Soundtrack: Luciano Pavarotti The Greatest, disc
2; Richard (Dickey) Betts, Highway Call; Grateful
Everything's the same just dressed
up for its own occasion...
This week's update has very little to do
with basses (or even guitars)... or does it?
Scott's Automotive heroes:
David E. Davis Jr.
Reading his articles proved to be more than entertaining
journalism about a topic I had interest in; each was a lesson in
how to write, new vocabulary to look up, and the adventures one
can have if one learns to dream big, hang it out the window when
needed, do your thing well and not be afraid to ruffle a few
feathers. I consider his writings and reports part of my
"College of life" education, and one could do much
worse than to sit back with a copy of Thus Spake David E.
and a glass of Straccali Chianti.
A master of the line and curve; even if we don't count the
debated and uncredited (yet somewhat obvious) contribution to
the gorgeous Lamborghini Miura, this Italian auto designer is
still responsible for such other sculpture on wheels as the
DeTomaso Mangusta, '60s Iso Grifo and beautiful Alfa Romeo
Giulia Sprint GT, the Maserati's stunning original Ghibli, Merak,
and the '79 Quattroporte, and the striking '70s Lotus Esprit
among many others. Those grabbed me young; you might not see it
directly in what I do and I may have regressed to more "Allman
Bros. concert parking lot" tastes in wheels, but believe me
it's there in the curves of the Corto, the finesse of the
Fusion, and anytime I put a pen to the ol' sketch book.
Style. This guy could stagger out of a flipped stock car and
have a microphone stuffed in his face by the most moronic
crash-chasing reporter at the scene, and you'll probably get a
sly smile while he says something like "Well, some days go
better than others but it's sure good to see you." Pure
class, and from him we learn a great smile has to be backed up
with something more. That would be balls. Big balls. Wrecking
crane balls. Balls so big they're usually only seen rolling down
cavern tunnels behind Indiana Jones. And that it takes a team.
And that a hand-picked team however humble can become legendary
through hard work and consistency... and that the right hat and
a pair of dark glasses only add to the mystique... but not
everybody can pull that off either.
Freiburger is to David E. as a six pack of Lone Star is to
Cabernet Sauvignon. Whilst the Cabernet may be toying with you
with those big French words while it knows darn well it's not quite
true connoisseur stock, it does aim high where the Lone Star
throws long. Long as in "Watch this..." Long as in
"Hold mah beer and watch this!"
Frieburger is a scraped knuckle, 30-weight-in-the-veins car guy
first and journalist second, and he's liable to do anything with
any car - road trip a '60s Hemi, hack a 'Vette for weight loss,
stuff a 500 Caddy in a Chevette (in Hot Rod magazine, I think
that was him, it has Freiburger written all over it regardless),
do an engine swap in a parking lot... the stranger the better.
Little is sacred but I've never followed a guy who loves the fun
aspect of the wheeled machine more. I like everything he's ever
done (even if I was offended by it), and any time this guy ends
up by some miraculous oversight by bean-counters and focus
groups as the head honcho of a magazine, it defines an era of
that magazine. Sometimes a little bit of insanity can help.
...and here are a couple of documentaries:
Here is a fantastic documentary about the secrets of a
particular branded Viking sword. It's the same thing as the
Stradivarius violin... "What made these so much better than
the others?" Fascinating, and I'm not a big weaponry buff.
Boy do I relate to this sword maker guy, though...
And then there's this. This is in a
league of its own. This is something every aspiring
luthier should watch; these guys build authentic Colonial-era
rifles without even electricity. It's the most amazing
documentary I've ever seen... they even make their own screws.
The biggest tool in the shop is one's skill set. This is THE
extreme example of endeavoring to do laboriously by hand over
days with sweat and honed skill and devotion to excellence at a
craft what can be done by computer controlled machine in China
in about 26 seconds. Why do it then? How do I put this... if
this doesn't mean anything to you, there's no explanation that
will suffice... and if you're as wowed by it as I am, none will
be necessary. Some of the guys I talk to that ask me how to get
started (it happens when you hang around long enough), I get the
idea they're in love with the idea of building guitars
for a living. The reality of it is endured only by those called
to it; there's way more to it than it looks, it takes a long
road to hone your skill set to a consistently professional
level, and it takes near fanaticism to hold your course. If this
looks like madness to you, it's ok; you're normal. If it looks
like something that - in your world, adapted to the process of
your craft - seems like why you were put on this Earth in the
first place, welcome to the fold.
Shop pic of the week...
...and another, Brady working on an available Embrace, one of
the last of the 8th Anniversary ones in Mesquite with Ebony.
And a happy birthday to my mother, Carol Alexander, who had
exactly one child. Did she stop after perfection? Well now
that's nice to think but the truth of the matter is I was three
kids worth of work. Here she is as seen through a piece of
Italian sandwich bread.
Everyone please - Saturday May 18th, wherever you are, hoist a
beverage in the air and (out loud) say "Happy
Then email and let me know where it happened all over
the world so I can forward that info to her. She still can't
believe any of this is happening and I don't think she quite
grasps the level of it, you know?
I want at least 3 countries!
Bonus: wonderful link to a Grateful Dead jam I could eat on
toast for breakfast every day... here
(I have no idea what's happening at the beginning.)
Soundtrack: Waylon Jennings The Ramblin' Man; Norman
Greenbaum Spirit In The Sky; Pavement Crooked Rain
Crooked Rain; Leigh
Stephens A Rocket Down Falcon Street; Fleetwood Mac
Tunnel ahead, low clearance...
I watch a lot of music documentaries, and came across a BBC
production on Nile Rodgers. I'd heard of him (and his bassist
sidekick Bernard Edwards - who I now "get" and am in awe of) but
the music he did wasn't really in my world back when it was
happening. Now I can appreciate it in component form; the
groove, the layers, the tones, the placement of everything
including the rhythmic, percussive guitar strums. I can get past the
gold lamé and Studio 54-isms. The man's a genius and even during
the nutty times I didn't hear anything he did that made me say
"This guy went up his own keisterhole on that one..." which is
amazing. What does that mean? Ok, here's an example from the
era. Compare Fleetwood Mac's Rumours... to the double album that
followed it. That cost a million bucks to make. That - though an
interesting listen - was full of the half-developed and the
overdone, with what seems
like absolutely no ability to self-edit or listen to any
reasonable outside voice that might have had a bit more
perspective on quality control and focus. This coming from a
huge fan of Lindsey Buckingham, by the way. For you of the next
gen, here's yours - three words: "Use Your Illusion." Textbook
example of the big ride up "Canal A". Had their
moments, for sure! Neither work is all filler. Edit out the
obvious artistic spew and burn a copy with just the grade A
stuff and these packages make world class single albums from
those bands. Kudos
for being adventurous, but there's a difference between
prolifically and creatively pushing one's envelope and losing
oneself up one's own behind. The line may blur subjectively to
varied tastes, but much like the only drunk guy in the room when it's way over the line it's fairly
obvious to everyone else, and ol' Hershey Highway has certainly rounded out
many a production team.
It's a hazard of success, though I've known cats that never
made a dime off their music and thought they were God's Other
Son too, or just spun in their circle 'til they lost all tether. All kinds of artists & craftsfolk run the risk of
being some ways along that long, dark journey before they even
realize it. Ask
Rick Wakeman. Ask John Frusciante. It happens. Follow the muse but lead with the
ego and fuel with altering substance, or just start off nutty as
squirrel doo... at times you detour to where everything's brilliant, a grand
artistic statement, and all you have to do is show up and touch
something with your Blessed Golden Wand of Intent for the most
absurd and unintentional parody of oneself to
become some stroke of pure genius. So let's touch everything! And
let's not second-guess, rewrite, refine, or focus at all. Meh,
keep it puuuure man. One
does wonder at these times why it's so dark in here... and,
depending on how much of one you were to begin with, some face
longer journeys of this sort than others. But we all toe that
line at times if we're not just painting by numbers. It's the
black ice on this road. Though
there again, especially in this line of work you do find some
crayon-wielding inside-the-liners who consider themselves
masters of the luthieric sciences because they can bolt two
parts together and post endlessly on "Tonewood"
selection and component value tolerance. Hey, I've got your
component right here!
