The Birdsong Basses
The Birdsong Guitar
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PO Box 1745
Wimberley, TX 78676
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Maggie the shop dog...
Your bark of quality!
Wednesday August 13th
Hold that thought... time for a computer upgrade. It's going to be a few
weeks before I can really work on the site or with pictures. I still use a
camera and post via the computer, now in "limp home" mode. With
my computer guy's help I was able to get in here and post this, but the
trusty old computer developed a pretty serious rod knock. Heck, if this
was a car it'd have 250,000 miles on it. Thankfully, we place so little of
our day-to-day operation into the fickle, fragile hands of technology that
- other than updating the site - everything is going just fine and it's
business and work as usual. I can answer emails & take orders and
payments, and you can call anytime (512-395-5126). So instead of doing
updates, I'm working on your basses and guitars then too. I'll take
pictures and once my new system is done being built and we get everything
installed & working together, I'll post those too. Until then, stay
cool and call anytime. ~Scott
Thirty two years and counting
down the path of music and I'd still take it over food if I had to make
that choice. Thankfully I don't have to make such a choice, but at times
having chosen the path of music to lead with has felt like such a choice
had been made. I never veered. If my last meal was Miles Davis Kind of
Blue or the Ramones' 1st album, Blues from the Delta or bhajans
from Dwarka, so be it. Being as I live music in one form or another pretty
much 24/7, it's something I don't think about any more than I think about
my breathing. When it stops or skips, it does grab the attention... but
the other day I realized, walking down the driveway to check the mail with
a guitar strapped on just plunking away, not much is all that
The truth? I am strapped to it
like some magic carpet (at times like a life raft - you are strapped to
it, not the other way around), and the path chose me. Besides that, and
the window dressing of how my involvement with music has formed in
chapters - the various styles, tasks of the singer-songwriter vs.
bassist-for-hire or music shop guy or instrument maker - the core, what we
can't see, hasn't changed. These days it might be a Martin or a Birdsong
instead of a BC Rich and the driveway might be a much longer rural caliche
one as opposed to suburban black tar, and there might be a few more miles
of bad road on my face, but I am still walking the path strapped to a
guitar... if not in these literal moments, then inside - all the time - as
I breathe. Same kid. Only the props & scenery have changed.
Perhaps perspective too -
I now see this all as serving some sort of harmonious greater vibration
than seeing that old guitar as my Excalibur sword to conquer worlds with.
My whole world changed around that paradigm shift. Music
still gets me off the same as when it was all new ground, new flavors, and
a new day. The second half of life doesn't necessarily hold as much
discovery in every moment, but its flavor is deep and layered rich with
the seasoning only miles down the road and a billion or so heartbeats can
leave in their wake. All of importance to my life now has been brought to
me - or me to it - by music, by this path. I am made of it.
When I do steer myself into uncharted waters for whatever reason,
music is there - as both vessel and water, as both fuel and food;
fuel for the process and food for the soul. Even in the moderately
predictable day-to-day, music in some way - soundtrack, inspiration, the
tools thereof or the tools that craft those tools - is all of these things
to me. As food, I like a varied plate. I'm not a same breakfast for 30
years kind of guy. I have my favorites that stood the test of time or keep
cycling back into orbit over the years, and in music there still are
discoveries to be made every day. But much like life, music is a buffet.
I'm fed by everything from backwoods Gospel to Black Sabbath, Coltrane to
Asian restaurant music, Blue Cheer to that old Paul Simon solo acoustic
demo bootleg on green vinyl. From Running On Empty to Son House to It
Takes a Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back to Luciano Pavarotti. The
Allman Bros. to singing Tibetan bowls and birdsong.
In my mind (and you can call me crazy, but I do work within these
realms every day much, much deeper than many of you) the vibrations of a
music are sanded into the wood and screwed in with the hardware. Like the
first coat of oil finish hand rubbed onto - and into - an instrument, my
vibrations are carried into it by the tunes in the air; and my vibrations
are tuned and amplified in the moment by the music. It has less to do with
type and kind and category than essence and movement and ripple.
Look up tests done on food prepared with good intent; loved water
crystals; plants sung to. Dismiss it all as some bogus hocus-pocus but you
are no more of a grain of sand on this shoreline than I, my friend... and
that is a big, big ocean. As for me, I prepare what I serve as sacrament,
honor all I touch as infused with something greater, and am indeed a seed
sung to and awakened into this ceremony of life with its tapestry of
People ask me what kind of music I like. I don't know how to even
begin to answer this; it's as though they've asked me what my favorite
limb is or which molecular sub-cluster I prefer... it's like asking what
part of the infinite I would like to see. Why, I would become one with
all of it! It's easier for me to just say "Anything but female
Opera singers, gangsta rap and Miley Cyrus." From field recordings of
African drum circles to Rage Against The Machine to Kraftwerk though, come
and take me Universe; I'm yours. Paraphrasing George Thorogood, lemme
grab my John Lee Hooker record collection and down the road I go. Life
is my church, the workshop is my temple and this that we speak about -
whether it reforms as paragraphs, in verses and choruses, or into wood and
wire - these are my prayers, my humble offerings outward. I hope I serve
you well. I hope you are inspired. It is good to be alive.
Next week we'll talk about a few of my favorite basses &
guitars... outside of Birdsong. Talismans, they are. You might be
surprised. You might be surprised at how you look at your old tools
On behalf of the hands of Birdsong, thanks for being with us!
Captain Of The Ship
Listening to: Grateful Dead Dick's Picks #3, disc 2; Martin
Scorsese's Blues documentary soundtrack.
Shots from the workshop:
View from the bench ~ I can't tell you how happy this makes me; cut
bodies await the smoothing of the edges, then they'll wait for routing;
routed & rounded-over bodies await drilling & cross-drilling, then
body contours... they're on their way into sanding; Summer rain is not
common 'round these parts ~ this was from yesterday, thunder and
everything. Came over, did its thing, and passed...
Thoughts from the workshop:
As servant to what happens between the player and the played, I hope to
contribute to those moment where it blurs. I've felt it, it's the only
time I can really get out of my head, turn off the movie... meditation for
me is an act of discipline; the brain never quiets. But music? I
go. It takes me. At best, it plays me.
Here in the shop I too am part player and part played. In my own sacred
space I serve this process of turning inspiration into tools. Skills and
knowledge and all things human come into play... but at their best they
work in harmony with something else, something transcendent, something
greater that kicks in when the harmony is really happening.
For me, it's the only part of this experience higher than hearing about
Birdsongs in the hands of you all out making people feel connected through
your music... to be a part of that is humbling. Speaking for the wood (if
I may), perhaps the only part of its experience greater than being a tree
is to transform into a tool of connection, a servant of greater
Devotion and drive get you into the realm of possibility. Intention brings
you to the bank of the river. But magic doesn't happen by any one of these
- it happens by getting out of the way and into the flow. Then you become
a tool for it - and a human with spirit is a GREAT tool. Aimed properly
and focused, the unforceable happens.
Thanks for checking in ~ next week we're going to talk about music!
Much love & gratitude from the Birdsong nest,
Captain Of The Ship
Listening to: Jackson Browne Late For The Sky; Jaghit
Singh; Alice In
Chains Dirt; Grateful Dead Dick's Picks #3, disc 2; Singerman
Blood and Fire Allstars (Dub Reggae Compilation); Pearl Jam Five
and Live; Shangai Joe Reggae demo; Soundtrack to Oh Brother Where
Art Thou; Black Sabbath Vol. 4.
Attention all Birdsong family and potential clients - there is a
guy in Florida about to get his nuts chopped off by his wife if he goes
through with with the bass he signed on for me to build him. What I'm
going to do to help him out is to offer up "his spot"... he
ordered a Fusion but this spot can turn into whatever YOU want. I'll take
care of all of that numbering & paperwork stuff. What you get by
helping to save this poor man's family jewels is 10% off and a jump start
on your build. Let's call it the "Saving Ryan's Privates"
special. Order this special and cover what his first half amount was
(which I'll just pass back to "Ryan") and your total will
reflect 10% off of whatever it is you order. He's a good man, he's a
paisan, and if you're almost ready to do the deal and join the family (or
come back for another)... and you can close the deal on your end...
you'll be getting a great deal and you'll be helping another man's
applebag stay in his pants for at least the time being. Or at least one of
them. And this will make a vas deferens in his quality of life!
(Thank you, thank you very much). Don't leave a brother on his knees
sacrificing walnuts to Testiclese (the Greek God of Balls)... step in and
make a difference.
It's fun to have friends all over the world - being a guy
who has colored outside the lines a bit and has let life color me outside
of "my" lines, there are bits 'n pieces of goodness from all
over, places I've never been and probably will never see, that have have
woven their way into my life's tapestry in many different ways. Musically,
culturally, spiritually... and then we get to HP Sauce. Very difficult to
find here in central Texas, HP Sauce is a bottled brown condiment from
across the pond that happens to be delicious, amazingly versatile and as
rock 'n roll as it gets; Keith Richards toted cases of this stuff on tours
and, being the magical concoction it is, God knows what it substituted for
in momentary attempts to keep all the chemicals balanced. It's that good.
Heck, it might just be THE thing that has kept him going all these years.
So imagine my delight when, after conversing with a client from the UK and
mentioning it, a gray package turns up in the PO box with four bottles of
the stuff inside! Thomas, you are my hero. I can't thank you enough... so
I'll just build you a great bass! This stuff on pizza... I see this
happening again very soon.
Here are a couple of cool basses leaving the nest shortly - a
rustic Texas Pecan & Rosewood rear routed Fusion, and the 10th
Anniversary Corto2 of Mahogany with Texas Chinaberry headstock &
Guitars! Got a jump on them, worked them in with the bass orders
and various stages. For those who missed the news earlier this month,
there's a little gold link under The Birdsong Basses that says The Birdsong Guitar.
DEMO is right here, and you can
check out the rest coming together on the current
builds page - that page got a bunch of pictures; it's been another
very fun, very productive week.
Here is the neck of the prototype. The life of a prototype
is not easy. It goes together, it comes apart. Pickups are swapped, new
holes are drilled for alternative parts or alignment adjustments. And once
it is together in a most harmonious way, with those extra holes covered
and it singing and working as a whole, the whole thing is again taken
apart to make templates from it for shapes, routing, and drilling so all
that follow go together at least as well as this one in its finalized
version. In a perfect world, these pre-builds go back together again and
live out happy lives as creative tools in appreciative hands... not always
the case. I have boxes of prototype parts that used to be firsts. This
one? I'm going to make sure it realigns and sings in my hands as
soon as possible; I hope that's good enough for it. It's certainly good
enough for me!
All goodness to you - from my workshop of life to yours.
Captain Of The Ship
Listening to: Eric Clapton's
Rainbow Concert; anything John Lee Hooker; Alice In
Chains Dirt; Grateful Dead Dick's Picks #3, disc 2.
With the July 4th weekend 10th Anniversary shindig a rousing success and a
round of builds to get to before we can even think about starting on
those, it was time for a wood shopping trip. Tune in now as our intrepid
reporter sets out on the mission.
||Ahhh, setting out in an old truck on the beautiful
2-lanes of the Texas "Hill Country" in search of wood
for Birdsongs. I have a list of general wood planks (General
Woodplanks? You remembeh him from the academy...) to get and some
specifics for certain builds with certain grain patterns or
special features to be looking for. My trusty steed is Joe the
Truck, '74 Dodge. Everything a great 40-year-old machine should
be: strong, simple, reliable, steadfast, and the right tool for
||Closer into town on the four lanes, we begin to see
the Distractoids & Oblivians. Sure I took my eyes off
the road for almost a second to take this shot, but the girl
texting in the Bimmer was looking UP for almost a second at
a time. Like most (and like most drunk drivers) they're not doing
as well as they think they are, even if nothing happened... this
time. Just parked in the left lane, speeding up & slowing
down. This is why I drive a '74 Dodge.
||After a major shakeup in the "Scott's Favorite
Eateries" department last month (2 of my favorite pizza
places - completely unrelated - seized for back taxes and the last
real funky little small town restaurant over by the marina in
Canyon Lake ousted by investors that bought the strip of
property), it felt so good to be looking forward to breakfast at
Star Seeds Cafe in Austin. Small & funky as ever. Just a
universe unto itself with its own gravitational pull. I just love
this place - it represents the eclectic nature of Austin. Tunes
playing, oddball collection of people, great food, breakfast all
day, open 24 hours. I'm pulling in the driveway and I catch a
whiff... no, can't be. No way.
||Way. The biggest liquid waste truck I've ever seen,
parked blocking the side street, with a huge green hose going
in through one of the windows. We pull in the driveway,
and we pull out of the driveway. Said a friend, "It
was really the only call you could make." It was offal.
