Monday, January 18, 2010

New Pintail Bass Prototype

Specifications: Ash body, maple/rosewood neck, Gotoh tuners, Bassline vintage style pickups, Schaller adjustable bridge, Rotosound strings. Revisions: the output jack hole will be moved to the side. The strap button placement and string retainer type are still being worked out.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hybrid Acoustic, Prototype #1 (a.k.a. The Double-Wide): Progress Report

(Top) before sound hole changes, (bottom) after. See notes in previous post.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hybrid Acoustic Update: The modified Boxtail "floating" neck is working out nicely. What looks like a pickup is actually the movable saddle plug of the VM Acoustic Bridge System, held down by string pressure and contacting the guitar's top. The stop tailpiece, being attached to the neck end, takes the string pull stress off of the body. The sound hole arrangement is subject to change (note the plugged holes from previous configurations), but the present results are encouraging. With the longer-than-average distance from the bridge to the guitar's tail end, a spruce resonator keel was installed just inside of the big hole at the 12:00 position (visible at the beginning of the video), bringing more tone to the lower bout. The prototype shown is made of bending plywood, so the true sound isn't there yet. Prototype #2 will be made of proper guitar woods – spruce top, etc. That will be where the real adventure begins. This instrument isn't really about trying to be the loudest; rather, it's about using a bigger chamber to shape tone. With this project there has been the constant feeling of building a vessel, partly because of its size, and partly due to its experimental nature, like an old-world sailing ship outfitted for exploration. (Cont'd).
Hybrid Acoustic Video:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Welcome all! The story of this project begins with a deep yearning for something I had lost. Having bought high quality guitars since high school, I always traded one in, bought another, over and over. If I'd kept all of them, I'd have cashed them in for a retirement fund, since the only safe place for them now would be, sadly, a vault!  Years after I sold my last one, I sat around lamenting the fact that I had zero guitars, so I decided to build one. Before I began, I took time to ponder the following question: if I could commission a dream guitar, what would it be like? There was a lot of information gathering to do.

After several more intensive years of loitering in music stores, sketching, computer drafting, patent searching, tooling and prototype building, the result is the Von Mir. The first model, the Boxtail, is inspired by the timeless hourglass shape of the mountain dulcimer. The second model, the Pintail, has an aesthetic mix that recalls surfboards and exotic car fenders (I fantasize regularly over 30's Bugattis). Von Mirs are not boutique guitars, however. They are built to be sweated on, shaken, jerked, squeezed, scratched, even dropped (guitar repair shops need work too).

My Checkered Musical Past

Bats On Skis, 1973-1975: A Decatur, GA-based garage/cover band, venturing out only twice to play for Emory U. law club parties. After two years the plug was finally pulled, triggered in part by getting evicted from the garage, which was in fact a mini-storage rental space (the landlord was never that fond of beer-swilling noisy rockers as storage material).
An ironic legacy remains for this band: years after we broke up, a promoter friend who had met us remembered our name and suggested it to an 80s Canadian band he was producing. Legal foresight not being at the top of my priority list in the 70s, I hadn't trademarked the name. The Canadian band used it and went on to achieve some regional success, TV appearances, etc. Through them, the name also managed to get printed on some posters which were used as props in the movie Head Office starring Judge Reinhold, Danny DeVito & other stars, filmed partly in Canada. A meaningless joke band name that took me all of 1 minute to think up is preserved forever in film history, now probably the legal property of a Hollywood conglomerate. Oh, well...

Ninety-Nine, 1976. One of my first pro gigs. The band, named after a card game, backed up soul singer Margie Alexander, who later moved to gospel. It was the Dawn of the Platform Shoe, but I chose the Serious Beard/Leisure Suit look. Highlights: playing James Brown's club in Augusta, where the Godfather himself beamed in our direction during the sound check. We also played at Atlanta's legendary Auburn Avenue Casino Club where I was awestruck standing on the same stage where the gods of Motown & other R&B greats had once stood. I had an early sixties Strat then, which would now be worth several times the combined 1976 income of the band. A year of playing clubs, lounges, backwoods shacks and even a women's prison, from Slidell, LA to Wilmington, NC. A real eye-opener, and total fun.
Shayde, c. 1970s. Any band that plays Flomaton, Alabama one night and Louisville, Kentucky the next deserves medals. We traveled in a giant blue iron-clad bread van that would make a Hummer look effeminate. Being into a slightly mellower style of chord playing, I was a terrible fit for their repertoire: Hiwatt stack 70s all-dude heavyness. But hey, it was a gig, and a year of lounge boot camp I won't forget, try as I may. Not that I was lacking in the gear department: I had a 300w Ampeg SVT head after seeing the Stones use them at their '69 Auburn, Ala. concert, with two 4 x 12 cabinets, the whole rig being the size of an office building. I never turned this monstrosity all the way up - it could have caused mass extinctions. Funniest memory: we played a pool party in Athens, GA right as the B52's-Pylon-REM era was blossoming...I was aware of this new music and had friends from the same art school crowd in Athens, and as I struggled through our set of covers I remember being scared to death that somebody might recognize me in my classic rock bell bottoms and big hair. I've never felt happier to leave a town. Boys, wherever you are today, thanks for taking me on, and may your ships still be sailing somewhere out there.