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For our 30th episode of Luthier on Luthier, we talk with Colorado-based instrument builder Jeff Bamburg. Jeff tells us about his multifaceted approach to the guitar business; including running a retail shop, his custom line of Bamburg guitars, his production line of Rocky Mountain guitars, as well as teaching lutherie and doing repairs. Jeff also explains why one of his goals is to build a business that he can sell, and about his experiments with double-top and true-tempered guitars.

Link: https://www.bamburgguitars.com/

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For the third year in a row, luthiers and guitar fanatics from around North America converged upon the sleepy town of La Conner, Washington for the La Conner Guitar Festival. Though the festival is ostensibly a showcase for acoustic guitar luthiers, there are now workshops, clinics and concerts taking all weekend long, all over the town’s main street. And after-hours parties – some involving the builders we’ve showcased in our pages – seem to happen with regularity. There aren’t many guitar shows where you get to experience a sense of community like this. It’s quickly become one of our favorite shows.

Not surprisingly, the 2019 La Conner Guitar Festival was filled with gorgeous guitars. Builders included former FJ subjects like Cris Mirabella, Linda Manzer, Steve Andersen and Circle Strings; younger faces like Sam Guidry and Mark Gaiero; and legendary veterans like Charles Fox, Bryan Galloup and Steve Klein. Below are some highlights.

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Fretboard Journal by Jason Verlinde - 20h ago

Mandolin great Andy Statman joins us on this week’s Fretboard Journal Podcast to talk about his new album, Monroe Bus, taking lessons from David Grisman, the influence of Bill Monroe, finding your own tone and so much more.

Portions of this interview can be found on the Fretboard Journal‘s online piece on Statman here.

Andy was so insightful during that conversation that we decided to run the whole chat as a podcast. We hope you enjoy it.

Photo of Statman above: ©2009 Twangbox®/Bradley Klein

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Mono Cases. Check out all their case and pedalboard offerings at monocreators.com.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Fretboard Journal Podcast on iTunes and please leave us a review!

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Acclaimed luthier David Eichelbaum joins us on this week’s Fretboard Journal Podcast to talk about his restoration and repair work, guitarmaking and a lot more. Eichelbaum is based in Ojai, California and on any given day may find himself working on a pre-war Martin or a ’59 Burst. He also talks to us about his own builds – historically-accurate Fender re-creations as well as acoustic guitars – and describes what has to be one of the most unique car hobbies around. All told, it’s a fun chat with a long-time friend of the Journal.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Mono Cases. Check out all their case and pedalboard offerings at monocreators.com.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Fretboard Journal Podcast on iTunes and please leave us a review!

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The eleventh (and possibly most philosophical) episode of the Truth About Vintage Amps is now live.

Twice a month, guitar amp guru Skip Simmons fields your questions on tube amp buying, restoration and repair. Co-hosted by the Fretboard Journal’s Jason Verlinde.

Submit your guitar amp questions to Skip here: fretboardjournal@gmail.com or by leaving us a voicemail or text at 509-557-0848.

Some of the topics discussed on this episode:

4:00 We talk about the dramatic results of the Skip-modified Fretboard Journal silverface Fender Champ

13:17 Skip’s unusual four amp switcher / mixer / pre-amp invention

19:48 Looking at the Fender 5F1 Champ schematic, part two (listen to episode 10 to get the first part)

31:37 This podcast now has an Instagram page (please follow us)

32:30 The problem with Skip’s Ep. 10 Baffler (on Fender tremolo circuits)

34:00 This week’s Baffler: A recently-serviced Fender Princeton Reverb with noisy pots

37:08 The smell of vintage tube amps

40:42 Gibson Falcon mods

45:00 Skip’s preferred NOS tubes

51:02 Loose tubes on a Gibson GA-6 Lancer

56:38 Thoughts on vintage Magnatones and the Magnatone pitch-shifting vibrato

1:02:36 A listener with a rare Hohner Contessa CA-300 amp asks for tips on keeping terminal strip/point-to-point wiring repair tidy

1:09:44 Why the 5E3 tweed Fender Deluxe is so loud, even with the volume turned down… plus the perils of replacing vintage pots

1:13:06 More Snufferstick talk and a Fender 6G15 reverb tank that hates high humidity

1:16:38 Tips on finding a good amp tech

1:26:45 A battery-powered(!) Gretsch Safari owned by a member of the Blue Man Group (see above photo, courtesy Jeff Mezzrow)

1:29:15 Finding tube amp treasures via Ham radio enthusiasts

1:33:54 Sleuthing on the origins of a Venice-branded amplifier

1:36:06 A repaired 1966 Ampeg Reverberocket 2 with some quirks

1:43:18 A hissing 1967 Fender Vibrolux Reverb and a great Danny Gatton tale

Bonus content: Travis Wammack’s “Scratchy;” a cardiologist chimes in; Skip’s beer of choice; why you should befriend your dentist; the novels of Patrick O’Brien and much more.

