I love all builds, I love the blues. With this build I wanted to take it way back into the deep shadow side of the blues and the idea or transformation. The pyrography on back is a Maori symbol for transformation. front is Haitian Voodoo for "The Crossroads." I don't want to get too heady about it but in my head the crossroads story itself is about selling your soul- and thats how bad it was. The idea of an young adult with maybe 10-20 years left (on average) in their life selling their soul for eternity in hell says a lot about how hard it was.
In the Skip James book it talks about how his goal was to be a good enough guitar player so he could become a pimp. Son House sings about becoming a preacher so he didn't have to work. Pretty limited alternatives to sharecropping post 1963 in the south.
I always put a snakeskin down on the fretboards of my slide guitars. I think it looks awesome but it also represents transformation, shedding of the skin. That neck has kicked my butt so many times. Beneath it is 1/4" of old mahogany which I mistook for Koa. The two can be hard to tell apart sometimes. Where I live I have access to all kinds of exotic woods. Beneath that is a shaved down piece of junk wood from a cbg I bought online a couple years back. I believe it was bowed when I got it. Beneath that is a piece of bamboo from my yard. I wanted to try a bamboo neck for some resonation. Its pretty shaved down as well, next time around I'll have a better piece.
I love DeArmond pickups. The "bugs" sound great to me and they're reasonably cheap if with patience. I have around 4 so I can move them from guitar to guitar pretty fast, which is convenient as is having the volume right there. I've always been into old pickups.
The strait razor is pretty obvious. There's a notch in the cavity underneath it clicks into snug. You can pull it out for a shave, if someone is making moves on your gal while your playing or if someone trys to steal your tips on the way home- which has been a reality for musicians for a long time. The performers I knew in New Orleans were always aware of the reality that someone might take their $ walking home that night. I mount knives on all my built or hot-rodded instruments or amps. I live in the jungle and have a pretty analogue life. Knives come in handy for all kinds of things.
I love fork tailpieces, its not an original idea but I like to stay away from prefabbed anything- except tuners, the tuners on all my guitars aren't high end but good ones. Making fork bridges also gives me an excuse to break out the propane torch :)
The goat horn I used on that bridge was too soft and giving me problems (and driving me crazy) I'm starting to wrap my brain around bridge and nut making- thank you youtube! but I was up north a couple weeks ago and played a cbg I'd hot-rodded and given to a friend. I'd used coyote toe bones I'd bought online and I had no string buzz whatsoever! This is after a month of using other materials with no luck. I scratched my head and put a toe bone on there when I got home- done!
The coins are just oxidized coins I found with my metal detector on the beach (I've never worked harder for a penny in my life!) On the headstock is the archangel Michael (The one who put the devil down in the hole) St. Micheal is on most of my instruments.
I also put the tops of old mood rings from the 70's-80's on my instruments around the area where the right palm rests. Most turn blue after you've been playing a while.
The nut. That is not the first denture nut ever put on a guitar but its probably the second. I bought a guitar that a very innovative builder, John Thomas, had built (set up for slide) around 3 years ago. I had GAS pretty bad back then. I bought it from one of his good friends who was selling off most of his inventory because he was very sick and likely terminal. I couldn't afford to have a guitar just for slide so a went to the guitar shop strait from the airport (the guitar was on Maui and I'd scraped up just enough $ for a ticket and the guitar.) and dropped it of to have a new nut made and a setup. The funny thing is I ran into JT online a few months ago (whose around 70) and convinced him I had his guitar. The first words out of his mouth were"you ruined it!" (what?) "I broke all the rules with that one and put a denture nut on it! Its gone! You ruined it!" I guess I was so excited that I didn't notice the nut. I do remember noticing the old nut was not in the guitar case when I got it back but didn't say anything, which I normally would. So when I was snorkeling a couple weeks back an saw a pair of chompers on the bottom I knew exactly where it was going. Thus the "JT" nut. Its a great nut for slide actually and a litmus test of sorts for anyone who sees the guitar.
I did go back to the shop and talked to my now good friend who did the work on JT's guitar. We dug through his drawer and I'll be dammed if we didn't find the original nut- a lot more subtle than mine so I could see how we both missed it.
