Names Of Things...

Well hello! For this week’s news page update, here are the stories behind 5 names you’ll see in the world of Wingfeather, the name of the workshop and (for paperwork/biz purposes) the name of “The Company” that builds Birdsongs, SD Curlees, D’Aquilas, and anything else we have going on at any moment.

Cortobass. “Corto” is Italian for short, and was the name I was planning to use from the beginning of my tinkering with short scales in the ‘90s. I saw a gap in the market for a really nice but “General business” (not $10K with 20 woods and 15 knobs, something for the wedding gig or the blues jam) short scale bass, so I knew I was going to make one and “Cortobass” just rolled off the tongue… since the recipe was refined and the first one flew in 2004, they’ve been rolling out of the workshop since! A little trivia for you, once the Cortobass established itself I wanted to expand on it with other models similar but just leaned in different directions visually & tonally. What became the Fusion, with its warm & woody voice, was originally going to be called the Caldobass… Caldo being Italian for hot!

Sadhana. This is one of our fanciest designs – it has been its own model at times, but never really had its own specific pickup arrangement. It shared the single/hum Cortobass setup mostly, and I referred to it as “…a Cortobass with a ground effects kit”, like as if the Cortobass was a really good Camaro and the Sadhana was that car dressed up with Ferrari spoilers and fancy wheels. With an oval Delano and a carved scroll horn it was the Bliss. It’s in our lineup of body shapes you can order a custom with. The word itself is Sanskrit, with no accent on any syllable (I usually pronounce it sa-DHA-na, but it’s actually SA-DHA-NA), and translates roughly into “Spiritual practice”, the rituals of offerings & meditations one might do first thing in the morning, centering before sunrise in service. If music is my path, the creation of the tools for it is about as deep as one can go. It was originally (and I think the first 3 made as) the “Shanti” model, which means “Peace”… but that was being used already, however obscurely, and we had to change it.

Fusion. This is easy – it was a fusion of the structure of the Cortobass with the tonal influence of a jazzy upright bass, as if the essences (essi?) of these were combined. Sometimes when two different things are combined it becomes what I call an “El Camino compromise” where, though cool and fun, it results in the worst of each and a definitely compromised whole. Part car, part truck… you now have a car with no covered trunk or back seat, and a truck that is basically on a car chassis and won’t carry half a truck’s load without wallowing around. Stylin’ ride but not a great compromise if you’re looking for the BEST of both. The Fusion is the opposite – it worked great, and visually I wanted it to look like it sounded, woody but electric. So that was the “fusion” that ultimately became called the Fusion, and it became my personal favorite! A what-if that worked.

Hy5. “High five.” “Hybrid 5.” Yes. And yes. Hybrid 5 because it’s a crossing of a little short scale with the whole big 5-string thing which are mostly full 34” scale basses and larger. I wanted a mix of that response & the big notes WITH the ergonomic package you get in a short scale, especially in a Birdsong. “High five” because – we did it!

And the big one…

Birdsong. Many would guess we are named after the beautiful Grateful Dead song. Nope. Now there WAS a guitar model I prototyped in the ‘90s with that as a model name, but - though I do love some good Dead - I’ve had a thing for birds much longer than I’ve had a thing for them. So the word was around in my head, but why and how it became the name of this little bass guitar company that changed my life goes like this. My life of following music’s path has been one of chapters. At the end of one (which is always the beginning of another), truly going back to the land felt like the most right thing to do, to begin again from somewhere true to what I was feeling inside. So I ended up in-between with some things behind me I had to heal from, a tomorrow of uncertain opportunities, and a “now” of transformation with some raw rural Texas land to plant myself in like a seed to regerminate. It was difficult but I knew as I built it that it would build me into who I was to become – into who I HAD to become to be any measure of independent and self-sufficient, to get anything done, to get on with a life of DOING in a world full of talk. I needed the inner tools - AND the outer tools - I didn’t have, and this is where I would find them and learn to use them to make things happen in my own life. It’s a build it or buy it world, and I knew I was going to have to build the whole thing if I was going to stay on this path. So the land was where I made my promises and took my stand. And at its lowest moments of greatest tests, my most basic faith and trust was this - I knew if the birds were still singing it was all going to work out… that there was hope and a new day and this is what free creatures do - so get up and get on with it if you want to be one. The first day of that was the first day of the rest of my life.

And now you know… the rest of the story!

Listening to: Lightning Hopkins and old RL Burnside.