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


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Birdsong Guitars
PO Box 1745
Wimberley, TX 78676
USA

Anytime: 512-395-5126

info@birdsongguitars.com

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May 15th



There's only so much
precision woodworking that goes on when it's raining and really humid. Well let me clarify that - there is NO precision woodworking that goes on when it's raining and really humid. I live somewhere it doesn't rain a lot. Usually. So this, under normal circumstances, means now and then I take a day off and work on the site (maybe bump up the day I write the little Friday update blog you're reading right now, for example) or really get on top of parts orders & paperwork. Next day, wake up, sun shining and we go about our business. Sometimes I'll claim a mental health day, turn off the computer, go cook up some good food, put on Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue, perhaps read a book. Just "log off" and rest the head. Because if the head isn't fresh and focused, there's only so much ground the little soldiers of arms and hands and fingers can be expected to gain successfully on their own, what to say of expecting all the tools to do their best. A rain day is fine as far as I'm concerned. This, however, is getting absurd for those of us who don't live in - say - Seattle. Or the UK. Or underwater like a Coelacanth.



So here I sit on Friday morning.
Yesterday afternoon it was sunny for a couple of hours, still humid but less so and this was a welcome respite from what has been, I think, the rainiest week in years. You may be thinking "Hrumph - Paul Reed Smith doesn't just pack up because of a little rain!" You'd be correct. But you must remember there is a world of difference in process between a big factory and a small workshop. Heck there's even quite a bit between a big workshop and a little one. We, by choice, have never done it any bigger than a medium sized workshop. A Birdsong is crafted across several benches and work stations with the windows open and the big bay door up, much of the glue-up and sanding done outside on the covered deck. 9 or 10 months a year here that's really no problem. Some are hot but we're used to it. One or two are cool and tricky but we know what to do on the warmer days and are ready... and like we were talking about this is south central Texas so we may have a few rained out days in the spring or fall or an afternoon here or there to do inside stuff.


Scott with Russell the Engineer, a young man who stands up to Scott's marathon 12 hour studio sessions like none before. Ears of gold, an iron constitution and steadfast resolve. Those are hard to find, people.

Inside stuff...
assembly is one of the few things done under climate control in the smaller workshop next to the main one. There are always instruments to work on but one can't always plan to have ten of 'em in there before the rain comes just in case it rains for a week and a half. Doesn't work like that. So this week has given me a chance to finish up some biz paperwork that's been dogging me for months, recharge a bit (went into the studio and mixed down another album, "Songwriter") and design some new instruments. I know, just what I need right? But it's a wonderful part of this process and there are areas Birdsong hasn't been and I think it's time. That and another Cortobass variation. One of the things that makes a Birdsong a Birdsong and this whole Wingfeather Workshop family (the various things we build, and us, and you) work is that we are a workshop.



For real. Not just some microbrewery facade, and the long little passages and dances that become your instrument are conducted (and much of it performed) by an inspired artist/craftsman at peace and helping hands including wife Jamie and a few brothers from other mothers that have been in the circle one way or another for years. This is not the work of a big box, a harried middle manager and beaten down assembly line task workers... we grow & nurture it here in such a garden and your instrument is the prize squash! Or, we wait out the rain together. There's no point in fighting nature when the parts wouldn't fit and the finish won't cure. Much like in playing the finished instrument, timing is everything.



Next up once the humidity
goes back down (basically the next sunny afternoon) is a big bunch of routing, and a slew of detailed gluing (tops, headstock overlays, etc.) and I can't wait! I love this stuff. 


Never met the man, but I did meet one of his old tour buses.

Before I go,
this morning I heard that bluesman BB King has passed. Mr. King rose from the southern sharecropper field to change the world with his guitar. His struggles and adversity, and his rise to influence paralleled that of his people and he rose many up along with himself. All along the way seeds were sown and gardens grown which have fed the rest of us inspiration, art and culture for generations. A tip of the hat and much respect to Mr. King who inspired players who inspired me (and so many others), and who inspired people of all kinds to all just come on in and get sweaty together and listen to the music and feel better. Bless you, bluesman.

