Of course, after one day, I'm already seeing a few scraper marks in the backs that I wish I had seen before. Will see how they behave in the next day or two. May just leave well-enough alone, as they say.
Letter to Jan from Ike. All capital letters, single spaced. Paragraph breaks are mine, placed following Ike’s periods. Probably also written in 1990.
Feb, Thursday the Eight, 2/58 PM
HI Jan & Family, Recd. your great letter today and was very
glad to get it and am hoping that some week end or for that
matter come any time I’m here in place most of the time, having
no legs am somewhat handicapped, so not too hard to locate.
Now about my first fiddle, I made it out of a cigar box believe
it or not, we had a German neighbor next door who was an excellent
violinist, played classical music as well as any, he gave me
a few lessons, mostly just how to hold the fiddle, no, he called
it a violin, he was a violinist, I’m only a fiddler, I had two
brothers that was fiddlers both older and gone from home when
I started, my dad also played when he was a kid, and his dad
my granddad was I guess better than the rest of us.
I guess it must have been around 1910 or 1911 I was doing the
janitor work at the two room school house in a little town
called Leland, in Nez Pearce County Idaho, I got four dollars a
month, those days Montgomery Ward sent out their catalogs they
had fiddles advertised in them, I had saved my money until I
had seven dollars and enough more to pay the shipping charges
so I ordered one, Mother told me I should have told them and
they would have put more with it and got a better one, any way
as soon as I learned to tune it I could play after a fashion.
In the summer on a big wheat ranch I did chores and there was a
young girl that could second on Pi-ano and we had some wond-
erful times, and at the dances after I was a little bigger I
would play for the dances when the regular musicians went to
the midnight suppers, yes those days we dance all night some
times until daylight.
I worked on ranches a lot when I was a kid and we lived in a little
town and Dad always had some horses around, and after I grew up
I broke horses for a horse outfit that were sold to the army.
You ask where I went to learn my first tunes, I knew a lot of tunes
we learned to sing in school, those tunes and anything I could
whistle I could play on the fiddle, and at a dance I might learn
one or two new tunes, and I went to a lot of dances.
Ame here most of the time except when I go for a foot or leg
measurement, will be gone Monday P.M.
As ever, Ike.
Envelope is postmarked 23 Jan 1990, Boise, ID.
Return address is R.F. Crosby, 1615 ‘ Th St., Nampa, ID 83651
Addressed to Jan Beckwith, XXX W. Linden, Caldwell, ID 83605
And a second note, on green paper --
Friend Jan, I am now in the Valley Plaza Retirement Center
1615 8th St. Nampa, and I have my violin with me, why dont you an
and the kids run over and try my fiddle, no it’s a violin.
Came from Spain, I’ve had it 73 years, come try it. I cant hear
but had another man tune it and I played some, bring your
husband if he would like to come
Best regards, as ever Ike Crosby.
“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”
People who have followed my blog over the years might be aware that in 2012 my lower back decided to suddenly and loudly let me know it was not happy. This experience led to various adventures involving insurance companies, doctors, physical therapists, surgeons, my amazing wife Cynthia, and wonderful friends.
For five years I have been able to work between one-third and half the time in the shop I had previously. This meant I have made far fewer dulcimers and each dulcimer required more gaps in time between start and finish. I have found this frustrating but I also believe everything that happens is a gift, though some gifts I would not have asked for and if possible I would return or exchange them.
One of the gifts of the last 5 years has been the chance to reevaluate what is important to me and how I want to live my life.
Organization is not something that comes naturally to me. A visit to my shop will make this obvious, yet in that small space where I work everything I need is close at hand and I feel comfortable, the kind of comfortable one feels when wearing a favorite old shirt.
Before having to limit my time in the shop I was considering ways of organizing the shop and streamlining my workflow to increase productivity. This felt counterintuitive to my personality but getting out of one’s comfort zone is often a good idea. On the other hand, sometimes one’s comfort zone is just right the way it is.
I am not a production oriented luthier. Before having to slow down I had found a comfortable rhythm of work and enjoyed it. Each time I tried to do more work than felt comfortable either the work suffered for it or I suffered for it. That is not how I choose to live.
Rather than getting more work done circumstances have dictated I get less done. A positive aspect of this has been a chance to “enjoy the scenery” more while working. I have also had time to refine my dulcimer designs, improve some of my hand-tool skills, and study various lutherie traditions. As a result Spanish guitar construction techniques have greatly influenced my methods of work these past few years. Ironically, I have also found ways to streamline workflow and increase productivity!
But really, the inspiration for this blog post is yet another upcoming adventure. In the middle of November I will be having back surgery number 3, a bi-level lumbar fusion that should help ease the most annoying aspects of what I have dealt with.
