Rocking The World Since 1976
SD Curlee has been in the Wingfeather Workshop family since 2011 when an amazing set of circumstances found the company in the hands of Curlee fan, collector & enthusiast Scott Beckwith - also the designer/luthier behind Birdsong Guitars. We wanted to apply all we know about crafting high-end short scale basses to the classic 1970s SD Curlee medium scales and wound up as caretakers of the legacy. We designed out the troubles of the originals and refined the instruments into serious boutique-level craft. The last step? The Phoenix model pictured above - vintage Curlee feel & punchy tone, the classic look of mahogany, maple & cream, and features the originals never had - ergonomics and balance, rosewood fingerboard, black hardware.
For more info on the refinements there is a quickie FAQ at the bottom of this page.
First into production in May of 1976 according to co-founder Randy Curlee, the original company was much like Birdsong - independent, offering a new take on bass design, and the perpetual underdog in a sea of bigger players. The unique specs & "bolt-through" design of co-founder Randy Dritz (The D in S.D.) gave the basses and guitars their own feel and tone; the parts of the era their own personality and a few quirks. Re-engineered top to bottom without losing the signature look or powerful tone, today's SD Curlee USA bass is different than the old ones you find - superior necks, parts, feel, balance, weight, and build quality - but with the classic vibe intact. See, we revived and revised rather than re-issued.
For the whole story & vintage instrument info check out the SD CURLEE INFO PAGE.
If you'd like a crude, heavy original - have at it! They're out there and we love them too. But please don't confuse what we're capable of crafting now with what was done 40 years ago. Our vision was to give the best of that chapter the care, refinement, and attention to detail it never got - with American craftsmanship in an American workshop and the far superior high-end components available now. While visiting the workshop in 2011, Randy Dritz said what we are doing now is more like what was originally in mind, and far beyond what they were capable of.
We think that's the way it should happen, not with cheap Chinese product with a classic logo on it. Having the hindsight of decades of used originals to examine, the benefits of modern parts availability, and being so closely related to premier short scale bass builders Birdsong Guitars (who revived us) has resulted in, by far, the best SD Curlees ever made. If you'd like one or more information, please get in touch - we're very busy building Birdsongs but always ready to make an S.D. Curlee for you!
Modern-era SD Curlees are completely hand made in Texas USA. They are 32" medium scale, with bodies of black walnut or select mahogany, maple long-tenon set-in necks, classic cream pickups (traditional DiMarzio reversed P or proprietary soapbars), Hipshot USA hardware, two way truss rods, 24-fret boards in maple or rosewood, hand rubbed oil finish, and a list of improvements from headstock angle to control cavity shielding to the oversize strap buttons.
Models include the offset Phoenix, the slightly offset Classic Plus and the old short-horn Standard. Pricing is from $2500 USD with hardcase.
SD Curlee USA
c/o Wingfeather Enterprises
PO Box 1745
Wimberley, TX USA
SD Curlee QUICK FAQ
Than in the '70s? Well, gas isn't 50 cents, you make more than $2.00 an hour and they cost more now like everything else... cosmetically not a whole lot, most of the brass was gone by '80, we can't get the "brick" pickups with brass covers anymore, but you can get black hardware and rosewood fingerboards now. The Phoenix is more offset than the old basses, so it balances better and has super upper fret access (see first two pics), and the cream soapbars are new. Structurally? Heavy duty 2-way truss rod with easy access, more headstock angle with better tuner spacing & nut (third pic), separate fingerboard (with fretless dots in the right places), Hipshot USA hardware, set-in necks, better fretwork, less weight, shielded cavity, CTS pots, oversize strap buttons and a hand rubbed oil finish. Feel? Similar but better ergonomics. Tone? All there and then some - the parts fit better, everything is fit tighter, and the pickups give you the '70s rock / funk punch with depth and clarity. Sustain is fantastic. A half inch less scale length (32") and everything moved back a bit for better balance & less reach to the 1st fret & tuners (pic #4).
CAN YOU GIVE ME INFO ABOUT MY VINTAGE SD CURLEE / CURLEE?
Most definitely! But I do ask that you look HERE first to see if I've answered your questions on dates and parts first. Best contact info is on that page as well. For you fans of the old & obscure, picture #5 is THE last original-era Curlee bass, yanked from the spray booth and still masked from 1982, with the FIRST of our new SD Curlee Phoenix basses 34 years later!
ARE THESE BIRDSONGS?
No. Everything we do here is on this page because Birdsong basses are what the workshop is most known for. The success of the Birdsong line allowed some fun things to happen on the side, such as the SD Curlee rebirth in 2011. It's all Wingfeather Enterprises for numbers purposes but really we're a small workshop and a few sets of hands working hard, and it built to this over twelve years. SD Curlees are completely different designs, specs & construction than Birdsongs. We craft them in the same shop and some Birdsong QC and knowledge rubbed off - and that's something to be happy about! Any cosmetic similarities (mahogany, 2+2 headstock, 24 frets, simple organic look) in the BIRDSONGS are because of the SD CURLEE influence! Picture #5 above is a Birdsong Cortobass.
ARE THESE REAL SD CURLEES?
Of course! An SD Curlee is a design, not a guy. It's not like there was one luthier building these in the '70s and now he's not here; it's a name. With a love for the history and all respects to the founders, we're proud to be the next generation bringing you these basses. I was a known luthier (Birdsong) and huge SD Curlee fanatic when fate handed me this baton, and I ran with it. I resurrected the design to give it care & development it never got, did a bit of 30-year-old damage control over how things went down the first time around (original company), spoke with everyone I could find of the original people, fixed & upgraded the design, and here we are... as original as Fender, Gibson, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, and virtually any company name that's still doing something 40 years in. Clients, alumni, enthusiasts, me, and the basses - ALL HAPPY. So that one guy on every board going on about what "real" is and how it's not Guns 'n Roses without the original rhythm guitar player and it's not real Coke anymore? Sorry, yeah it is. Things change and everybody moves on. And according to the living co-founder and designer of the original instruments, we're WAY more what SD Curlee wanted to be than what it became. Mr. Randy Dritz himself came and cut out some bodies! (pic #6 above)... that, my friends, is good enough for me. SD Curlee is US, we are PROUD of that, and we will continue to do our BEST with it.