We never get tired of driving around Palm Springs looking at mid-century architecture. Last week I was feeling un-inspired so once again, TK suggested we go take some photos of both the Twin Palms and Las Palmas neighborhoods. I don’t know if it’s the timeless beauty of the clean, simple architecture against the beautiful desert backdrop, or the thrill of standing in a strangers front yard taking photos of their house like a stalker, but as always, it was a mood changer.
I recently heard a Jack Hart and his Hired Hands tune named ‘Knock out the Lights (and Call the Law)’. I don’t recall ever hearing it before. The recording features a great solo by Jimmy Brant that reminded me of a musical break through I had years ago after learning his solo on Tennessee Ernie’s Rock City Boogie. It was the first time I realized you could solo over chords that the rest of the band wasn’t actually playing, especially if the rhythm section is just bass and drums. For instance, the solos in both songs are over the basic three-chord 12 bar blues form. On both solos at the ninth measure, Jimmy plays almost the same lick that’s basically a IIm7 arpeggio. Then over an altered V7 chord in the tenth measure. It’s a useful trick if you’re a wannabe jazzer like myself.
At the end of last year, I had the privilege of working on a vintage Bigsby pole piece guitar pickup for Deke Dickerson. I’m not sure where he got it but it’s going on the “Butterball Paige” guitar that is currently being restored. The work that I did required the pickup to be fully disassembled. At that time I was able to take notes on how it was constructed, accurately take all the measurements of the magnets, bobbin, base plate and aluminum housing. I think it’s obvious that I’ve been a Bigsby nut for a long time now, so with all of this information, the next logical step was to make my own reproduction of this legendary guitar pickup. Now I’m offering it for sale as the C.A.R. Pickup.
The first step was to make the wood patterns for the aluminum pickup housing and trim rings. (I’m offering the trim rings in two sizes at this time, a 1/8’’ flat one and a 7/16’’ raised one). Before I started I calculated how much aluminum shrinks in the casting process and added a few thousands for clean up and polishing to my measurements. I used some mahogany I had laying around to make the patterns. Then I found a source to make the magnets for me to the exact dimensions and material as the originals. All of the other parts (bobbin and base plate) I fabricate at my shop with my antique tools and somewhat hillbilly fabricating methods. The clean up and polishing of the cast aluminum pieces is also done at my shop so I can ensure a nice fit of the trim ring to the pickup housing.
It took a few months to get all this to happen but I finally got a few assembled and mounted on my Telecaster. It’s a great pickup that I’m completely happy with. Perfect for anyone playing traditional Jazz, Swing, Rockabilly, Travis picking or Blues. Mounted at the bridge position it’s perfect for that ‘’Grady Martin” sound. At the neck, it’s a great pickup for Jazz, Swing and Blues. It has that distinct hollow, wooden, almost buoyant tone that floats so well on top of what a good rhythm section is doing. Here is a quick demo of the C.A.R. Pickup at the bridge position.
After 9 days straight of moving my Shop from one location to our new location, it made me very happy this morning to receive this clip from Joao. Now that the move is almost over, it’s extremely motivating for me to get back to work when players of such a high caliber enjoy using my pickups. Thanks Joao! You made my day.
If you haven’t seen Pat’s new music video, it’s really good. Check it out.
Anyone that has talked guitar with me knows what a huge Charlie Christian fan I am, but the motivation to play music this month is by two horn players, Buck Clayton and Lester Young with their back-to-back solos on tune called Charlie’s Dream. Although I’ve heard this song hundreds of times, I still get chills when I hear these two solos. The three laughs Buck does at 1:15 into the song kills me. Freddie Green’s on this one as well playing rhythm.
Got a note from Pat this week along with this clip, letting me know that he’s getting great results with my pickups in the “out of phase” position. Its been a few months since we modified his Tele. Glad to hear it’s working out:
How are you? The pictures you’ve been posting of your necks on Instagram look amazing! I thought I’d send you this little clip, I’ve been using the “out of phase” setting a lot, its been great on the RnB stuff. I’ve been over the moon with the guitar lately, its really settled in feeling and sounding great! We posted one of the new cds over to you to TK, hope you dig it. Hope your well
Damn! Great playing. The guitar sounds great too. What amp and kind/gauge strings are you using? I’m really glad your digging it.
Thanks for the kind words, its really feeling/sounding great! super stoked!
I just had it plugged straight into a 59 Bassman Reissue, and I’ve been using D’addario 10-50 flatwounds, but with a unwound/nickel G, same string set up as Dans using
Hope your well,
Dave Stuckey sent this my way a few days ago and I thought I’d share it. I think it’s unbelievably great! Enjoy…
Here’s another great demo where Joel fires off ”Walking the Strings” backstage at Deke’s Guitar Geek Festival using my tele equipped with…
Neck Pickup; TK Smith C.C.esque
Bridge Pickup; built by my friend (and neighbor) Curtis Novak to my specs.
Strings; Thomastik JS113 Flat Wounds
Amp; Stock ’54 Gibson GA-30