It helps to daily remind yourself of why you do what you do, no
matter what that may be, so you don't lose perspective. Talking
with my clients ("the family") is great for this. I
work for the best clients in the universe - some of you all are
so into this, and I respect that - it's not a birthright for
anyone with a "great idea" to have a crowd gather or
have the chance to earn a reputation. Sure I work hard and bring
my A game but the CHANCE to do this for you is a GIFT. So I'm
sure as hell not going to send you something halfassed like it's
some sort of masterwork... I got two or
three calls this week about upgrading and embellishing builds
that are happening right now. This is no problem, even if we
have to start with a differently-prepped body blank to fit in
stringers or add a scroll or whatever. It does take time to get
to - and do - your build the way a workshop works, as opposed to
a factory. So for better or worse there's plenty of time to
rethink your order as you see what else is going on, and that's
fine... though I definitely understand the concept of a budget
(I mean, I build basses for a living), the ordering of a custom
hand crafted instrument is not the time to scrimp on the few
extras that would make it your DREAM bass. I'm certainly not
going to retire off of that, that's not the point of the art
aspect of this. We eat off of the craft - but we answer for our
chances with the art. From my
perspective I work for you, and above all else - and why I
became a craftsman in the first place - was to spend
myself, my life's hours and ticking minutes, in service to creating something beautiful. If it can
mean something and inspire you, well that's the greatest use of
that service and that beauty. Because if all I do is build for
me and marvel at what happens, the head can very easily get
distantly lost in itself over time. That's not always bad...
sometimes you go way out and get Sgt. Pepper. But other times you
go way UP end up with
Journey to the Centre of the Earth...
And I'm sorry but unless you're a superhero,
showing up wearing a cape is a definite indication you just might have a
case of Optical Rectalitus.
Rock on, good people.
I'm off like a dirty shirt.
Wood shopping - loading it up!
Over on Hy5basses.com there's a
Mahogany Hy5 "5.2" available
with no wait (ok, a week to finish it);
this is us, we spun off the 5 (and 6!)
strings into their own brand.
Anyhow, from being with us you
know how often a 5 ever showed up
in inventory here... never. If you
want the most comfy, biggest sounding
little 5 string around, grab it or call
for more info anytime - 512-395-5126.
Timing and placement hold so much
of success in their grasp... it's not
enough to work hard or have
great ideas. Circumstance
holds a high hand as
to whether it has
the chance to
Soundtrack: Gulf Coast shoreline in my brain, Jimi
Hendrix Blues, Johnny Cash Unearthed box set
(all of it).
"There can be no very black melancholy to him who lives
in the midst of nature and has his senses still." ~Henry
Sorry for being a bit out of touch this past week and a half
or so, but I took a vacation with wife Jamie & Maggie the
doggie. Other than Holiday road trips, this was the first real
vacation of this kind... ever. I'll be honest with you - after
near 10 years of busting ass on Birdsong, it felt great to be
able to take care of my end and leave a list of tasks for the
guys to keep working on, and to have it all done and synched up
to where it's my turn with them right when I show back up. It
works. We spent a week down at Crystal Beach, TX on the coast,
in a house right on the water. Even my road trips over the past
decade tend to involve lots of movement and activity... not this
time, Hoss. I parked my butt on the porch, read Ben Ratliff's Coltrane,
The Story Of a Sound and some of Ron Carter - Finding The
Right Notes, stared out into the ocean, watched the fishing
boats go by, and generally fed and refreshed and aired myself
out quite well thank you.
Trim I'm not but tanned I am and back into the shop go I. I
was actually back in Wednesday to make the master list of
call-backs, notes from calls & emails to update the sites
and builds and paperwork with, stuff I screwed up on the site
before I left to fix, coming-ins, going-outs, and perspective on
it being May already and all of that other miscellany that
waltzes in when two weeks of ones regular routine and juggling
act disappears. An amazing amount of work went on before I left,
while I was gone, and since I've been back. I'll try to filter
it up in this update as best I can. Special thanks to the buyer
of the "Vacation bass" build, you're getting a great
deal and I give YOU a great deal of gratitude for helping our
little jaunt to happen!
By Thursday morning the little blue van was now no longer
rolling past beach cabanas on stilts but headed north on 35 up
into Austin on a wood run. Big slabs of Mahogany, Walnut,
Spanish Cedar and Maple - along with miscellaneous other little
treats - were hand picked, trimmed up and loaded in. They will
soon be basses. Yours? Hang in there, they're worth the wait as
anyone who owns one will tell you. The different woods have
different criteria; this time I wanted some Mahogany with more
flatsawn grain than ribbony, some super looking stuff for a core
on an Artist build we're starting on, and some lightweight
pieces; the Maple was all hard Maple for necks, chosen for grain
orientation and density; I always look for lighter weight Walnut
but didn't find any this time, just standard weight stuff that
was very pretty; and so on.
On average, a Spanish Cedar Birdsong weighs 6 to 7
pounds; Mahogany, 7s; Walnut 7s into low 8s. Not only is that
light, but when it's balanced and you don't have some huge
headstock sticking way out acting like 5 pounds of leverage on
the balance and thereby your shoulder and the arm you hold the
neck up with to play on all night, it feels like it weighs even
less. Because imbalanced basses feel heavier than they are over
the course of a night. They beat the heck out of your body and
there's no need to play something like that - however cool they
are - any more than there is to wear those great looking classic
old shoes that don't fit worth a damn and are uncomfortable to
walk in. Part of the joy of a shoe that fits is how much better
the REST of you feels when you walk comfortably. It all starts
with the design; then comes the wood.
The guy at the wood place knows me well, we've been buying
most of our stuff there for close to 10 years. I remember
getting 15" wide 2"thick slabs of Honduran Mahogany 12
feet long there and those were just the ones I picked; there
were stacks. Good times. Ultimately though I need to feel
something between myself and the wood; it's hard to explain. But
beyond the visual, structural, and weight properties of a given
slab, there is some inner something there. I think of it as
vibration because, let's face it - it's ALL vibration - but
that's how it feels. I feel it. I even pick pieces I don't need
because they feel like the right ones. Something needs to happen
with this piece and I'm the guy to synch up its process of life
and change with our process of creation and transformation in
this moment... "...you're one, ok, in the van you go."
I don't ask questions. It's already some kind of instrument,
what of it isn't a guitar just hasn't been carved away yet. Ask
You can call that as nutty as you want, but look at what I
do for a living and the reputation these little basses have.
Then you tell me how nutty I am. They've been telling me that
since I first picked up a guitar. I do hope they love their
lives as much as I love mine. And those of you who tell me you
felt weird calling the mobile number, hey - it's there for you.
Anytime. You want a Birdsong or have a question on your build or
issue with one you have (even if you didn't get it from us),
call! This is what I do, this is who I am, this is what this
company is made of.
Thanks for checking in!
Shop Pics of
Oilus Handrubus Maximus
Our finishing rack is full so I'm about to be
final-assembling a bu-huuunch of instruments.
change with seasons
Devoted hands craft good tools;
Some trees sing again
First clue: 9th Anniversary bass...
More info on the unearthed "Bean" pre-Birdsong
Scott built guitar in
amazing condition is on
the inventory page.
Misc. Photo of The Week:
...and a beer was raised for Richie Havens.
April 19, 2013
Grateful Dead Steal Your Face vol. 1;
Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon; Leigh Stephens A
Rocket Down Falcon Street; John Coltrane Meditations.
Boston, your faraway son is with you.
I'm amazed anyone wants my opinion
on anything, but they do. And advice. I guess here and now,
creeping up through year nine (Birdsong's "Legit"
years... actually going on 13, and 16 in the guitbuilding
biz...) in a profession best measured in dog years, having
somehow accomplished what so many others did not for whatever
reason and by whatever stumbled-upon grace, I shouldn't be...
but I'm still me and I still am.
I get questions via phone & email on how to do it -
how to get something like a guitar company going.
So I WAS going to wax eloquently on a few guitars &
basses that profoundly affected my path, but I'll save that for
another time in hopes that this update can profoundly
affect yours. Whether it's basket weaving, pedicures or
building basses, let me lay rule number one on you. Chase the
You might not end up where you thought you'd be, but
you'll definitely be carried somewhere by the process. And if
you're sitting there thinking about how called you feel or how
much you just want to - one time - go after something, try to
make something big happen, well that might not be such a bad
If you ever have the chance or can carve out a way or
find the balls to start, DO IT. Just do it. Because that's half
of it, really and truly - having the balls to start. So
much of what you'll need to know will be self-evident as you
arrive at the various plateaus of the climb. I guess that's my
biggest and best advice for anyone - start from where you
are, and walk the steps toward where you want to be.
Along the way amazing things will happen, change your trajectory
a bit, and you - if you follow the path with right intent and
good heart, with steadfast courage and an unquenchable flame - will
end up somewhere.
Trust me. This wasn't planned out. I'm no genius. You're
just seeing what my strengths added up to, and I sure didn't -
and don't - do it alone. It all fell into place as I kept
walking towards where I wanted to be. So start. The journey
of a thousand miles begins with one step. Oh, and own a van.
There's little in life a van can't help with. My suggestion
there is an old Econoline with a 300 straight six, but that's a
different discussion. A dream, some balls, and a van... you're
going somewhere, I guarantee you.
