Guitarist Cameron Hill

TK Smith

Nick Rossi sent me this photo of Guitarist Cameron Hill this week which he acquired from Cameron’s nephew. Cameron had a great career as a musician playing with everyone from Bob Wills to Spade Cooley and so many more. You can read about him here.

In The Shop With: Johnny MacCree

I’ve had the pleasure to be in a few bands with Johnny MacCree, including Smith’s Ranch Boys and Golden Hill Ramblers. It’s always fun when we have time to get together and play some music.

Liner Note Legends #6: Smokey Hormel

It’s great to see guitarist Smokey Hormel featured on the documentary web series Liner Note Legends. The series gives recognition and insight to the talented musicians behind the scenes who have played on recordings in all genres that everyone has heard. I really enjoyed hearing Smokeys story in his own words. When you have time, check it out.

C.A.R. Pickup Demo-Stewart Southern

Stewarts guitar arrived safely in the UK. We just got a clip of him playing some Grady Martin licks. It looks like its in good hands. Stewarts using Thomastik .012 flatwounds, a Tweed Bassman amp and an Alter Ego delay pedal.

Guitarist Jimmy Raney

Happy New Year everybody! Its been a while since we’ve posted but fortunately, the last few months have been really busy in the shop. We have a lot of things to share coming up but in the meantime, Sean Mencher recently sent me a link to this interesting blog post on guitarist Jimmy Raney that he wrote himself in ’93.

This is a direct re-post from a blog called Prepared Guitar. There are a lot of great interviews featured on the site like Johnny Smith and Tal Farlow to name a few, so when you have time, check it out. More links to Prepared Guitar at the bottom of the story. Thanks Sean for sharing with me.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Things Downbeat Never Taught Me by Jimmy Raney

Back in 1939 or 1940, when I was just starting out to be a jazz musician, I was a Downbeat and Metronome freak. I devoured these two magazines in search of news of my heroes. I’m not talking about Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw. They were household words to everybody, as the Gabor sister, The Grateful Dead, and Kentucky Fried Chicken are today. I’m talking about the guys who played jazz on offbeat labels. I knew they all lived in New York City and had penthouses overlooking Central Park. I went to the movies and saw jazzmen (portrayed by Cary Grant and David Niven) doing just that. I figured maybe I could do that too, if I just kept practicing my hot licks. That’s what they called them back then – honest.

Louisville in those days was different than today. Back then there were only a half dozen musicians who could play jazz, but couldn’t make a living at it. Nowadays there are at least ten times as many who can’t make a living at it. Louisville has come a long way.
Anyway, from reading Downbeat I figured the only hope I had was to get to New York. I knew there weren’t any penthouses here, not to mention Cary Grant or David Niven. Since I didn’t have any money but did have an uncle and grandmother in Chicago, I thought I could try there first. It did have tall buildings, a lot of people, and Downbeat was published there; even if they only wrote about musicians in New York, they wrote it there.
Chicago turned out OK. There were a lot of Read The Rest

Five Favorite Bryant Recordings

TK Smith

I first heard the Sammy Masters 45, Pink Cadillac/ Some like it Hot, on a visit to Levi Dexter’s apartment in L.A. some time in the mid 80′s.  I remember being completely blown away. The guitarist sounded like Jimmy Bryant but at the time, I didn’t know it was him.

  A year or so later while in London with Big Sandy, I bought the Rockin’ Red Wing LP on the German label Hydra. It had Flat Feet, 2 Rock-A-Four and Whop-T-Bop, along with Pink Cadillac and Some Like it Hot. The funny thing is that the session details on back of the LP listed the guitar player as Ralph Roe. I was so enamored that for a few years I looked everywhere for more recordings of Roe! haha.

 I can’t remember how, but eventually I found out that it was Bryant on the recordings. I really love his playing on these five because they are so full of great ideas. It sounds like he had complete freedom to play what he wanted and he went for it.

 I know these recordings are easy to find now with the Internet and all, but thought I’d put them up just in case some of you have never had a chance to hear them.

 Later, around 1998, I got to meet Sammy Masters and play a few songs with him at a club in Hollywood which was an honor. If you have a few minutes, take a listen.


Blake Wright, the publisher of online magazine Gearphoria, recently came by for a visit. It was a pleasure spending the morning talking shop with Blake and then of course, lunch at Pappy’s. Here’s what came out of it. Thanks Blake!

JLV’s Custom Trini

TK Smith

Jimmie found this unfinished new old stock Trini body on eBay a while back and sent it over for a neck, paint, pickups and hardware. He also said “do whatever you want” which made it a lot of fun and challenging at the same time.

I have always wanted to do a tobacco sunburst paint job and thought Jimmies guitar was the perfect candidate. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. The tailpiece is a vintage German made Hofner unit. To add something interesting, we made the cast aluminum banner in the shop to say “Custom”. I used my C.A.R. pickups, binding around the inlaid pick guard and also inlaid a small mother of pearl diamond at the back of the neck. In case anyone is wondering, the lower switch is an out of phase switch.

I had hoped to create a really classy custom instrument that would look right at home being played by such a class act. Here are a few photos of the process.

TK Smith

TK Smith

TK Smith

TK Smith

TK Smith

TK Smith

TK Smith

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