2015 News From The Nest ~  Updated on Fridays (mostly)


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Birdsong Guitars
PO Box 1745
Wimberley, TX 78676
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March 6th

GREAT BASS ALERT: Time to find the home of this
unusual tri-color Birdsong Cortobass. It's been used in-house for testing, never gigged, never sold. 2014, two scratches on the back, the rest as new. This fretless is much more balanced & comfy than most long scales AND better designed & made than most other SHORT scales. Mahogany, walnut & maple that looks like some kind of flag - make it YOUR flag! Thick rosewood board for a lifetime of music making, trimmed out in black with tapewound strings... and if you don't think it's one of the best sounding ~ feeling ~ playing basses you've ever played, send it back.

FREE shipping in the cont-US on this one
(but we ship worldwide). Would be $2050 & 6 months, SALE $1795 with case! 512-395-5126 scott@birdsongguitars.com

Had the privilege of working on a really good Pbass.
I don't do many repairs anymore but still fit them in for local friends when I can. Regardless of how good a good one of these is, all that kept going through my mind while working on it was "This is such a TRUCK compared to a Birdsong." It's SO big... (Insert choir of voices in your mind... "How big is it?") Well, here!
 

And lastly but certainly not least,
this week the world of songwriters and Texas music lost a legend - a great man who taught those of us lucky enough to be taken under his wing the craft of word and the art of rhyme, how to navigate a life of stages as well as the stages of a life. The list of people who rose to fame from the somewhat funky stage and sometimes stern advice of this character include names many would know; you can Google all of that. This moment is about him. Kent Finlay was 77 and that was more shocking to me than his death - he transcended mere personhood to where, in the 26 years of our conversation, I never once equated him to a number. I had no idea. Though it's hard to mourn a man who did it his way and just about kicked bone cancer twice, who left a legacy of literally thousands of others all rippling the pond with his teachings, who never lost his sense of humor no matter what this world threw at him, whose business card said simply "Kent Finlay, Dreamer"... I will. See, I can trace my whole adult life - who I am, what I've become, where I am locationally and all THAT has brought me, and that last bit of fine-tuning-type-raising that makes a man from a wandering kid and a teacher out of a gifted but wayward soul, to him. On the Mount Rushmore of my life this man's face would be chiseled.



Many years back in Todd Snider's apartment in San Marcos, we talked about how "Kent will make it through someone else..." That he had devoted his best to nurturing and providing for those he took under his wing. Whether the Cheatham St. stage or the old van bench in his music room, you sat in his world and became something better. I look back now and realize WE all made it - in our own ways, some to a life of stages and others through the stages of a life - through HIM. I can only speak for myself, but I can say for sure - if Kent hadn't have been Kent, I wouldn't be me today. I don't really have any lines in my face, but when I do they will be a roadmap of a life lived as who I became having met Kent at 19. I moved to Texas to sit at his feet and learn about songs and never stopped dropping in to the Hallowed Ground of Cheatham St. Warehouse to talk about songs or the rest of what I absorbed from being around him. I have "written some life" thanks to him, and "lived me some songs." I paraphrase one of his there, but it became more than a song to me. And he will be carried through the paths of uncountable lives as so much more than the man with the couch, the stage, the ear, or the missing line for the last verse he was to so many of us on this path. In lieu of tears, go write a song.

Go tell a mentor what they mean to your life...


Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas

Listening to:
Grateful Dead Dick's Picks Vol. 15; James Brown 20 All-Time Greatest Hits!; Bob Dylan Street Legal; Jerry Vale I Have But One Heart; Kyuss Blues For The Red Sun; Neil Young Tonight's The Night.
 






Hi everyone! Just too busy to spin a yarn on here this week. Next Friday we'll return to our regularly scheduled program. Be well, thanks for being with us... have a great weekend! ~Scott

 




February 18th (Wednesday, I know!) UPDATE
UPDATED FRIDAY (CLIENT and INVENTORY pages too!)