I'll be away from this computer for the next week or so,
so no update next Friday. And the picture portion of THIS
update will happen over the weekend (done ~S.)... I'm
spent right now. But I'm spent deep in and down the road
of my little dream... and I thank you for your interest, your
time, and for those now in the family - your support. I hope
that little bass brought good things into your world! May it
serve as a seed of inspiration.
Be well, play nice, and dream big.
Shop pics of the week:
Jake performing an
early part in the fret dressing process on the jumbos in a
D'Aquila Espada guitar for Felipe Stiati of Enanitos Verdes.
D'Aquila are guitars we make along side the Birdsong basses and
SD Curlee instruments.
Another happy client seeing his new Cortobass for
the first time. We usually don't get to see this, so it's always
fun when a Birdsong is actually picked up here at the workshop.
It went with all our best wishes to you, Gary!
Goodness... this just in... in a meeting at the
best restaurant in town, which happens to be a breakfast taco
place at a gas station (I couldn't make this up), I received to
sell on consignment a pre-Birdsong Scott "Bean"
guitar! From 2000, when I started building in the corner of ol'
Uncle Johnny's shop. Unbelievable. Call for details
Archive pic of the week:
Scott samples an
early Sadhana, 2007.
The Sadhana is a model that's resting right now except for the
occasional special request like this:
We'll bring it back into the regular lineup at
some point I'm sure. They taste good.
Enanitos Verdes Tic Tac;
Chet Baker Sings It Could Happen To You;
Miles Davis Nefertiti;
Goo Goo Dolls Dizzy Up The Girl;
John Scofield Band Uberjam
Whoa-oh-oh, listen to the music...
Thanks everyone, the "Vacation bass" build has
sold! End of the month, the family is going down to the coast
for a few days. Not as far as the bass will be going when it's
So here is a list of some things that are musically making my
world rock at the moment.
1. Leigh Stephens
Anyone who knows my musical
path knows that a big part of it started with hearing Blue
Cheer's late '60s cover of Summertime Blues for the first time
in about 1982. Something about the frenzied fuzz & feedback
drenched guitar of Leigh Stephens leaves scorch marks on a young
mind, let me tell you. I was awakening to music but that sonic
psycho-delic sampling really shifted something. That was the
sound I had to make; little did I know it would make me
as I followed the thread into and through so many chapters of
musical involvement and evolution. And here I am. And here in
2013 Leigh is still making great music! Two guitars were used on
this album - one I built for him in 1998, the other I rewired.
And that, my friends, is quite a circle.
2. Los Enanitos Verdes
As reported last week, my friends in Los Enanitos Verdes
(you may not know them but anyone anywhere in the world where
Espanol is spoken has for 30 years and they absolutely rock)
have just released their latest album, Tic Tac, through iTunes.
It's the first album I've listened to using that and man, this
album is great. The boys are rocking AND rolling at the same
time, hitting on all 8, both barrels blazing, and a bunch of
other colloquialisms as well... great work! Marciano is a big
fan of Birdsong and has rocked the world with our basses. We're
honored to be a part of it all. Go to iTunes and check out the
album... favorite tunes so far are Cocktail & Badass.
Lest you think I'm somehow embracing the digital age any
more than required to listen to CDs, to master recordings, to
talk to YOU on my flip phone and to do this website... no. I
don't even text. I don't even own a CAR with a computer in it.
But I did get on this iTunes thing and my goodness! It sure
doesn't replace Rockit Records in Saugus, Second Coming in
Boston or Sundance in San Marcos... or going to see a band and
buying a CD from the merch table... but what amazing access to
an amazing quantity of music! Sure some of it's going to suck,
but weeding through it is going to be fun! Any
4. Lap Steels
What do I do for fun? I play with my old cars and... you'll
never guess... here it comes... big surprise... build musical
instruments in my spare time, in the homestead workshop that
used to house Birdsong. Hey once you find your calling, what all
you've been and seen and know adds up to, is there really time
to waste? Get after it! Get it all over you... and get YOU all
over it. I love lap steels and here's one I'm working on now of
Mesquite & Rosewood, complete with Buffalo nickel, Mercury
dime & pearl star inlays. I have my own ideas on what one of
these should sound like so they're definitely not the thin,
piercing ones. They're very full and rich sounding... this one
will have a real USA Paul Reed Smith pickup. Interested? Email
me directly for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org
("Steels" in the subject).
5. The Hondo Paul Dean II
Yes, I realize a boutique bass maker's love for such a thing
almost qualifies as an alternative lifestyle. It's a peculiar
little twist of fate and you're just going to have to be ok with
it. I love plunkin' on this thing and it screams. It's a pseudo-Strat
style with a Gibson scale, DiMarzios, and a Badass bridge. Not
what you'd call a huge Loverboy fan either, but balls to the
singer who - even in very heavy mid-life up to a few years ago -
could still rip that high note in "Turn Me Loose" now
and again. And major balls to Paul Dean for designing such a
cool guitar. Still think I'm nuttier than squirrel poop? Well I
have TWO of them, and I'd have 10 if I could find them.
There's so much more; it's all music to me and it's all
inspiring in its own way. Go get some on you. Thanks for being
Shop pics of the week:
Brady working on an old Epiphone jazz box
Jake wrapping his head around an 8-string Cortobass for a client
in the UK
This is what it looks like in a shop where it's "Game
Archive pics of the week:
2007 - Leigh's #2 guitar, a red Strat,
on the bench for a few little wiring
2005 - rough cut pieces of Cortobass
Red Cedar from an old house beam
Purpleheart & Maple stringers...
This went home to the client who is
getting the 8-string... and the last of
this odd wood is F36 was just pulled
from the rafters and started for
a client in Boston.
Soundtrack: Billie Holiday, Miles Davis Nefertiti,
Frank Sinatra In The Wee Small Hours, Jimi Hendrix Blues,
ZZ Top Rancho Texicano (Disc 1), John Coltrane
Meditations, Stephen Stills' 1st album.
In a world that has replaced real headlines with
screen gems like "Justin Beiber's monkey detained in
Germany" and whatever any half-informed fool wants to post
anywhere, here is some real news!
Our friend Marciano, Birdsong-playing bassist & singer
for Los Enanitos Verdes, let me know the new album is officially
out! "Tic Tac" is available on iTunes and is great
melodic rock - here is a
music video of the band's new single with Marciano playing
one of his "Marciano Especial" Cortobasses! Congrats
to the band from all of us at Birdsong. "Saludos,
In more news, there is a great deal to be had right here
- a really nice Walnut Birdsong at a 20% off price for paying it
in full - so I can take my wife on vacation down to the coast
for a week, get a nice cabin on the beach and recharge. We
haven't taken a vacation together in years... I'll build it any
way you want (though I have a Maple & Rosewood neck ready to
go, so it could be a fairly quick build) and cut you the deal of
Just reference the "Vacation bass" when you call
or email. Thanks!
And the news I'm sure you've all been waiting for...
It had been a while since I'd had good Chinese food, and it
evidently will be more of a while. But ladies and gents, the
experiment has taken place. A few weeks ago amidst my ramblings
about something or other that may loosely have been tied in with
the crafting of musical instruments, I tossed off a reference to
things that go together "...like Chinese food and Italian
red wine" as if I had any idea whether they went together
or not. I copped to this at the end of that update, but did say
I'd let you know.
Well after a little difficulty I did manage to make
something along those lines happen. Due to timing and
circumstance, the atmosphere was a little different than one
Right off the bat, it wasn't Chinese food - it was
Vietnamese. No, I'm sure not going to say some stupid comment
about it being the same, as anyone with the least bit of culture
knows it's not. However they are both far enough away
from peanut butter sandwiches and breakfast tacos to sub for
this little shindig. Let's also get out of the way that the
restaurant had the word "Dong" in its name. Go ahead,
I did. The wine? Well... ummm... it's not exactly Italian. But
it was made by a family named Gallo, and that sure as
heck isn't Swahili. So again, close enough.
These variations from specified protocol however, pale -
paaaale - in comparison to the previously mentioned lack of
appropriate atmosphere. It had to happen, and the now that was
then - that was the time. What did I just say? Oh heck with it
I'm on a roll. An egg roll! Ahahaha... ok enough. So I guess
what I'm getting at here is this - while a parking lot by the
highway and an engine cover of an '83 Econoline isn't exactly
five star dining, and the sun setting over the Dollar General
isn't quite dusk at Big Sur, this was not the first time in my
life I have offered grace in a parking lot and probably will not
be the last.
So? Let's cut to the chase - the wine seems to revolt
against the soy sauce in some sort of umami showdown in the
mouth. The flavors of the Buddha's Delight (which I could've sworn
remembering as a Chinese dish, but hey - it's all Greek to me)
and Gallo Cabernet are not, after all, a Divine pairing. The
food was alright, the wine was decent; but together? Meh. For
you wine snobs, it brought out charcoal and muselix with notes
of atonality and a finish of earthy sack. There you go.
