Monday, February 28, 2011

Building a Custom Guitar

Blues Machine
The guitar has been a big part of my life. Some of my earliest memories were my Dad strumming a beat up six string on our ugly green couch on Saturday mornings along with the likes of Jimmy Buffet and Jackson Browne. The instrument captured my imagination and it has been a big part of my life ever since. Last year I traded a Les Paul for a Fender AVRI '52 Telecaster. I had always wanted a tele and the LP I had just never played right. It was a beautiful guitar; it just didn't speak to me. Along with the trade the gentleman has swapped out all the electronics for "boutique parts". I decided that I wanted a Tele that sounded like a '52 Tele so I swapped all the parts back. I was planning on selling the parts on Craiglist. Then my father came over. He picked up the '52 and gave it a strum and said, "oh, this feels so good and sounds so nice" all while a big grin developed on his mug. I decided then and there to give him the guitar. I had several electric guitars and this man of 61 years had never owned an electric guitar.

It's now his, but I still wanted a Telecaster. I decided I would build one with the left over electronics. I bought a used Fender Highway One Telecaster Body in flat black off eBay. I bought some sonic blue paint off ReRanch and painted that body a nice 50s color in my shed. I really wanted this to be a family project so I asked if my brother (who's an artist that goes by the name of Mateo)to custom paint me the body. We settled on a price and I happened to take the freshly painted body up to Pullman, WA when I went up to attend opening night his first solo exhibit last May at WSU. While there we talked about ideas, concepts, etc. I really wanted to have him experiment with it. Then he showed me a sketch of a kid on a bicycle riding through an old 50s neighborhood with cap guns 'a blarin'. I said, "That's how I feel". We agreed this was to be the theme.

Meanwhile I bought a Warmoth Jazzmaster neck with a modern radius (thanks Spike, I love it). I refinished the neck with the advice coming from a great woodworker, named Dennis. I learned a lot about not buying stains and lacquers from Home Depot. Then I waited. And waited. Art takes time and my brother is an artist. When I finally received the body, it blew away expectations.

Assembling the guitar was achieved all the while holding my breath. I am not great at soldering electronics. I did have to take it apart a few times for pickup adjustment and to knock out a hum it had. Once that badboy was grounded it sang great. I believe it just slide into the number one position in my collection.

Here is how it sounds: is parts:
Body purchased on eBay

Neck after applying stain and finish
Also, note the package of tuners on the couch. While mounting those on the neck I did smash my left index finger with a mallet. I do not recommend doing this. It hurt like hell.

Body painted Sonic Blue. The flash really weirded out the color.

Finished Product
Custom Tele guitar
Custom Tele Guitar Headstock
Custom Tele Guitar

Here is Dad on the Green Couch Strumming a Guitar
Dad on Green Couch Strumming Guitar

Here is Dad on someone else's couch strumming a guitar. I am the kid on the couch and my brother is on the floor
Dad Playing Guitar on Other Couch

Here is my Brother on the Green Couch. Look how ugly it is! Note: Guitar really close to the Green Couch
Brother on Green Couch with Guitar in Background

And one comical one of Ronnie Bahama just for laughs. Never shy to ham it up for the camera!
Dad playing a Kid Guitar

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Best Coast & Wavves show last night at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, CA

This old man made it out to the new young sound movement known as California Noise Pop last night at the Regency Ballroom. I have been to many shows in SF but this was the first one at the Regency. I do have to say that the it is a nice place to see a show. Good sound and intimate enough to feel like you are seeing something meaningful, if the music is good enough.

First off, the late 80s/early 90s are back with a vengeance. Tights with shorts were the standard uniform for the women while the guys stuck to mustaches, top siders and tight pants. All adorned with non-colorful heavy lined tattoos. Also, women wearing my Mom's old big eyeglasses and shoulderpads got an extra two points of coolness. This looks like its the uniforms of the kids today. I guess if you have never worn it, might as well give it a go (and look back and laugh at yourself years later). Now to the music....

