Sunday, June 28, 2009

Carving the bridge...

The special modification work continues on the Kay bass. Lonnie is working on lightening the bridge. This is the same technique he used on the American Standard bass bridge. All of this work is accomplished by hand carving the bridge. Not an easy “freehand” task.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

1953 Kay...resume

The weather has been cool and rainy so it gives us a break from outside projects and a little time to resume work on the 1953 Kay bass. Having attended the 2009 ISB convention last week really got the creative juices flowing for Lonnie. So many beautiful bass designs, outstanding craftsmanship and the opportunity to touch and feel the woods. Lonnie has been inspired to try a few modifications to the Kay bass to get as much volume and tone as we can from this vintage beauty. I wondered how long it was going to take for him to experiment with a bass. Lonnie has a long history of restoring old things, modifying new things and in general being more creative then most people are willing to take the time to invest into a project.

As a kid (6 or 7 years old) Lonnie along with his Dad and younger brother spent many an evening in the family garage super tuning lawn mower engines for their racing go carts. That led to fast, custom motorcycles as teenagers and eventfully building and racing muscle cars in the late 1970’s…on a drag strip (no street racing). So most of Lonnie’s life he has worked with his hands and his brain creating things…working on vintage basses is not a huge leap for his talents. For a ten year span he worked for a small company that modified custom vans for the handicap community. His daily job consisted of taking brand new custom vans (expensive custom vans) cutting off the roofs and dropping the floors to make them handicap assessable. You have to have some really creative skills to work around custom interiors of completed vans when you are using cutting shears and a welder…this was probably the most creative and interesting career he had has so far in his lifetime.

So I told you all that to tell you this…the modifications he has planned for the Kay bass will not alter the original appearance of the bass but are only intended to bring out the best tone possible. He is currently “super tuning” the tail piece and has some design plans for a custom bridge and end pin. I never know what is in his head until is it completed on the bass. By the time he executes his modifications he has built it a hundred times in his head…the man can problem solve in his sleep…this is why I feel HE is the true artist in the house, even though I am the one with the degree in art.

I’ll continue to update with new post as he makes progress. We have not picked out a string yet but we are leaning towards Thomastik Dominants solo tuned to EADG.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

2009 ISB Convention

We had the opportunity to attend the 2009 International Society of Bassist convention at Penn State this week. Though this has nothing to do with the workshop, we were inspired and overwhelmed by all the beautiful basses. This was a once in a life time chance to see the worlds best custom bass maker’s along with over a hundred vintage basses from the 1600, 1700 and 1800th century. The basses were absolutely beautiful and the people were warm and friendly. The colors of the finish, the bass shapes and highly ornate woods were outstanding. Here is a link to a slide show that captures a small part of our day.

In one word it was overwhelming. We are inspired.