Smith Special No. 001

TK Smith's Smith Special

For a long time I’ve had the vision of this guitar in my head. 29 weeks ago I put my idea on paper with the drawing of the headstock below. This past week, I was happy to finally be able to sit down with the guitar and play it. My influences are obvious. I’m happier with the sound and how it plays than I had imagined it. I’m going to try and hang onto No. 001 even though I’ve always had a hard time keeping things I make, but maybe since we’ve already started building this model for others, I’ll keep this one close.

TK Smith's Smith Special

TK Smith's Smith Special

TK Smith's Smith Special

TK Smith

TK Smith's Smith Special Guitar

TK Smith

TK Smith

TK Smith

TK Smith

TK SMith

TK Smith

TK Smith

 In the Shop With: Matt Codina

We had some t-shirts made up right after I did the headstock drawing and before I even started building the guitar. Kind of backwards but part of my creative process. They’re available in our store here.

TK Smith

Pickguard Inlay

TK Smith

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.

TK Smith

 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.

TK Smith

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.

Bigsby-Keith Holter Steel Guitar with inlayed name plate

 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

Modified K-161

TK Smith

Just finished up Matt Hillyer’s K-161. Here are a few pictures. It includes a new neck, C.A.R. pickups, Bigby vibrato, custom pick guard, truss rod cover, armrest and strap loops.

TK Smith

TK Smith

TK Smith

TK SMith

TK Smith

TK Smith

Water Transfer Decals

Image 4

We’ve been looking for a company to make us water transfer decals for a while now. It seems like its becoming a lost art. We finally found Art Decal Corp. right here in Southern, CA. They are the company that made many recognizable water transfer surfing decals in the 60′s and 70′s. The company has been around since 1947 and are one of the few to remain today. We’re really happy with the way they tuned out.

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Dan and the Dualtones

When I woke up to this live clip of Dan and the Dualtones doing Bee Byrd Bounce, (very reminiscent of Jimmy Rivers and the Cherokees) I was thrilled. The fact that he’s using my pickups was the icing on the cake. What a great band! Enjoy….

Al Willis-Sixty Minute Man

It’s amazing that for someone like me who originally never wanted a cell phone and just started using email a few years ago, that we can ship a guitar to France and a few short days later get back a video of it’s new owner playing a great version of Sixty Minute Man. I really like Al’s picking style. There’s a lot of drive, I can almost hear an upright bass player and a snare drum with brushes in the background. Technology has made my world much smaller in a good way and introduced me to some pickers that I would have otherwise never known. Thanks Al for sharing!

Dan Nosovich-Sheik of Araby

A few weeks ago we sent a box down to Brisbane Australia that included two C.A.R. pickups, a custom pickguard, a chopped B-16 and one of my bridge bases. I got this great clip back in the mail this morning. Looks like Dan and his Dad did a nice tidy job of putting everything together.

Change

TK Smith

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!

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