2009 - Bob Dylan, Eagles, Dooros
NAMM zum x-sten Mal. Und der Ballroom zum Dritten!
NAMM, what can I say? Nothing worth mentioning: same motel again, almost the same rental car, same people, same concerts, same breakfasts, same dinners. But watch out for our nice booth crew!
And the Bill looked worse every time. Only this time the additional annoyance that the rights to his own name, i.e. for Bill Lawrence pickups, had remained with a Jzchak Waijcman. Such ugly things happen in business life!
Ballroom, diesmal auch mit Mark Ford – ex Black Crowes
The ballroom before the concert and the enthusiastic crew of our Japanese importer ...
Mike Ritto, Nathan's best friend, graphic artist, built in 1950, but looks like 1960, took us on a trip to Joshua Tree National Park the Monday after the NAMM. A short stop at a ridiculous dinosaur park because we had to refuel. Then on, and just before the actual National Park begins, Mike has his "Airstream" standing in a valley hardly visible from the main road. A caravan with an outer skin made of polished aluminum, which reflects the sunlight very well and provides internal cooling. In this strange environment this part seems totally surreal, almost as if a UFO had fallen down there.And soon there were more and more of these pointed palm trees, bizarre bushes in front of bizarre rocks.
After a few miles we reached this Joshua Tree Pueblo, where Gram Parsons died. Gram (Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, and heavily involved with the Stones on Exile on Main Street) was a bad druggie, couldn't resist the injection, and finally died at the young age of 26 in his room no. 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn. Hot story: He was packed into a coffin and taken to the nearest airport for a funeral in his home town. But now Gram had made a promise to two friends to burn him in the event of his death and scatter his ashes somewhere in the Joshua Tree area.
The two - not lazy - forged some papers and "kidnapped" the coffin together with the body from the airport. So in front of a gigantic rock in moonlight and starlight (including the Milky Way, because the air is clearest) they doused their friend with gasoline and threw the burning match. But unfortunately, due to a lack of gasoline, the flaring didn't work out so well that they were forced to go to the police, so that the remaining remains were buried and sent to Gram's home town.
The unfortunate executors got away with a small fine for gross mischief. Nothing else, because per se the theft of a corpse does not constitute a crime under US law.
Anyway, we visited everything, motel and fireplace, and listened to Gram Parsons music in the car all day long.
FrankfurtNothing special. Just a nice photo collage by Martin Huch: Fred Garcia and Uli Roth around the campfire in front of our booth!
And a new quality feature of our guitars: "This Doozy was pleked! Furthermore we had launched a new double cutaway series: FULLERTON! Bindings and Hering-Bone-Stripe very traditional. Even a tick of Höfner-Comittee & Thinline was included in the design.
Apart from that:
New experiments in "Trans-Trem". For this and for another tremolo version, our new tremolo case had two recesses underneath, in which a cross connection could be screwed, which allowed a different kind of bearing, namely the well-proven needle bearing with an axle of 2mm diameter. And we had a logo for our Roger label - a stylized lizard!
More ...And we made chic "KLUSON" products!
I had told Andrés, a good friend of Ines, about my musical ambitions. To form a band that plays exclusively songs from the Doors. And that without keyboard and all in my very own versions. Although I also like the Stones, Steely Dan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Roachford, Carl Carlton, Free, Cassandra Wilson, Black Crowes etc., the Doors have always had a special place in my life. Besides, a band needs a "theme". I didn't want to open a 60s cover band. Andrés immediately knew a drummer, Karim, and a bass player, Jacobo. In Madrid there are a lot of rehearsal centers where you can rent a room by the hour, equipped with all the amps, drums, PA, for little money. Los Dooros were born, and that's where we rehearsed the first songs: Backdoor Man, Break On Through, L.A. Woman, Roadhouse Blues etc.