Would it have been better with actual Chinese cuisine and
real Italian red? Would the flavors have blended if I had
chilled the wine? (Oh stop it, like I'm some rube. Red's better
that way and you know it!) Would I have kept eating if I hadn't
sporked through the styrofoam and noticed a pending sauce
incident? Well it's a mystery.
The fortune cookie said,"On attachment - the tighter
you squeeze, the less you have." I mean, maybe in an
overall sense but in the here and now? Tell that to my
toothpaste. I'm out of here.
Oh... and Justin Bieber? I've got your monkey right here,
Shop pic of the week:
Hot rodded Gibson for sale - $495
Details on the inventory page.
Archive pic of the week:
Intern DJ Goldstein showing a truly
amazing work ethic. Where is he now?
March 29, 2013
Soundtrack: Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Waylon
Jennings... The Ramones, Italian Classical guitar music, Bill
Laswell India-beat atmospheric stuff and Colonel Les Claypool's
Fearless Flying Frog Brigade.
Turn to face the strange ch-ch-changes...
Well the new issue of Bass Player is out... you'll see some
great articles including a rather slim bit on a favorite player
of mine, Billy Talbot of Crazy Horse (Best known as Neil Young's
backing band) - amazing such a meat & potatoes,
root-note-on-the-one basic player got in the mag to begin with.
Billy drilled the fundamentals of basic bar band bass into my
head while I learned to play by playing to Neil's albums. It was
a skeletal view that allowed me to see how these single big
notes hung onto the various drums which hit on certain beats and
provided a foundation and motion. Priceless. So kudos for even
giving him the time of day to BP; I bet they had to take the
paddles to Jeff Berlin.
And many thanks to BP for the ad space over the years -
through different editors, MANY different handlers of the
Birdsong account, and the slim years where the magazine looked
more and more like a leaflet one might find tucked under their
windshield wiper in a GC parking lot. It's better now and I hope
it continues to keep on keeping on. One thing you won't see this
month though, for the first time since oh, about 2004... is a
Birdsong ad. That's right, though it pains me to admit it and
I'm sad, print media is just about a nostalgia trip at this
So with a bittersweet resolve to steer the ship with my
best judgment and not necessarily the way I'd like to in a
reality that doesn't exist, we have abandoned the print ads and
will be producing videos and continuing with more online
presence. Our Facebook page and the old videos we have up on
YouTube are so much more effective... and fun... but the biggest
factor in all of this is how much we're talked about now having
been around for what - in small business terms - is a while.
Used to be I'd hear "I saw your ad in..." but I
don't hear that anymore. I hear "I found people talking
about you online and everyone that has one loves it!"
I hear that a lot. That means not only are we delivering the
goods, but YOU are delivering the word to the others and I can't
tell you how grateful I am for that. We've outlasted dozens of
other brands - probably all of whom started off better funded
and more business-ready than we were - and we continue to grow,
slowly and strong like a sturdy tree, in the face of all the ups
and downs of the last decade. So now it's more important than
ever for you - if you like what we do, if you "get"
what we do, and especially if you've got a Birdsong of
your own, please tell a few friends and tell 'em to do the same.
And get in touch if you're interested - I love answering
questions and it costs nothing to dream.
The new videos will be a whole new thing compared to the
old ones and we're working on getting that side of things
together - model demos, workshop bits, peeks of what we're
working on "behind the curtains" and I might even be
able to talk some bass and some music with the guys if they stop
chiseling and routing and oiling and wiring long enough. What's
amazing looking back at it all so far is that we're STILL a
three person shop. Admittedly we're a hell of a lot more honed
and each of us wears about three hats now, but you might be
looking at all of what's happening thinking "bet that's a
good sized crew..." uh-uh. Three guys. That's six hands on
and six balls to the wall, though sometimes I think Jake might
How do we do it? We refuse to compromise the quality of
our work, and while resisting most process adjustments that
would replace hand work with machines, we bust our asses. That's
what it really is - we work very hard. Efficient for a
hand-craft workshop, honed by hundreds and hundreds of builds,
spinning at a very high level having built to this over so many
years... but it all comes down to hands, hours, and sweat. I
needed to say this because someone emailed and wanted to
"...come see the plant." My friend, the only plant
you'll see in here is the sage I burn for atmosphere now and
then. The only factory here is the OL-factory; you walk in and
smell wood, oil, sweat, and the occasional rubber drive belt in
a tool giving it up. We make things here; it's a workshop.
And WORK to me means more that what I might do as my
job... it has greater connotations to it than the selling of
time. Work is what you SPEND yourself in the process of doing.
And to be doing that doing this for you is
an honor and a privilege. We help make the music happen - thank
you for being a part of our song.
Archive pic of the week:
Cortobass #102 was one of the wildest
pieces of Walnut ever... and we packed the cracks with
Turquoise! Was it 2008? This wood reminds me of Birdsong #1. Not
Cortobass #001 from 2004 when we went legit, but the actual
first instrument with a feather woodburned into the headstock
and called Birdsong. It was a guitar, a gift for an artist I
felt indebted to. If I can find pictures of it, I'll post them.
But wild Walnut of this caliber doesn't come around too
March 22, 2013
The Grateful Dead Blues For Allah; Jerry Cantrell Boggy
Depot; BB King Live At The Regal.
Changes, change is...
As one who finds his "A" game well within
the boundaries of moderation, I regret to inform you of a delay
in the whole Chinese food - red Italian wine experiment
mentioned in last week's news update. I completely used up my
limited gluttony exemption this week on (oh, surprise...) pizza
and beer. Mid-week no less! It was just what I needed and there
was no point in denying it. As for finding a stereotypical
Chinese restaurant in this area of Texas that -
non-stereotypically - serves Italian wine, well now that's
a river we'll have to cross when we get there. There's got to be
one somewhere; I cannot be the only one with a yen for it. (Oh
come on, that was great...)
"You know what this is?"
He's picking at the edge of a tire rut in the dried mud with a
stick. It's a long stick. He doesn't bend so good anymore. Well
that's not true - just some miles on him, that's all, and it's
not the getting down it's the getting back up, the straightening
again - that's the difficult part.
"Come on Scott, you've been around long enough to know what
I'm standing in a junkyard out in rural Texas with the owner.
For better or worse, he doesn't own the land, and this area
isn't as rural as it used to be, and the days of being able to
pick up old '60s and '70s cars for parts on this scale has faded. Most of
what's left out here are big bent car-shaped chunks of nothin'
held together by rust.
They were someone's dream once, and
others' lucky finds for what they needed to fix up different
dreams later. Now that pasture is acreage and that steel is
worth more as scrap.
So now it's not really a junkyard anymore - or an "Auto
Recycling Facility" as the new ones are called, with front
counters and locked fences - and now most of these heaps aren't
I see it now, it's a genuine pull-tab bracelet. I mean old pull
tabs, like from the '70s. During some stripped old Chrysler's last
hoist towards the crusher, or pulling the back seat frame
out of a dented Charger, or maybe it was around that rusty
yellow Mustang's mirror when it had a windshield; this snapshot
- this moment in time - found its resting place. Then it became
something different - an artifact to be dug up years later with
a long stick from a newly cleared spot of land that itself will
become something else in the years to come. All with stories
than can only be imagined and tomorrows yet to become.
We forge ahead musically but every now and then you play
"Come Together" or "Blue Eyes Crying In The
Rain" or "Take Five" or "Mama Kin" and
it takes you back. I drive old cars because I prefer machines to
computers; I drive these particular old cars because they
connect me with the dots of my life. Why are you playing that
old Beatle bass? Why are you piecing that old Tele back
together? I get it, I do understand. Ahhh, you want an old
Mustang that handles like a sports car, goes like a dragster and
is crafted like a Rolls-Royce? This I understand very well
building these handmade bass guitars. Luthiery, guitar design,
these are evolutions and becomings. What was already was; we fix
and craft and carve what it all is to become. These are our
links in those chains - our moment in your music and life and
"...seven tabs, and look it's got a safety pin on the end.
Some ol' gal got this out on a date or somethin'." His
callused fingers pick the dirt out and he unkinks one link, then
another, then another. "I'm gonna give this to yeh to give
t'your wife." She deserves it; those old cars come home a
lot like more basses do. Some nicer than others, many not really needed
per se, some on different ends of the spectrum but they all
follow you home and one day, well, "...here's another
one baby, isn't it beautiful?"
Yeah, it is.
Life's gonna bend. It's the straightening out again that can be
the hard part. As bittersweet as what's gone is, may the downed
trees in your world become beautiful instruments... and the junkyards of your life turn to new Chevrolets.
