Where does the inspiration come from? Sometimes it feels like you put your hand up and catch a ball from out of the sky without even looking. How did this get here? Other times there’s a hole of need you’re trying to fill with a block of solution, just whittling away until it works. The ethereal gift and the practical challenge.
In my world of curves and components, sometimes it starts with a contour. When I start to draw a guitar body, the first curve I start with is the leg area, and I try to make it look like an old car wheel opening. That’s what I picture while I’m getting that swoop just right - that decreasing radius, that blend of line to where it will continue and smoothly transition to the hips, to the convex from the concave. Look at the wheel opening on the front fender of a ’60 Starliner – that evolved through inspiration from the fender sweep of cars from the 1930s, and my curves are creative evolutions of that… at least in my head.
Other times it starts with a practical consideration – say, balance. There are certain points in relation to the overall length of an instrument where, if you put the strap button there, it’ll balance nicely. For that to take place there has to be body there to screw the strap button to. And that leg cut? There’s only so many ways to do that ergonomically. Following the inspiration further into the actual doing, if you have upper fret access that dictates where that curve goes. Now you connect the dots ‘til it looks right to you – back into the art, the inspiration again. But refinement is different than the seed…
Then there’s the magic moment you’re in the workshop, because part of magic is putting yourself where it can happen and keeping in the clear enough for the good luck to find you, and you look at a piece of wood and it does everything but have words for you out loud. It talks to you in some deep, instantly understood way but with no sound, and instantly becomes a forming picture of what it will be. Hey, what if I added this – wow, I could combine it with that… sometimes it’s even a dream. I literally dreamed about this bass years back and crafted it just like what I had received in the vision, right to the wood and it being fretless.
That’s where the Fusion shape came from too, vision. Well, that’s where I hooked up with it at least. But where exactly it came from? After all this and decades of writings and a bazillion songs… I can taste it, I can feel it, it flows like water; but I’ll still have to let you know on that.
Listening to: Guy Clark Live at Dixie’s 1984; Bruce Springsteen Born To Run autobiography disc 2.