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.
Luthier T. Drew Heinonen will soon be building us a custom OM style guitar. On this episode, we talk to Drew about the time he spent at Jim Olson's shop, his philosophy when it comes to CNC machines, thoughts on tone woods and more. We also hear from TJ Thompson on what, in his estimation, makes for a great OM-style guitar.
This is the second episode of our OM guitar build. We'll be checking in with Drew over the next several months to hear how about the build process and more.
This episode is sponsored by Stewart-MacDonald.
We celebrate our 100th podcast episode by ordering a custom acoustic guitar! On this episode, we talk to luthier T. Drew Heinonen, who got his start working for Bourgeois Guitars and acclaimed guitarmaker James Olson. Heinonen is now building guitars under his own name and will be making an OM style guitar for us over the next several months.
We’ll be checking in with Heinonen every couple of weeks on our podcast to discuss the guitar build, make decisions about its appointments and hear about all the steps and hair-pulling that a luthier goes through during an instrument build. We’ll also be posting photos of the process on fretboardjournal.com and on our Facebook page.
A huge thanks to all of our listeners and podcast subscribers for tuning in to our show.
Before he devoted himself to making electric guitars, luthier Scott Walker spent years setting dovetail neck joints at the Santa Cruz Guitar Company. With Walker’s most recent creation, the Katana, he gets to combine the two chapters of his life in a unique way. The Katana is a unique, stripped-down electric by Walker’s standards and it has a memorable party trick – it has a Japanese-style joint that bonds the neck to the body without glue, bolts or screws. The instrument itself is purposeful and simple: one-piece body and one-piece neck, no tone or volume controls.
On this week’s podcast, we talk to Walker about the guitar, the challenges he had making it and the prospect of this kind of joint working in an acoustic instrument. Walker is always on the vanguard of guitar construction techniques (you may remember our feature on him in the Fretboard Journal #27) and this instrument is no exception.
Read more about the Katana on Scott’s website.
Vintage guitar enthusiasts are quick to point out the differences between various makers, tone woods and construction techniques. But can you identify with just your ears what you’re actually hearing? That was the premise behind Matt Munisteri’s Blindfold Guitar Challenge at the 2015 Fretboard Summit. We assembled a variety of vintage instruments for Munisteri to play behind a thin curtain while the audience had to guess what they were actually hearing.
This set features some great playing by Munisteri (who could make any guitar sound fantastic) and some thought-provoking commentary on the merits of various collectible instruments. At various points, Munisteri is also joined by Bill Frisell, Eric Schoenberg and Michael John Simmons.
Though ran out of time before Munisteri could play through all of the guitars we collected backstage, we’re happy to announce we’ll be throwing the next Fretboard Summit October 14-16, 2016 at San Diego’s Rancho Bernardo Inn. With any luck, we’ll make the blindfold guitar challenge an annual tradition and have a whole new batch of vintage guitars for Munisteri to try out in California. Go to www.fretboardsummit.com for details and ticket information.
Luthier TJ Thompson returns to our podcast to tell us a bit about his new website, proluthiertools.com. On the site, TJ is selling some of the exacting tools and guitar parts he’s developed over the last few decades repairing vintage Martin guitars, including bar fret stock, belly and pyramid bridges and more.
TJ also tells us about a few of the projects that have crossed his workbench recently, his use of technology in fixing old guitars and more. Whether or not you have an old Martin guitar or need these tools, it’s fascinating to hear about their development from one of the world’s finest luthiers.
Some choice sound bites from TJ heard in this conversation:
“The only thing I abhor more than self-promotion is advertising.”
“[The California neck reset] is the only repair that I can’t really reverse.”
“I thought I could just solve this problem up front before people glue the wrong bridges on with the wrong footprint.”
“A lot of people think that you’re supposed to use a quarter sawn piece of wood for a bridge blank. Although it looks nice in that cut, they almost always split through the pin holes and eventually the saddle slot splits, too.”
“It looked like Breaking Bad over here. I had my Walter White outfit on: The goggles, the gloves, the smock, the whole thing...”
For more information, go to proluthiertools.com.
Special thanks to our friends at D’Addario for sponsoring this episode.
For our 96th podcast, we talk to Josh Rosenthal of Tompkins Square records. In its first decade, Tompkins Square has released dozens of essential albums for guitar lovers, including the Imaginational Anthem series, records by E.C. Ball, Max Ochs, Roscoe Holcomb and others.
On this podcast, we chat with Rosenthal about how this label started, his love for acoustic guitar music and why he decided to celebrate the label's tenth anniversary with a custom guitar commission from builder Trevor Healy. It's a fun chat with one of the true visionaries of the modern music industry.
Bridge plates, neck resets, refinishes… these are the issues that cause sleepless nights for many vintage guitar enthusiasts. On November 7, 2015 at the first Fretboard Summit, Mass Street Music’s Jim Baggett addressed some of these issues and many more during a panel discussion with Mark Stutman (Folkway Music), Jay Hostetler (Stewart-MacDonald), Richard Johnston (Gryphon Stringed Instruments) and Eric Schoenberg.
During this 45 minute talk, the group discusses how guitar restoration has evolved over the years, some of the misinformation that can be found on guitar forums and how to best discuss repair work with your local luthier. Whether you have a priceless collection of pre-war Martins or just a ‘60s guitar that needs a little TLC, this is enlightening and unfiltered discussion with some of the true experts of the acoustic guitar world.
There is only one musician in the world who can sing the praises of bluegrass legend Don Stover, describe the merits of vintage Sunn amps and tell you that he’s working on a suite of 12-tone music for tuba and banjo all in one 20 minute conversation. That man is banjo legend and experimenter Danny Barnes.