FAQ About Birdsong and Our Instruments
I’ll try to be concise and alphabetical - anything I didn’t answer for you call or email - thanks!
CARE OF THE FINISH - Birdsongs have a hand rubbed oil finish which feels great and will subtly age over time with you as you play it. It’s not a thick plastic lamination so do be conscious of how you bang or rub it against things, but it is protected from moisture. I still wouldn’t use it as a drink holder or spill stuff on it or use it as a writing desk. Wipe it off if you sweat on it, don’t let any spray cleaners you might try run and streak it, etc. An occasional rub of Howard Feed-N-Wax can help protect it (wipe on neatly, let sit a bit, wipe off thoroughly)… but you know, it’s a tool. If I ever see it again I want it looking like grandpa’s hammer, not as if it were in a museum. It should spend itself and earn its scars, as should any of us.
CASES/BAGS - Standard cases & bags used (substitutes happen occasionally):
TKL universal electric guitar case
MBT electric guitar bag
Shipping costs (by size) keep us from just selling you a case, but it’s a universal (i.e. not shaped inside for a particular Strat or LP guitar) GUITAR case. Birdsongs are small and fit in there nicely. What we use & know works is listed above.
CITES (Rosewood) - Due to the CITES legalities of exporting any product containing rosewood, as a company we can only ship instruments using it within the USA. For Birdsong for now, that means maple fretboards only for our international clients… unless you have a friend here who can send you your personal property person to person. (But that’s your arrangement, not ours.)
CONSIGNMENT SALES - Sorry but we no longer sell instruments on consignment. Your best bet is Reverb.com; there are always more who want one than we can build for.
CUSTOM NECK WIDTHS / PARTS / FINISHES - Sorry, not available. We’re not a custom shop, we offer from a menu of dishes pretty well spec’d out. We can swap stuff around from our other models as a “Custom” but just the parts, dimensions & pickups we already work with. (See finish.)
FINISH - Hand rubbed oil, proprietary blend. Satin lustre, not glossy. Several coats but you can feel the wood and over time it will wear. We don’t offer thick plastic finishes or paint other than the occasional hot rod primer “Rat rod” build. To protect and give it a final coat, we sometimes use Howard Feed ‘n Wax; to give an actual new finish coat, neatly use “boiled linseed oil” and mix in some semi-gloss poly to get really close. Rub on/in with a soft cloth, and after about 15 mins. wipe off. Two thoughts on preserving the finish: first, prevention is the best - don’t spill stuff on it, wipe the sweat off, play with clean hands. Second… don’t worry about it. It’s a tool and a worn tool is even more beautiful.
FUSION PICKUP - Not everything has an easy answer. What it begins as has little to do with how it sounds in your Fusion. So “What pickup is in the Fusion?” is a question I just choose to answer with “A specially wired pickup proprietary to the Fusion.” I’m not hiding anything, it’s not rocket science… but why and how that bass sounds like it does is something I worked up myself and I’m just going to consider it a family recipe.
FRETBOARD MARKERS - Yes, they all come with dots on the side, where you see them when actually in playing position. In the design though, we generally prefer a clean look for the face of the fretboard. The instruments you see with dots in the face were ordered that way or we did specific batches of necks with them. We’ve been doing small dots recently, still elegant looking. We really don’t like the big ol’ industry-standard polka dots down the front of our stuff, though. If you’re convinced you have to have them, we can work them in for you as an option.
MODELS & AVAILABILITY - As I love what I do in designing these instruments, I’m not done coming up with new variations I like to bring up off of the notebook paper to see and play in real life. Being a small workshop, there are only so many models we can serve up at a time. This means some shapes and names come and go. It’s a natural process and the garden tells us where it needs replanting. As a “Custom” there are a BUNCH of options as far as reviving an old shape for your new bass. Look around online and take a few notes. Show me what you like. As far as what’s on the menu currently, go to the Birdsongs page for pictures, options and demos of our standard models.
PICKUPS - “The ones that have worked for years.” Some we talk about, some we don’t - not because it’s some secret magic, but because sometimes we just start with a pickup model and use - wire - mount - and voice it differently than its original market aim. That just leads to more questions and more talking you around the dumb answers you got on the internet about how it won’t work. It works. But we’re not going to spec out for you everything we’re doing that makes a Birdsong a Birdsong - sorry! Birdsongs are a little different, and so are we.
