Happy new year friends! We’re rested, re-gathered, and ready to rock and roll. In fact we’re already rocking in here, after some excellent rolling; sometimes I really do leave the workshop – it’s rare but it does happen. Pulling oneself out of context helps one recharge and renew their vows to life. Mile marker signs rolling past, driveways of friends old and new, and beach sand on the floorboard of an old custom van; songs were written and good inner work was done. I walk in many circles with reverence, but can definitely tell you this - at the Church of Econoline, services are sporadic but the retreats are positively life affirming.  

So it looks like I’ll be an easy “yes” this year. Many option combinations I would usually politely decline, like customized Shortbasses, Birdsong-Curlee mashups, oddball combinations of the pickups we offer, etc. I’m feeling a bit looser about it all this year. Next year? Who knows. I don’t even know what my build schedule is going to look like next year – only that last year was cranking, this year will be the busiest yet, and it already has a bunch of really cool oddball stuff in it I can’t wait to get rolling on... so bring it on! This all might have to do with 2017 being my 20th year building guitars & basses. I can’t believe it was that long ago I stepped up from bolting together parts to cut & shape some wood and sign my name on the headstock, but it indeed has been. And what a journey it has been! Some things – active electronics and tremolos – I just don’t do, but I can leave the electronics holes for your tech to install your favorite circuits into, etc. SO if you’ve been wanting something odd or in-between from us, this is the year. Ask away. I might want to take it easy on myself in ’18 or ‘19, we’ll see. For now, I’m feeling great and have lots to do and I’m very lucky, blessed & grateful… so it’s all in and balls out for year 20 for me, and year 13 for Birdsong! (Here's the first and something more recent...)

One option coming off the plate this year however is the shipping of anything with rosewood in it out of the United States. New, VERY wide sweeping laws under what’s called CITES makes shipping of any rosewood from raw wood to “all derivatives” (such as a fingerboard on an instrument or knobs in our case) subject to fees, applications and governmental paperwork on my end, and permits to be scrutinized by customs officials thousands of miles from here (and you) - risking international confiscation through mistakes or misunderstandings on anyone’s part – as of the beginning of 2017. This gets tricky even for a personal shipment of one’s own guitar, let alone commercial shipments like your new Birdsong getting to you from the USA. Or not. I understand why it is being done, but the red tape and risks involved don’t fit with the realities of a small workshop like ours who ships a handful of instruments out of the States every year. So until exceptions are classified & clarified, that handful will have maple fingerboards. I’ll keep you posted as anything changes. None of this affects clients, builds or shipping within the States – just across international borders.

Also this week, it would be impossible for me to live it without acknowledging the 10th anniversary of the passing of John “Uncle Johnny” Kirtland, a man whose impact on my life and this little guitar company was huge. He lives on in everything to come out of it, as his ripples are in everything I do. Absorb your mentors’ work in with yours and keep their tools working; replacing his fingerprints with your own is the greatest honor you can give to an old craftsman when he’s gone.  

To close this first Friday news page blog of the new year, picture this. A man who makes musical instruments meets another who makes surfboards. They look out from the shoreline towards the blue horizon and ponder their positions, different yet the same. We devote ourselves and spend our lives manifesting into the world tools by which others interact deeply with the uncontainable vast and elemental mystery, itself manifesting in waves. For those who participate in the dance, moments of connection and bliss are found in the riding of these waves. Waves of surf, waves of sound – different yet the same. We ride them and are connected to the moment, to things greater than ourselves, in our dance with forces beyond and infinite. The instrument maker, the man who works with the wood, does not surf – he comes in ceremony to renew his vows to life.

The workshop doors are open, Boston’s 1st album is sunrising the air with guitar crescendos and grooviness, and the first batch of guitars and basses to fly the nest in 2017 are being worked on. It is an honor to serve you – your music and thus your life and the lives you dance with. It’s more than a feeling.

Surf’s up,

Listening to: Too much to list, but the SKUZZ interview with Jason Newsted from a few years back was great, WTF podcast with Roger Waters was really something, and Boston, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Dickie Betts Highway Call, Billy Squier Don’t Say No, Bhagavan Das Love Songs For The Dark Lord and a bunch of Grateful Dead long jams and The Master Drummers Of Rajasthan come to mind. Hey, life’s a buffet folks!