ResobroThe conversations with Martin were always fruitful, this of course in the sense of "Guitar-Talk". But we also had a lot of fun talking about other topics. Nevertheless we came back into the circle of preferences, which are not necessarily mine: Lap, Country, Dobro, Bending. In any case, Huch explained to me that the Dobro had a great potential, was played by many guitarists, but always had this nerve of feedback and other problems.
I just thought: "There is something resonating against the strings". Thought: At times when guitar amplifiers were not or hardly ever available on the market, this stupid resonator cone was developed. An aluminium membrane should act like a loudspeaker to make the guitar louder in the band structure. But this "counter-vibration" can also be produced differently and much easier. To reproduce this special sound, I had the idea to put the bridge on a thin, steel metal tongue and to place a pickup underneath it to reduce the vibration of this tongue.
The first experiments I made with a spatula and even with a trowel with a Telecaster pickup underneath. That was pretty close, but we couldn't fit a guitar with a spatula or trowel. And the pickup didn't have enough output to compete with the domino neck pickup that was also attached. So I had a Madrid laser company cut steel tongues and Harry Häussl wound the pickups with neodymium magnets, because he had something like that in stock.
Under the metal tongue I glued two piezo discs underneath for the necessary brilliance in the trebles and invented a blocking mechanism: a slider that put the tongue in resting state so that the guitar could practically sound like a "normal" electric guitar - if you wanted it to. This was later changed to two knurling wheels that could be turned up or down, which also brought the reed to a standstill. Ready was it, the Resobro!
2009 Bob DylanMike Campbell had donated one of his "30 Years Anniversary Mike Campbells" that we sponsored (limited to 30 guitars and not available for sale) to Dylan Bob and he was really impressed. Sure, how can you NOT be taken with a Duesenberg? And reason enough to create a model especially designed for him.
The first thing they did was to gather information about what Dylan would like to see, such as symbols, signs, scales, colors, etc. But a constant, coherent communication was rather difficult with this shy icon. First signals: in any case a black ebony fingerboard with a "61" inlay on the seventh fret, possibly his name on the twelfth fret, body delicate violin-tobacco burst, bindings etc. in the style of an acoustic guitar. And an Egyptian sign (the eye of Horus) on the headstock. In any case, it turned out to be absolutely official. And Mr. Dylan even sent us his signature so that we could make a mother-of-pearl inlay or a decoration on the pickguard.
We made him a simple preliminary design without many special features, just a super star player in violin-burst with block inlays and checkerboard binding, along with his Egyptian-looking logo on the headstock. Apart from that, our proven standard equipment to see if something like our basic model would be suitable for him. Time passed without any further resonances. But suddenly international press releases appeared about a film award ceremony for Michael Douglas for his last film. A huge event! And Bob Dylan and his band were invited as special guests. And you won't believe it, there Bob Dylan comes on stage and plays our "Dylan-Basis" guitar. And on top of that two strophes guitar solo, whereas our fine make could not help to improve his playing skills. But this performance made us famous. There were lots of press photos and even an article in Rolling Stone. And on top of that in an American Dylan book. The photos also appear in a Dylan biography of a German author.
We then went on to design and materialize everything: various fretboards, the Egyptian mark of the finest hand made of mother-of-pearl set into the headstock and made various prototypes. Until we got the message that the guitar was too heavy for him ... Damn it! Background was a slipped disc and the guitar he usually played weighed less than 2.9 kilos.
So we hollowed out the sustain block further and sent him a lighter guitar that weighed 2.8 kilos. After that nothing more has happened until today, the answer is blowin' in the wind ...
Except for one very interesting message: One day Nathan got a call from someone who spoke an extremely wild slang. After questioning him several times, it turned out that the caller wanted a neutral pickguard for a Duesenberg "Mike Campbell" guitar, i.e. a nickel-plated pickguard without the Campbell logo engraved on it. Why, why? Eventually Nathan realized that he was talking to Mr. Bob Dylan in person! He, of course his own star, didn't want to tolerate any other sign on his guitar. And the analysis: Mr. Dylan had just recorded every track of his new album with the Mike Campbell guitar - producer of the album: the Mike! Sure, that's how he got our blue-white guitar!