This weekend's "Special Deal" will be up on our Facebook page shortly
(nudge, nudge - I really want more of you to be watching Birdsong Guitars on Facebook too instead of just here). (And like us, and follow us...) Have a great weekend, STAY DRY! We're doing our best.

Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas
 
Listening to:
Augustus Pablo Original Rockers; Paul Desmond Live (with Ed Bickert, my favorite guitar player); BB King Live At The Regal


 



May 8th

Quickie update this week...

Tons of new pics up on the client / current builds page, snuck in a wood shopping trip this week.

Here's a video about a bass we have for sale, and ON SALE this weekend!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31s1uM0vnNA

Email or call, or check out our Facebook page (Birdsong Guitars) for details.

Other new videos up now on the Wingfeather Workshop channel on YouTube.

Longer update next week ~ have a GREAT weekend!

~Scott
 




May 1st

"
Thanks for building such an awesome instrument!  6C-063 has been my primary bass now for almost 7 years and it's the finest bass guitar I have played.  I've sold all of my other basses (Lakland USA, Pedulla, and Rickenbacker).  This bass is hands down the best!"


Always a great way to start a week, positive feedback still coming in on a 9 year old instrument. That would be two years in, probably just out of the just about living on the workshop office futon phase of The Little Shop that Could. Part of why it could and did is because we were willing to do what was done to get the ship in sail. You do what you must in the moment and aim towards tomorrows you want.

You meet the coolest people getting tattooed on a friend's tour bus. If you'd have told me yesterday afternoon a chance encounter with an inking situation in-process on said bus to who turned out to be the opening act for my friend Todd Snider at Cheatham Street Warehouse last night - his bus - her wrist getting a beautiful blue shaded rose - or that I, your humble scribe, would be next under the needle, once more marking my body with sacred symbol... a "remarriage" if you will, a re-upping of my path and commitments... on the gargantuan black Prevost tour bus of the guy who vacated the couch in Kent Finlay's music room and informal halfway house for aimless drifting young songwriters with potential right as I showed up with nowhere to go and a few unfinished songs, here now 27 years later outside our late mentor's beer joint... I wouldn't have believed you. But I'm not surprised it happened.

My life has been a seemingly random grouping of acts with the thinnest of threads tying them in an absolute perfect order. If you don't know the threads you won't see the order. And if you don't pay attention you miss out on the moment you're supposed to make a little knot happen to help it all fall into place. And every bit of it going right clear back to the dadgum thumbtack that held my first business card in a drug store bulletin board for two years, long enough to get a call and join a band and follow the caller into his previous band needing a rhythm section to tour and rolling through Texas and meeting Kent - and Todd - on that '88 trip and every scene between me there in Austin at 19, 2100 miles from "home" and me writing this now after last night 25 miles from HOME in the hills outside of it at 46... it all looks like chance, scary chance, freaky chance to where a second here or a left turn there and I'd be someone completely different somewhere else in another life and I don't know who'd be typing this shit in right here but it probably wouldn't be me. I sometimes get a chill thinking about just how precarious a thread that was and who I could've ended up as. Apologies to who this might have been for taking his spot but it wasn't really his I guess. It's exhausting reading I know, but you should see the holes I've worn in some shoes, hoss.

The string of Thursday to Saturday gigs started as just that but Todd is a master of ceremonies among masters of ceremi and if there isn't a ceremony he'll cause one to form. And then he'll spin that sumbitch into a glorious circus... and step on in and conduct it like a midnight choir. So he pulled in days early and "Occupy Cheatham Street" was happening. They'll have the street closed off by Saturday night, you just watch. I'll leave the next two nights for the circus goers, I just went to pay my respects, see some old friends and hear some good songs. Both perpetual sister of bus tattooery Rorey Carroll and master of ceremonies Todd gave wonderful sets of songs to a Cheatham Street that was packed and I think sold out for the next two nights too. Justin from Austin's Resurrection Tattoo, thank you for the show you put on and your service to the meaning of our paths.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, a huge week of "clearing the decks" with four little Birdies 'n Shorties flying the nest this week with three more about ready, and a bunch of marking, planing, cutting & gluing to start filling the walls with basses again. Tremendously productive week. To stay on top of it all I might skip this part of the update next week... there are times I'm too busy doing to stop to talk about it. Loving what I get to do, this is no hardship. Just lots of stuff to do. So unless something epic happens I'll have more to say here in a couple of weeks. Short updates on the Facebook page will continue.

