Saturday, October 20, 2007

Guitar Care Presentation

This weekend I had to opportunity to share a presentation on Guitar Care with fellow luthier, Julian Tubb. The venue where we gave our presentation was at a guitar players club in Red Deer, Alberta called Guitar Church which is run by my friend Tom Cameron. He had invited Julian and I to come out and speak. Julian Tubb has been building for eleven years and has a history in cabinet making among other things. He is a very well-rounded luthier, building steel string, resonator and archtop guitars all by hand. He builds very nice instruments and has a customer base that is Canadian and American. We had a fun time tag-teaming and speaking on caring for your instrument. Please take the time to visit Julian's website, which is listed on my favorite links on the right of this blog page. Also, visit the Guitar Church site. Guitar Church offers instruction in many aspects for guitar playing. Jamming sessions are a part of every event, and Tom brings in special guests from all over North America. Last time I was there I caught Doug Doppler, who was mentored by Joe Satriani earlier in his career and now holds his own quite well.
I'm hunkering down for the upcoming Christmas frenzy which comes upon all of us who work in the retail world. Have a happy American Thanksgiving!

-James

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Martin Trip

This week I flew back home where I grew up in Pennsylvania. The Martin Guitar Factory is only an hour and a half away, so I arranged a trip to spend the day there. I've been a Martin Warranty Service Technician for several years, and I've been to the Martin factory once before. This trip I wanted to spend the whole day with their repair staff, asking questions and picking up some tips and tricks from some of the best in the business. Most of their repair staff have been with the company for decades. I had the pleasure of working with two of them that were 35+ year veterans. They taught me a trick or two for sure! Below are some pics of my day spent at the factory this past Wednesday.

Martin Trip

Martin Trip

Martin Trip

Martin Trip

Martin Factory Trip

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Original Creosote Slide




Here are some pics of the original guitar built for Brother Ray. By the way, it's call the "Creosote Slide" because of the maple used on the neck from 90 year old maple telephone poles from British Columbia. At the time, they sealed the poles with creosote, leaving black streaks in the wood permanently. Since it's a slide style guitar for blues, Ray wanted it dubbed the Creosote Slide.
The pickup guts were taken from a 1950's Supro lap steel guitar and transplanted right into this guitar.

Creosote Slide



I had built a guitar for Calgary blues musician, Brother Ray, who wanted a very specific guitar for blues and slide guitar playing. He had a specific design in mind that had been rattling around in his head for years and I was privileged to work together with him to design and built it. The prototype was a hit, and now I'm making some more for him. This one will have two pickups, a three way toggle switch, two volumes and a master tone. This particular one will also have a Bigsby on it. I just glued the neck on last Friday, but here it is before that was done.

A Hard Day At Work Calls For Some Hard Chemicals

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Van Morrison

This week Van Morrison was in town and I had tickets! It is the first, (and probably last) time that he has been or will be in Calgary in his entire career. Being that he apparently hates to tour and perform live and that he's now 61, I'm guessing that I will never see him live again. The same thing happened to me when James Brown came through town two years ago. I do wish good ole' Van a long and prosperous life!
The concert was in a domed arena, so the sound is never PREMIER, but it's the fact that you are experiencing something live- and that's exciting to me. Van and his band were incredible, and they even did "Brown Eyed Girl", which I read later in the paper that he swore he would never perform again because he was so sick of it!
Van's voice is still magical. As the concert progressed, so did his voice. There were times when I heard something that he sang-something that he did with his voice, that I had never heard anyone do before. Sometimes it was a warble, other times something in the richness of his voice.
All of the musicians playing with him were amazing and they were hauling around some really nice gear! Van's organ player was indeed carting around a real B3 with huge leslie cabinet and all. None of them were trying to prove anything or were super flashy, they just enjoyed playing! I'm so used to seeing a guitar player pull out 5-6 guitars, (or even U2's The Edge having a guitar for every song) but Van's guitarist only had one guitar that I saw.
Van's pedal steel/slide guitar player was the flashiest of them all, but she wasn't really showing off, it was just her personality to have fun. She pulled off some incredibly gorgeous solo's on her pedal steel that put her up there with Daniel Langlois and Jerry Douglas. (Yes, Daniel Langlois does play the pedal steel, just not in a bluegrass or country band. Check out some of his albums if you don't belive me!)
All in all, other than wishing that I was in a club in Ireland listening to Van, it was a great experience and I will never forget it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Jars of Clay

Last week I had the opportunity to work on a guitar that belonged to a band that I've been a fan of for a long time, Jars of Clay. They happened to be passing through Alberta and needed some emergency work done on one of their Taylor guitars. Since I'm the Taylor Warranty person for Western Canada, I was the lucky one to get the call! I didn't get to meet any of the band members, but I was glad to give them a hand.