Shop pics of the week:
Brady carves a Walnut
& Maple Embrace ~
that character in the neck is just cosmetic.
We like natural stuff like that, especially
on these organic little jewels!
"No more pizza
this week, Daddy?"
Some beautiful Walnut;
some see lumber,
I see a bass. I forget who, but a sculptor
once asked how he did it replied he just
chipped away everything that didn't look
like what he was sculpting... as if it was
already in the granite.
In inventory: Used
that's been played FULL of mojo and
sounds fantastic! Ash & Rosewood.
Archive pic of the week:
Before & after ~ Cortobass
The Rolling Stones Out Of Our Heads;
Mudhoney My Brother The Cow;
Bruce Springsteen Born To Run
Fusion is the spice of life...
This is a mix 'n match world. We try in vain to fit it all
into one category, under one label, so we don't have to think. If you can do that I don't
necessarily think it's because life is that simple... it might be
that you're that simple. But the rest of us of all stripes and
leanings are piecing it together from a broad palette of
colors and flavors, options and combos as we go waltzing down
the neon buffet line of this life... fusion. The merging of
different elements into a union.
Sometimes fusion is not a great thing. There is what I
refer to as the El Camino principle, where you end up with a car
that won't hold people and has no trunk and a truck that has no
ground clearance and won't haul heavy loads... at the same time.
Now they're cool vehicles and I'd drive the whee out of one. But
what started as a great car and a great truck is now neither.
Other times it is a glorious thing, like Chinese food and
Italian red wine, or a sweet driving hot rod pickup. You have a
couple of diverse influences and you go for it. You mix it up in
search of the proverbial That Greater Than Its Parts. Sometimes
you get Born To Run or a Willie Nelson 4th of July picnic, or
Rage Against The Machine. Other times you get Vanilla Ice. A
bait & taco shop. The Osbourne kids.
Our Fusion is a fusion of wild 'n mild, of class and edge,
of the voice in the wood and electric glory.
Here are two recent examples of the Fusion. One mild
standard in Walnut & Ebony...
one wild two pickup "Double Fusion" in
wormy Chestnut & Bloodwood!
Either way or somewhere
in-between, built in is lots and lots of hand-craft mojo.
It's a bass you get when you're ready for it and it calls to you
in ways all the others don't. There's nothing like it. The
Fusion was being born on paper and in parts at the original
workshop back in about '06 when - as has happened a number of
times along the way - in comes a call from someone looking for
exactly what we have in parts and pieces on the table in front
of us. You don't argue with stuff like that.
Like everything else Birdsong and Hy5, the Fusion started as
the Cortobass. That's THE basic template we work off of because
it fit and it balanced and it rocked my world visually and
tonally. So what other flavors can we lean this basic all-around
design towards? That was the next question, "Where else can
we go with this?" Well there was the Sadhana,
a Cortobass that looked like a Ferrari (and a model now taking a
break since we can only devote to so many ~ but you can still
order one and it'll be back in some form formally maybe next
year). For looks, I wanted a "fusion" of that
and the Cortobass. Something different but not quite so swoopy
& far out. Tonally I wanted a "fusion" of big
upright and electric bass, something you could play anything on
but leaned more towards the jazzy, bluesy and
acoustic-accompaniment areas I found myself in most of the time.
Visually then, I wanted a "fusion" of electric
bass and jazz guitar, with a wood "pickguard" looking
control plate and luxurious appontments; and a
"fusion" of the way it sounded and looked. As strange
as it may sound to someone who is not me, I wanted it to look
just like it sounded. That was years and a few famous moments
...and though I love them all, here in 2013 the Fusion is
without a doubt still my personal favorite bass. As a player who
brings my sound to whatever I do, THIS is my sound. The pickup?
A weird selection the company I get 'em from has to make for me
because nobody else uses them. Then I use it completely
differently than it was designed, wiring it differently,
installing it differently, and putting it in a wood cover. Don't
ask; what it is gives you no hint of what this bass sounds like.
My Morning Jacket
It's the ultimate hot rod - one you can drive every day,
that's comfortable with air conditioning and plush seats, that
lights your fire and is obviously custom but all goes together,
and works, as a whole. More than just a bunch of parts. Nothing
leaks, no weird fitting hood, and yes that's real Walnut on the
dashboard thank you. Docs & dentists hang their diplomas,
I'll hang my experience. 30 years, thousands played, hundreds
and hundreds built, dozens owned personally. There's nothing
like a Birdsong Fusion.
Here's one just in on consignment -
check the inventory page!
By the way I made that bit about the Chinese food &
Italian wine up; I have no idea how that goes together. But I'll
tell you this - it's Friday night and I just may have to test it
out! I mean really, how can you go wrong?
Next week: Chinese food & Italian wine - magic or myth?
Shop pics of the week:
Very cool little wild Mesquite
two humbucker one-off build
available now in inventory!
Got the gluin' goin' on!
Nice pair? ("Thanks!")
A double order custom Fusion and
D'Aquila Espada guitar of Rosewood
and Maple on Spanish Cedar. Wow.
Archive pic of the week:
A 2003 picture of a 1999 bass - this
became the Cortobass by 2004, and awaaaay we went! I still have
this bass hanging on the wall.
Random pics of the week:
Rebuilding of Ace Hardware in Wimberley, TX begins...
The only thing better than one...
March 8, 2013
Soundtrack: Lots of Ten Years After
As with any loss we can't help but mourn yet choose
to celebrate the life. Alvin Lee, mostly known as the wild-ass
screaming guitarist and frontman for the iconic '60s-'70s band
Ten Years After, has passed. He was a formative influence on me
as a young player and I loved the groovin' riffs and adventurous
music of the band. They went through phases; the blues/jazz
proto-jam-bandisms of Undead, the bluesy psychadelia of Ssssh,
the blend of acoustic and electric on A Space In Time. But
through those and all the other Ten Years After albums, and
anything Alvin ever did, whether up front or just below the
surface was that groove, a bluesy single-note riffy guitar
thing... and sonic explosions that came out of nowhere.
I first saw that band in the Woodstock movie. A rather
tweaked-looking Alvin tore the hell out of his guitar, screamed
"I'm Going Home" over and over again, and the band
sounded like it could drive a skateboard through a brick wall.
That movie was a huge education for me... yes, musically too. In
fact I'd say mostly musically. But the frenetic energy of Ten
Years After was a - pardon the pun - high point. From then on,
I'd buy the LPs as I found them and they - and he - became a
part of the musical fabric, the sonic tapestry, of my life. A
major part of its soundtrack. There were better songs and far
less tossed-off space-filling lyrics than that one but it
defines the band to me.
As a player I got a whole bag of tricks from Alvin Lee, and
TYA was on the list of bands I never got to see that I held
closely as proof I really was born in the wrong decade. Then
they all started reforming for reunion tours... Grand Funk,
Sabbath, and a few years later I even got to see Blue Cheer with
Leigh Stephens playing one of my guitars... but that's another
In the late '90s I got to go see Ten Years After and they
killed. They absolutely rocked it. (Hey TJ you out there?) I knew going I had to bring
something to Alvin, so I grabbed one of my early guitars I
thought he'd dig, wrote him a letter, and off we went. The venue
guy wouldn't let me near Alvin before the show, and he left the
place right afterward. But I did get to the road manager and
said "Here, give this to Alvin Lee with my thanks."
And the answering machine message at the shop the next morning
was quite a thrill. I heard from folks through the years that he
still had & enjoyed the guitar... it feels good to have
given something back a little more meaningful than just another
Because in my life
Ten Years After has never been just
another band and Alvin Lee has never been just another guitar
player. My favorite pieces of TYA are the A Space In Time
album, Recorded Live, Ssssh, and this
video - rough edges and all. So now I will go sit on the
porch of a little cabin in the woods, in the late afternoon
rain, with Ten Years After on the old record player, and hoist a
little red wine to a wild-ass guitar player whose music helped
guide me home.
Next week... a tale of two Fusions...
Pics of the week:
Time, you are a bitch.
But it's hard to stay sad at passings
in a world of new births...
Proud Papa, luthier Jake Goede!
Archive pics of the week:
In the Summer of 2008 we made a few
Cortobasses of Mahogany & Maple like
this - the "Summertime Specials."
And from 2006, Sadhana #12 of Maple & Walnut.
Soundtrack: Black Crowes Lions; Peter Gabriel
Shaking The Tree; Bob Dylan Bringing It All Back Home;
New Riders Of The Purple Sage.
Sailing into Springtime...