I will not be able to work in the shop for several months following surgery and when I make my reentry I will be starting out slowly and gently. I’m sure the downtime during recovery will be yet another gift I would not have asked for!
I was hesitant to go public with news of the upcoming surgery at this time but found I have already had to talk about it more than planned. I have had to turn down gigs and tell people inquiring about ordering dulcimers that it will be some time before I will be able to make them.
Once completely recovered I will most likely return to work full-time or something closer to full-time again. That alone will bring a great increase in productivity. I am very much looking forward to that! I love my job.
I also hope to travel again and go to festivals, see friends in distant places, and leap tall buildings in a single bound.
|Gibson Factory in Memphis|
In a press release, the company implies that the Memphis factory is not closing, or leaving Memphis, but looking for a smaller space the the almost 128,000 building they currently occupy. Asking price is $17 million dollars, including a 330 space parking lot.
Gibson has been a Memphis fixture for the past 18 years. When it was built it had a large entertainment facility that has not been used in the past few years.
Unconfirmed source state the Gibson Brands Incorporated has accrued considerable debt.
|Inside the Memphis Plant|
They go on to say that the Memphis plant will not be closing anytime soon. It is estimated that it will take 18 to 24 months to find a new home.
|Gibson Memphis Plant|
|Gibson Brands CEO Henry Juskiewicz|
I remember when our property had abandoned buildings, and Beale Street was in decline. It is with great prid that I can see the development of this area with a basketball arena, hotel, and a resurgent pride in the musical heritage of the great city of Memphis. We continue to love the Memphis community and hope to be a key contributor to its future when we move nearby to a more appropriate location for our manufacturing based business allowing the world the benefit or our great American craftsmen.”
|Epiphone Les Paul Standards.|
In addition to the Gibson brand name, Gibson also owns the Epiphone, Kramer, Maestro, Kalamazoo, Dobro, and Valley Arts brand names for guitars.
The company owns the Slingerland Drum Company, as well as the Baldwin, Wurlitzer, Chickering, and Hamilton piano brand names.
Slingerland drums are no longer being manufacutred. Some of the other guitar brands are no longer being made, while others, that were once American brands, are now being outsourced to Asian manufacturers.
|Gibson Innovations products|
Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click on links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)
On October the 11th, the owners of Carvin Audio announced that after 71 years of being in business they are closing.
|LC Kiesel demonstrates |
a mandolin pickup and an amplifier
|LC Kiesel playing steel|
on a Martin guitar
Kiesel was an accomplished steel guitar player.
Within a year Kiesel moved his location and began manufacturing steel guitars. By 1949 he set up a larger facility in Baldwin Park, California This same year Lowell changed the companies name from Kiesel Guitars, to Carvin Guitars. Carvin was an amalgamation of the names of Lowell’s sons; Carson and Gavin.
|'56 Carvin #1-SGB|
The companies earliest guitars, and basses were very basic, but functional. They utilized necks made by Höfner, and pickups manufactured by DeArmond. In addition to their own guitars, Carvin also offered Martin guitars, Fender guitars, and Sonola accordions. They also offered a complete line of steel and pedal steel guitars.
|1976 Carvin guitars|
Later in the decade they expanded into recording equipment, stage lighting, and other studio equipment.
|1976 Parts and Kits|
Carvin offered guitar kits as early as the 1960’s. Carvin continued to manufacture their own pickups.
|'54 Carvin #3664 - |
2 - 12" speakers 25 watts
|1957 Model #3-SGB|
Carvin’s sales were always direct to the public. This was a niche that other manufactures never pursued, but it was the key to Carvin's success. Their only stores were their own retail outlets, that were not opened until 1991. These three locations were in Southern California, and include their Escondido factory.
|1956 Catalog cover|
Their early catalogs were crudely done as mimeographed flyers, with descriptions of the guitars and amps. They had black and white photographs of the products.
|1976 Carvin Catalog|
By 1976 Carvin began offering color catalogs.
|1976 Carvin CM96 guitar|
This same year, Carvin guitars came with all the bells and whistles, that included pickup phasing switches, coil tap, and stereo controls. Bodies were made in the USA, the necks were made in Germany by Hòfner.
|1979 Carvin Audio and Amplifiers|
Recently they added digital mixing boards, microphones, wireless systems, in-ear monitors, and power conditioners.
Carvin guitar amplifiers were legendary. Steve Vai was an endorser. The late Alan Holdsworth played his Carvin signature model.
|Carvin Vintage Series 16/5 watt amp|
Carvin Vintage series tube guitar amplifiers were comparable to better known brands, at a much lower price.
|Carvin BX 1600 bass amp|
Carvin bass amplifiers, sold as the BX series and as well as their cabinets were great values. These were rated from 250 watts to 2000 watts RMS.