************ CHECK INVENTORY FOR WHAT IS AVAILABLE CURRENTLY *******

Slipping an update in a little early this week,
as there's news and I'm going to be very busy the rest of this week. Not too busy to talk with you if you need me of course, or if you want a great little bass out of any of this fine native Texas wood I scored yesterday ~ yep, that's right, I snuck out, chased down a lead, and scored some PERFECT Mesquite as well as Pecan and even a one-piece body's worth of Escarpment Cherry (Sold). Now by "Perfect" I mean perfectly IMperfect... just enough natural character to speak of its rustic nature, maybe pack with crushed Turquoise, and the Pecan has varying degrees of figure & spalting... it's ALL gorgeous. The Cherry? A beautiful clean piece with grain that centers a wavy chevron figuring and a color I can't capture. It's all beautifully milled and with a few passes through my planer this afternoon - ready to build!

Mesquite


Pecan (and the last Pecan bass I made...)


I don't have room to be a wood collector
so these boards will be blanks very shortly and ready to be YOUR next bass! I also have a couple of builds started for inventory and some nice looking but less spalted Texas Pecan body sets aside for cutting & glue-up too. One of them could be a one-piece! Here,
mangia...


An Especial that'll get trimmed in Tamarind
, a Fusion the same, and those Pecan halves (and whole) I was talking about. I'll update Friday with more pics. MEANWHILE if you want something crafted from any of this please do call or email, even if we just get you in line and figure out the specifics later. I don't always have such perfectly buildable wild Texas wood like this and I'm immediately starting on some for patient clients who've been waiting for the next Mesquite (etc.) score... I could start on something for you too!

Friday... here's some of what's going on and some of what happened this week, some are client builds, some are available - best to contact for more info. Email or call (even over the weekend, any time is fine) for more specific info. 512-395-5126.


Ok, back on my head...


Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas

Listening to:
Alice In Chains Jar of Flies; Frank Sinatra The Very Good Years; The Beatles White Album; Grateful Dead Workingman's Dead.
 




February 13th

I've always loved Fridays of 13
, from the old days of my friend (and now famous "dirty car window artist") Scott Wade's absolutely legendary Friday The 13th parties on up to right now. Hey, whether 13 is a good number for you or not, it's FRIDAY!

These are special days.
Well, every day is special if you wake up on this side of the dirt - it's a grand opportunity we're not entitled to receive or guaranteed to get. But I got it this morning and you got it this morning, we won this little lottery together and here we are. Friday the 13ths I try to take some time and be creative. Big updates happening in the Hy5 5-string and SD Curlee worlds (those are other things we do - the short scale 5-strings and refined, updated classic medium scales with heritage back into the mid 1970s)... templates for new models, updated sites, just planting for Springtime you know. You'll see all of that soon.

Around here it has been a week
of fantastic weather and much progress, with a couple of beauties flying the nest. Here's the one that seems to have made the rounds pretty good from our Facebook page:

Always nice to get an email from a happy new owner!
 
Out next week
hopefully will be Walnutian glory... a Fusion headed to Nashville and a Bliss headed to New Jersey Guitar & Bass Center (www.newjerseyguitarandbasscenter.com one of very few retailers we're hooked in with - you can order through them or see what they have in stock or in progress). This will be your chance to pickup a Birdsong with no wait! And a Bliss too -  hand carved scroll horn and all. There's only a handful of those. Here it is coming together...


Didn't get to some of the planing
and blank glue-ups on my list but that's happening next week along with a quest for some Texas woods... Mesquite, Pecan, and who knows what. Up for building is a very cool bass, Sadhana #057. I'll be posting about this one as it happens up on Facebook (Find, like & follow us!). It's an "X" or "special order" build with the soapbars from the Corto2 and lots of colorful wood. The body pieces have all been dimensioned and it's time to start putting it all together. This will be a stunner, I promise!