This episode is sponsored by Grez Guitars and Mono Cases.

If you’re enjoying this podcast, please leave us a five-star review on iTunes and don’t forget to share it with friends.

The post The Truth About Vintage Amps, Ep. 11 appeared first on Fretboard Journal.

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Legendary singer-songwriter Steve Earle joins us this week for one of the best guitar conversations we’ve had in years. Over the course of this nearly hour-long chat, Earle talks to us about meeting and working alongside his hero, Guy Clark, how sobriety changed his playing and his ever-growing guitar collection (135+ instruments as of this recording). Earle also discusses overcoming his fear of Telecasters, his love for the guitars of James Trussart, his favorite amps, gambling tips and more.

Earle’s Guy Clark tribute album, Guy, is out now. We can’t recommend it enough. And check out Earle playing Clark’s “L.A. Freeway” below.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Mono Cases. Check out all their case and pedalboard offerings at monocreators.com.

Steve Earle - "L.A. Freeway" | Fretboard Journal - YouTube

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Fretboard Journal Podcast on iTunes and please leave us a review!

The post Podcast 250: Steve Earle appeared first on Fretboard Journal.

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Andy Statman is a legend amongst bluegrass aficionados, but that barely scratches the surface of this multi-instrumentalist. Though fretted instrumentalists follow Statman for his mandolin playing – he famously used a 1923 Gibson A-2Z for years and is currently utilizing a Kimble F-5 – he’s also a legend in the world of klezmer clarinet, world music and jazz. Earlier this Spring, Statman released his latest project, Monroe Bus. Originally meant to be acollection of interpretations and improvisations of Bill Monroe tunes, the album evolved into a completely different beast. We decided to check in with Statman about this amazing, eclectic record and how he recorded it.

Fretboard Journal: First, off, this record is amazing. But it’s not really a tribute record to Bill Monroe, is it?

Andy Statman: Well, no. If I did a tribute to him specifically I’d probably play his tunes. This is more of a tribute to the spirit of what he did, in some ways.

I never really considered it as a tribute. I was doing a record of improvisations on Bill Monroe tunes and I just wound up writing my own tunes. That’s sort of where it went, but Bill Monroe is the biggest influence in my playing, the way I use my right hand. And my understanding of tone production.

So Monroe is definitely sort of always there hovering in the background, with a bunch of others, as well.

FJ: Talk to me a little bit about that right hand. What sticks with you from Monroe? And how has that affected your playing?

AS: Well, back when I was learning how to play bluegrass, I studied Monroe, Jesse McReynolds, Bobby Osborne. I sort of trained my voice to be able to sound like them, to emulate their tones.

So it’s really an understanding of tone, but the way Monroe uses his right hand to play notes, to play tremolo, to play rhythm, there’s a very specific sound that has a real sort of intensity to it, that I always liked. Not that others don’t have intensity, but in Bill Monroe stuff, I found something that was a bit more universal that I could apply to a lot of other things.

His right hand is always going for feeling. And expressing those musical ideas, a depth of feeling. I was and still am very drawn to that approach.

Andy Statman: "Monroe Bus" - YouTube

FJ: There are thousands of mandolin players who have bought an F-5 or F-5-style mandolin to try to capture that tone. Yet you also famously played an A-style for many years. Is it really all in the hands?

AS: Yeah. As you know, I have played a F-5 style mandolin for the last probably 10 years. It’s a matter of the neck, rather than the sound. I could play like Bill Monroe on the A [style mandolin] I had and people wouldn’t know it was another old mandolin.

It’s really the right hand, it’s really understanding how to use the right hand to produce a certain tone.

FJ: Got it. And where do most beginning mandolin players mess that up?

AS: Well, there are lots of different schools of mandolin playing, so it really depends on what style of music you want to play. The main thing is to emulate the people whose playing you like. You want to be able to know and play with the left hand the way they play, but the right hand is really a much bigger deal than the left hand. You really need to start to understand what tone is and how tone expresses feelings and ideas. You really need to emulate the tone of the people who you want to sound like, rather than just playing the notes their playing. You really need to understand how to get that sound and that feeling that’s drawing you in.

It’s really pretty much about sound and how you use sound, as opposed to just musical ideas. The tone is a very big musical idea and expresses a lot. That’s why we might like certain singers who have incredible voices, even in styles we’re not familiar with, if the sound of their voice is great. Or clarinet players or saxophone players, or trumpet players or violinists, for that matter. It really all has to do with tone.

And in any style, you want to learn the tonal language of the style. Tone production is really important. Once you can do that, you begin to use it on your own.

I had a number of different models in bluegrass whose tones I was able to emulate. Each person is an individual, but, in particular, when you’re going back to the founders of the bluegrass mandolin, that would be Bill Monroe, Jesse McReynolds and Bobby Osborne. And then the people after them like Herschel Sizemore, Frank Wakefield and John Duffey. They all started to develop their own understanding of tone based on what they were feeling and what sounded good. Each had a bit of a different tone conception. Bobby initially came out of the Bill Monroe thing, but developed his own wonderful unique style.

Tone is all the right hand. It’s like a voice box for a singer or, for a woodwind player, it’s the embouchure. It’s what you really need. And with really good players, you hear one or two notes and you understand who it is just by the sound, let alone the musical ideas or the way thing are being played.

FJ: You are, by far, one of the most soulful mandolin players. I can’t help but think that your family’s singing background and your time with [klezmer clarinet legend] Dave Tarras must get distilled into your mandolin playing.

AS: Of course. I’m one person, so whether I play a clarinet or mandolin, it’ll all there.

FJ: There’s a pretty amazing photo of you alongside Bill Monroe in the liner notes for this CD. Can you paint a picture of the day that was taken?

AS: I didn’t even know that picture existed! At the exact time we were putting together the jacket for the record that picture surfaced. A friend of mine took a bunch of pictures of that festival and posted them. [Another friend] said, “That’s Andy,” and he sent it to me.

It surfaced at the exact right time. That was 1966, I believe, at the second Roanoke Bluegrass Festival. Pretty much everybody was there in bluegrass, more or less. And what was most exciting to me was that there were going to be these reunions of great bands that Monroe had with past players. I remember Rudy Lyle was there; Sonny Osborne and Mac Wiseman were there. There was a band they were going to put together with Bill Monroe, Don Reno and Mac Wiseman. It was a pretty amazing thing. These guys were at the height of their powers back then.

I’d gotten into bluegrass when I was about 11 or 12 years old. I started out with guitar and then banjo. So I had been playing mandolin for a little over a year then.

All of these guys were like my heroes. In that picture, I was probably freaked out to be so close to Bill Monroe and trying to very stealthily walk away [laughing].

FJ: How much longer did it take for you to muster up the courage to actually approach Bill Monroe?

AS: I met Bill at one of Tex Logan’s picking parties and barbecues in the summer. It had probably happened earlier that [same] summer. I was just so nervous. He was very, very nice, and very kind to me. I didn’t even want to play but I was sort of forced to.

FJ: Did you ever study with Bill or ask him for playing advice?

AS: I didn’t study with Bill Monroe. I just had a casual relationship with him, but I did study with David Grisman.

FJ: How much older than you is Grisman?

AS: David is maybe five years with in my age. When I went to see him, I’d just gotten a semi-roundback mandolin. I’d been playing guitar and banjo before that, going down to Washington Square and playing in bands and stuff. The sound of the mandolin really sent me. He really gave me whole lessons, just organically, on aesthetics. You’ve got to listen to Bill Monroe…

He told me to bring a reel-to-reel tape recorder, because he had an archive of hundreds of live tapes and tapes of 78s and 45s, which you just couldn’t get back then. He said, “Why don’t you record this and this and this, lock the door when you leave, and give me a call when you need another lesson.” I was there for about another two, three hours recording stuff. I tried to figure out what I could, I played hooky from school and I spent 10 or 12 hours a day trying to learn solos note-for-note. At first it took a long time. I eventually got to the point where I could hear a solo and know what key it was in by the way a person was playing. I would learn if Monroe did five tremolo strokes or seven tremolo strokes, because I really felt it really made a difference in the expressiveness of what he going for. You know, it was a spontaneous thing, but it wasn’t a random thing. I got into it very microscopically. After about two months, I called up David [for another lesson] and, he said, “Come on down.”