The girl on the back of the guitar is a picture of an African woman from the 30's. I choose the pictures I put on back of my guitars with care. Most are of that era and topless but its all in the eyes. Voodoo Queen representations and how a woman or lack there or a woman can sway a decision at the crossroads. In my opinion, whats not to love about the magic and mystery of feminine mind, body and spirit.
This piece of wood was my first piece I did the pyrography for the "Crossroads" on. It usually shows up on the back of my guitars with a picture of a "Voodoo Queen" below it, so this is kind of a reverse representation of the series. I found a few of these pieces of wood, eucalyptus, in a friends scapwood/firewood pile.
I believe there is the # 9 or ten on back. I've finished hot-rodding 8-9 old parlor guitars and old squareneck guitars from the 30's-60's that are busted up and bought on the cheap. Now I'm on to building my cbg portion of the series around 8-9. I have huge respect for this movement.
Its a lot of fun. I plan on having a show sometime in July-August as a charity auction where at least half of the profits will go to The Wounded Warrior Project. I was on the cusp of changing careers from a mental health worker to becoming a professional blues musician in the late 90's when I got a sudden pain in my ear that didn't go away. I was young and dumb enough to ignore it and made it worse. I've been managing/challenged/thriving with acute tinnitus and hypersensitivity to sound for almost 20 years. I went back to school 8 years ago and became trained in Jungian oriented psychotherapy. I've just become licensed in Washington state and now so close in Hawaii. My target populations are musicians and war vets with acute noise induced hearing damage- the two biggest populations. Its been a long, beautiful and frustrating ride to get to today. These builds- I'll post #2 when this site will let me, have played a big part of keeping me sane while I go through the final steps of getting licensed (broke and having the phone ring constantly about student loans and Visa payments. Its rare that I open mail) so I can take insurance- these men and woman don't have money for private pay. Also its fun, I dig the community. When I was on social media I really dug what I saw as the "roots/folk" aspect of the movement. The encouragement, the open sharing of building and playing secrets and building something with your hands you can use in a digital world!
great stuff! Well a couple people asked for explanations, if you can make it through this novel, here it is. Thanks for all the interest in my first (playable) build everyone. I will post a video in the next 24hrs if I can figure out how!
Best and Aloha!
Thanks a ton Uncle John, it means a lot. I think we're all "wanna bes'" generally speaking. When I first heard Son House I was hit pretty hard and it seemed like no other music mattered. Years later I'm reading the Son House book when he was living in New York a while past he had at least gotten some recognition. White dudes would come over to his house with a bottle and he might give them a lesson (And I would have been first in line). But whats implied in the book that none of these white college kids could really understand the level oppression that The Blues was a byproduct of. I thought it was a good point. I think there's plenty of other points too, bright and dark. I believe all are legit, the 60's revival is owed to them in my opinion. This particular point isn't one that gets brought up much and thats part of the inspiration behind this build. If someone wants to play the blues- cool! in my book! If someone wants to identify as a bluesman or blueswoman cool!!! My #2 is a lot more on the lighter side.
PS. Did I post this in the wrong section? I have a hard time navigating these things.
Thanks so much, Solazule! Fascinating stuff here!
Your so welcome Rev Bluejeans. Thank you for taking the time to read it! I can be a bit wordy!
Yup, thanks for that. I could tell lots of thought went into this buld so it's cool to have some insight into that process.
Thanks Damon! Thanks for taking the time to read and reply! It really means a lot.
Thanks for reading Ron "Oily" Sprague "Sonny" because I was named after my uncle who has passed on. Originally "Son Blue" because Son Black was already taken. I changed to Sunny/Sun because I was starting to take myself a little too seriously around ten years back in my opinion (and probably a few others too).
A "black moon" is when you have two new moons in one month. The second "black moon" is the best time to cast a spell or put some Hoodoo one someone, or its the worst time to cast a spell or put some Hoodoo on someone- depends on who you ask haha! I've been using Black Moon ____ for all my creative projects for over ten years. Before I moved here I was spending a lot of time in Mexico so the Spanish language twist worked its way in there.
I was a country boy turned city boy whose now a jungle/ocean boy. I love being back in nature, in touch with the moon, sun, stars, plants, dirt, fish, rocks etc
*and I'd be shading things if I didn't say I liked the mystery involved in the name. That said, I'm a pretty transparent guy who likes a beverage and a bacon cheeseburger as much as the next."