Here in the Perpetual Spring I
try to maintain my life to be, being in a constant state of
creativity and craft with all the instruments coming together at
any time and all the writing and home recording I do in the
other hours... there are those occasional seeds that simply
don't take. So with only a few days to go and at about 10% of
the goal, I'm laying the Econoline Dreams CD Kickstarter deal to
rest. I've tucked away those who got on board ~ I thank you so
much and just the offer will get you all something... at some
point this project will happen. None of you will be asked for
your pledges; at Kickstarter if the goal isn't reached, nothing
happens. But behind the curtains of my life "Nothing"
happening is pretty unusual; so I'll figure out how to make it
happen. I'm much better at that than fundraisers anyway.
Speaking of which...
Wife & co-pilot emeritus Jamie and I would like to
take a Springtime vacation down to the coast for a week, and I'm
going to make it happen. So here - in the tradition of the Fix
Joe The Truck bass and others over the years since we began
measuring life in Cortobasses - is the "Give Scott &
Jamie a Vacation Bass!" Jamie and I started Birdsong in
2004 and while she eventually went back for a Masters degree and
currently is a career counselor at Texas State, none of this
would have happened without her. She dug into a very sparse life
and a very big dream with me while I grew into Captain Of The
Ship material. This bass represents the dream as it is today ~
over 500 instruments in, The Little Shop That Could, one majorly
big badass of a little bass with everything we've learned built
in. The Walnut is patiently waiting to speak... then it goes
home to you.
Ok, have a great weekend everybody and as always thanks
for being aboard. Please remain fastened securely in your seats
until the room comes to a complete stop...
Shop pics of the week:
Jake experiencing what we've come to refer
to as the "Porter Cable Meltdown"... sorry, but if
you're going to market a tool that
looks like an army tank, maybe think about putting some
strong parts in it... the only reason we've
had 5 is they don't usually last out the exchange
Archive pics of the week:
Though officially started in 2004
as a company, I built the first Birdsongs starting in 2000 in
the corner of this workshop - this was our friend Uncle
Johnny's. Taken down & hauled to the homestead in 2007, we
then rebuilt it with some friends. I'm sitting in it typing this
Assembly in 2007
Cortobasses and a very rare Birdsong guitar.
Yours truly in one of the most absurd moments we captured. This
was 2005 and when I saw that tree crotch, I immediately pictured
2 things - a flying V guitar out of the useable part, and...
Yep, it happened.
(Nope, you can't unsee it.)
Soundtrack: some Lionel Hampton, Sweet Smoke Just a Poke,
Grateful Dead, and Malaguena - a great CD of Spanish
guitar music, which is some of my favorite music to luthier
Morning Maniac Music...
Life is good, friends and familia, life is very good. I
sometimes wish I could split off amoeba-like into two so as to
spread the load a wee bit but in general you'll never hear me
complain about too much good stuff to do. It's just a
matter of fitting it all in...
I was in the middle of the update last night, selecting
& resizing current build pictures for the client/current
builds page and whammo - it was nap o'clock. And given the day
and a half I manage to squeeze into every day in shifts due to
taking advantage of my natural randomness, when it does become
nap o'clock it becomes it as though the engine room calls and
says "Captain, I forgot to tell you a half hour ago but I
cut all power to breezcruff the warp drive and we've been moving
on inertia and we've got about two minutes to find a dock."
Thanks for the update, engine room.
So it's a beautiful Saturday morning about 6AM - hey,
that's a band isn't it. I remember Nikki Sixx, I was buying
albums in '83. That dude is an archetype - to this day there are
a bunch of bass players in rock bands that look just like him.
Back in the day you could pick a guy out of a crowd as a bass
player in a rock band... he looked like Nikki Sixx. How about a
Spiky sons of Sixx
Painted and all leathered black;
What a pointy bass you have.
Well there you go, you never quite know what to expect do
you? No, neither do I. While making the sawdust fly in the
homestead workshop (call it "Birdsong North") the
other afternoon I heard an NPR story on country music stars Kelly
Willis and Bruce Robison who funded
their new album together... through Kickstarter. Over $44,000 in
donations. Well donations isn't the term I'd use since there are
premiums & cool stuff offered in return, that's why
Kickstarter is great for ummm...
independent art. But 44Gs... two already successful
career writers and performers... one album. Good on them I
guess. Heck, I'm only looking to raise 5 to put out a 2CD
set because I just can't swing it myself the way I think this
one aughta be swung...
Check out the description here and if you feel like
kicking in, I'll make damn sure you get your money's worth. If
that doesn't work, maybe I'll start a fundraiser to build myself
a bass... oh wait, wait... that might just be something I have the
tools to make happen myself...
(Sarcasm mode turned off - I seriously have no ill will at the Country Couple, I'm just busting
their balls a little... "Hey could you move that tour bus?
It's blocking the view of the crafts tent...")
The workshop was crankin' this week, lots of work on lots
of basses for Birdsong and our other endeavors with the Hy5
5-strings and the SD
Curlee instruments. Jake is gearing up to build more
guitars of his own in 2013 - which are always magical -
and Brady Muckelroy
continues to work up new and exciting basses of his own for
clients and inventory - he has some available. Being as we all
are truly independent artists your support is always
appreciated and whether it's a Birdsong, SD Curlee, Hy5, a
guitar by D'Aquila
or JG Guitar Works, a Muckelroy bass, or anything else our
various "Captain Manyhands" here in the shop all come
up with to carve and create for you... we work extra hard to
make sure that whatever you get feels like an absolute bargain.
That goes for a $25 CD kick-in and that goes for a $2500+
And lastly, since it is this morning and not yesterday,
in the "Makes any problems I've got seem like tiny
pebbles" dept., I'll share the news that last night our
little town of Wimberley lost its Ace hardware store in a huge
fire. Just about every drop of the wood finishing oils we've
blended & rubbed on every Birdsong since 2004 (and anything
I built before that from 2000) came from this store. They were a
big fish in our little town - especially in the years past when
Wimberley was a lot smaller than it is now - but always an asset, filled with smiling
faces you knew. Think of it like the Post Office but with
hardware and supplies, and that's what it was. A landmark, a
place you visit with your neighbors, and a happy spot. The only
injuries I'm aware of are in the hearts of our little town this
morning. I will keep the good memories close and all those
affected in my thoughts.
Shop pics of the week:
Ahhh, the new fives!
Rosewood, Maple & Spanish Cedar...
Help make it happen...
it out here
Archive pics of the week:
The "Museum" in the
original shop - prototypes and early stuff 1997-2004. That
Cortobass on the left is #001 - it launched us. (#002,
the first one sold, is back in on consignment for sale!)
Scott, Lyzz, Jamie, Wyatt.
We did it.
Wouldjya look at this
Quick notes from Mission Control
Soundtrack: Beck Guero; Dinosaur Jr. Beyond;
Malaguena Spanish guitar music compilation; Soul
Coughing Irresistible Bliss; T.J. Kirk If Four Was
One; Rhythm Of Black Lines Set a Summary Table; The
Ramones Rocket To Russia. (No, the irony is not lost on me -
it was still in the player when I heard about the meteor - our
thoughts are with all affected.)
||The one and only
prototype Eaglet is ready to fly the nest! It's
ready for you to tell me "Roundwounds or
flats" and is only a string-and-setup away from
heading home to you. Alder body, Maple neck with
Rosewood fretboard, black hardware and cream control
plate. Super light, will be a fantastic, earthy, woody
sounding bass with rounds and a wonderful jazz, blues or
acoustic accompanying bass with flats.
@ $1395 on the inventory
little spin-off kind of like when you prune a garden
plant and seed it into a second bed, is humming along
just fine. Here's a client's "5.two", a
two-pickup model. There is a one-pickup Spanish Cedar
and a 2-pickup Mahogany coming together and available.
Check it out at www.hy5basses.com
& contact us for details.
Kickstarter album campaign is happening, with a
long way to go! Help this album happen like it could
with a little scratch behind it and you get special
perks. It's a give and get to help out
with this. Check it out here:
Thanks so much!
I did it all for the
|Been such a
busy week there's not much left for a big update. But
check out this stuff, the client page, and have a great
Stick a fork in me, I'm done...
Mobile (anytime): 512.395.5126
Shop pic of the week:
Sharp looking pair of instruments ~
a Birdsong Fusion set neck bass
and a D'Aquila Espada
both Rosewood on Maple tops
on Spanish Cedar bodies! They'll
look amazing when rounded
over and carved...
Archive pic of the week:
Goodness! Assembly in 2007 in
the original workshop... left to right:
The "2-tone" Cortobass
A custom of some sort
Spalted Pecan Sadhana
Soundtrack: Jerry Cantrell Boggy Depot; lots
of Count Basie; John Coltrane Complete Village Vanguard
Recordings; Johnny Cash Live at Madison Square Garden;
Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti.
Stick-to-it-iveness makes all the difference.
Well my friends and compadres, the big moment is here...
yesterday I launched the Kickstarter campaign to fund production of my new CD "Econoline Dreams" ~ it's pure road music, written AND recorded on this past Holiday road trip in an old Ford Econoline.