There are lots of small pieces
made in the workshop - here are a few "sets"... finished Cocobolo trim for a rear routed Fusion, "Woodcraft package" pieces for a Cherry bass (that's where I make stuff from the cutoffs of your instrument for you to give as gifts or put in special places in your world), and just cut out Rosewood trim sets for a Bliss and a lefty Fusion... so much fun.


There is this common illusion
amongst chest-thumpers of the self made man. I can't see how such thing exists... it doesn't in my world. I get a lot of credit for these little instruments but I want on this auspicious day to share the light, spread the love, and thank Jamie, Brady, Jake, Steve, Dax & Taryn, Don, Jim, Tina, Camera Chris and others in the circles that radiate out like ripples... out through connections (Like Billy, who I've ordered accessories from through three companies each since my pre-Birdsong "Music Shop" days) into suppliers (like Jason at Hipshot who has treated me like gold since day one), and all those beyond my reach out  into the work & transit every single board and screw requires to become a part of something bigger. The efforts from the roles these people (that's an important thing to remember - these PEOPLE) all play in this dance actually wash inward to me so I can get it all together and present our highest work outward to YOU.

I might be the mirrored shades
of this operation, it's my notebook scrawlings & sketches that may come to life, my signature may go on important papers and I may end the day with sawdust in places you don't even want to think about... but to sit here and claim it's all me and mine, as if any of this would happen without those beside & behind me or you in front of me, well, that would be VERY short-sighted & shallow on my part. So a big thank you to the friends on my side of the screen whether I've met you or not, wherever you are you are appreciated and your service is respected. I'll keep doing my best with all of what you all give, and present something beautiful, meaningful, and inspirational to all these good folks who read my little words and play my - OUR - little basses!




Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas

Listening to:
Grateful Dead Grateful Dead; Prince Rama Top 10 Hits of The End of The World; Foo Fighters The Colour and The Shape; Easy Star All-Stars Radiodread; Aerosmith Toys In The Attic; The Cult Electric.
 




February 6th

Perspective.

Well today was nice
but it sure didn't warm up like I'd hoped this week. Am I complaining? Haaeeelll no. I talked with a client up in Yellowknife Canada, and the day it was too cold to work in the woodshop I was STILL eighty - that's eight-zero - degrees warmer than he was. It was 40 here. Do the math on that one. Makes your nuts climb just thinking about it, huh? Yes, it does. He was thrilled 'cause it was only minus 16 the day before, nice and mild. Sixteen below zero. He must be made of something different than me. It's all a matter of perspective.

 

Did I get a bunch done
on the other days? Heck yes! This is what I'm here to do; might as well make something happen. Look at the client page, lots of good things happened. I still get excited watching these instruments come together, even when I look down and it's my hands putting them together. I walk into the woodshop like it's a temple. Assembly? It is a temple. You can think I'm a little nutty but while I'm working on one I stay in a place of deep gratitude and thank it (more in the way I touch it than verbally, though that happens too) for allowing me the great honor of bringing it to be. To someone watching I might look like I'm just working away. Yeah there's that incense burning and my lips might be mumbling but that's not all that unusual for around here.



I'm very "Here now"
... I think that's how I got here. To think this very line I'm typing and you're reading now seeded as a misguided dismal pursuit of perceived stardom that failed itself into a music shop 2000 miles away where I built my first and each step brought me here over the course of thirty four years of music, 46 in this body, and who knows what else... for cripes sake, lemme just grab this screwdriver and pop this pickup in, you know? I can't chew that much. It's all just a series of nexts isn't it? But I am here, it has been a journey, and this is a climb not many make.



Even though it's a small company
(deliberately) there is a steady stream of high quality work coming out of it. It's not because we have a million dollars in tools; we don't. We're just honed and clear and time has made us good at what we do. There's no short cut for that, but that also means you can start the journey with borrowed basic tools and a corner of a garage. Then you just keep at it. I just kept going - walking - climbing. That's the second most important thing! The first? Begin. The main thing is to start, then to walk it - to live & breathe it (you'll absorb SO much being immersed in the culture with "beginner's mind"), and THEN worry about having all the right tools.


