describe it, even getting on the waitlist is a bit of a challenge. The duo are also exceptional musicians and won the 2016 Juno Award for Best Traditional Album of the Year.
In June 2016, a fire swept through the Romeros entire shop, destroying many of their new instruments as well as some of the prized vintage possessions. During our conversation, we talk to them about the fire, the help they received from the music community and how their rebuild process is going. We also chat about some of their latest banjo creations and innovations.
https://www.fretboardjournal.com/video/fretboard-films-trip-romero-banjos/ (our film on the Romeros original shop)
Subscribe to the Journal here: https://shop.fretboardjournal.com/collections/all/products/fretboard-journal-subscription-no-auto-renew (use the coupon code PODCAST and save an additional $5 off your order)
On this week’s podcast, we talk to luthier Maegen Wells. After years of working alongside famed archtop guitar and bass builder Tom Ribbecke, Maegen is now building her own guitar and mandolin creations out of her Forestville, California workshop.
Wells has devoted nearly her entire adult life to learning the craft of lutherie and woodworking. Straight out of high school, she enrolled in Bryan Galloup’s Galloup School of Guitar Building and Professional Guitar Repair. She then went on to work at the Reverend Guitars warehouse and served as an apprentice to both Andrew White and Ribbecke.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Fretboard Journal Podcast via iTunes and, if you can, leave us a review on iTunes to help us with our search rankings: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fretboard-journal-podcast/id394447340?mt=2
The Fretboard Journal’s latest issue, #38, is now mailing worldwide. Subscribe via fretboardjournal.com and we’ll start you off with this edition.
This episode is brought to you via sponsor TR Crandall. Check out their amazing inventory of vintage archtops, electrics and flattop acoustic guitars. And tell them the Fretboard Journal sent you: http://trcrandall.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLYZL2xae8A (StewMac video featuring Maegen Wells creating a tortoloid pickguard for a Gibson archtop)
On today's podcast, we talk to William Seeders Mosheim, the owner of Seeders Instruments. Seeders is an open-back banjo builder who has found success combining old world designs with new world craftsmanship. The Vermont-based luthier honed his woodworking craft at his father's furniture business but now has a multi-year wait list for his banjos. His custom creations can incorporate any number of tone ring styles, wood options and levels of ornamentation.
This episode is sponsored once again by TR Crandall. If you're visiting their store or website, don't forget to tell them that the Fretboard Journal sent you.
Don't forget to subscribe to all of the Fretboard Journal podcasts via iTunes. And leave us a review if you can!
This week, we talk to recording engineer Larry Crane of Portland’s Jackpot! Recording Studio about the new and expanded 20th anniversary reissue of Elliott Smith’s Either/Or, his friendship with Smith and what those original recording sessions were like. Larry tells us about Smith’s in-studio work habits, the gear they used, the work that went into remastering these songs and a lot more. We also discuss the economics of running a recording studio and Tape Op, the magazine that Crane co-founded with John Baccigaluppi.
This week's episode is sponsored by TR Crandall in New York.
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This week: A double-episode of sorts! First off, we talk to Michael James Adams (aka by his social media handle, puisheen) about interviewing Nels Cline for us for issue 37. Michael walks through the interview process, Nels’ gear selections and more. Around the 20 minute mark, we share another session from the 2016 Fretboard Summit, this one on the next generation of guitar stores. On the panel: Adams (co-founder of Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar), Mark Stutman (Folkway Music), Reuben Cox (Old Style Guitar Shop), Will Lowe (Lowe Vintage) and Paul Heumiller (Dream Guitars). Topics covered: Using social media to sell guitars, finding your niche, and how these stores find their inventory.
This episode is brought to you by another relatively new store, TR Crandall.
Subscribe to the Fretboard Journal Podcast via iTunes here.
On today's Fretboard Journal Podcast, we talk to singer-songwriter Paul Burch, who went from performing in rock and indie bands in the Midwest to working the honky tonks on Lower Broadway. Burch tells us about his years performing at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, focusing on “post-war, pre-Elvis” music; his classic country music influences; how his songwriting and singing evolved; and his latest project, Meridian Rising, an imagined, musical autobiography of Jimmie Rodgers.
Read about Burch on fretboardjournal.com here:
This episode is sponsored by TR Crandall.
Yet another fun session from the 2016 Fretboard Summit! This week we hear John Thomas (Kalamazoo Gals), TJ Thompson, Mark Stutman (Folkway Music), Jim Baggett (Mass Street Music), Robb Lawrence (The Les Paul Legacy) and David Sheppard (Lowe Vintage) field questions on vintage Gibson acoustic guitars.
Topics include: the many variables found in most vintage Gibsons; solid linings versus kerfed linings; converting ladder-braced models to X-braced; repair headaches; finish thickness and much more.
Sponsored by TR Crandall.
Use the coupon code FJHoliday when you check out at https://shop.fretboardjournal.com and get an additional 15% off any order.
The wait is over!
Back on our 100th episode, we introduced you to T. Drew Heinonen, a young luthier who attended the first Fretboard Summit. We ended up ordering a guitar through Drew, using woods and materials we sourced through some of our favorite suppliers. Ever since, we’ve been checking in with Drew on the podcast as he builds the instrument. Well, the wait is over and at the second Summit (held in October 2016 in San Diego), Drew presented us with the finished guitar, a fine sounding koa/Lutz OM with surprising tone (for a koa instrument) and plenty of personal touches.
On today’s episode, we talk to Drew about how the guitar came together, how it’s opening up and what his plans are for 2017 and beyond. We also discuss the sister OM guitar that Drew built using Black locust and Red spruce. That instrument is currently for sale via Drew.
Law professor, author and Fretboard Journal Field Editor John Thomas joins us once again to discuss some recent updates to CITES and the impact they will have on musicians, instrument collectors and builders. Specifically, beginning January 2017, all remaining species of Rosewood (beyond Brazilian, which was already protected) will be added to CITES Appendix II. This may not affect you at all if you keep your guitars in United States but if you ever plan on taking an instrument with rosewood across the border (or selling one to someone outside the country), you may have some work to do.
We discuss the various steps that collectors, luthiers and dealers should take if they want to transport guitars with rosewood internationally; how builders can protect their wood stockpile; the expenses and timing needed to file all this paperwork; and a lot more.
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https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fretboard-journal-podcast/id394447340?mt=2 and please consider leaving us a review or sharing the podcast with friends.
If you’re holiday shopping and want to give the Fretboard Journal as a gift this year, use the coupon code FJHOLIDAY when you check out. You’ll get 15% off any order: https://shop.fretboardjournal.com
Intro/Outro music by Jon Rauhouse.
Today’s podcast is sponsored by TR Crandall:
US Fish & Wildlife Link for Musical Instrument Passports:
The Fretboard Journal’s Guide to Musical Instrument Passports: https://www.fretboardjournal.com/columns/musical-instrument-passports-new-cites-provision/
The FJ’s Guitar Lover’s Guide to CITES:
League of American Orchestra’s CITES Protected Species Travel Tips: