Many of us start designing or modifying and building guitars because we can’t find what we want. There’s the “Good enough for (insert famous player here), good enough for me” folks, which is cool in a way, I get that; the first Stratocaster I ever played belonged to the first guy I ever heard say that... but they go down to Music Monolithic Inc. and pick their color off the rack and they’re happy for life. Then there’s us, for whatever reason looking for something different. So you dive over the workbench onto the dusty side with the tools and start. A ways in you’re done modifying and now you’re building originals, with your sense of tone and curves and aesthetics built in along with that other stuff you couldn’t find that put you on this path to begin with. Then you can make anything you ever wanted! Right?
The irony for some of us is that by the time you’re here it’s nearly impossible to tickle yourself. I can build myself the perfect tool but like some things in life the magic isn’t there when you do it for yourself. I could draw analogy but I’ll let your imagination handle that… in my hands these are just great tools and I need more; I seek depth and connection beyond that. I regularly hear they’re magic in yours – I get it and I’m so honored, I aim for that during the whole ceremony through my hands to yours. I know what has gone in to each layer of every instrument. I guard the good vibrations and I cultivate the reverence. It’s how I went this deep in with stringed instruments anyway; the ones that inspired me along the way were more than tools, as great as some of them have been. There’s something magic in them, some kind of sentience. You who have never felt it will say it does not exist; those who have, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I serve THAT, so the magic for me is in the offering and the rest is not mine but yours; this is their nest not their home. I’ve talked with other luthiers deep in and, for a lot of us, whatever it may be that churns up as mojo in the offering of our highest to the alchemy of wood and wire as it morphs and remanifests from tree plank to singing tool of creation here in the magic workshop world... put simply, we’re immune to our own juices.
This past year I sold my personal Birdsong Fusion bass and the prototype Birdsong guitar I had claimed. Great instruments, I liked them. They did everything I designed them to do. The above aside, I really don’t play all that much and if they’re not going to be played very often they should be happily waiting in service to you, not me.
These two builds, however, are different.
In with all the work on yours, I’m building what I hope to be my two main instruments – a Birdsong Especial bass and D’AQUILA Imperial guitar, both of Wimberley flood cypress & rosewood, both with hand carved scroll horns and gold hardware. I feel something for every one I build because I build them out of love and blessings I’m very aware of every time I get to wake up and walk into my shop, but these stir things up inside a bit more than most and I can feel lots of music is to come through and out of them. They are from a tree that saw many hundreds of seasons along the Blanco River before that one dark night in 2015. They have their blues to sing and praise to raise, and I have the blessing to give them voice.
An Especial is a combination Birdsong Cortobass body with pickup and woody décor of the Fusion. This model originally happened for my amigo Marciano of Los Enanitos Verdes. It’s a rare Bird; mine is number 005 (and 006 is available on the inventory page). Everything not gold hardware or the main maple neck wood will be cypress or rosewood.
D’AQUILA is the name of some curvy, art deco, ornate guitars I build on the side. (Go to SDC And Others and click on D'AQUILA). This Imperial will have a unique 2-pickup arrangement giving me everything from dark jazz to twangy Jerry Garcia and will be dressed out with lots of rosewood like the bass. It’s getting a chunky mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard. You can follow these and all the other happenings on the builds page - it’s a weekly peek onto the shop benches.
In other happenings, I’m still putting out an album a month in 2016 and the latest is up FREE for download as an album at http://noisetrade.com/scottbeckwith ~ Tire Tracks Vol. 2 is the second collection of road recordings, a great listen for a gray fall day. 20 songs and instrumentals in audio pencil sketch form; there’s something in there, I’ve felt it in others’ work, but there again what’s here is not for me. I release it in hopes it finds a few ears that need it and becomes a few weaves in the sonic tapestry that soundtracks their lives. Not everything has to be perfect; just capture a moment of meaning and let it take its form. It’ll mean something to somebody, and that’s really most of what it means to me.
Listening to: Live John Abercrombie recordings, Terence McKenna lectures, Bad Company 10 From 6, Bill Evans Trio Sunday At The Village Vanguard, Tool Lateralus. Variety, people. It’s a great rainbow out there.