On December 5, 1927, the day after Blind Willie Johnson recorded some of his most influential blues sides at an impromptu Columbia Records recording studio in Dallas, in walked an equally mysterious and haunting musician, Washington Phillips. Phillips carried a homebrew instrument - later described as a “dulceola” but, as we learn on today’s podcast, actually two zithers he fabricated together. The otherworldly music coming out of those zithers, combined with Phillips’ powerful singing and songwriting, created some of the most awe-inspiring and mysterious sounds ever recorded. It’s no wonder Phillips has been covered by Ry Cooder, Jorma Kaukonen, Will Oldham and others.
“Where did this come from? That still remains the mystery,” Corcoran concludes. “I still don’t know that… you really will never know the motivation of the artist…”
Discussed in this podcast:
http://www.pickaway.press/fz/wp.html (page dedicated to Washington Phillips’ instrument)
http://www.dust-digital.com/washington-phillips/ (Washington Phillips and his Manzarene Dreams)
You don’t need to be an offset guitar connoisseur to appreciate the beauty of Nels Cline’s beat 1960 Fender Jazzmaster, affectionately dubbed “Watt.” On today’s Fretboard Journal Podcast, we talk to the former owner of that guitar, Mike Watt himself. Watt reflects on his ongoing friendship with Cline, his ownership stint with the Jazzmaster (which was briefly owned by J Mascis before Watt bought it via Rick King at Guitar Maniacs), the Minutemen and more. We ask Watt about the recent release of Ring Spiel Tour ‘95, an amazing live document featuring Watt with Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, Pat Smear and William Goldsmith.
Also discussed: D. Boon, EMG pickups, Floored by Four, the Black Gang, a potential signature model Mike Watt bass and more.
Referenced in the discussion:
Nels’ tour diaries: http://hootpage.com/hoot_nelsclamblow1.html
Nels’ tour diaries, pt 2: http://hootpage.com/hoot_nelsshinebox1.html
Nels Cline’s Goo Pedal: http://www.toneconcepts.com/goo/
Watts' Gear: http://www.hootpage.com/hoot_gallery-thudstaffs.html
Ring Spiel Tour '95: http://amzn.to/2gdyJqj
Nikon Coolpix LX830: http://amzn.to/2gdzsaV
Nels Cline is on the cover of the new Fretboard Journal #37, available now. Podcast listeners: Use the coupon code "podcast" when you check out.
On this week’s podcast, we talk to guitarist Jon Herington. For the last several years, Herrington has performed guitar duties for Steely Dan, but his credits go far beyond that. He’s also an accomplished singer-songwriter and session musician. We also discuss his 2016 solo album Adult Entertainment, his Wysocki Telecaster, the rigors of touring and a bunch more.
On this week’s podcast, we’re sharing the vintage Martin guitar panel that took place at the 2016 Fretboard Summit. Included on this panel were guitar experts Mark Stutman (Folkway Music), TJ Thompson, Jim Baggett (Mass Street Music), David Sheppard (Lowe Vintage), Eric Schoenberg and Joe Glaser (Glaser Instruments). Also joining in is Dick Boak from Martin. This episode makes for a nice bookend with Fretboard Journal Podcast #122 with TJ Thompson. Topics include: TJ’s background, the Martin “longscale” myth, proper intonation, hide glue, popsicle braces, slotted bridge pins, why you can’t make a new guitar exactly like an old one and much more. All-told, a fun and informative chat with six of the world’s best-known vintage instrument experts.
Note: The audience was un-mic’d for this informal session so questions are hard to hear on this podcast. You should be able to figure out all the questions asked via the panel’s responses.
This episode is sponsored by TR Crandall Guitars.
On this week’s Fretboard Journal podcast, we’re sharing the talk that acclaimed luthier TJ Thompson gave at the 2016 Fretboard Summit in San Diego. This talk was billed as “Myth Busting with TJ Thompson” and had the following description in our program:
Adirondack you say? What makes you think so? Is it possible to build a new guitar just like the old guitars? How long is long scale? Is hide glue really better? Should you have that popsicle brace removed? Internet bloggers who believe they know the answers to these questions beware, this lecture may not be for you.
This was easily one of the most candid talks at the Summit. By popular demand (and with his permission), we’re sharing it today. At the 2016 Summit, TJ was also on panels discussing vintage Martin guitars, vintage acoustic Gibson guitars and the merits of the PLEK machine. We’ll be sharing those in the near future, too.
Please review us on iTunes if you haven’t yet and don’t forget to subscribe to the Fretboard Journal print edition. Our new issue (#37) is now mailing with Nels Cline on the cover.
This week’s podcast sponsor is TR Crandall, a must-see vintage guitar shop in New York City.