(Thank you, thank you very much.)
||With my taste for breakfast pretty well keiboshed, I
continued into far north Austin to my favorite lumber supply
house. After telling a rather prickish young salesman to get lost
and get Paul, one of my main wood connections again came through
with the same great service, laughs and solid deals I've been
getting since before what turned out to be the owners son
was still whacking it to his Avril Lavigne posters. This is where
we get a lot of the Maple, Walnut & Mahogany that becomes
Birdsongs. Birdsong has always stayed small enough that I go
select the wood by the individual plank - it doesn't just show up
on a pallet. Not that my way's better necessarily, but I like it
better and I like the results of it better.
||With 9 or 10 planks nestled into the bed, we hit the
road and stopped at another favorite place that, from the highway,
looks like some oddball ethnic convenience store... but you walk
in and Ali Farka Toure is on the stereo and there's a great
menu of outstanding Indian food and a bar with about oh, say, 300
craft beers. Un-freaking-believable. Given my recent history with
eating establishments, I was a bit nervous walking in. But
the Chana Dal (yellow lentils, sweet potato & red pepper on
rice), side of spicy collards & Breckenridge Nitro Vanilla
Porter were all savored without incident.
||It doesn't look like all that much, but that's
'cause it's in Joe the Truck. It's plenty. It would look like more
in the little '83 Econoline shorty I usually take or (for sure)
cut to fit in a trunk. I think this was Joe's first wood shopping
trip in a couple of years - the first with his current engine,
which was being built for a Road Runner when his let go. Joe being
Joe and higher on the pecking order than any of my other cars, in
it went. .060 over, 4-barrel, aluminum intake, 9:1, big
cam, headers... a strange brew of sensations from the cab, some
bizarre mix of dump truck and stock car. Like someone bred a
Rottweiler with a Greyhound. He sounds like a '70s car chase. Felt
good to be doing this first post-10th Anniversary wood trek in
Joe, as he helped build life over the past 14 years into what it
is now in every way. More on him in a bit...
||It's official, Austin is a C.F. At least half of
these people had their eyes on little screens and just tap tap
tapping away or reading, slowing the already gummed-up works into
a snail's pace of barely avoided mishaps and baiting the weavers
who think that six feet of road in front of you is worth
risking life and limb for. I don't get out into the big city much
anymore; years ago I gigged up here all the time. Now if I go to
Austin one time a month it's really something... still the
greatest city if I HAD to live in one. I'd just live IN it though,
because getting in and out of it and around in it is just nuttier
than squirrel dookie.
||Continuing down the interstate a ways I visited the
old San Marcos shop, now home base for the basses of Muckelroy
Basses... and here's a brace of them, by Brady! A brace of
Brady's basses from the base of Muckelroy Basses. (What is
this, Dr. Seuss?!) Brady got his thing together in the corner of
the Birdsong shop, just as a woodworker a bit down the path named
Johnny let me get my building thing going in his years back. It's
a great thing to see such a good man and superb musician as Brady
become such a world class craftsman and have so much good stuff
going on. He has helped out (and still does) Birdsong and some of
our other luthiery endeavors. Pick up one of his, too: www.bradybass.com
||He's got a couple of big tools of mine we only need
once every couple of weeks, so I pop in and also pick up &
drop off his Birdsong work. I'm the face and the words and I get plenty
of sawdust on me but without the great helping hands over the
years this whole Birdsong journey wouldn't be what it is &
what we are. While there I cut out two Spanish Cedar and one wild
Pecan Cortos, a Koa D'AQUILA guitar, two half sets of Mahogany for
some Birdsong guitars, and made some thin flats for headstock
||Joe being the beast he is, it was inevitable we'd
need some juice at some point. So I pull into the gas station and
it looks like yet another Distractoid got here
first. Hope that text was worth it; you could've blown the whole
block into the next county, you big ol' doof. It's the Leaning
Tower of Petrolia. If this were of the caliber to be
newsworthy I wouldn't be able to resist spraying the story with
related puns - I'm sure they'd be pumping folks for details on
what they saw, fueling speculation it was some octanegenarian...