REFUNDS - Not during the build process. You can cancel and we’ll keep the credit on file for you, but it’s non-refundable. Our end of the deal is to make you happy with the instrument you commissioned us to make for you - yours is to be committed to the process. We’re people, and this is how we eat.
RETURNS - Don’t love what we sent you? Let us know. Then pack it as it was and send it fully insured back to us - we’ll refund you less shipping costs. Our reputation is one of happiness and our return rate is about half of 1%. That said, “My wife says I can’t keep it” is not grounds for return. Sorry.
STRINGS - Standard length (not short), Curt Mangan nickel wound .045-.105 (roundwounds) or D’Addario Chromes flatwounds .050 - .105, set #ECB-82. Yes these are correct, been standard for over 10 years on everything. 5-strings? These sets are your EADG with ordered-in 35” scale .132 flats for the D’Addario set, Mangan’s standard .130 nickelwound B fits; other brands, some need the 35” scale string to have enough main winding to go through-body twice in our “Double String Through” setup and make it across the zero fret and through the nut slot. I ship with the strings I think work best on our 31” scale basses - if you want to explore others, you have to do your own experimentation. :)
STRAP BUTTONS - The upper button is usually found around back of the upper horn - this way your strap stays flat and against you better, as opposed to twisting as it comes off your shoulder, and is another little bit of balance-helping design we build in. There are situations, just like in life, where context prefers it differently and you’ll see some. But by design 90% of the time that’s where it is. Yes, it’s on there. :)
T-BASS - The Tbass was a collaboration a few years back with Thin The Herd Guitars out of Pflugerville TX. They specialize in custom designed imports, unique takes on more traditional models of guitars and basses, made & QC’d to very high standards. I worked as much Birdsong-recipe (Corto2, specifically) tone and overall feel into a short scale bass design that fit their format, and the Tbass came out great. It is a bit different than what we do, bigger than a Birdsong overall (and SG bass, pretty close to a Mustang) and the finish is thick and shiny. Beyond overall specs, pickups & placement, initial R&D/testing and guidelines for set up, we don’t have anything to do with them here - they’re a Thin The Herd produced bass in their “Custom Build” line. Contact them through www.thintheherdguitars.com, and tell them we said “Howdy!”
VARITONES - They haven’t been available on Birdsongs in years and we have no replacements. Early white plastic cased were based off of a Torres Engineering kit; the ones after that were in-house design, open metal switch. If broken we suggest you replace with a Stellartone or other available on the market now, or contact us and we’ll send you a current-spec sweet sounding standard tone control to swap in - it’s a nut and two wires once you’re into the control cavity.
WINGFEATHER - Wingfeather Enterprises LLC is the parent company name. We started as just Birdsong but as we grew to revive SD Curlee and also craft D’AQUILA boutique guitars - among the occasional other in-house brands - having it all under one name makes legalities & paperwork MUCH easier. Wingfeather is the name of the main green workshop in the woods, so it helped make that “business” move feel more right when it became necessary. We do a variety of instrument building out of the Wingfeather Workshop, though nothing in large numbers:
Birdsong is by far the most known, from 15 years of focus specifically on short scale basses and the occasional guitar.
Scott’s Specials are a little different, a little simpler and less expensive, and I hand sign the headstocks. The most famous of these is the Shortbass. Other than that it’s mostly one-offs dating back to the first guitar I crafted back in 1997.
SD Curlee USA is a ‘70s brand whose aesthetic really influenced me and, through amazing twists of fate, I had the opportunity to revive and refine. This slots in behind Birdsong in numbers, and has been a labor of love for me.
D’AQUILA are individually bench crafted solid body electric jazz guitars - the kind of thing I dreamed about making when I dreamed about making guitars. Combining diverse influences and my own tonal recipes, there’s nothing else quite like them and they’re my purest inspiration.
Texas Lap Steels have filtered out here and there over the years. I wanted a Deco via Texas aesthetic with woods & design and a voice that sang more like Aretha Franklin in a world of twangy little Patsy Clines.