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

Edris House-Palm Springs

TK Smith

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.

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.

Image 3

Monthly Motivation-Jimmy Shirley

TK Smith

I’m almost ashamed to say that I’ve only found out about guitarist Jimmy Shirley earlier this year. I dig his use of the vibrato. The mix of chords and single notes with only a bass for accompaniment is perfection to me on this 1945 recording of Stardust. Now I’m on the hunt to turn up more recordings by this early electric guitar master. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


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….

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