The Birdsong Basses
The Birdsong Guitar
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PO Box 1745
Wimberley, TX 78676
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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
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?")
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
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
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...
Captain Of The Ship
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!)
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!
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
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...
Captain Of The Ship
Alice In Chains Jar of Flies; Frank Sinatra The Very
Good Years; The Beatles White Album; Grateful Dead
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
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
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 -
Captain Of The Ship
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.
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
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
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.
Captain Of The Ship
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.
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
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
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
Watch it "become again" on the client page... this is the "Grateful
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
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
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.
Captain Of The Ship
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).
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
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.
Captain Of The Ship
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
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
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
More on Marciano and the band Los Enanitos Verdes:
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',
Captain Of The Ship
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.)
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
You all stay funky and I'll see you next Friday.
Captain Of The Ship