Against The Odds

Good afternoon friends, greetings from the little workshop deep in the woods of south central Texas. It’s a beautiful day here, sunny blue skies, short sleeves; the birds are out and the air smells of worked wood and sounds like great jazz and birdsong. For those of you new to us, we gather here every Friday to ponder life and peek in at workshop goings-on. 

You won’t hear this from me often but how about that game? Though the entire east cost Italian side of my family – which is to say, numerically, the majority of it – was rooting for the Patriots, probably very loudly, those alive AND those departed spinning themselves clear through to China by halftime, I had no real “Dog in the hunt” as they say here in Texas.  I wanted to see a good game, well played, without a lot of those “he touched me” penalty calls I find at odds with a field full of 275 pound alpha males with hallway trails of inappropriate contact and unsportsmanlike conduct in their wakes. Now you’re going to flail there in your stadium because another guy put his hand up to keep you from catching the ball? Really? Spare me. Shut up and take out his sternum like a warrior. I want to see gladiating not gladhanding. And boy did we – great game!

First half we saw team A playing good ball but team B, with their eyes on the prize and fired up to unsustainable levels, just run roughshod over them. Shut down. Dominated. Then after the whole Gaga dog and pony show we saw team A bottom out in their ugly circumstance, wake up and refocus not on the mountain but on the next step. What is the next thing that has to happen for us to survive? What is the next movement that HAS to be completed to put us in a position one step forward from where we find ourselves? What is the one immediate goal that MUST be reached so we are still viable? From here we watched them pull off a dozen of those like a machine. And I’ve never set foot on a football field – they’d use me as the ball – but I can guarantee you from there it was just “What’s next? Ok. Check. What’s next now? Ok. Did that. What’s next?...” And that’s how you climb back. That’s how you show you’re alive when conditions are against you, when you’re written off, when it looks all over. Leave it to others to be smugly daydreaming about the riches in Vienna. You just decisively take the next hill. And the next one. And the next one. Congrats to the Pats, and really to all on the field for a good clean game without a lot of tantrums and bellyaching. Both teams played incredibly; one just showed a little more spirit with their backs against the wall, and that I can always respect.

So what’s happened around the workshop since their stunning victory? A bunch of little daily ones here. A sojurn up interstate 35 to a wood source we’ve used from the beginning found us trucking some dense mahogany, beautiful walnut, lightweight Spanish cedar, and some nice poplar back to the nest. We’re ready. Much of it is already destined for 2017 basses & guitars on order. Here are necks out the wazoo ready and almost ready for bodies catching up in various states of routing and carving and sanding.

This is the sort of thing I’ve been talking about when mentioning 2017 as the year of special orders. Over so many years there are times I feel most at home sticking mostly with the standards as designed. Customs take a lot more focus with their pages of scribbled specs and things to remember about each special process – because, remember, one detail to you is a series of alternate steps in here. In the shop it’s Rubik’s Cube-like; many times by changing that one detail a lot of others are affected. Where the holes you don’t see can go. How to screw down that template on this shape with nothing where the screw holes are; is this pickup up to the neck or back a hair to fit in a ring? Did I leave enough room beside this bigger rout for the body edge roundover? Everything affects something else. This year I’m finding that a lot of fun actually to where over the past several months I’ve said “yes” to a bunch of really cool, really unique builds, and there’s quite a few build sheets with quite a bit if little stars and scribbles in the margins on both clipboards.

Shown fresh off the routing bench are two Birdsong basses – one a custom bodied one-off of mahogany & cypress with ebony stringers and twin humbuckers, the other a stripey Sadhana with SD Curlee Creambar pickup routs and the beginnings of a hand carved scroll on the top horn. Next stop for these are Johnny’s old drill press for “drill-out” – neck mounting holes and bushing countersink, string through holes and ball-end ferrules. Then it’s time to carve in contours and additional shaping, and on this Sadhana to do the first layer or two on the scroll. I’m actually routing a second bass with a scroll over the weekend and will bring them through that process together.    

This is just the beginning – wait and see what else makes it across the routing bench in the months to come! Or, better yet, be waiting for YOUR special recipe to come together in the kitchen... ‘cause it’s cookin’ time in here! But gimme a call before I'm covered up for the year - that happens every year by about summertime, and we're looking at the busiest spring ever. We don't work any faster, they take what they take to craft; the line just gets longer... so hop in it!

Don’t forget to like/follow the Birdsong Guitars Facebook page, you’ll get nothing in your feed from me but during-the-week workshop shots, “Throwback Thursday” archive pictures, the great “Saturday Sales” and the occasional ratty musclecar! You don’t want to miss anything. 

See you here next Friday for the next news page blog ramble post. ‘Til then treat yourselves nicely and don’t look at the mountain, and don’t worry if you’re facing some odds. Take that next step towards your goal today. It’s important but more important that you take it.  

Listening to: Doug Raney Sextet Meeting The Tenors; Scuzz meets Jason Newsted (fantastic interview from a few years ago, look it up on YouTube); Stephen Stills with Manassas Down The Road.