Subscribe to the Fretboard Journal magazine here.
The last official talk at the 2016 Fretboard Summit featured three giants in the world of guitarmaking: Rick Turner, Dana Bourgeois and Andy Powers. This sprawling talk covers a lot of ground: What makes a great guitar? How long are guitars supposed to last? Will artificial intelligence take over guitar making? They also fielded plenty of enlightening questions from our audience. [Note: Audio is a little variable with audience questions – not everyone spoke into a microphone – but the answers should be plenty audible.]
The second Fretboard Summit took place October 14-16, 2016 in San Diego. Over the next few months, we’ll be releasing more content – talks, panels and concert footage – on fretboardjournal.com.
Two old friends join us on this week’s Fretboard Journal Podcast as we talk with guitar improvising legend Henry Kaiser and Andy Marshall of THD Electronics.
During our sprawling chat, Kaiser tells us about his love for diving in the Antarctic and how being underwater in the cold has affected his sense of rhythm. He also tells us how he met Alexander “Howard” Dumble and how he obtained his #1 Steel String Singer in one of the great guitar deals of the century. Kaiser then walks us through his pedalboard’s entire signal chain, briefly demoing each pedal. The pair also discuss the magic of Bell & Howell Filmosound amplifiers and the future of Marshall's THD Electronics.
Must-watch video of Henry Kaiser swimming with the Weddell seals:
And Kaiser playing slide on the South Pole:
Note: During this taping, we filmed a few videos with Kaiser and Marshall performing at the FJ. Look for those on fretboardjournal.com and on our YouTube channel over the next couple of weeks.
On this week's podcast, we talk to Will Lowe and David Sheppard of Lowe Vintage. Lowe Vintage is a relatively new guitar shop based in Burlington, North Carolina. Despite their newcomer status in the world of vintage guitars, mandolins and banjos, they've already amassed an incredible selection of Gibsons, Martins and more.
During our talk, Will Lowe tells us about how this store came about and where they find all these classic '20s-'40s era instruments. We also talk to David Sheppard about the repair work he does to these instruments, collector trends and more.
We're happy to announce that Lowe Vintage will be bringing many of their instruments to our Fretboard Summit, October 14-16, 2016 in San Diego, California. Attend and have an opportunity to play (or purchase) some of these remarkable gems.
Our Fretboard Summit OM guitar project is now nearing completion. On this episode, we conduct one last Skype conversation with luthier T. Drew Heinonen to talk about the instrument, where it stands currently and about some of the finishing touches Drew will be making to the guitar. He tells us a bit about pore fillers, the intricacies of UV finishes, how he prefers to glue the bridge to the body, the merits of Ironwood as a replacement for Ebony and much more.
We’ll be unveiling this guitar for the first time at the Fretboard Summit, October 14-16, 2016 in San Diego, California. Join us for three days of music, guitar talks, interviews and panels if you can. We’ll even let you play this very guitar. It’s going to be a blast.
Special thanks to Stewart MacDonald for sponsoring this and other Summit guitar episodes.
We don’t often cover religious music here at the Journal but on today’s podcast we talk to Paul Enns, a music pastor based in London. He walks us through his unique job, crafting music and playing acoustic guitar for church services; tells us about his wildly eclectic music tastes (here’s a player who can appreciate everything from Joe Henry to John Zorn and Albert Ayler); describes the life changing impact Springsteen’s The River had on him as a child and a lot more.
Also, Summit updates, some Southern California FJ reader meetups and more.
Intro and outro music by Jon Rauhouse, who has a new album out with Eric Bachmann.
Jon Rauhouse with Eric Bachmann:
As Santa Cruz celebrates its fortieth anniversary, we’re sharing the talk that founder Richard Hoover gave at the first-ever Fretboad Summit. Richard tells us a bit about the SCGC operation, gives us his thoughts on how tonewoods affect what we hear, describes his specific builds for Tony Rice and much more.
The next Fretboard Summit takes place October 14-16, 2016 in San Diego, California. Once again, Hoover and many luthiers from around the country will be on-hand, fielding questions and explaining their craft. We’ll also have some of our favorite musicians, interactive exhibits, dozens of vintage guitars in a pop-up “guitar library” and much more.
Jim Olson is a legend in the world of acoustic guitar making. The Minnesota-based luthier is a cult favorite among guitar collectors around the world thanks to the instruments he's built for James Taylor (Taylor's Olson was once immortalized in cartoon form on a Simpson’s episode), Phil Keaggy and Leo Kottke. Due to their high demand, Olson’s new creations start at $15,000, a price that even he is a little embarrassed by. “I’m the Forrest Gump of guitarmaking,” Olson tells us. “I fell into here. I don’t think these things are any more special than anything else.”