. Okay these guys have been getting a lot of buzz. I do have to say they played a tight set, with several mediocre finishes. I found the set to be entertaining. They can be described, in my opinion, in one simple phrase: Nirvana with Reverb with the Violent Femmes lead singer drumming up the banter. Now that's original, right? I would say over half the set sounded like they were playing the same stooges song. However there were a few standout numbers and they started with "this is a new one". If they can bear the strains of being in a band and being famous, as they mature they should be able to turn out some good music in the future. I'll keep a watch...

Best Coast. I cannot say much, besides they totally skyrocketed past all my expectations. The vocals pumping out of the P/A were astonishing. I have given their latest release many a spin, but I wasn't fully sold on the band until seeing them live. Bob Bruno; I bow to you. That Danelectro baritone guitar you ripped was outstanding. The tones coming out were true originals. I feel that the album is soaked in reverb, Bob's Bass is soaked in reverb, but the lead vox shines through and punched the audience in the face with love. They blew doors on Wavves. I eagerly wait to see them again as well as see what they can pull off in the studio as they mature.


Friday, February 25, 2011

The Music Studio

Ah, where creation is born...

In the past 5 years since it was built there have been over 75 original songs recorded in it, 3 full length albums, 1 ep, and a puppet show soundtrack (no foolin), as well as a live jam room for anybody who wanted to play music. When it was first constructed by myself and my soon-to-be brother in law, the late Tony Nelson Bapista, my main goal was to let anyone who ever wanted to play any type of music come by and play. I believe it has fully achieved it's objective. As well as given me very special memories with relatives and friends. And I was actually able to get a band together out of it. For that I have to thank the following people; Tony Baptista, Blue Lang, Steve Laflen, Jeff Okubo, Johnny Kirk, Rick Silverstri, Spencer Grau, Jon Luttrell and last but not least, my neighbors with special consideration for the Villalobos family who's bedroom window is about 30 feet away and they have never complain once. Best neighbors ever? In my opinion, Yes!

The Studio is not going away. I just want to document it for what it is in this moment in time. I am making some changes inside it. Call it "redecorating" or just reorganizing. It will still be a recording studio and The Booty Chesterfield Trio shall still exist, but things change and change is good. Hopefully it will inspire a new era in the creative process. Please enjoy the pix.
music studio
Dads Guitar
Velvet Elvis
blue's Drums
Skyway BMX in the studio
Vintage GI Joe Devo
Here is a before shot:
And and after shot:

Monday, February 21, 2011

One of my "old school" influences growing up and searching for music...

Growing up around music was the way I came out of the womb. My brother, sister and I rocked on the family room couch from as early as I could remember to my father's record collection. Early on in life I had The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffet, John Prine, J.J. Cale and Fleetwood Mac embedded into my system. As a pre-teen I began to explore other types of music. Mainly whatever my friends older brothers were into. This is what I dubbed my "Heavy Metal Years". The likes of Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Thin Lizzy, etc. were tattooed all over my middle-school book covers. As I got into high school frequent trips to Berkeley were a routine procedure. On one of those trips I picked up "Cinema Verite" by Dramarama. I heard the hit "Anything, Anything" on Live 105 (KITS), but what I discovered with that purchase was a little more. True Rock and Roll was alive and well; a freshly packaged nugget buried in the mid-eighties synth-soaked MTV/NightTracks world. I promptly went out and bought their sophomore effort Box Office Bomb. I played these records incessantly. One of my favorite tracks was "It's still warm" on Box Office... It screams California. Here is a recent live sample...

In 1989 they came out with their properly released 3rd album, "Stuck in Wonderamaland". My brother and I journey down to the Cactus Club in San Jose, CA on a cold, December night the following year to catch their live show. When they came on stage I thought the lead singer/main songwriter, John Easedale was drunk because he was kind of stumbling around the stage. Then the music started. 90 minutes of pure rock and roll. This was the best concert I had been to yet, and that was just coming off seeing Jane's Addiction, The Pixies & Primus on one bill in SF just two weeks earlier.

Dramarama gave me my first true "discovery". It was like finding a new best friend. My Dad's friend, The Rolling Stones, was great and all, but as a young kid you are searching to define yourself. Dramarama did it for me. They are still one of my favorite bands. They have a wonderful catalog of great records. And they still, occasionally play today. Go see them and support good music.