In the course of about two years, I took about five or six lessons from him in that style. It really gave me the keys to the highway. I understood how to try solos, I understood how to go about learning the musical language and I understood how important tone production was and how to go about getting it. I began to understand how to play a melody, ornamentation, how to improvise… just a whole bunch of different skills.

Things sort of moved on from there, but David was really my primary teacher in terms of giving me a real sure footing in how to be a musician. And certainly an understanding and having a sense of aesthetics and appreciating people like Bill Monroe. So, when I was down there at that festival, I had already drunk from that well a lot and was pretty aware of what was going on.

It was just a real joy for me to be down there, playing music out in the fields with different people. Joe Greene was out there; I played with him and a bunch. Jimmy Martin would be singing out in the field. It was really a wonderful, affirming experience. And everyone who was there was just completely elated. Everyone left there so inspired and so high from the music.

FJ: Your musical journey is one of the most fascinating ones I’ve ever heard, from bluegrass to klezmer to free jazz. What are you listening to right now? What’s on your stereo?

AS: Well, let’s see… I listen to a lot of stuff. I go through different things. I’ve been listening to a lot of Coleman Hawkins lately actually and a bunch of Wanda Jackson. It’s a wide array of music. And some Bill Monroe and the Osborne Brothers. I’ve been listening to some Ecuadorian music recently, some of the great guitarists from down there. I just listen to lots of different things. Everything I hear I want to learn, which is just quite impossible. Some of them I do get around to learning… or trying to learn.

FJ: Tell us a bit about the making of the Monroe Bus record. Where was it recorded?

AS: I originally thought it was going be a record of Monroe tunes. I wound up writing all these tunes, some of which are extensions of his tunes, some of which where you may not see a connection, but it’s still sort of there. I’ve been working with Larry Eagle and Jim Whitney steadily for the last 20 years. So we have this certain incredible communicative thing happening. We play a tune, we have no real arrangements, just through eye contact or gesture or whatever, we all know what to do. It’s really wonderful.

The previous record we had done with Michael Cleveland and I thought he’d be a natural for this. We recorded at a place called Acoustic Sound in Brooklyn here. We brought Michael in for the basics and recorded 23 or 24 songs. When the record was finally mixed, we just picked 12.

Michael can really pretty much play anything he really wants to. He’s a wonderful person and a fantastic musician. He really knows just what to do. Those were the basic tracks and then we brought in this really amazing keyboard player named Glenn Patscha, who can play a number of different root styles, as well being a good jazz player. So we had a Hammond B-3 in there, as well as a piano. He also had a pump organ. We brought in Michael Daves for a few tunes, a friend of mine who plays Azerbaijani music and a coronet player to play on a few tunes.

I used to like to do records pretty much live. In the last two records, I began to see the advantage of Pro Tools and what it affords you as a composer. I was able to hear the tunes over a period of time and decide that I wanted to add sections or delete sections, or add this thing or that thing. As a compositional tool, it’s absolutely fantastic. I just love it. Years ago, it would have gone against my whole aesthetic of doing everything live.

FJ: Did you use the Kimble mandolin for the whole record?

AS: It’s a great mandolin, yeah. It’s from July, 2014. I had played another F-5 and then I traded him a two-point and then I traded that for this. It’s just a great mandolin. It records really well.

FJ: Do you mic it differently than you did your old A-style Gibson mandolin?

AS: When I record, there are two problems. One problem is that I get into the music. I move around, so that’s a problem with the miking right there, particularly when I’m recording. A larger problem is that I hum along, sometimes quite loudly, when I play. So the engineer was able to set up twin microphones, so that it would sort of somehow cancel out a lot of the loud humming that I can do sometimes…

I remember one time when I recorded with Vassar Clements, it was back in, like, 1966 or something like that, and we were sitting, and then he said, “What’s that, what’s that?” And I said, “That’s just me, singing along.” He was cool with it; he just wondered what it was.

I don’t really mind it. But he had a particular way of miking it so it canceled out a bunch of that stuff. He used two different Schoeps mics to record me.

I’m not sure what I’m humming, but some people have told me that I’m basically humming either the melody or that when I’m improvising I’m humming. It’s really an unconscious thing to me.

The post Interview: Andy Statman on ‘Monroe Bus’ appeared first on Fretboard Journal.