During this candid talk, Olson tells us about the first guitar he built (with help from the classic Irving Sloane book), how Keagy ordered the first cedar guitar and how an early (and failed) distribution deal for his dreadnoughts in the late ‘70s resulted in his fanatical appreciation for tooling and build efficiency. “I’m sometimes more interested in making a new piece of tooling than a guitar,” he says. We also talk CNC machines, the creation of the Small Jumbo, tone woods, his fateful meeting with James Taylor and more.
Subscribe to all the Fretboard Journal podcasts via iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fretboard-journal-podcast/id394447340?mt=2
These days, Otto D’Ambrosio is best known for his exquisite archtop guitars. But his guitar journey began long ago, when he stumbled into Mandolin Brothers as a 13 year old. He ended up working at Mandolin Brothers for Stan Jay, then for luthier legends Flip Scipio and John Monteleone. He did some time at the repair department of Guild’s Westerly plant and, eventually set out on his own as a luthier and repairman.
On this week’s podcast, D’Ambrosio tell us about his background, describes the ongoing evolution of his archtop models and tells us about his ongoing collaboration with Eastman Guitars. After working for most of his life on the East Coast, Otto has now relocated to the West Coast to work out of Eastman’s California headquarters.
It’s an informative and fun chat with one of the fretted instrument world’s best craftsmen.
It's starting to look like a guitar!
Luthier T. Drew Heinonen is hard at work on the OM guitar project we'll be unveiling at the 2016 Fretboard Summit. On this week's podcast, Drew tells us about his assembly of the guitar's body, gives us his views on bracing and bridge plates and much more.
The Fretboard Summit OM will be unveiled at the next Fretboard Summit, taking place October 14-16, 2016 in San Diego. Go to www.fretboardsummit.com for details.
Author, record producer, historian and performer Bob Carlin joins the Fretboard Journal podcast to talk about his latest project, the gorgeous new book 'Banjo: An Illustrated History.' The book is an exceptional tome for any fretted instrument collector: Carlin walks us through the history of the instrument while showcasing some of the most gorgeous banjos ever created. It also offers profiles on notable players and builders (including Jason Romero, Doc's Banjos, Kevin Enoch, Deering and others).
Order the book here: http://amzn.to/29W7i0w
Tim Young is best known for his guitar playing with Wayne Horvitz in Zony Mash but he’s also done a ton of session and studio work with everyone from Todd Rundgren and Fiona Apple to John Legend.
On this week’s podcast, we talk to Young about his career as a session guitarist, including his stint playing on the case/lang/veirs record (he’s also immortalized as the subject of the song “Best Kept Secret” on the album) and his work as the guitarist in the house band for The Late Late Show with James Corden. Young tells us about his time at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts, his struggle to connect with some classic jazz sounds and how he found his guitar voice thanks to the music of Bill Frisell and Ween.
Added bonus: We shot video of Young playing with Bill Frisell at the Fretboard Journal, coming soon to our website. Stay tuned…
Special thanks to D’Addario for sponsoring this episode.
The Fretboard Summit takes place October 14-16, 2016 in San Diego, California. We hope to see some of you there. It's our take on our dream guitar festival, with incredible concerts, panels and talks from some of the world's best musicians and luthiers and a lot of surprises.
On May 24, 2016, jazz guitarists Bill Frisell and Matt Munisteri performed a short Facebook Live set at the Fretboard Journal’s Seattle headquarters. After the cameras were turned off, we kept the microphones rolling while Bill and Matt had an insightful conversation that covers Johnny Smith, the ‘80s New York City jazz scene, guitars, Bill’s work with Vernon Reid, inspiration, attempting to take vacation time and much more.
Watch Bill and Matt’s Facebook Live session here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQUq9v34dsA
or via the Fretboard Journal’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/fretboardjournal
Matt Munisteri will be appearing once again at the Fretboard Summit, held October 14-16, 2016 in San Diego, California. www.fretboardsummit.com
Once again, we check in with Minnesota-based luthier T. Drew Heinonen. As we've discussed on podcasts #100 and #101, Heinonen will be building the Fretboard Journal an OM-style guitar, which we’ll be unveiling at the 2016 Fretboard Summit. As you’ll hear in this podcast, we sent Drew a wide variety of domestic tone woods to choose from – from highly-figured koa to sleeper Black walnut. We also sourced some bracing material from Michael Gurian, a Lutz top from Pacific Rim Tonewoods and a Red spruce top from the Hampton Brothers.