The van has a story, and the album is many stories... I would love to master the acoustic CD up nicely and then go into the studio to bang out an electric version, making it a 2CD set. The campaign is to cover recording, production and duplication costs... yes, this will be an actual CD release with artwork and everything! And I'm offering SPECIAL stuff to help-outs of $25 and up... but any amount is
much appreciated. Econoline Dreams... check out all the details here:
~ and thanks so much!
Aaah, the drive to the workshop, this morning's hood was
that of Joe the Truck. I'm so happy to be driving my old friend
a couple of times a week again. I wish there was a soundtrack
for this picture for you...
...but there isn't, so I'll just share one of the views
from the morning drive.
In shop news, big news today as Brady of Muckelroy
Basses (and Birdsong, and SD Curlee) glued his left hand
to a bass body wing. I mean I encouraged him to put a little of
himself into every build but this might be carrying that a bit
far. "Oh, it appears I've glued my hand to this
board." Stuff like this happens in a workshop; you glue
your fingers together accidentally, you sneeze out into the dust
mask, the dust bag on the table sander comes untucked and whaps
you in the nutsack. FWAP! But a full hand... that's something
you celebrate. And we did, taking pictures and offering witty
cracks as he acetoned and feeler gauged his fingers free once
Goofy workshop stuff. I mean, I used to begin drooling
uncontrollably around Spanish Cedar.
"(Stth) are you working (stth) with Spanish Cedar
over there (stth)?"
But now it's not that bad anymore. That was pretty funny, I'd be
dressing out the soapbar pickup routs on a Spanish Cedar Hy5 and
trying to talk to a client and not salivate everywhere or make
bizarre sucking noises every 15 seconds.
You do give of yourself as a craftsman. Some of the stuff
you laugh at now, and other things... you maybe don't laugh so
much at down the road. But you do what it takes; you're
entrusted with the creation of something, the manifestation of
something. Woods. Dust. Oils. Noise. Spinning blades. Splinters.
Solder. And your choice is to make it happen or go home. A true
craftsperson makes it happen. It's a small fractal example of
what we do in a larger picture, trying to fit it in our lives -
and our lives in around it. Fitting things where they need to
If it takes a hundred strokes, you give a hundred
strokes. If it takes two hundred, you give two. Whatever it
takes. Whenever it's required. You suck it up and laugh it off.
It's a blessing, but you pay for the honor. Sorry honey, this
update's going to take 'til 10 tonight. Brady's fingers are
plasticized. Jake has sawdust all up in his brain by now. But
you know, if your choice is to reach the shore or not, and this
is the oar been handed to you, well that makes it pretty clear
what needs to happen! You grab that oar and row like it's the
most important thing in the world.
And through it all you remind yourself that some days
you're the glued; but others, you're the glue.
I hope your weekend is
this peaceful... even just in moments.
Shop pics of the week:
Careful handwork separates the work
of the professional... sometimes however
the hand of the professional must be
carefully separated from his work!
Archive pics of the week:
Cortobass #11, 2005 ~ that
workbench holds my computer. I'm
leaning on it right now as I type.
Group shot of clients, friends and
helping hands ~ Birdsong Gathering.
~ 2007 ~
Anyone up for a 10th Anniversary
party in July of 2014 in San Marcos, TX?
Soundtrack: Jerry Cantrell Boggy Depot; Jazz
For a Rainy Day (compilation); Rolling Stones 40 Licks
(Disc1); The Fixx Reach The Beach; Augustus Pablo Original
Rockers (best dub reggae ever, and a gift from a client who roooocks.
If you'd like to roooock send me some music!)
Ahhh the road "...to there from here."
It is taken step by step, mile by mile, no matter how we
think we want to get there. It is a climb; a journey. In some
cases more of a trip. You try to make yourself into better soil
and let the good seeds take. You seek out those good seeds and
plant 'em in the light. There are times that prevailing winds
blow unexpected shade over your garden; I've been there.
But you know, you do what you have to and walk to more solid
ground. Along the way you become that more solid ground. Then
you place your garden where it won't wash away; then you build
your dream where it won't fall over quite so easily. Challenges
and circumstance will be "there" too... but those
sumbiches are gonna have to work overtime to topple something
with a good foundation, and they'll move along to easier
(Anytime the word "Sumbich" is used on this site,
this picture is posted. It's policy.)
I've been the starving artist, the dreamer against all odds.
I've also delivered pizzas, stocked shelves, pumped gas, painted
houses, roofed, swept floors, washed dishes, cleaned toilets.
Whatever it took - sometimes very grudgingly I admit it - but
whatever it took to get forward to the next clearing in the
forest where another attempt could be made.
I've never laid my head on concrete but I did on dirt, and have
parked many times by those who have. I never dreamed I'd have an
impact but I knew all the hurlings of myself against the
seemingly immovable in the moment and all the kicking against
the pricks (hey, it's a Biblical term, settle down) would move
something somehow someday.
||The first new-style Hy5
is available over at www.hy5basses.com
- well it's the first available; we're still
building "the first", it's a more complex
order. But this simple, lightweight Spanish Cedar 5.1 is
on the home stretch in assembly and ready to be claimed.
||And the big news
over at www.sdcurleeusa.com,
we have acquired a lot of NOS (that's "New Old
Stock", hard to find old parts never used just
sitting in boxes) parts, components, instruments in
various states, and much more - lot as in "big
@#$%load of stuff" - stored since the closing of
the original Illinois shop in 1982. Don't ask, there's
only so much I can tell. But details and pictures have
been going up at the SD Curlee site and will continue to
as it all gets unpacked and sorted.
Here at Birdsong, it's balls out (as
they say)... we're burning rubber into 2013, baby. These are the
glory days. The basses coming together are the best ever, I've
never felt better in my life, Jake is a honed blade and Brady
has a seemingly inexhaustible internal supply of gifts and
talents. For a three man shop we are kicking butt and taking
names - simultaneously. Sure it'd be easier with a CNC machine
and a few button-pushers and put-ons. But that's not who we are
and it's not what we do. We MAKE things. And in 2013 if you want
a Birdsong, you call me - I still handle all the sales and bass-talkin'
personally - and we will craft you a lifetime instrument with
our blood & sweat. That's what we do. If you're not out
there running circles around who you used to be, why even get
up? Why bother? That wave comes with your name on it, you get on
it and ride that thing!
Of course in the process of all of this, sometimes I run circles
around myself NOW... this latest album project is a great
example. It takes so many steps to get a www.kickstarter.com
thing going, and my world moves so fast since it's basically a
perpetual double shift (another "challenge" turned
tool - in fact it's 3:12 AM as I write this), the project itself
moves faster than the description and details in the outline on
Kickstarter can keep up. So I've still got about a week's worth
of details to revise and a couple more Ts to dot and Is to
cross. And by then the acoustic stuff will be mixed. It's
coming. It's coming with or without anyone's help or Kickstarter
or whatever it is I have to work around. But I've also learned
when it comes to artistic endeavors, every now and then it's
nice to not have to struggle so hard; to just be able to
concentrate on making the best, truest art you can; to let it
and feel it flow like so much water through you and be able to
hold the oil of the ticking clock and finances at arm's length
long enough for more pure magic to happen.
So sure, it's going to happen anyway... but it'll be a lot more
fun for everyone to have a gathering in the garden, reap a
bigger harvest, and send everyone home with some special
veggies! NEXT WEEK I'll have FULL details... "Whoa, I done
run out of week..." A week or two is no matter. If I'm on
it it's going to happen; it's not an if - just a when!
And that's what a hard road brings you down the road.
That's what the struggle blesses you with. Strength, focus, and
endurance. Sometimes the wisdom to regroup to take another run
at it; I've had to do that also. But that's not stopping. That's
part of the climb. You do it or die trying, but dying is a last
resort when it's not necessary, and a detour often instead - in
hindsight - was the best thing that ever happened, giving you
that last magic pick for the lock. I believe the modern term is
"recalculating". Whether it's a band, a day on the
job, a month on the road, a guitar company - or one guitar, one
song, one gig. One step, one moment. You walk the
"here" to the "there"; you don't just
park and hope it finds you. If I've got a shovel, you've got a
hole in process. If I've got a guitar, you've got a song. If
I've got a chisel, you've got a bass happening. And if you're a
prick, well you've got something coming too! That's how life
works - now it's time for a glass of red wine.
Have a great weekend everyone! Call me with any questions.
Shop pics of the week:
Aftermath of some serious neck carving!
Archive pics of the week:
These are from early 2008:
The original Electric Jazz Guitar
what this evolved into is made by us, under
the D'Aquila name. www.daquilaguitars.com.
It's one of my favorite things in the whole world.