 
It's the same climb
I set out to do with stars in my eyes and a hundred watt stack, but shaped and decorated completely differently (as am I), with answers as rewards for questions as a young man I didn't even know enough to have. But I do have some now. And I ended up in a very different place inside & out. Perspective... I chatted with a client (by the way, your Cherry woodcraft is almost done) about getting started doing what I do. On behalf of anyone in any pursuit that's a bit down the path from where you are, don't think you need everything we have to begin. Because you won't begin where we're at. I am certainly not the same sack of tools I was ten years ago... I couldn't be me now - then. Let alone the 28 ago in the picture. It grew to this. I honed to this.



What I have and what I do
should only matter to you in that it inspires you to do something. That something itself will take you on the journey that will become your next chapter. Or four. You gather the tools as you go, and you're prepared for the next step by the ones you had to take to get to that one. Just start walking. Use my humble little star as a general navigational aid and begin the path to what it will look like for you down yours.



I'm am here
if you need advice on routers or templates though. Clamps? Wood? Not a problem! Vibrational transference and the transmigration of the soul? Well, I'll do my best.


Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas

Listening to:
Grateful Dead Grateful Dead; Al Caiola Italian Gold; Headstone Bad Habits; and a recording of Branford Marsalis' quartet performing Coltrane's A Love Supreme.

 


January 30th

Started the week off Sunday
at an estate sale with complex layers of feelings about it. Of course this is way out in the country, so it's not the suburban organized and sometimes high-falutin' affair full of china, designer items and itemized knick-knackery one might expect if that's what the picture brings to mind. This was the last weekend of more of a yard sale-like thing that's been going on for a month or more. It was my second visit.



From the workshop of this old WWII hero I pulled this plaque; it now hangs in mine. It felt strange to be picking through the scattered remnants of a great man's life but I knew whatever I adopted would be coming somewhere to be used, revered both for what it is and what he was. Who are we possibly going to replace this guy with? Are there any three of us with - combined - what this guy was made of? I don't know. Some days I think it'll take me another trip around just to gather the suds he probably had in his twenties.

In addition to a few tools I bought last time (a ritual of respect towards fallen elder craftsmen, to keep their tools working...

...here's one of his clamps now in service at Birdsong), this time I scored some great obscure albums. I'm pretty sure he didn't listen to them but he did gather them and I was detecting an order they were in... maybe something to keep him busy? Happy to have them... here are a couple:

Shanti

This is one of the best early '70s "Raga rock" melding of East and West I've heard. A great album and very rare to come across... especially in the rack of a 93 year old Texan.

The George Benson Cookbook

This is just smokin'. I dig Benson's early stuff almost as much as I dig his signature Ibanez guitar from the late '70s - '80s. If anyone HAS an Ibanez George Benson, Japan made from that era, any finish, I'm up for some trading! Especially in natural.

Speaking of natural, I do the occasional build where I start with slabs of tree, rough milled with the bark still on. To me this is a pure thing, like it would be foraging for your food. I might not have cut & slabbed this Pecan tree, but I bet I met the guy who did. Stuff like this generally air dries for a long-ass time before we start building with it. This stash has been around for a few years and is becoming the back pieces on a variation of the Birdsong guitar. Working with this stage of wood rather than dimensioned planks to begin with is both challenge and treat. Lots of planing, cutting, trimming, more planing, more measuring... but even the parts I can't use show hidden beauty; signs of life. This was a tree; it lived a life; other beings lived on, around, and in it. It was food, it was shelter, it was shade. And now what's left of it is in my hands to work into something useful and beautiful.
 
Watch it "become again" on the client page... this is the "Grateful Dude" guitar.

