These days, Seattle guitarmaker Steve Andersen is known primarily for his stunning archtop guitars. That wasn't always the case, however. In part one of our interview with Andersen, we ask him about the early days of Roberto-Venn (he was one of the school's first students) and the Sand Point, Idaho lutherie scene of the '70s (including the store Guitar's Friend and fellow builders such as Franklin Guitars and Bob Givens). We also hear why Andersen will no longer make the F-style mandolins he was once known for.
Singer-songwriter Matt Munisteri is a fixture in New York’s jazz scene, but—as he explains on this week’s podcast—his first obsession was bluegrass. In this 30 minute interview, Munisteri talks about his love for the five-string banjo (including the lessons he took from Tony Trischka), the funk sounds that captivated him in college and the vintage guitar tones he now embraces. Munisteri also discusses his latest project, an album featuring the music of songsmith Willard Robison.
Producer and singer-songwriter Joe Henry is the consummate guitar enthusiast. In the Fretboard Journal #26, he walks us through his vintage acoustic guitar collection and his varied music career. As a follow-up to that lengthy interview, we talk to Henry about his relationship with Folkway Music of Canada; the 13-fret Gibson Nick Lucas that Dylan played (an instrument that Henry has seen firsthand); his forthcoming book project on Richard Pryor and more.
When it comes to repairing vintage Martin guitars, TJ Thompson is, quite simply, one of the best. He’s repaired famous instruments played by some of the biggest names in music and has brought seemingly basket case guitars back to life. He also builds his own Martin-style guitars, which command five digit prices.
In Seattle's Fremont neighborhood, Ben Verellen and his small team custom build some of the most beautiful (and loud) guitar amplifiers available today. On this FJ podcast, we talk to Verellen about his amp company, the recent Kickstarter campaign he launched and much more.
In 2002, musician Michael Andrews and singer Gary Jules performed a mesmerizing cover of Tears for Fears' “Mad World” for theDonnie Darko soundtrack.That unlikely cover not only found it's way to the top of the music charts, but opened doors for Andrews into the world of film composing. But, as the guitarist explains in this week's FJ podcast, composing film music is just one side of Andrews' career. Under the moniker Elgin Park, he's served as the guitarist for the Greyboy Allstars, the extremely popular soul jazz band based out of San Diego. He is a virtuoso at everything from George Benson-inspired funk to intricate fingerstyle playing.
Richard Smith is one of the most impressive fingerstyle guitarists alive today. For our 52nd podcast, Smith stops by the FJ offices to talk about his unique upbringing, meeting hero Chet Atkins for the first time and his career today. At the end of this podcast, you can hear Smith perform a beautiful version of "Cheek to Cheek" on his signature model Kirk Sand guitar.
In the 1930s, Nationals and Dobro-branded guitars often featured a “frosted duco” finish, the result of applying a unique lacquer would seemingly crystalize on the instrument. The guitar finish equivalent of tie-dye, no two of these frosted duco finishes looks alike, but nearly every surviving example is gorgeous. Around 1937, National stopped using the finish altogether and it was quickly relegated to guitar geek history.
Seattle-area guitar collector Rik Besser has spent years perfecting his own version of "frosted duco" and is now the go-to guy for these finishes. On this week's podcast, he explains his process and tells us about some of the new projects he's currently working on.
For over a decade, Portland, Oregon’s Nial McGaughey has made a name for himself creating audiophile-grade guitar cables with his company Solid Cables. He’s also been not-so-quietly hard at work making and repairing guitar amps. On today's podcast, we talk to Nial about his various projects, how he got started, his "recycled" amps and much more.
Over the course of his 39 years as a luthier, Tom Ribbecke has become one of the world's great archtop guitar builders and a tireless educator, promoter and spokesperson for the world of hand-built instruments. Sadly, Ribbecke may soon lose the legendary workshop, teaching facility and home that he occupies in Healdsburg, California.
On this week's podcast, we talk to Ribbecke about his vision for saving the property and transforming it into a center where luthiers can share their knowledge and elevate the craft of the guitarmaking even further. He describes a couple of ways guitarists can help him: by pre-ordering one of the Final 25 series of guitars that he will be building to a customer's specs or perhaps by joining him as a partner on the entire facility. Ribbecke only has about a month to secure the land and realizes that it's a long shot, but he's confident that someone may want to be involved in this unique endeavor.
Ribbecke likens the area around Healdsburg -- and all of the talented luthiers working nearby -- as the modern day Cremona of guitars. We here at the FJ hope his vision for world class center for lutherie comes to fruition.
