Guitarist, Rolf Hartogs, from the Netherlands made the long journey to the Mojave desert this week to pick up his custom ordered Smith Special. It was an honor making #002 for Rolf. As soon as he found out we were working on our own model, he jumped in whole heartedly. Its a pleasure meeting a customer in person and having a chance to show, talk about and play the guitar together. Here are a few photos and the specs. We’ll post a video soon.
I first heard the name Arv Garrison 20+ years ago when I got copy of Earle Spencer’s ‘’Five Guitars in Flight’’ on 78. He’s also one of the guitarists on the live recording here, featured on Monthly Motivation a few months back.
Recently a friend sent a YouTube link of two recordings, ‘’Tonsillectomy’’ below, and ‘’These Foolish Things’’. Both tracks are recorded in Hollywood during the mid forties with bassist and wife, Vivian Garry. Arv’s another one of those players I never get tired of listening to.
First in a series of 15 second guitar instrumentals. (not sure if I’ll do another one) Using a C.A.R. pickup, neck position plugged into a Gibson EH-185 amp.
When I sit down with my guitar, most of the time I choose a chord structure and try to figure out something interesting to play over it. The chord structure is usually different and most of the time I forget the riff or chop I’ve worked out a day or two later. I figure this is a good way to save them. The 15second time limit is nice because I usually can make it through in one or two takes without playing that many clams and it doesn’t waste too much of my or the viewers time.
The chords progression on this one is a 2, 5 intro then /A/E aug/A/E aug/A/F #7/B E/A/ then noodling in A, the ending chord is an A9b5.
Broken Arrow’s own JD McPherson has been tearing up the road with some great vintage tones for a while now. We recently had the privilege of installing some custom parts from TK Smith for JD on a brand new tele including an inlaid pickguard and a Charlie Christian pickup. TK did a great job with the parts and JD came to us to have them installed. After the new parts were installed, we did a full setup to deal with some playability issues. JD took it out on the road and after talking with him this morning he says this Tele is his new number 1! Thanks JD.
Check out TKSmith.net for some really cool custom parts and guitars.
Catch JD this Friday, May 9th in OKC at the Performance Lab JDMcPherson.com
The original pickup and guard.
We just had the pleasure of hosting Australian guitarist Pat Capocci and his girl Chloe for a few days of fun and picking in the desert. Pat came over to make his first U.S. appearance at the Viva Las Vegas #17 festival in April. He recently signed with Wild Records in LA so the gig in Vegas gave him the opportunity to record his next project while in the U.S., and come out to our place for a little R&R as well.
TK has known Pat for a number of years from playing on the same bill at festivals in Europe and when he played in Australia a few years ago with Big Sandy. If you follow our blog, you’ve seen that TK has modified Pats guitars, made custom pickups for him and he’s been using our guitar accessories for a long time. We’re proud that such a talented young player wants to be Smith equipped. As we always try to do when anyone comes for a visit, they sat down and did a little iPhone recording on a Sunday afternoon. Part of the series: “In The Shop With”
We had a great time hanging out with Pat and Chloe in Pioneertown, Joshua Tree National Park and Read The Rest
I recently had the pleasure of working on long time friend Sean Mencher’s Telecaster. We’ve talked about doing this modification for a few years now so I was honored to finally get my hands on it. Sean’s a big Merle Travis fan so we set his Tele up like Merle’s Bigsby. The modifications include C.A.R. blade pickup with a custom walnut trim ring, custom bridge, a cut down B16 and a custom bakelite pick guard.
I first met Sean when he was playing with High Noon from Austin in the late 80′s, one of my favorite bands to share the bill with when I was playing full time with the Fly Rite Trio. In the mid 90′s while I was living in Encinitas, CA, he came by for a visit and you can see in the photo above, its the same guitar.
A few weeks after Sean got his guitar back from my shop, he sent me this great video of him playing it. Still one of my favorite pickers today.
….Jimmy Bryant. Jeremy Wakefield sent me this link just in time for Easter. Bryant’s solos are the epitomy of ” Take Off ” guitar, no doubt the first thing that popped into his head. If there’s another take of this recording somewhere, I’m sure the guitar solos would be completely different.
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.
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.
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.