Metallica - no!But that is not all! Shortly after that, in correct English Metallica guitarist James Hetfield showed up and expressed his desire for a Duesenberg Outlaw. But he wanted to have an EMG pickup in there. We simply refused! 9-volt batteries in an electric guitar: if possible, avoid them! And Bill Lawrence had already said: "A battery only belongs in a flashlight!
Then Martin came up with his 15 year old idea, which had not yet been realized: that it would be revolutionary to have a sliding capo on the fingerboard of a lapsteel. Martin Huch, an obsessive for whom there is nothing that cannot be put into practice. So first of all a groove was milled into the "fingerboard", two aluminum rails were fixed with screws on both sides, and a capo was constructed which could be moved in this groove and locked with a so-called groove stone. This all turned out to be rather unsound, so that some time later we had a massive aluminum profile "pulled". Minimum quantity for this material: half a ton = about 840 pieces! At the bottom of the groove we also had to drill fixing holes. And all fretboards had to be anodized black, so that you could engrave fretboard "inlays" into the black surface by laser - additional, considerable costs. We ordered this anyway - with the fearful ulterior motive that we would never in our life be able to use it up. But in the following years the opposite proved to be true.
Mando Guitar & Double Cat 12-string
The slotted head naturally offers the possibility of accommodating twelve machine heads in a very small space. But stringing is always a nerve-wracking job. So we came up with the idea of accommodating twelve machine heads with round, knurled "wings" per "6 & 6" on both sides of the head. The shape of these tuning knobs and a machine head housing reduced in length allowed us to create a headstock that is still relatively short and visually appealing. String winding made easy!Der Fensterkopf bietet natürlich die Möglichkeit der Unterbringung von zwölf Mechaniken auf kleinstem Raum. Aber das Saiten-Aufziehen ist stets eine Nerverei. So kamen wir auf die Idee, zwölf Mechaniken mit runden, gerändelten „Flügeln“ per „6 & 6“ auf beiden Seiten des Kopfes unterzubringen. Durch die Form dieser Stimmknöpfe und ein in der Länge reduziertes Mechanikgehäuse ließ sich eine immer noch relativ kurze und optisch ansprechende Kopfplatte realisieren. Saitenaufziehen leicht gemacht!
Strat Trem-StopI had thought of that so beautifully, but still department "Garage!"
The "Strat" tremolo lever sat in a recording similar to our Duesenberg tremolos and its end stuck out about 8mm from the take button. Right next to it I attached a height adjustable "counter bearing knob" which was screwed into the Strat body. When the tremolo lever was turned down, practically inactive, the end of the lever caught between the two flanks of the counter bearing knob and locked the tremolo in a fixed position. The lower side of the locking knob even contained a Belleville spring, which allowed the lever end to be clamped really tightly between the two flanks - no play, no nothing! Feedback from my company: "This can lead to a lot of questions and unjustified but annoying complaints, because people won't understand it properly! Ok, accepted >> Garage!
We already had these almost 3mm thick Plexi-Pickguards, which had a good grip under the metal pickguard strip alone. I had the idea that all this would be even more elegant if the pickguard would not have any mounting holes at all. What to do? Tabs, fixed between the threads of the potentiometer and the pickguard and positioned so that you could move the pickguard so that the two tabs would fit under the top of the body, and then tighten the two fixing screws of the pickguard strip. Result: Pickguard is positioned so that it is practically immovable. Can only be removed by loosening the two screws of the metal strip.
But the company was afraid that the pickguard could come loose due to vibrations >> off to the garage of rejected inventions! Oh dear ...