For more information on Ribbecke, his guitar creations or the Halfling model he invented, check out his site here. Or watch some of the many YouTube clips from the reality show based around his instrument company, Guitar Planet. And look for a feature on Ribbecke in a future issue of The Fretboard Journal.
Update: There is currently a Kickstarter campaign to help create the Ribbecke Center for Stringed Instruments. As of March 5, 2012, over $25,000 has been raised but there are still many worthy rewards available in exchange for donating.
Background music is by Michael Chapman, from the newly reissued Rainmaker album.
For the last few years, Char and Gordon Mayer of Mya-Moe Ukuleles have combined creating stunning ukuleles with an interesting business model. They hope, quite simply, to be the Collings or Benedetto of high-end, American-built ukes. In this week's podcast, we talk to the couple about how they got started making ukuleles, the incredible growth their company has seen in just a few years and just how they get ukes into the hands of some of the music world's biggest artists. In addition to being used by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder (who will be appearing on the cover of Fretboard Journal #24), Mya-Moes have been embraced by Dave Matthews, Florence & the Machine, Ben Harper and Trey Anastasio (Phish), to name a few. It's an interesting half-hour talk with one of the ukulele world's newest makers.
From his home in Louisville, Kentucky, we talk to guitarist and music historian Nathan Salsburg. By our count, Salsburg has released two of the best instrumental acoustic guitar albums of 2011: Avos, a duet record with James Elkington, and a solo album entitled Affirmed. We chat with Salsburg about both records, the guitars he used on these projects and his unique day job, working for the Alan Lomax Archives. We also discuss some of his favorite guitar players, including Nic Jones (featured in the Fretboard Journal #21) and E.C. Ball (a huge influence on luthier/player Wayne Henderson). It's an interesting half-hour chat with one of the guitar world's rising stars.
"My days are very busy," pickup maker Seymour Duncan says with a laugh. It's no understatement. In addition to running one of the largest pickup companies in the musical instrument industry, Duncan is also serious about photography, the prehistoric art of flint knapping (he's on the board of the Stone Age Institute) and, of course, playing guitar. In addition, he still winds pickups for celebrities and average joes alike.
Duncan has just released his first album on iTunes, simply called Seymour. It's an homage to some of his favorite guitarists and musicians over the years. "Whipped Cream" is his take on the tones of Eric Clapton; "Rincon Point" is a surf track; "Ice Pickin'" is for Albert Collins; "Mood for Jeff" is dedicated to Jeff Beck... and so forth.
The album came about after Duncan purchased and began experimenting with a Pro Tools rig. When friends in the industry started to hear about his recordings, they sent Duncan additional gear and software. Eventually, with producer Doug Scott, he recorded around 30 tracks. Half of those made it on the 14-track album. "It just turned out really incredible," he says. "It's a very eclectic CD."
In this week's podcast, we hear more from Duncan about the album, his favorite artists over the years, those early days he spent at the Fender Sound House in London working alongside rock stars and more. It's a 45 minute talk with one of the guitar industry's living legends.
Portland, Oregon's Eric Skye may be too humble to consider himself a great guitarist, but anyone who has heard this wonderful improviser in action would beg to differ. On this week's podcast, we talk to Skye about his early years playing music (including the job he held cleaning fish tanks so that he could pay for guitar lessons) and the music that inspires him today. We also hear about his new Santa Cruz signature model 00-sized guitar, which features many subtle refinements over the classic Martin design. All-told, it's a great 30 minute interview with one of the Pacific Northwest's best acoustic talents.
With a name like Jonny Corndawg, you can guess that this week's podcast guest is going to be a unique one. And Mr. Corndawg does not disappoint. He's a quirky singer-songwriter influenced by artists such as Roger Miller, Michael Hurley and Jerry Reed. In this 20-minute interview, Corndawg walks us through his career as a musician and explains some of his stranger hobbies, including hand-tooling the leather that adorns his Telecaster and his hilarious attempt to bootleg his own album in India. He also tells us about the Givson (no, that's not a typo) archtop that he's currently touring with. All-told, it's one of the more humorous FJ podcasts and one of our favorite up-and-coming artists.
Bill Frisell is one of the most original guitarists alive today. His guitar tone is unmistakable, regardless of which instrument he's playing and his music blurs the boundaries of jazz, free-improv and Americana. In this week's podcast, we talk to Frisell about his latest project, All We Are Saying, an album composed entirely of John Lennon compositions. We also ask him about his ever-growing instrument collection, how he decides on his gear during a session, his writing process and much more. It's a 30-minute conversation with a true music maverick.