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The Fretboard Journal is proud to premiere Willard Gayheart’s “My Henderson Guitar,” a song found on the 87 year-old musician’s forthcoming (and debut!) solo album, At Home in the Blue Ridge (out May 24). Gayheart is no stranger to fans of acclaimed luthier Wayne Henderson: He’s a fixture at Wayne’s annual music festival and his pencil illustration work is legendary around the Galax, Virginia region. Not surprisingly, he has a cherished guitar from the builder… an heirloom he decided to celebrate in song.

Gayheart explains this composition: “I wrote this song about seven or so years ago. Wayne Henderson, of course, is one of the finest luthiers out there, and my Henderson guitar is one of my most prized possessions. A lot of people ask about what it is that makes one of Wayne’s guitars so special. Of course there’s the tone, and they’re really set up so good. But really, I think that his guitars are special because of what a special person Wayne is, and folks love his guitars because of a connection with him. I got my Henderson guitar in 1992, a D-28 dreadnought model that I traded for a drawing I made of him. Wayne has always really liked my drawings which means a whole lot to me, and I’ve done some other drawings of him since. I just wrote this as a tribute to Wayne.”

At Home in the Blue Ridge was produced by Teddy Thompson and also features Gayheart’s granddaughter, Dori Freeman, Nick Falk and Freeman’s father, Scott Freeman. It was recorded live in Willard’s Galax frame shop, showcasing yet another heartwarming facet of Appalachia’s thriving music culture.

The post Song Premiere: Willard Gayheart – “My Henderson Guitar” appeared first on Fretboard Journal.

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The tenth episode of the Truth About Vintage Amps with Skip Simmons is now live!

Twice a month, guitar amp guru Skip Simmons shares stories and fields your questions on tube amp buying, restoration and repair. Co-hosted by the Fretboard Journal’s Jason Verlinde.

Submit your guitar amp questions to Skip here: fretboardjournal@gmail.com or by leaving us a voicemail or text at 509-557-0848.

Some of the topics discussed on this episode:

Some of the topics discussed on this episode:

:22 Skip and Jason discuss possible Truth About Vintage Amps t-shirt designs (coming soon)
2:55 Jason and Skip discuss the Fretboard Journal (modified) Fender  Champ
4:26 How to install a quarter-inch output into a Champ with an RCA speaker connector
6:02 Recommended solder
8:00 Our first sponsor – Grez Guitars!
10:26 Our new Instagram page!
10:54 This week’s Baffler
12:08 A walk-through of the Fender Champ 5F1 schematic (available online, print it out)
21:10 Wall power fluctuations
26:38 Recommended tube amps for acoustic guitars
33:05 Father’s Day and the Tweed Deluxe
36:05 BB King’s Gibson Lab Series (solid state) amp
38:26 A yard-sale find pre-war Rickenbaker amp and a dim bulb current limiter
41:14 Stew-Mac’s Snufferstick, Part One
44:00 Leaning a tube amp on its stand – good or bad?
46:30 A noisy Fender silverface Princeton
49:26 Boutique amps
51:54 Recommended new components
55:22 Snufferstick, Part Two
59:40 Capturing that Champ distortion with a louder amp (and a shoutout to Tim Foster)
1:03:26 Manitoba’s Johnson Sound System amplifiers
1:06:30 Replacing old can power capacitors cleanly
1:15:15 Recommended bigger speakers / impedance for a Fender Champ
1:18:38 Converting an old Hammond AO-39 organ reverb amp to a guitar amp
1:27:15 A 1957 Fender 5F4 Super amp with an original selenium bias rectifier
1:35:13 Skip’s record picks of the week
1:38:22 Best position for the three-way ground switch on a Fender
1:40:00 Skip has to return a Weed Eater

and much more…

If you’re enjoying this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes and don’t forget to share it with friends.

The post The Truth About Vintage Amps, Ep. 10 appeared first on Fretboard Journal.

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Seattle’s Greg Ruby lives and breathes jazz guitar. When he’s not gigging with various ensembles, this former member of Pearl Django is a busy composer and music educator. Ruby’s latest project is one of his most ambitious, Oscar Alemán: Play Along Songbook, Volume One. On this week’s podcast, Ruby walks us through the unbelievable life of Alemán (a peer of Django Reinhardt’s with an equally made-for-Hollywood backstory). We also talk about Greg’s early introduction to gypsy jazz and hear about the mammoth task he had in assembling this collection of tab/notation (the first dedicated to Alemán’s music).

Order Oscar Alemán: Play Along Songbook, Volume One here.

The post Podcast 248: Greg Ruby appeared first on Fretboard Journal.

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