This weekend's "Special Deal" will be up on our Facebook page shortly (nudge, nudge - I really want more of you to be watching us over there too instead of just here) and has to do with 5 STRINGS. Birdsong Guitars on Facebook  (And like us, and follow us...) Have a great weekend!

Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas
 
Listening to:
Augustus Pablo Original Rockers (God I love this CD!!); Dire Straits Making Movies; Killing Joke what's THIS for...!
 



April 24th

Greetings fellow travelers, here is the latest report from the Wingfeather Workshop.

We've been shooting videos again
for the Wingfeather Workshop channel on YouTube - bookmark
https://www.youtube.com/user/WingfeatherWorkshop and keep checking it in the days to come.


In addition to the usual cutting and routing
and oil finish rubbing and assembling of any given week, over the past several days I worked a lot with turquoise. It was "Turquoise:30" as we say... time for turquoise! One of my favorite things to do is pack natural rustic wood character with crushed turquoise. I start with small pieces of the real stuff and crush it myself (starting with consistent pre-packaged powder doesn't give the effect I like), filling & gluing it in layers. When the oil finish hits it and the wood around it, the colors richen and the blue stone just glows. Also shown are the headstock logos happening in the lap steels I make. Love this stuff!


Saw our good friends Nimai & Taraka
in Austin with their ongoing world-touring artrock psychpop band Prince Rama. First Jamie & I hit Koriente, a wonderful little Korean fusion hole-in-the-wall downtown. After some veggie & hummus rolls, noodle sauté bowl & a Saint Arnold amber, we walked over to the venue where Prince Rama was just starting their set. To hear them from the street outside was a thrill; I've known the sisters since the beginning of their music adventure, and they're part of a family I owe great debts of inspiration to... so it goes both ways. It was great to see them rock the joint and hang a little after the show before we all hit the highway to our what's nexts ~ they towards the next gig, Jamie & I back out towards the woods.


Speaking of which, had a plumber come out and he showed up in Joe The Truck's brother! Who is Joe The Truck? A very important member of the team from the beginning. Joe is a big orange '74 Dodge. It's not every day you see another, let alone one pulls up your driveway! His father bought his new in 1976; 15 years ago I bought Joe from the son of its original owner. We salute you John the plumber and your bronze brethren!


This weekend's "Special Deal" will be up on our Facebook page shortly
(nudge, nudge - I want more of you to be watching us over there instead of just here) and has to do with a Shortbass. What's that? Go check it out! Birdsong Guitars 1,277 like this (And like us, and follow us...) Have a great weekend!

Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas
 
Listening to:
John Scofield Bump; Grateful Dead Movie soundtrack disc 3; Bill Evans Trio at the Village Vanguard; Kenny Burrell On View At The Five Spot

 



April 10th & 17th

While I'm steadily working on Birdsongs
(always the priority since 2004), I'm always working on other things. researching through doing what I do - working with recipes of wood & wire - and manifesting variations and new ideas, some to be Birdsongs, some to be others, some FOR others... and some with no agenda at all but to have the experience gained in doing it "that way" one time or finding out how something looks or performs in its real form. You on that side of the screen may see this as "The tomato garden" with these amazing little tomatoes that tickle your taste buds and appeal to the ways you appreciate seeing such tomato gardening done... but others are led here by other trails with no idea about the whole "tomato" section of this little garden. "You build Birdsongs too? What are they?"

Birdsongs in final assembly ~ a maple & mahogany guitar, walnut Fusion, figured-top fretless "Double Fusion" and special order Fusion with Cortobass pickups in wenge & mahogany... all to fly the nest in the next week or two!

Our world today
is one of specialization. "I am this," "I perform that task." This is what we are. We all have our interests and aptitudes and some even line all of it up into their living. Much of the time it still comes down to one office, one degree, one branch of the tree that is the focus. "I specialize in this area." Here it's a little different - yes, there are common traits in everything done here (for example the instruments primarily have natural finishes, a certain aesthetic to the wood & working, passive electronics, many behind-the-scenes processes... they're electric, they all have strings...) that may transcend their tuning or branding. But I view my job as "Helping the music to happen."