Guitarist Adam Levy has explored every facet of being a professional musician. Over the course of his career, he's been an instructor, a music journalist, a session guitarist, a singer-songwriter and a touring artist. He's equally adept performing alongside avant-garde jazz figures as he is mainstream artists such as Norah Jones. On today's podcast, Levy sheds light on his unique music background and describes some of the influential musicians such as Ted Greene and Jimmy Wyble that he was lucky enough to learn from. We are also treated to a solo performance of one of his latest tunes.
This week we talk to John Thomas, the FJ’s very own Field Editor and a professor at Quinnipiac University School of Law, and get a crash course on CITES, the Lacey Act and the recent raid of the Gibson Guitars factory. Thomas does his best to walk us through the confusing laws and treaties that could affect guitarists and guitar manu
For our 40th podcast, we talk to guitar legend David Bromberg. Bromberg has just released Use Me, a new album featuring collaborations with some of his old friends (including Los Lobos, Levon Helm, Widespread Panic and John Hiatt, among others). We talk to him about the album, as well as his successful violin business and some of the quirkier session gigs he has under his belt. As many know, Bromberg was a hired gun on classic recordings by Bob Dylan, John Hartford and others. Lastly, he walks us through the history of the Martin M-42 guitar and tells us about his love for vintage Electar amplifiers.
Can an "art guitar" be a functional, workingman's instrument? If its built by Vermont's Creston Lea, the answer is a resounding yes. In this week's podcast, FJ publisher Jason Verlinde talks to Lea about his current output, some of the exotic woods he tracks down to build his guitars (including pieces salvaged from old barns, pickle vats and more) and about his ongoing collaboration with artist Sarah Ryan. We also talk a bit about Lea's other passion: he's a published short story author.
As many readers know, Lea was featured in the Fretboard Journal #21 along with guitar building pal Paul Languedoc. This podcast allows us to hear a bit more about the luthier's creations and the energy that goes into them.
For more information on Creston Lea's guitars, visit his site here.
Ever wondered what it’s like to play guitar alongside Lucinda Williams? Or what the Rick Rubin-produced Kid Rock album sessions were like? Our 38th Fretboard Journal Podcast will answer all of those questions and then some.
Today's guest is Blake Mills, the 25 year old guitar phenom / singer-songwriter currently touring with Williams. Mills stopped by our office and gave us the candid scoop on his background, his recent session work and what guitars he takes on the road. Also mentioned: Jackson Browne's acrylic nail advice and the magical tone contained inside Synsonics toy guitars.
For more information on Mills, visit his site here.
Next week's podcast will feature electric guitar builder Creston Lea, who was featured in the Fretboard Journal #21.
Acoustic guitarists and mandolinists all over the world know of the importance of Sitka spruce. It's one of the favored choices for guitar tops (and for bracing inside the instrument). What many musicians may not realize is that the Sitka forests in Alaska face some of the same over-harvesting dangers that have occured with Brazilian rosewood, Madagascar rosewood and Adirondack spruce.
Musicwood is a new documentary that follows the fate of one forest in Alaska and the efforts of a group of guitarmakers (including Taylor Guitars' Bob Taylor) to slow down the harvesting.
In this week's podcast, we talk to the Musicwood's director, Maxine Trump, about the project, the Kickstarter campaign currently underway to finish funding the film and about the current state of the Sitka forests in Southern Alaska.
In May of 2011, Joe Spann will release Spann’s Guide to Gibson 1902-1941, a new book on vintage Gibson guitars, mandolins and banjos that may very well rewrite how we classify, age and think about these wonderful instruments. On this week's podcast, we talk to him about the book, the quirks of vintage Gibson guitars and mandolins and more.
Our 35th podcast features 2/5ths of the Punch Brothers: banjo great Noam Pikelny and fiddle virtuoso Gabe Witcher. We caught up with the pair right before the PB’s show at Seattle’s Showbox Theater on March 15, 2011. We asked them about the instruments they’re using on this tour as well as their future recording plans.
Our 34th podcast features an interview with singer-songwriter duo Corinne West and Kelly Joe Phelps. Though the pair have had lengthy solo careers for years, they've recently decided to perform together as a group. We ask them about how they approach songwriting as a duo, what instruments they're using and about their forthcoming album. We also ask Phelps about his great slide guitar playing (which, sadly, he no longer does). At the end of the interview, the duo performed a tune on their matching Martin HD-28s.
Recorded at the Fretboard Journal offices on January 17, 2011. Be sure to check out our exclusive video of the pair singing "Night Falls Away Singing" here.