It’s been a while. I’ve been keeping my head down and focused on the work in the shop the past few months. We have a lot of fun projects that we’re working on so just wanted to jump on and share a few details with more to come soon.
Next week we’re headed to the first Fretboard Summit being put on by Jason Verlinde and the team behind the Fretboard Journal. The weekend will be full of talks by some of today’s great guitar builders, many that I’ve long admired, various players in concert and giving instruction, and the chance to hang out with a focused group of all around guitar geeks. The event is taking place at Costanoa Resort near Pescadero, CA along the coast. I can’t think of a better excuse to get out of the shop for a few days. On Sunday morning, I’ll have the pleasure to sit down with amazing guitar player, Julian Lage, and play a few songs with him while we talk shop with Jason.
Above is a photo of the gear I’ll be taking to the Summit. In the front row is a newly finished sunburst Smith Special, a Tele with my CCll Pole Piece Pickup, my personal Smith Special and a recently completed mandolin that I made for myself. The mandolin is a cross between Tiny Moore’s 5 string and the Glenn Tarver’s 5 string, which I was fortunate to have in my shop for a few weeks recently. Next post I’ll share more photos and details on the mandolin, along with a video where I’ll play and slow down one of Tiny’s solo’s.
Along with the guitars, I’m taking a recently acquired 1957 Magnatone Troubadour, a 1956 Gibson Country Western and my trusty Gibson EH 185.
On another note, every year Jill comes up with a new t-shirt design for the shop. We recently had artist and friend Anika Orrock out for a few days and she created some funny characters of a hillbilly guitar builder in the desert. Oh ya, that’s me. We love her work so decided to honor it on a shirt.
T’s in the store now, printed on custom T’s by Hometown Jersey. Available in Black or Cream. Free shipping in the USA on this shirt through Nov. 15, while supplies last. Use Code: “Smith” at checkout. 100% Made in the USA.
Also offering Smith Fabrication T’s with stitched on felt lettering. Laid out by hand, stitched on one at a time. This one comes in Black, Cream, Navy or White.
If you jump over to our Store, please sign up for “News and Updates” at the bottom of the page. We have a lot of cool videos etc. coming soon that we’d like to share.
This one arrived already refinished and minus any hardware except the vibrato. The original headstock was repaired at some point but there was a visible crack an inch above the nut, so it was a good candidate for a new Bigsby type neck, CAR pickups, and a custom pickguard. It was a blast to do and I’m very pleased with the way it turned out.
Inlay on guitars goes back almost as long as guitars have been made. Some people feel it’s vain to put your name on your guitar but I’ve never felt that way. While in high school, I worked at a machine shop and my first boss had his name neatly engraved on all of his hand tools and cases. A guitar or bass are tools, especially for working musicians so I think thats why I like inlaying a name or a custom design on them.
I started doing inlayed pickguards for my guitars years ago before I ever considered doing it for other players. Pat Capocci was the first player to ask for it and it kind of snowballed from there.
I’m especially fond of the block letters done by Paul Bigsby and possibly a helper. All of our lettering is hand drawn and cut with my 1937 Delta Scroll Saw.
Of course with custom builds, like most companies, we inlay our headstocks, fretboards and continue to do a lot of pickguards. I’m lucky to have artist Ernie Brooks in our shop who has taken over a lot of our inlay work and does an amazing job. We’ve taken hundreds of photos of some of the inlay done in my shop in the last few years. You can see many of them here and a few below. Read The Rest
This past weekend was the opening of Palm Springs Modernism Week. When we first moved to the desert, this event was a little weekend show based around modernist vendors selling their wares at the convention center over one weekend. Now its turned into two weeks consisting of the show the first weekend, plus hundreds of lectures, house and building tours, fashion shows, music events and parties celebrating and educating on the mid century architects and architecture that have made Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley famous worldwide. TK and I always try to attend at least one event. If you don’t choose early, everything sells out.
By the time we thought of it this year, we were thrilled that the tour of the Edris House by architect E. Stewart Williams still had openings. We have driven by and photographed the outside of the house many times. Its one of our favorite mid-century homes in Palm Springs. E. Stewart Williams, his father and brother made up the firm of William’s, William’s & William’s, and were responsible for many of the architectually significant buildings in Palm Springs and the surrounding area, most notably, Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms Estate in 1947.
The Edris House, designed in 1953 for Marjorie and William Edris from Seattle, appears to rise from the rocky landscape. Its a great example of William’s philosophy that architecture should appear that it comes from the earth rather than being placed on it. Everything in the house is original with the exception of the carpeting and furniture. With the materials used in construction, including knotless Doug Fir, glass and local stone, it suits the lot perfectly. Fortunately, the current owners have done a great job of preserving the original condition and in 2004, the Edris house was designated a “Historic Building” by the Palm Springs City Council so it will always be protected from alteration.
New tours have been added if you can get to the desert. Check the Modernism Week website to see whats still available. There are many photos of this amazing home out there, but its always fun to take our own. Here’s a few that TK took during the tour.
If you’ve visited our site before, you may have noticed some changes around here. TK’s focus has shifted in the past four years from general fabrication to almost exclusively focusing on custom guitars, guitar parts and all that goes with the design and manufacturing process of these products. Therefore, we wanted our website to better reflect what our business is about today. With the help of our friend Ryan over at Atomic Industry and of course The Jalopy Journal, we’ve been able to do that. (Thanks Ryan!)
A few things that won’t change:
TK and team will continue using our vintage American made tools to fabricate the highest quality guitars and accessories, at times in our somewhat hillbilly methods, because we feel that made in America does matter and new is not always better. There are faster and cheaper ways to do things but that’s not who we are.
We will continue to share music from, and stories about some of the best players from today and yesterday, from all over the world, who continue to inspire us to be better at what we do and to keep practicing every day.
We will continue to share photos, stories and videos about architecture, art, cars, tools, other interests and the crazy and beautiful desert we live in because these are the things that make life interesting to us, and hope that you may find something interesting in these stories too. There really is no separation in our work/life so we share it all.
When you love what you do as much as TK does, it’s a gift to be able to go to a space everyday and create something with your hands that another guitar player gets to eventually enjoy for many years to come. You know the difference when you hold and play an instrument that has the soul of the maker in it. Thanks so much to everyone who stops by from time to time and for your comments and conversation!