Here's a wild one FOR SALE ~ 2015 Especial lined fretless ~ rustic Texas pecan, turquoise, woodburned cowbow-style barbed wire around the edge... the works. "Full dress." Call 512-395-5126 or email scott@birdsongguitars.com

That leaves a wide patch of earth to till.
It could mean many different kinds of doing, a variety of manifestations in sound or wood or word. In some capacity, I do all of it. You come up with a way music can be assisted into becoming and I've probably been involved with it. That's what I'm here to do - that's what I'M a tool for. Bringing it back to musical instruments, it shouldn't be a shocker that there's a wide variety of bass & guitar making going on in the main workshop (and the others that help me in helping all of this to happen)... there's Birdsong of course, but also SD Curlee USA, Texas lap steels, D'Aquila guitars, Hy5 basses, and the whole Shortbass thing. One-offs? Prototypes? Stuff without names yet? That's a talk for another time...


Ok, one picture. Here's a non-Birdsong prototype - but to short scale guitars what the Cortobass is to short scale basses. The Super24 guitar. Wonderful little instrument... stuff like this starts in my notebook, then manifests slowly. A lot never make it to this production-ready state, this one did. I've loved 24" scale guitars since the '80s and designed & built my first in '97. What will happen with this? Who knows; for now it's another song in the pile.

Very briefly, Birdsong is the mothership and priority...
the vision for it, built around a particularly well performing short scale bass re-think called the Cortobass, solidified in 2004 and here we are together now. As it grew, I revived a company whose instruments I loved - SD Curlee. Dating back to the mid 70s and dormant for a time, I gave their cool but somewhat crude old musclecar basses a needed re-engineering and, instead of going the mass production import "reissue" path, committed to elevating them into boutique levels of craft and making far fewer. Not a decision made from current popular businessthink formula, but that's not the agenda for every decision around here. Sometimes you just do the right thing and have some fun and bring what you can to something worth doing. The next batch of SD Curlees includes a couple of new models and a site update, all being worked on now.

SD Curlee's 2015 neck batch coming together.  www.sdcurleeusa.com

Texas lap steels are my vision
of what one of these things should sound like. If most lap steels are traditionally bright and twangy tonally, maybe having a Patsy Cline voice to them, then mine are the Aretha Franklins in the room. If that doesn't say it I don't know how to... now give them a unique look with varying amounts of Texas and "deco" and - as with everything we do - hand build them in small workshop batches, and there you have it. D'Aquila Guitars (www.daquilaguitars.com) grew out of my love for solid body jazz guitars... that part of the garden has looked a few different ways over the years but like us all it has found its way and there's always one or two of them in process; perhaps the whole years' production.

A batch of Texas lap steels ~ next we rout and finish prepping the fretboards, then on they go! A full listing of what these are is at www.sbeckwith.com/lapsteels.htm

Hy5 is a Birdsong spinoff, originally our 5-string model.
A 5-string short scale with a really good B? YES, since 2007. As a little corner of Birdsong I didn't feel it could shine as brightly, so it became its own thing. Birdsong's continued flight means I still haven't been able to push the fives as they should be (there's only so much of me to spread around), but I have done the latest evolution in body styles and we're working on a better site... in addition to a few of the basses, two of which are spoken for. I partially spun it off to consider finding the design, name and patent a bigger home. These basses are great by design and a smaller, lighter, easy playing 5 that sounds great could have more of an audience than I could ever serve. I have that recipe! Someone could jump right into things with an already developed and market tested instrument and make themselves a living, or a company, or even an empire if that's what they wanted. I'd still talk to interested parties about Hy5 the company... but for now I still talk to clients about Hy5 the BASS and lovingly build a few at a time. A songwriter can look at an album and say "That's one of my best songs, it came together really well." That's how I feel about the Hy5.