There were other albums I got at the sale; some good Blues, some great old Country, a couple of worn but listenable Moby Grape albums. All in all a good little haul. To me it's like bringing home groceries. The record player is where Birdsongs are assembled, wired, strung & tested. Most of the time if I'm in here, something cool is spinning at 33-1/3. In the woodshop? Well, the music constantly plays there... and I do mean constantly for the most part. I like to leave a CD on low on repeat even after the lights are turned off and the door is softly closed for the evening. I just don't think the music should stop in there. 

One of the CDs that's been going in there is Alice In Chains'
Jar of Flies... there are a few gems from the 90s that really stayed fresh and brilliant to me. I pretty much live in the 1970s with occasional forays into the '80s but my interest in what was going on was still alive and well during the '90s. Soundgarden's Superunknown comes to mind, as does Flies. I dusted this CD off and put it in days ago... I don't forget why I keep it during the occasional CD purges, but I do lose touch with just how great an album this is until its turn comes around again. Though it's technically an EP with only 7 songs, I consider it a complete work... there is nothing on it that is superfluous and nothing more needed to be said.

On that note... I'm out for now. Tune in every Friday for some words from behind the workings here at the Little Shop That could from yours truly, master of ceremonies, captain of the ship, and nutty professor.

A reminder to find Birdsong Guitars on Facebook
and give us a like - I post pictures & stuff up there during the week too, and if you aren't watching you're missing out on some fun! I'll be posting some artsy shots from the workshop over the weekend.

Stay tuned,

Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas

Listening to:
Grateful Dead Workingman's dead and Dead Set; Alice In Chains Jar Of Flies; Mad Season Above; Louisiana Red Sings The Blues; Shanti Shanti; George Benson The George Benson Cookbook; Modern Jazz Quartet At Music Inn Vol. 2 (1958).

 




January 23rd



A great work day
here is to place the work around the weather and pace the work to music. Or, in assembly, to the sound of lectures or documentaries that may be playing. To hit it hard before the daylight and be winding it down by dusk. I have had a week full of those days... it was warm and sunny to start so much was done in the green shop - wood selection & layout, planing & cutting, routing & shaping, sanding & finishing. Then as the days became rainy and relatively cold, attention turned mostly into Johnny's shop for assembly, wiring, trimout, stringing & setup. Paperwork. Communication. This update. As the first real full work week of the year for Birdsong, to the sounds of everything from Al Caiola to Aerosmith, every single 14 build that became 15 got at least its next step and a handful of 15s got their start too. 



Only disrupted by
the Man In Brown bringing boxes of parts and supplies, a relocation of our internet tower for better signal, and a surprise visit by my old buddy who used to have a Mopar only junkyard coming by to see if I'd sell him the ol' '48 Plymouth project back, it was a VERY productive week on the benches. I do feel bad when a good man drives an hour out into the hills in the rain only to be denied, but sometimes that's life and we all have our turns at that wheel. It's my turn to man the wheel of the '48 for a while. To do what I do with my old cars - get them running and drive them to fun places. I only drive old cars; that's my world. I drive the same kinds I drove 20 years ago and they were old then. I like vehicles from the '60s and '70s... my youngest is a Ford van from 1983, but it's basically the same van they were selling in the mid '70s and I customized it as such. That '48 may be a bigger project than others before it and I'd have liked to have had it running to take the man for a ride instead of jacked up with the engine & wiring stripped out, but that's part of the process of progress as well. Sometimes if there's a bunch that needs fixing it's got to get a little uglier before it gets better. That's life too.



