Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas time's a coming...

The Thanksgiving holiday is behind us and Christmas times’ a coming.

Christmas time's a coming
Christmas time's a coming
Christmas time's a coming

And I know I'm going home

Can't you hear them bells
A ringing, ringing
Joy to all oh hear them singing
When it's snowing I'll be going
Back to my country home

The workshop is all a buzz right now with basses AND banjo’s. We can tell the economy is improving as folks are visiting the website, workshop and the pace of sales inquires is increasing. These are all good signs for our economy…finally. We had a nice break over the holiday with a quick trip to the sunny south. The sky was clear blue and the temperatures in the mid 70’s. What a nice way to extend the fall season and get a break from the rain.

Now, on to the business at hand. The King Mortone is coming down the homestretch. We left off with the G string breaking as Lonnie was bringing it up to tune for some final tweaking. The new replacement string arrived while we were on vacation and it has been installed. Lonnie was busy working last evening on final details with some color touch up and in general “fussing” over the small details. This bass is very close to being done…Mike & Sharon, I know you are tuned in and watching. Popeye will be home for Christmas…if not sooner!

The next small project is some set up adjustments on the 1939 American Standard bass that is heading to “Music City USA” for Christmas. I wish we were delivering this bass in person. We love Nashville and can’t wait to visit there again real soon. The 1939 AS bass is going to live with Alan Bartram of the Del McCoury and the Travelin’ McCourys. The bass is destine for a good bluegrass recording with that old school gut sound. Alan chose this bass as an opposite to his 1950’s Kay M-1-B bass strung with Spiro mediums. The AS should give him a totally different sound and feel for his future studio recordings. We are honored and delighted to have helped Alan find his new musical friend…Harvey.

And finally a new banjo project. Lonnie is not only skilled with basses, making custom finger picks, but he loves banjos too. Especially the Frank Neat Stanleytone banjos. We have a fabulous banjo playing friend who fell in love with Lonnie’s “super tuned” Stanleytone banjo over a year ago. So much so he never forgot how this banjo sounded or played and longed to have a banjo just like Lonnie’s. After a year of waiting and watching the banjo gods have shined down when a Stanleytone became available for sale on the secondary market. 

Lonnie’s friend got the banjo on a Friday afternoon and had it in Lonnie’s hands on Saturday and basically said, “I don’t want it back until it sounds and plays like your banjo”. WOW, there is a vote of confidence and a challenge from an excellent, hard driving, traditional banjo player…sweet! As soon as the two basses are finished he will jump on the Stanleytone banjo project. It needs a good overall cleaning, polishing, detailing, new head, new custom bridge, strings and Lonnie’s “super tuning” adjustments that will bring the banjo to life with that Ralph Stanley arch top RING. The Stanleytone banjos are a limited edition arch top banjo made exclusively by Frank Neat, they must be purchased directly from Ralph Stanley at a performance or find them on the secondary market.  

Lonnie loves a challenge and he has great confidence that he can pull that classic Ralph Stanley mountain music tone from this banjo. If you love banjos, stay tune. If you don’t, come back in a few weeks and we will be back to bass restorations. I think next bass in line will be the 1956 American Standard; this bass will be going to a young bluegrass student studying at ETSU…very cool.

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