An original 2012 Birdsong Hy5 currently for sale ~ this was a special order, fretless, handmade ebony eagle bridge, lined fretless... time for it to find a new home, on consignment by the original owner. Please call us at 512-395-5126 anytime or email scott@birdsongguitars.com. Info on the new Hy5s: www.hy5basses.com

The Shortbass - well there was a point
in Birdsong's climb where I wasn't personally getting as much sawdust on myself as I had enjoyed. So on the side I distilled my ideas about the electric bass into their simplest whole and made a few. I figured they could also serve (again, as opposed to a cheaper import) some people who just can't swing a Birdsong and don't need the options or extras. Over time word got out and folks who love Birdsongs picked 'em up as another flavor and lots of folks who love the Shortbass come over here for a Birdsong. Same scale, pickup, neck & ethos - simplicity done to a high standard...

Shortbasses in finishing ~ from here it's into assembly! www.sbeckwith.com/shortbass

So as much as you see going on
over on the current builds page, that's really only half of it! I've never won a lottery but I have scratched off the "doing what I love for a living" ticket. Stands to reason I should treat that the same way - it's all seed. I won a lottery of good seed and fertile ground. Now what can I make of this? Time to grab a tool and make something happen!



On behalf of all the hands involved,
thank you for being a part of this garden around us. 

Check out Birdsong Guitars on Facebook
for this weekend's super deal (nudge, nudge - I want more of you to be watching us over there instead of just here)... play nice and we'll see you in two weeks with another news page update (taking next week just to work). Have a great weekend!

Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas
 
Listening to:
"The Art of Sax" box set (jazz), Van Halen's first two albums, John Scofield. 




April 3rd

The one and only Maggie Mae. You are what you eat, and she evidently eats cuteness and love.

This one goes out to Will Holland ~
raised a cold one to you, buddy. Hope all is well.

Happy couple-of-days-passed April Fool's Day
everyone. That's a big day for me, almost as big as the July 4th anniversary of Birdsong's launching years back. So this time of year I'm even more grateful, more reverent, and more incredulous at how a thumbtack holding up a business card on a drug store bulletin board for two years in the '80s 2,100 miles away is literally what this all ties back to... could the thread be any thinner? Good God. I can't even imagine things going down any other way and me being ok. None of this was scripted out, you know? I just knew to follow the music wherever it took me. And take me it did! So how does April 1st factor in?

lefty rainbow twin-humbucker Cortobass flew over the pond to England

On April 1st of 2000
I set myself free to again cast my lot to the wind. Four years earlier I had aimed the stubby little hood of a white Dodge van named "Spirit of The Wind" (known at that time also as "Home") back towards the east coast where events resulted in my opening of a music shop. With the passing of the shop keys on April Fools Day to the next hands, I then pointed the even stubbier hood of a far more square box van, a 1972 Ford named "Blue Moon", back down the road to the Texas Hill Country. This was the time of incubation for the seeds of the garden I now know as my life. Big changes in myself, big changes in life. The 1st was day one of a new chapter and I've been counting since. So Aprilius Numerunus is a big anniversary of sorts for me. I had no idea what was ahead other than a piece of land and something to do with music. I had no concept that life and all that had been and all I'd done would coalesce over time into the cohesive whole it all feels like today... just that there was a V8 under my right foot, a highway ahead, and somewhere down it - home, meaning, purpose; the then-next chapter - and it was time to show up so whatever was waiting could happen.

Two lefties shipped in the same week... that's a record!

If one is lucky and blessed
in some combination, the diminishments of time are outpaced by the lessons of a life truly lived, so one finds their balance at an age still vital with possibility and connected to the world around them in which they navigate. I found my springtime in the summer and I plan to ride it in.

Lefty standard Fusion went to New Jersey

Spring is continuing to bloom very rapidly
as it does here. I looked down the path and saw purple flowers and the wild turkeys are in the woods. Last night I made my springtime soup. It's the same kind of soup I always make, I just feel a little different making it... because it's the beginning of spring and I'm here and you couldn't trade me the wildest imagined results of any of the dreams along the way that faded and changed for today's little workshop in the woods, and these basses, and you. And let me tell you ~ that makes for one hell of a bowl of soup. I make it a little spicy with fresh Jalapeno pepper and maybe a little Sambal Oelek (look it up - the world is at your fingertips), believing to wake up the taste buds is to awaken other areas of perception as it spills over. Sort of a "Free your mind and your ass will follow" only ass first as I have come to know it in reality. It's lunchtime, and I've got a spoon and a bowl. Life is amazing.

