I have always loved to work with my hands. An avid model biulder as a kid, I have explored many many hobbies that allowed me to build things. As of late I have been in the woodshop making instruments as gifts for friends, family members, and as give aways for fund raisers. Some of these are repairs, some are found damaged and that I have reworked into playable instruments, many are kits from great companies like Stewart McDonald & Tube Depot, others are created from the ground up. Here are some of my recent projects...
Here is a family of ukeleles that I built for members of my family over the holidays (2016). The top (baritone) ukelele is actually a rebuild that I tricked out with a fret job, Waverly tuners, and some inlay in the bridge. The Tenor was a StewMac kit that I built from scratch and to which I added another set of Waverly tuners. The two soprano ukes are a kity I found on line and which I used as practice runs for the tenor. The darker on is primatily out of the box with custom tuners and staining/painting. Te one on the right had me practicing some headstock facia work and pearl inlay around the soundhole and on the bridge.
Built in 2015, these two instruments are from kits I purchased online. The Strumbly is a variation of the appalachian dulimer designed by the folks at Muscimakers. The banjo was a kit I found through Amazon. The banjo ended up going to my pal Oded Naaman and lives with him in Israel now. The Strumbly made an appearance on my 2016 release 'Songs for Isaac.'
This guitar was built from several different parts found online - the nexkwas built by Robert Gilmore - the headstock and fret board are Zebra wood on a tight maple neck that I shaved to 1950's spec and refretted with a 70s era wide flat fret, the body is swamp ash. I got the pickguard and back plate were made by Andrew Bingham at Decoboom, and the electonics are vintage 60s spec with StewMac lipstick pickups and a special blend of caps and pots I have been experimenting with. This guitar was raffled off at the Hostos Helping Relief Concert for Ecuador
This is Joe Cunningham's Zoso Les Paul that I built from a Gibson cast off I found at Stratosphere guitar parts on line. It was one of those robot Les Pauls that auttune, and are more computer than instrument which must have either had a flaw or rightfully been shunned by consumers. Anyway, I did a refret and handwired this one to 1958 specs with Seymour Duncan pickups and some really big caps that make her sing just like Joe digs it.
This pair of lovely Roeboy! telecasters were built with StewMac vintage necks and bodies that I shaved and fretted to my preferences. The electronics were the big experiments here using the Roeboy Cap-Compare unit [see below] to find the optimal tone. Don't let the tweakers tell you that variations in caps can't be felt or heard - it makes a HUGE difference to me. The pickups are Seymour's vintage, and the blond tele on the left is a reverse wiring set up that allows the player to more easily do swells with the volume pot ...and also not switch pickups when thrashing about.So the Pine Knot tele on the right was auctioned off at the Hostos Gala in 2015, and the blond tele is my go to guitar whenever I need a pickmeup.... note that Levon seems to approve.
This is a boxed version of Eric Coleman's circuit as described at the StewMac website. It allows me to bypass a capacitor circuit on a guitar and dial through a variety of caps to figure which feels best...and to prove to afformentioed tweakers that a difference can be heard and felt.
This was one of my first adventures in guitar building from kit form - I built this for Enzio Goble back in 2012. The finish was an adventure, but the electronics were a big step in my understanding of how to build a great sounding electric.
This guitar was harvested from an antique shop up in PLattsburgh, NY. I picked it up joking around with my old pal Scott Marcus, and really liked the feel of the neck - everything else stank about this guitar. This was my first real guitar project. We figured it would be a gas to try and resurrect (it was $70), and I rebuilt it into a really fun and playable guitar. The pickup is Seymour Duncan, and the electronics have a coil splitting tone knob (the first that I ever wired). In the end it was raffled off at the Hostos Helping Relief Concert for Typhoon Haiyan.
A big step in my electronics eduction has come from Rob Hull and his colleagues over at Tube Depot. These folks build really great amp kits that taught me how to properly handwire an amp. I had tried other project amp kits with other companies and really been underwhelmed by the technical documentation and support. But Tube Depot helped me understand not just how to put these things together, but what was what and why. When I had issues, they were always VERY helpful, and as a result I have build about half a dozen of their project amps to date. Their Tweed 5F6A (Deluxe) is a mainstay in my studio, as is their tweed 5F1 (Champ). I have built several of their 5F1s now and given them to friends and fmily - Butch and I used my very first one on our album 'Half a World Away', and I gave him the gift as a gift of love and admiration before coming back home.
Here is a picture of that same Deluxe [above] from the front along side my blond Roeboy! reverse wire telecaster.
Here is a pair of the Tube Depot Champ amps. The one on the right lives with Connor Brennan now, and the one on the left is in Stressless getting used ALLL the time.
Here is another Tube Depot wiring exercise that I took on. A 60s style Marshall cabinet houseing a MEAN piece of hardware that has lived in the Hostos Recording Studio for much of the last three years.
I have ben harvesting vintage electronics for years and making them a part of my installation art. A few years back I found a great 5 watt amp circuit that is a really quick build and when matched with an old radio speaker sounds awesome! So I started hacking old radios like this vintage Zenith into funky travel amps.
Feel free to explore some of the links on the right to see further examples of my design work.