Johnny's shop got really ugly before going back together in its current form years ago. I still call it Johnny's shop because despite it being left behind in the big-picture soul movin' on of my mentor, and yours truly cutting the whole thing into '74 pickup sized sections of wall and floor structure with a sawzall and chainsaw like some deranged hillbilly and hauling by the load to be rebuilt where it is now by a circle of friends, I'm merely its custodian. Like the tools of grandfathers and the old cars that were once driven off showroom floors, I just have 'em for now as long as my body holds me. I fix them up for another tour of duty and guide them in making something happen. As tasks they were led to me (or I to them, or both) because I was "that guy" in that moment to turn them back into tools. They weren't finished so long as somebody took some action. They were not destined to be trinkets or junk or scrap quite yet, they just needed a little moving and a lot of mercy. The process isn't pretty and sometimes damn near kills you, and sometimes wisdom requires you just walk away, but now and then you can breathe new life into something good. We're all "that guy" a few times in life to what & who is around us, and I think - for me at least - its part of how I justify my existence along the way.  



Do someone good and make something happen. I'll be out in the shop if you need me.


Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas

Listening to:
Al Caiola Italian Gold; Aerosmith Rocks; John Williams Spanish Guitar Music; Grateful Dead Grateful Dead; Meat Loaf Bat Out Of Hell; Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert.

 




January 14th



It's always auspicious
to start the year's first workshop morning looking at a piece of wood with a musical note in it. It's a crack unfortunately, but I'll work around it. It's just nice that it's there for now. A good omen. This is a thick top for a very special guitar project.


What the heck happened
in here the last part of '14?! Oh yeah...


Next up for routing -
Mesquite Cortobass, Walnut "Scott Shortbass" and Maple Birdsong guitar.


Next up for body edge sanding
and into routing... all kinds of goodness led by two Walnut Fusions and a lefty rainbow Cortobass!


And look what slipped into the lineup this week...
The Especial, the custom model played by Marciano Cantero of Los Enanitos Verdes! Some of you may not have heard of them but, believe me, anywhere rock happens and Spanish is spoken, these guys are HUGE and have been for decades. And you will not find a more down-to-Earth rock star than Marciano. El Especial has been toured and used in the studio and he loves it. It is a nice blend of Cortobass and Fusion... a popular blend for custom orders now its own model for 2015.
More info on The Birdsong Basses page.
More on Marciano and the band Los Enanitos Verdes: www.losenanitosverdes.net 

I also snuck this update
up here on Wednesday because I'm tearing into the workshop for the rest of the week. Got some good prep work done including a wood shopping trip... now I need a little more cleanup and a couple of tool replacements that are on their way. We just wore some stuff out in 2014, I tell you what. Looking forward to doing it again this year!

Ok, back into the sawdust go I.


Rockin' AND rollin',

Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas

Listening to:
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raising Sand; John Williams Spanish Guitar Music; and lots of Delta Blues! (Mississippi Fred McDowell, R.L. Burnside, etc.)
 





January 9th

Happy New Year!

In deep
cleaning & organizing, getting ready to crank up Birdsong for 2015. Took a little break over Christmas and New Years but I'm back in the shop, piles everywhere, getting my work for the first part of 2015 together and ready to get after. What a great year this is going to be - the little green workshop, the music, the smell of the wood, the feel of the tools in the hands... and the basses and guitars destined to be born out of all of this in the coming year.


Just before the break,
I received a wonderfully packed bunch of HP sauce! I love this stuff, it's a brown sauce from the UK, can be very difficult to find. And there are a number of across-the-pond clients who KNOW I love the stuff. As there was no direct return address, it's a mystery which sent the latest bottles... but CHEERS to you!

And, before I jump
back into the calls and all, here is a quote from a really cool guy who recently had his first Birdsong experience... none other than Matt Malley of Counting Crows fame!


"Finally - a shortscale bass that isn't a toy... I love that bass more than anything."

Thank YOU Matt -
for flying Birdsong, for all the music you helped make that has been the soundtrack to peoples' lives, and for all those great bass lines I ripped off from you back in my gigging days!

So folks, I'm ready to talk -
call with any questions and let's get you in the que for 2015 if that's where you want to be - it looks like it's going to be a busy year! I can't thank you enough... so I'll just pour it all into the instruments, ok?

You all stay funky and I'll see you next Friday.

Sho' 'nuff,

Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas

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