Check out Birdsong Guitars on Facebook for this weekend's super deal
... and make some music and a moment or two this weekend. I appreciate you!

Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas
 
Listening to:
Dub reggae and Grateful Dead live stuff.




March 27th

Spring has sprung for real
here in the Texas Hill Country woods... after what felt like months of chilly gray & rain all of a sudden the birds are in a nesting frenzy, little flying ones of all manner from tiny moths to owls can be heard and seen going about their little business, everything's in bloom, the skies are clear blue and the Texas sun feels glorious on the skin. It's "dining room on the porch" season to the soundtrack of birdsong and the occasional distant frog.

Cap'n Scott (a little ragged from a busy week) with some not-so-distant frogs.

In-between the glorious sunrises
and spectacular sunsets a small hairy man, covered in wood chips and sawdust, powers on towards an ever-shifting goal. Building instruments at this level is like a buffet that doesn't look like there's an end to as there is with a meal; you eat, you're stuffed, you're done. We joke at the table of a great meal about eating until we keel over, just pitch off the chair or faceplant into that third bowl of spaghetti. I relate in a wood-and-wire way.

Clear skies this morning too!

Craftsmen I've known
have spoken reverently about departing with the spokeshave still in their hand the way true die-hard rockers want to kick the bucket onstage at a gig. Making basses (and guitars, and lap steels) out of tree feeds me in ways far deeper than literally providing the food. It's a deeper buffet for the heart & soul, a feast of connection to that greater and nature and tools of good vibration, and the ripples inward and outward of all of it, to and through you and out into the great ocean of "is."

Rosemary (this has been blooming for a while but I just couldn't find the thyme...)

That's what I wake up to,
plates - little mountains - of this to taste every day. My focus is pace & rhythm and to keep going. I spread seeds where I can, leave a little apple where needed, and keep walking. There have been times when life felt like a kidnapping and long, slow suicide slide... but those were (thankfully) quick and fleeting detours, as no matter what the scenery it was still my hands on the wheel. The tolls to get back on the main road again? Heh heh, everybody's got those and they're all different and in the moment they seem unpayable. But we find a way to find our way, don't we?

Bright yellow flowers? That's just vine by me.

This is what springtime is.
Tuning into that way; becoming that walk; turning into something greater. I'm blessed to have this work to do in this little workshop, the hands that help (that are attached to some great folks), the sanctuary... I feel like I wake up in church, work in a temple, and my plate stays full of delicious things to do for really special people. Go as you want & do as you will, but for me I'm on the perpetual spring program whatever adjustments it asks of me. I'm gonna ride this wave 'til we crash on the shore. I can only tell you it hasn't crested yet and I'll be sure down the line to build yours first! But surf's up, buddy, and we're on the board.

Cactus... not just a great band from the '70s!

It's 8:44AM
and I've already crossed a couple of things off the list... including this time spent gathering my sometimes scattered thoughts onto the page (or screen, as it is) here, hopefully to inspire and share a good few moments with you. Whatever the weather where you are, the sun is shining somewhere and it's time to go water the garden.   

Oh my... this flower appears to have a big, fuzzy nose!

Have a great weekend - don't forget about the Facebook super offering of the week, happening sometime over the weekend... go find & follow the Birdsong Guitars page and don't miss out!

Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas
 
Listening to:
Springsteen Born To Run; Alice In Chains Jar of Flies; The Cult Electric; Dean Martin Greatest Hits



March 20th

Been working steady
to
Born To Run in the woodshop and episodes of the Thanks For Giving a Damn podcast by Otis Gibbs on Soundcloud in assembly. No big "listening to" list this week, it's just been great musician interviews and "The screen door slams... Mary's dress waves... like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays..." You know, Shakespeare for the east coast blue collar dreamer. Just getting in touch with my roots, engrained deep inside long before the luthier gnome in the woods thing happened. When I was 17 you couldn't play me a Springsteen album... now it really makes me feel. One of my favorite albums of all time, and the "Making of..." documentary of it is fantastic too. That and right now I have a dub Reggae compilation CD on. Music = food. Yum.

