FAQ About S.D. Curlee USA and Our Instruments
FOR INFO ON YOUR ORIGINAL-ERA SD CURLEE please go here.
This info is for our current offerings. I’ll try to be concise and alphabetical - anything I didn’t answer for you call or email - thanks!
ARE THESE BIRDSONGS - No. Did we adapt a few Birdsong specs in the solving of some of the issues with the original S.D. Curlees? Yes. Be happy about that - Birdsong has a 15 year legacy of fantastic basses. But SDCs have different shapes and pickups, wiring, look, options, feel, and tone. They’re crafted to Birdsong standards in the workshop, but they’re not re-branded Birdsongs.
BALANCE - Better than the old ones, even though they’re a bit lighter and a ton more comfortable to play. Still not perfect, that doesn’t happen with the short-horn design. We tried to change that but you wanted the old look… and honestly we do too. Use a 3” strap and it’ll be fine - still way better than an EB/SG, Thunderbird, violin bass or most Mustangs.
BUYING - We’re not looking to buy S.D. Curlee instruments - if we’re looking for a particular old model for R&D we generally shop quietly.
CASES/BAGS - Standard cases & bags used on 31” scale Standard76, Standard78, and Yankee II basses (substitutes happen occasionally):
TKL universal electric guitar case
MBT electric guitar bag
For the 32” medium scale basses, we used custom cases from TKL which are no longer available. Sorry, we have no recommendation for a substitute. Finding a bag to fit would probably be easier.
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 the models offered as a “Custom” if there’s room in the build schedule - 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. 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.
FIVE STRING BASSES - To re-spec an S.D. Curlee as a 5-string would mean different headstock, different pickups, and a different body for balance. Essentially a different bass… and the Birdsong Hy5 is the best short scale 5-string I can design, so it would just end up as that anyway. Order a Birdsong “C5” in mahogany or walnut and we’ll make sure you’re super happy with it. Check it out here.
GUITARS - We’re not offering or planning on offering S.D. Curlee 6-string guitars currently.
PICKUPS - DiMarzios. Model One on the Standard76, Model P on the Standard78 and Yankee II. They wouldn’t do the old brass covers on the Model One again, but we offer it in aluminum to go with chrome hardware or black with black. The Model Ps only come in glorious ‘70s cream on SDCs!
REPAIR TO OLD SD CURLEES - Sorry, but we don’t have the shop capacity or hands to offer service, repair or restoration to vintage SD Curlees. It was in the plan going in, but just like in making music, the band never really formed in that way. Our focus is on building tomorrow’s vintage SDCs and we do have some NOS parts we can supply to your luthier / repair tech.
MODELS - Liberty The SD Curlee Liberty was designed by luthier Denny Rauen during his time with the original company in the ‘70s. As an act of gratitude for his encouragement during the SDC revival, I sent him the old body template and parts on hand for that model, and it’s his.
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 years on everything in this era 32” or 31” scale. 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. :)
TRUSS RODS - We get asked a lot about truss rods in the old basses, fixing them, differences between then & now, etc. For the old stuff, truss rod weakness was a problem in some 1970s USA SD Curlee basses, and the necks are not easily replaced as on a Fender style. I have never seen a truss rod replaced in one and have no advice... being the neck has no separate fingerboard, the truss rod is inserted through the back with the small strip fit in over it. IF one could get that "skunk stripe" out of the back of the neck, maybe the truss rod could be removed, and one made to replace it. There were not catalogs of parts at that time, so the rods were made just for SD Curlee. I wish I had an easy answer for you, but that is why the very first thing I did when reviving the brand was to change the truss rod design and neck construction. Modern SD Curlees have very strong necks with 2-way truss rods.
I do have NOS (New Old Stock) "Curlee" branded necks from the early 1980s in new condition, but they take lots of work to finish and fit into the bass and have the same old rods in them, though they are unused. So I cannot warranty them or guarantee them, only fully test the rod before sending.