Nick Rossi recently sent me this photo of one of my favorite players, Tal Farlow, in the late 50’s using a Gibson GA-40. Rarely is there an amp in any pictures of Tal from the 40’s and 50’s.
If you haven’t seen the documentary, “Talmage Farlow”, it’s definitely worth checking out. The film gives insight to his early work, his day job as a sign painter in New Jersey, and what got him back to playing live after he seemed to disappear from the NY music scene. It’s not a completely in-depth look at his career but with appearances from Lenny Breau, Red Norvo and other greats, it’s an interesting look into Tals life.
We had taken our custom arm off the store for a while but it’s now back in stock. I’ve been using this type of arm for about twenty years now. I originally made it because I had an old Bigsby vibrato with a Travis type arm that I couldn’t get used to. I wanted something similar to what Chet was using but didn’t want to change the way it attached to my old vibrato. After using it for awhile, I found that it was handy having the pivot point closer to my hand. It makes it really easy to access while playing. It’s also is very easy to adjust. Using set screws, the arm swivels at three points. Just loosen the set screws and rotate the parts until it’s in the right spot. Tighten it up and you’re good to go. Arrives as shown and can be purchased with a vibrato. Hand Made in the U.S.A.
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.
Here are a few pictures and the specifications of the most recent single cut Smith Special, along with a short clip. Lately, I’ve been quickly recording ideas so I don’t forget them by the time I can sit down and work them out, which seems to happen more and more. The clips usually don’t have endings but on this one of It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie, I thought of a simple chord melody with some single notes and an actual ending. I was playing this guitar at the time so I thought I’d share it.
In the video, I’m using the neck pickup with the tone rolled off.
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.