Unfortunately Carvin equipment will no longer be available. The website is offering remaining stock, but most stock has already been sold.
|2017 Kiesel FG1|
Carvin guitars and amplifiers have always been under the radar when compared to Fender, Gibson, and Vox.
Those who own Carvin products swear by them.
Click on the links below the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.
Aloha! I’m going to continue my 90’s-themed, ukulele-twisted nostalgia with what is arguably THE 90s band. The ultimate 90s band. The band that encapsulated a scene, burned down what was before, and set a decade into motion.
Of course, I’m talking about Nirvana.
Nirvana hit with such force and speed that it was a shock to almost every adult. The Christmas of 1991 saw a ton of copies of Nevermind fly off the shelves (probably with Christmas money from relatives), but Michael Jackson’s Dangerous was still #1. Until the week of January 11th, when kids returned their gifted copies of Dangerous and bought Nevermind with the refunds, moving Nervmind from #6 to #1 beating Dangerous on the charts.
Just think about that for a second. Nirvana moved from #6 to #1 based on word of mouth and refunds of probably the most popular artist to date. If that doesn’t say the kids are into your music, nothing ever will.
But that basically sums up Nirvana’s whole lifespan. They presented a sound and image that was so popular that it dismantled what was there prior. Nirvana has solos, but not lame-o Poison solos. And they didn’t have weak power ballads like… well, Poison did that too. Poison just kind of sucks and seems to be a pretty easy punching bag right now.
Nirvana seemed to be the band that had no interest in fame even if they did want to be rock stars and everyone bought in. The raw sound, the catchy hooks, the great writing, and the rebellious image of normality when bands like Guns ‘N Roses and Twisted Sister were making spectacles of themselves presented us with something new.
They seemed not only like the genuine article, but like a band of everybodies. Their image was the same as most of the people at the time and their songs weren’t known for being insanely difficult. It moved the focus from virtuosity to being genuine and we can all be genuine.
In the end, it was too much to bear for singer Kurt Cobain, but he left behind an amazing legacy that still sounds fresh today.
And you can play 20 of them on the ukulele with this book from Hal Leonard!
Personally, I was suspect when I first saw the book as Nirvana is usually associated (at least to me) with loud electric guitars, but the more I thought about the songs themselves, the more convinced I became that the different tone of the ukulele combined with the stripped-down nature of strumming and singing the songs to yourself with no accompaniment might turn them into something other than what they were before.
Kind of like their unplugged album.
The book presents 20 solid songs in musical notation with chord boxes and the ultimate goal of getting your strumming along. And, while the songs aren’t overly difficult, some of them have a good amount of chords and fast changes, so it should make for a fun challenge for some players.
Or you could always play them slower for a moodier feel. There’s really no WRONG way to play Nirvana.
And it’s because of this that I recommend this book for anyone interested in playing alternative on the ukulele. 90’s alternative hits often came in two varieties: original and unplugged and the unplugged version was almost always better, but if you wanted to rock out, the original was the way to go. Similarly, you can stretch, slow down, speed up, and warp these songs and usually have good outcomes because they’re just good songs and you can do that. They aren’t the kind of songs where if you pull a thread it all comes apart. The songs are solid and complex, not so much in the chord shapes, but in the different vibes you can present just by playing it slower and alone.
Think “Hurt” by Johnny Cash compared to the original Nine Inch Nails. (And I know that was from 2002, but it still works to convey what I’m talking about)
But if you’re not interested in creating a moody environment playing these songs slower and alone (or even at speed and alone), you can always play them at speed with your friends and sing along because that was an important part of 90s alternative, too. For all the angst and difficult issues being worked out from abortion, suicide, and general injustice, it was also about finding peace and being happy.
So I say get this book, grab your uke, and see what you can do with these songs!
Until next time!
Yup, you read that right: Episode 2 of the I Heart Guitar Podcast is out now and the guests are St. Vincent, Richie Kotzen, Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, and blues legend Walter Trout.
You can listen here on iTunes or on the podcatcher of your choice (and if you can’t find it on whatever you’re using, email me at email@example.com and I’ll get it added for you). Don’t forget to leave a review!
There’s also a Patreon page where you can show me some love and get access to an exclusive subscriber-only podcast feed. The first subscriber-only bonus just went out on Monday: a live track from my performance at the Melbourne Guitar Show in 2015. Subscribers will get all sorts of stuff: gear demos, extended interviews, live call-in shows, previews of the album I’m releasing in early 2018 and more (while also helping to pay for things like hosting fees, podcasting gear, food for my sausagedog, etc).
The post Podcast Episode 2: St Vincent, Richie Kotzen, Dan Auerbach, Walter Trout appeared first on I Heart Guitar.
My two most recent, all together. Plenty of detail work left before moving onto the varnishing, but I can now heft them to my shoulder and they feel like fiddles. That's fun.