The Chambered Maple Pancake Guitar

TK Smith

I used to work with a grouchy old timer who referred to all flat-type guitars as pancakes. So until I come up with a better name, I’m calling these pancakes.

 This is the first of two guitars that I’ve recently built, loosely based on Deke Dickerson’s ‘’Jodie Pilliod’’ guitar built by P.A. Bigsby.

Frank ordered his with a 24.625’’ scale and features my C.A.R. pickups, custom vibrato arm and vibrato.

 A few photos…

TK Smith

TK Smith Guitar

TK Smith

TK Smith

TK Smith

TK Smith

Sam Raver’s 1953 Kay Demo

Here’s a quick demo of Sam’s Kay. I’m really happy with the way my C.A.R. pickups sound mounted on this big archtop. The neck position has that hollow wooden tone that’s great for jazz and swing, and the middle position is nice and sparkly for Travis picking. But it’s the bridge position that I’m particularly drawn to, the problem is, I find it almost impossible to play anything other than Grady Martin licks, it’s almost like “instant Grady” on the bridge pickup.

You’ll have to excuse the old house wiring/amp hum.

Monthly Motivation-Johnny Smith

TK Smith

I thought Johnny Smith would be appropriate for this month’s motivation.  His 1953 LP Moonlight in Vermont gets a lot of play around here.

 Johnny’s playing is so far over my head I rarely attempt to work any of it out, but years back I did work out his chord melody to Moonlight in Vermont. Of all the chops/licks I’ve stolen from my musical heroes, I’ve probably gotten the most mileage out of the seven bars below.

His chord voicing’s are a bit of a stretch at first but after doing them for a while they’ll start to feel natural. So if you want to sound like a jazzer, take the time to work this out, you’ll be glad you did. RIP Mr. Smith

TK Smith

Alexander Construction Co. Palm Springs, CA

TK Smith

We never get tired of driving around Palm Springs looking at mid-century architecture. Last week I was feeling un-inspired so once again, TK suggested we go take some photos of both the Twin Palms and Las Palmas neighborhoods. I don’t know if it’s the timeless beauty of the clean, simple architecture against the beautiful desert backdrop, or the thrill of standing in a strangers front yard taking photos of their house like a stalker, but  as always, it was a mood changer.

Read The Rest

Summer T-Shirt Sale!

TK Smith

In order to make new designs for Fall, we’re running a sale on TK Smith’s Electronic Guitar Service T’s. Normally $25. they’re now $19.50 with Free shipping in the U.S. Both mens and woman’s shirts come in blue or white. Limited quantities and choice of color in some sizes. While supplies last.

Humorous Installation

Image 10

When we recently received an order for a C.C.esque pickup from Paul Trigg in Australia, like always we were thrilled. Once it arrived, he had questions about the installation which caused a bit of concern. After TK responded, Pauls final message had us laughing out loud first thing this morning and made our day so we thought we would share. We love a guy with a great sense of humor who doesn’t take it all too seriously. Most of all, we’re happy that he’s happy!

hi guys,pickup arived today,thanks.but im having trouble fiting it.dose it/is it ment to come apart if i remove the 2 tiny allen key screws?. and if not how do i cut in to a tele pic guard?.paul

Glad the pickup made it. No, the pickup is NOT meant to come apart. If you haven’t  done a pickup installation I highly recommend bringing it to a qualified guitar luthier that has experience in guitar customizing. The body will have to be routed and the pickguard will have to be cut with a router or scroll saw. Below is the link to the pickup schematic thats on our website store. Again, I would NOT recommend you do this yourself if you don’t have experience. You could easily damage your guitar, the pickup or both.

Good luck!

ok so it turns out im not a qualified guitar luthier but i gave it a crack.you guys are gona roll your eyes but heres what happened:routed out the pick guard(not quite enough)then tryed to force(bad)pickup into place.broke a bit of the white binding of both long sides of said lovly pickup.super glued(also a bad decision)binding back on,then got out the metholated spirits(slaps forhead in disbelife)to try to clean up spill out of super glue and end up gouging 2 big rutts out of the finish.like i said,dick head.but the pickup is installed and i love the sound!.the guitar is heavly relicked so im not overly conserned with cosmetics but thinking about aging the pick up to blend it in a bit,any advice for matting(taking off the gloss and polish)?.sorry about the essay.i love the pickup,just a shame what i did to it.paul

Monthly Motivation-Knock Out The Lights

TK Smith

I recently heard a Jack Hart and his Hired Hands tune named ‘Knock out the Lights (and Call the Law)’. I don’t recall ever hearing it before. The recording features a great solo by Jimmy Brant that reminded me of a musical break through I had years ago after learning his solo on Tennessee Ernie’s Rock City Boogie. It was the first time I realized you could solo over chords that the rest of the band wasn’t actually playing, especially if the rhythm section is just bass and drums. For instance, the solos in both songs are over the basic three-chord 12 bar blues form.  On both solos at the ninth measure, Jimmy plays almost the same lick that’s basically a IIm7 arpeggio. Then over an altered V7 chord in the tenth measure.  It’s a useful trick if you’re a wannabe jazzer like myself.

Knock Out the Lights (and Call the Law)

Rock City Boogie

The C.A.R. Pickup

TK Smith Pickup

TK Smith Pickup

TK Smith Pickup

At the end of last year, I had the privilege of working on a vintage Bigsby pole piece guitar pickup for Deke Dickerson. I’m not sure where he got it but it’s going on the “Butterball Paige” guitar that is currently being restored. The work that I did required the pickup to be fully disassembled. At that time I was able to take notes on how it was constructed, accurately take all the measurements of the magnets, bobbin, base plate and aluminum housing. I think it’s obvious that I’ve been a Bigsby nut for a long time now, so with all of this information, the next logical step was to make my own reproduction of this legendary guitar pickup.  Now I’m offering it for sale as the C.A.R. Pickup.

TK SMITH C.A.R. ROUTER SCHEMATIC

The first step was to make the wood patterns for the aluminum pickup housing and trim rings. (I’m offering the trim rings in two sizes at this time, a 1/8’’ flat one and a 7/16’’ raised one). Before I started I calculated how much aluminum shrinks in the casting process and added a few thousands for clean up and polishing to my measurements. I used some mahogany I had laying around to make the patterns. Then I found a source to make the magnets for me to the exact dimensions and material as the originals. All of the other parts (bobbin and base plate) I fabricate at my shop with my antique tools and somewhat hillbilly fabricating methods. The clean up and polishing of the cast aluminum pieces is also done at my shop so I can ensure a nice fit of the trim ring to the pickup housing.

TK Smith Pickup

TK Smith Pickup

TK Smith Pickup

It took a few months to get all this to happen but I finally got a few assembled and mounted on my Telecaster. It’s a great pickup that I’m completely happy with. Perfect for anyone playing traditional Jazz, Swing, Rockabilly, Travis picking or Blues. Mounted at the bridge position it’s perfect for that ‘’Grady Martin” sound. At the neck, it’s a great pickup for Jazz, Swing and Blues. It has that distinct hollow, wooden, almost buoyant tone that floats so well on top of what a good rhythm section is doing. Here is a quick demo of the C.A.R. Pickup at the bridge position.

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