but it was a regular, who gushed "Isle never do that
again!" I'd have a blast. Tanks a lot!
||Headed back into the hills to the workshop, the core
of my world, the nest of your Birdsong. After creeping for quite a
ways at 40-45 miles an hour, this guy finally continues one
particulary good starboard weave and pulls aside to let the
rest of the known universe by. Not sure if it was deliberate, but
I waved anyway. Of course in rural areas a wave can mean many
things from "Thank you" to "We both know you're an
@$$&%?#." Either way, we seized the chance and blew by
him like he'd powershifted reverse. I don't want to be behind
this... I don't want to be anywhere near this. This was a
HUGE leather couch - hundreds of pounds up there. How do you not
know anyone in central Texas with a pickup truck?
Good God; it's a field day out here.
||Back up safely at the magic workshop, here's most of
the haul. Varying shades of Walnut, planks of gorgeous dense
Mahogany (no lightweight stuff - we'll use Spanish Cedar for those
requests, it looks very similar, works & sounds about the
same, but is consistently lightweight), Maple, Hickory, and a
couple of Mesquite planks. I picked up some Poplar to prototype
something with and some other odds & ends... plus the cutoffs
from the long planks. Dense Mahogany brings an interesting
combination of dense-wood clarity & depth in with the glorious
Mahogany midrange "warmth" - still there in even the
most dense of Mahoganies in my experience. A Cortobass out of this
wood will still only be in the mid to high 8 pound range complete.
It's beautiful too - I bought three planks of it.
||For those new to the family after the big July 4th
weekend sale, a quick bit about Joe. Joe is a '74 Dodge D100 - he
was the first tool I bought when it was time to settle a piece of
rough land fourteen years ago and he'll be the last tool I work
when I'm old and in suspenders, gathering with the geezers at the
gas station a ways down the path from now. He worked his but off
for me, us, the homestead, the company and a whole circle of
friends (here's a shot from 2003) and has been an inspiration to
me personally in my attempt to be strong, simple,
reliable, steadfast, and the right tool for the job. I still work
at it; Joe's got it down. There's a little bit of Joe built into
in every Birdsong.
Big update on the client/current builds page, it's been a busy week!
Thanks for checking in!
Wherever you're standing, there you are!
Captain Of The Ship
Listening to: Bob Dylan Slow Train Coming; Robert Plant The
Principle of Moments; Jerry Cantrell Boggy Depot; Chris Cornell
Euphoria Morning; David Bowie The Man Who Sold The World; The
Allman Bros. The Road Goes On Forever (disc 1); Eric Clapton's
Tuesday, July 8th
(Snuck one in early...)
Ok, back to normal! The 10th anniversary weekend was amazing; hello
to all who joined the family, came back into the fold, and stepped up for
another of our little manifestations of devotion & gratitude carefully
disguised as wood & wire.
With the first couple of days of this week spent getting four
basses shipped and taking care of things shoved aside in the buildup and
the weekend and the launch of the new Birdsong guitar, I'll be back onto
the many projects at hand - with the music playing, the breeze breezing
through the workshop, the sun shining and the smell of worked wood in the
I'll be getting the client build pics updated as they are taken and
hopefully later this week will be going on some wood shopping odysseys -
this is why I'm doing this week's update a bit early, because by Thursday
& Friday I want to be getting my lists of work done early in the day
in the workshop and then roaming the roads and highways to my favorite
sources in search of the planks and pieces I'll need to build more.
To do this, I have to get Joe The Truck ready. He's been sitting
patiently with building scraps from some workshop expansion in the bed and
I need to top off all his fluids and do a dump run later this morning. It
excites me to think of the hours in the workshop this week as the first of
some kind, them being the first of the NEXT ten years. And there's no
vehicle I'd rather take this "first" wood shopping trip in than
my faithful old companion that helped build and grow Birdsong in his own
ways of service (not to mention the homestead, others' homesteads, various
shops, etc.), my '74 Dodge. He's hauled a lot of wood!
Now I've got to haul butt out of here & get a few things
done. All the best to your world from ours! Regular Friday updates will
start again next week, and I'll have a full wood shopping report for you.
Thanks again so much for being with us!
That's awl for now!
Captain Of The Ship