I'm starting a special deal for those who like us enough to follow us on Facebook; I post up there during the week as well as Fridays and I'll be doing "Weekend specials." What does that mean? Well go there and like us and watch what we're up to! THIS weekend I'll spill the beans here too because everyone should know. From the posting of this to Sunday night Birdsong is running a SALE FOR NEW CLIENTS. Anything & everything is 10% off  if you've never ordered an instrument from us before. You're hanging in, waiting for the right time... it's NOW. 10% off for all NEW CLIENTS this weekend. There's a double deal too... but you have to go find us on Facebook or call for that!

Here are some cool pictures of the week...

Actually a picture from last week that I just pulled off the memory card. Sunset in San Marcos, TX over my late friend Kent Finlay's bar, the legendary Cheatham Street Warehouse. Joe The Truck and I were parked at the studio across the street for an all-night mixing session.
This is what we shoot for in a neck pocket! They're bolt-on but we fit them individually like they were destined to become one piece, which they are in my view as a tonal-vibration-string-influencing machine. It'll get its screws, but this is with NO screws. Necks are completed slightly oversized for the pocket and then they are shaved to fit. VERY different than factory line assembly or kit parts builds.
Ahhh, the "Grateful Dude" guitar. Builders have influences too, just as we do as players. One of mine is Doug Irwin who made some wild guitars for Jerry Garcia in the '70s - '80s. Some take influences and copy; I just sort of use them as a marinade. I took the Birdsong guitar and let it soak in this marinade and this is what's coming out as a special build for an old friend.
A shot from the routing bench of a special order Fusion with Cortobass pickups & control plate... this body is now in sanding. A fully rounded-over picture is on the client page. The body is wenge & mahogany, with cocobolo magic to follow!
Definitely a rare bird, a lefty Fusion coming together. I do love walnut, I tell you what.
My buddy, hanging out on the couch in assembly by the computer desk. She likes to sit up on her butt as human-like as possible... sometimes I think she's mocking me.
Here's one to watch on the client page... this is even wilder than it looks. A 15-piece glue-up of Texas mesquite, wenge, bloodwood, figured walnut, rosewood and a mystery wood. It only looks like seven straight on for now, but the walnut is actually topping "wings" of the mystery wood as part of double layer tops and backs.
The world knows these ladies as psych-alt-Eastern-trancepop band Prince Rama, we know them as Nimai & Taraka. The Larson sisters are two very inspirational beings in perpetual artistic creative mode and out doing it. Here Taraka is mesmerized by the fire and Nimai is checking the tour itinerary. In Austin for SXSW, they graced us with a visit to catch up, talk much music, travel and food, and show some TLC to a rather roadworn Ibanez guitar that's now ready for the NEXT year on the road. Godspeed, sisters!  http://princerama.com/ABOUT 
Here we see the pickup trim on a Fusion coming to be. I've selected and trimmed two small pieces of rosewood with opposing grain and marked them. Then they get worked, sanded and a finish rub...
...and there we go! This feast of walnut and rosewood is ready to string & set up.
And today we had a visit from Alex, also in town for the SXSW music fest with his band The Go Ahead, playing in Austin tonight & tomorrow afternoon. www.thegoaheadmusic.com Here he is checking out one of the instruments for sale, a consignment Hy5 fretless 5 string. He couldn't believe how big it sounded... nobody's prepared for it. He played a Fusion, a Cortobass... you know, it never gets old watching someone play a Birdsong for the first time! By the way, that bass (pics in inventory) is 10% off too!
   

Have a great weekend - don't forget about that SALE, call anytime...

Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas

 



March 13th

Being as we're a workshop not a factory,
we're a bit more used to working around the weather (mostly temp and humidity) than in a climate controlled facility. The past month has been cold and rainy... more gray than I've seen in years. As a general rule, I don't glue up under about mid-50s or work the wood or finish when it's really humid. Just doesn't go as well. Those days are rare here in south central Texas, it can pretty much be 60 tomorrow no matter what's going on on any given "today" and we're not known for extended periods of Seattle-like foggy drizzle. Usually. The assembly, display & office cabin is where you'll find me on non-shop days, putting instruments together, wiring, stringing up, doing the site updates, or catching a nap on the couch after working some odd batch of hours. So what to do when the hardware's not here yet, the pickups are on order, and it can't be a shop day? Well if you're me you go record an album.

 

So Monday & Tuesday down in San Marcos' Woodshed studio
we layered onto some previously sketched basic tracks, and Wednesday we mixed. And mixed. And mixed. See, I don't do it halfway... it's 16 songs. "We" is me and my favorite engineer Russ. Russ is young, skilled, has great ears, and over time has learned to trust me in the moment. "Ok, loop that djembe out for two minutes before the song starts. I know there'll be no count-in, I'll end on the note it starts on and we'll just stitch it together. Watch me for cues." And in 15 or 20 seconds I'm improvising an intro lick. He knows I know exactly what I'm doing and how this all works, I just can't turn the knobs & push the buttons in this modern computer-based world.



So despite the fact it's me playing everything, layer upon layer, that I don't convey my ideas in bar numbers and percentages like he does and the fact that it's still being arranged as it does down, we work fast. He stopped questioning me in about 2011 ~ I think it was the time I told him I was coming in to "Demo some songs" and
45 of them later said "Hey, why not go for 50... we're already almost there." This time, after finishing the mixing at 3:30AM and crashing on the studio couches, I do think I pushed it when I woke him up at 6:45 and said "Hey, since we're already here, let's cut an album!" Hell, I had two notebooks with me, that's more than enough. C'mon, let's take that summit, you know? We're THERE.

Coming home in the blue zone... not
quite as Thursday morning to me as it is to that other guy...

In reality though,
the crappy weather bought me this much time in this moment and I needed it. I had to get this one done. It's called "It's Morning Somewhere" and, as they used to say when it was tape, "It's in the can!" I'll post some stuff when I can and keep you updated. So with about my usual sleep behind me, I drove Joe the Truck the 45 minutes home and had a great breakfast. It was warming up, it hadn't rained, the sun was coming out. FINALLY! F this whole past month, onward we go. So I waltz into the shop, perfect day, rough cut pieces & parts of glue-up projects stacked ass deep and waiting, and hit the switch on the jointer. That's the tool that squares & levels the edges about to be glued & clamped. Nothing. So I commenced to all the jigglin' and tappin' and testin' one does with old machines in such a moment. Nothing. So I go grab the spare, the original little jointer from the first shop. I guess I knew when to pull that one out of service & upgrade; it fizzled after two seconds with a rather flaccid fart. And not even the kind of fart you'd be proud of, maybe tell someone about later complete with some kind of demonstration. Just a sorry-ass, half-hearted, weak little "boofffff..." like the one (there's always one) on the lawn chair half passed out at the party. That kind of fart. It didn't even lift a leg.  

24 hours later The Allman Bros. are on,
the sun is out, I'm covered in sawdust, stuff is glued up all OVER the place, Maggie is sunning herself nearby...



...there's a shiny new jointer now also covered in wood chips...



...and the old two have been decommissioned and stripped of useable parts. For example, the metal front plate on the bigger one will make a great gauge panel for one of the old car projects.



I've stopped to type this, now I'll go rout some Fusions. Life changes fast even when you're takin' it slow, ladies & gents. So kick it up a notch. Don't waste any time. Have a plan B for the moments that go "booffff" like some somnambulant party crasher and if that doesn't work then saddle up and go off in search of another solution. That's progress when nothing else is possible. No matter what life throws at you or what the day does to your plans, make it so that entropy has to work like a
sonofabitch to derail you completely. More often than not he'll just head on down the line to an easier target.

Back on my head (and I'm working on through the weekend, so call if you need something),

Scott Beckwith
Captain Of The Ship
Birdsong Guitars
Wimberley, Texas

Listening to:
Allman Brothers The Road Goes On Forever; Scott Beckwith It's Morning Somewhere (you have no idea how happy it makes me to say that...)

 



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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