During this conversation, we talk to Drew and get his reaction to the various tonewoods we mailed to him. We get his thoughts on thickness sanding, how much (if at all) a luthier can affect the tone of the raw materials he’s using and a lot more. Last but not least, we finally decide on the raw materials we’ll be using for the Fretboard Summit OM.
Special thanks to Stewart MacDonald for sponsoring this episode of the Fretboard Journal Podcast. Backing music by Jon Rauhouse.
Burlington, Vermont's Creston Lea first appeared in the Fretboard Journal #21 when we ran a feature on him and fellow electric guitar builder Paul Languedoc. Over the years, we've continued to follow and be amazed by this created luthier.
Today's podcast was recorded live at the first Fretboard Summit in November 2015. This is Lea's presentation entitled "Flame Job!" where he talks about design, collaborating with artist Sarah Ryan on custom paint jobs, customer requests he's willing to take (and not take) and a lot more. He also fields some great questions from Fretboard Summit attendees. Huge thanks to our friends at prsguitars.com for sponsoring our Summit podcasts.
The next Fretboard Summit takes place October 14-16, 2016, this time in sunny San Diego. We hope to see some of you there.
Even though his guitars command top dollar and his wait list is several years long, luthier Jason Kostal isn’t done learning his craft. In fact, as we hear on today’s Fretboard Journal Podcast, Kostal just flew to Europe to attend an inlay master class with Grit Laskin. We talk to Kostal about the course, Laskin’s approach to teaching and whether he’ll use his newfound inlay skills on his own guitar creations.
Beyond describing his class with Laskin, Kostal also tells us a bit about his build philosophy, how his business is doing and the state of boutique guitarmaking in general.
Kostal is a tireless learner and easily one of the most fascinating builders around: Before becoming a full-time luthier, he graduated from West Point, served in the Army, earned an MBA from Emory and did his time working for a Fortune 500 company. Eventually, he found himself at Roberto-Venn in Phoenix, apprenticing for Ervin Somagyi (who will be featured in issue 36 of the Journal) and starting his own guitar company.
This episode is sponsored by D’Addario’s new Nickel Bronze Wound strings: nickelbronze.daddario.com
Subscribe to the Fretboard Journal magazine here:
On this week’s podcast we talk to Walter Carter of Carter Vintage Guitars about one of the store’s latest acquisitions, a May 1958 Gibson Les Paul that could safely be called the first ‘Burst. This prototype guitar came from the factory with a three-piece top and a “Special” finish, which just happened to be the same yellow to cherry red sunburst pattern that would be found on all those iconic 1959-1960 Les Pauls. Carter tells us about this unique instrument, how he found it (or it found him) and, yes, the price he’s asking.
Carter is an invaluable resource when it comes to all things fretted, so we also ask him about some of the recent sales trends he’s seen in vintage instruments, what guitar markets seem soft and more.
For 105th episode, we talk to two of the many guitarmakers who built instruments for Prince over his career. Roger Sadowsky tells the entertaining story of how he built Prince's "Ejacucasters" and Andy Beech of D'Haitre Guitars describes the dozens of guitars he built for the late music star and some of the abuse they went through after years of rigorous touring. If you have your own Prince guitar story, we'd love to hear about it. Drop us a line!
This episode is sponsored by D'Addario.
Today we talk to Grant Gordy and Joe Walsh, two rising stars in the world of bluegrass and Americana music. Both artists are members of Darrol Anger's Mr.Sun, but during the recording of this podcast, they were touring as a guitar/mandolin duo. Gordy talks to us about the vintage Martin guitar he just purchased from Chicago Music Exchange and Walsh talks to us about how he chose his new Nugget mandolin from luthier Mike Kemnitzer.
Subscribe to the podcast if you haven't yet via iTunes. We also invite you to check out the new fretboardjournal.com.
For years, Eric Daw has been the in-house repairman at Seattle’s acclaimed Emerald City Guitars. On today’s episode, we talk to Eric about his work at the store, his love for vintage guitars and a lot more. Eric also talks about his own Pin-Up Custom Guitars creations and his latest project, the Fret Files podcast.
Ronin electric guitars are instantly recognizable thanks to their unmistakable Foilbucker and Stratofoil pickups. Dig a little bit deeper and you'll also discover that these guitars have another unique characteristic – they’re all made out of reclaimed old growth redwood. On today’s podcast, we talk with John Reed of Ronin about their creations, why they’re using redwood for their guitar bodies and how those distinctive pickups came to be. We also hear from guitarist Dan Phelps on what it’s like to play these guitars in a variety of settings. Ronins may be best known as the guitar of choice for audio experimenter David Torn but, as you'll hear, they can be used in a wide variety of settings. All told, it's a fun chat about woods, guitarmaking, the magic behind goldfoil pickups and more.