Jake & Jamie in the green
Paul from Georgia visits the
SPEAKING OF JAKE
He makes great guitars and
this wildly carved piece of Walnut is in assembly right now as a
single pickup rocker. Contact me for details!
Soundtrack: John Scofield Time On My Hands; Chet
Baker Sings It Could Happen To You; Grateful Dead Europe
'72 Vol. 2; Miles Davis Kind Of Blue; Led Zeppelin
Music is being made.
New client build pictures can be seen here...
Four happening builds just up and available now in Inventory
Our sister company SD Curlee USA got a new website - after
you're done here go
check it out!
And also see how our spinoff Hy5basses
is coming along.
More than the instruments; music is everywhere
The Song Of Joe
At full wail, steady cruise or rumbling at idle, the sound
of a big-cammed, Holleyed & headered American V8 is - to one
with the blood of a hot rodder - sweet, sweet music. Especially
when it is coming from an old friend and faithful servant given
a new lease on life. Many of you have been on this ride with us
for years, so you'll remember a particularly ill-fated voyage to
pick up a load of guitar making wood last Spring in which one
beloved old 1974 Dodge pickup named Joe... well, parts came
undone in the engine where parts should be all connected and
spinning harmoniously. This after over a decade of hard work in
my hands - workshop moves, homestead building, you name it. So a
special bass was made and sold specifically to fund his fixing.
This week he rejoined us... and with a little extra attitude he
never had. Welcome home, Joe The Truck!
The Songs Of Scott
In my continuing effort to completely spend myself as a tool
of creation until I just pitch off the shop stool one day a
spent, empty shell, I wrote and recorded an album along the
2,475 mile Holiday road trip. I packed some trusty old recording
gear and a full albums worth of songs was recorded bare-bones
acoustic-style in the van in truck stops & parking lots and
in room 300 of a Best Western in Gulfport, Mississippi. You Ford
fans will get the coincidence in that, this van being a six, and
the rest of you can also groove on the fact it was recorded in
Mississippi. Well, it went even better than I thought; magic
happened; the Muse was with me. I have the acoustic album almost
mixed but I want to go into the studio and bang out an electric
version for a 2CD set called Econoline Dreams. That, mastering,
and CD printing & production cost what I don't have. I can
play everything though, and I will by next week have a Kickstarter
campaign to gather the funds and reward the funders with special
stuff... more details next week. For those of you who are
unfamiliar with Kickstarter, check it out - people who feel art
is of a value worth helping to make happen can do so themselves
directly, very safely & within any budget at all... strength
The Song Of Celebration
It's amazing to think but Birdsong is in our 9th year. It
only seems real when I think of who has come and gone in that
time, and then I add up the models' serial numbers and say
"Uhh... wow." Well usually the Anniversary basses are
a secret until July 4th... and I thought about telling you but
then I decided not to. I can tell you they'll be bad to the
bone, though... I'll drop some clever hints as the Spring
blossoms... speaking of which...
The Song Of Spring
I know, I know... it's way too early in the year and most of
you are freezing your privates off. Here in southern central
Texas we've had great weather - a sunset blue zone nap on the
porch with Chet Baker playing and nights in a row sleeping with
the windows open definitely gets one feeling good. And that's
what I want to share with you; believe me we pay for the mild
Winters come August. But Spring is a rebirth and I try to
embrace that in all areas of my life; a reaffirming of
priorities and path, a reconnection with purpose, a reawakening
of that sunrise that happens inside every morning we have the
opportunity to wake up. I'm getting a head start on it this
Evidently, I'm not alone.
I hope your day is filled with music of all kinds...
...and off into the weekend we go. Be safe & have fun!
Shop pic of the week:
Neck blanks of hard Maple... as you
read this the group is becoming
"Batch 1" with - coincidentally
enough - "Batch 2" to follow!
Archive pics of the week:
Uncle Johnny, friend and mentor,
pickin' in 2006. Very much missed.
2004 - the first days setting up the first
workshop. It's a big picture; it's a small
shop with borrowed tools. Start from
wherever you gotta start and dream
big. Believe it. Then get to work...
Cortobass #102 in finishing...
Wild Walnut w/Turquoise (2007)
What a piece of wood! I have one
a little darker but almost as wild...
Legendary guitar blaster
Leigh Stephens, original guitarist
of Blue Cheer, jamming at a much
more recent ('07) gig in San Francisco
with a Strat I worked over, and a
Birdsong cap! Leigh has one of
my first guitars. BIG influence...
(Added some more pics to the gallery I
found while finding these, too...)
Soundtrack: Fu Manchu The Action Is Go; Ennio
Morricone Film Music Vol. 1; Levon Helm Dirt Farmer; Eels
Third has been powershifted.
Four bass body blanks in Inventory -
pick one and start your build! Also in Inventory is another
pre-owned consignment bass, right in there next to #002 from
2004 which is still available despite the Holiday nibbles.
That's THE piece of Birdsong history to have as we truck on
towards our 10th year and beyond... but check out what just
arrived from a client who mostly plays his other Birdsongs...
Embraces are coming together, here are some pictures...
Brady, shown here, who among other things around here does a
bunch with the Embrace series, also has his own line of basses -
Muckelroy Basses. Well he just came out with a little 32"
scale gem called the Charger32 and if you're in the market for a
short or medium scale high-end bass with superb active
electronics (You won't hear me say that very often! But you do
hear me talk about ol' Goldenears and he has his own preamp
in here), you have to go
check this out.
Over at Hy5basses.com the
photo basses of the new line are coming together... there's an
old business saying, "Don't show it 'til it looks like
something." Well I've never followed that, I like to show
the process; that way it's more than just product, you've seen
what goes into it and watched it "becoming" every
week. So new pics of the sleek new Hy5 models are up.
Ok, that's it for this week - next week more about music that's
happening, more client build pics, photos from the shop &
archive, and I might even tell you what we're planning for this
years 9th Anniversary basses this Summer... and since today is
the tomorrow you wondered about yesterday, if this keeps
happening it'll be here before you even know it.
Shop pic of the week:
Wingfeather workshop Jan. 17th
just in case you thought we were napping!
(Compare this with the previous entry's pic)
Archive pics of the week:
Assembly, April 2008
Summer NAMM 2006
Shaking a legend's hand... Mr. Tobias
was very gracious and I learned a lot
in the few minutes we spoke. Two years
in, we went as visitors because it was
in Austin, TX. The whole crew went;
here we are, as we were in '06:
Me, Jamie, our Bass Player rep, Wyatt, Lyzz...
Yep, we were the Bad News Bears of basses!
The big news - this new site! Grab yourself a beverage and
have a look around.
More news - the Hy5 flies the nest! After several years under
the Birdsong wing (and sometimes its shadow) our little 5-string
wonder has grown into its own company solely devoted to the
further development of the 5-string short scale. It can grow and
shine and fly much better as the star of its own show. For all
info on the new Hy5 models check out www.hy5basses.com
and inquire through email@example.com.
There are other changes - there are models you don't see on the
basses page. As a small workshop we have to stay focused; these
are the offerings we are giving most of our attention this year.
If there was another you had your heart set on, like a Sadhana
for example, hey - we're a small shop so call and we'll make you
one! But our promotional focus is on what you see.
The Featherbass is still in the line, but I put it on a page
specifically addressing those players who are dealing with
physical (back, hand) considerations. Over the years as we live
and age the body sometimes throws us issues, and we've helped
many stay comfortable - for some we helped them to keep playing
at all. Here is the Featherbass and
suggestions that have worked.
For some it's inconceivable I know... but the 2500 miles I road tripped in
the old Ford Econoline over the Holidays really left me refreshed. From the truck stop
nights to writing a whole album while the miles ticked by to
jamming "Whipping Post" with some new friends in
Louisiana, touching base with la familia... to ogling the fine machines at the Don Garlits
museum (kind of a pilgrimage for me), it was quite a trip. Here are some
random shots from I-10 through Louisiana & on to FL.
Oh, that album I wrote... well, it's called Econoline Dreams and
I recorded it along the way too in
its acoustic form... in the van and a motel room. I'd like to do a great mastering of it and go
in and bang out an electric version for a 2CD set, package it up
nicely and press up a run. There'll be a Kickstarter page
shortly where you
can help it happen and get special stuff from the trip and from
I've always been a creative force of nature, especially as over
time I get increasingly honed and time gets increasingly short. This is what happens when I get
turned loose... but I'm back, like I tell Jamie "The road
is my only mistress and music is my only drug." Your
basses are going to rock AND roll this year, I tell you what.
Happy New Year & hang on!
Shop pic of the week:
Wingfeather workshop Jan. 3rd...
the calm before the storm!
Archive pics of the week:
The original workshop, 2004
The 1st bass going out, 2004...
believe it or not, this bass is
in on consignment - #002!
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S.D. Curlee USA
Guitars By Jake
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