Once again with Ines in Paris, visiting her aunt and marveling at the Eiffel Tower from the terrace apartment. And in Paris there is a street full of guitar stores, the Rue de Douai. There I discovered the completely crazy store "Guitar Collection" of a Dany Delepierre. And it was full of guitars of the Italian brand "Wandré". I practically didn't know this brand, although I could even call a neck (aluminum) and a body (pressboard) of a Wandré "Bikini" my own. These two fragments (built in 1960) had been given to me years before by Pierro Terracina (Magnetics Pickups). I didn't attach much importance to it, but I never put the two parts in the garbage can, because a neck consisting of a fretboard with crazy inlays and a bottom part made of an aluminum D-profile is something special. And such a complete "Wandre-Bikini" is traded today for about € 25.000. But I did not know that at that time. In short, it was simply the magic flair in this store that fascinated me. The shapes and colors of these Italian gems. Instead of conventional binding, they had something like piping as edge protection. Plus these futuristic looking pickups, crazy controls. As if someone (namely Antonio Vandrè Pioli) had invented the electric guitar on another planet.
Vargas & Raimundo Amador
On Formentera I had once made a nice acquaintance with a Wolfgang Röhl, star reporter in the matter of "travel", who had also reported somewhere about our Formentera Guitars. And he sent me a cassette with music of the Vargas Blues Band with the note "Listen to this! They are not yet so degenerate from US-American influence! And by chance, one day a Javier Vargas called me by phone to come by. The Vargas-Blues-Band (always present in Hannover's Blues Garage) had their best times at least 12 years before, when Javier integrated the Latin element into the Blues. There was a great album "Madrid-Memphis", which I still like better than all the music of Santana.
Vargas flirted with the idea that I would give him a Duesenberg. But nothing! We have never done anything like that except for absolute top acts until today. We merely collect an extremely moderate price for a top instrument, and that without any contracts or conditions. But at least I agreed with Vargas, who was a bit disappointed, that he would appear as a "special guest" with the Dooros at the next Formentera Autumn Festival - easy for him, because he has his first domicile on the neighboring island of Ibiza.
Here are a few Youtube clips:
On the left you can see Raimundo and on the right his brother, who unfortunately is a bit motorically disturbed today because of too many drugs in these years after Franco's death. The renewed change to democracy in 1976 meant great freedom for the Spaniards on the one hand. On the other hand, many young people did not manage to deal with it.
I passed on the information about next year's fall concert to Ecki, the guy who first took over my Formentera Guitars shares and later those of Thomas Stratmann and from then on always presented himself as the new navel of the Formentera guitar world, as if we had never existed. So it was generally difficult to get a Dooros gig with him as festival organizer with "Atze, one of the Formentera Guitars founders". But Vargas was of course a crowd puller! He could not say no to that.
Oh how beautiful! Ingo was with Martin Huch and accompanied by Wolfgang Niedecken at the Eagles concert in Cologne and wrote this wonderful text about it. I take the liberty of including it here in my notes.
Die Eagles: Die einzige wahre Boy-Group der WeltThe first time I met the Eagles was on June 16, 2009 at one of their few concerts in Germany, at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne. Only a few days before I had heard that Joe Walsh had bought another Duesenberg guitar in Norway. He had visited a local music store during the Eagles tour and had come across a star player TV Outlaw, which he wanted to show immediately in the current show. The Starplayer was added to his already extensive collection of Duesenberg guitars.
I had invited Wolfgang Niedecken to the show, and so we went there together. We arrived at the arena in the afternoon, and given our initial parking problems, it was definitely a plus to have one of Cologne's most famous personalities in the passenger seat! I did have an official parking pass from the Eagles management, but as is often the case with events of this size, the on-site organization didn't go quite as smoothly as expected. Everyone present, however, immediately recognized Wolfgang, and we were allowed to drive through the labyrinth of underground tunnels directly up to the main entrance. One of the main reasons for my visit was to explain the charity project "Rebound" to Joe Walsh. Since Wolfgang had initiated the project in the first place and Duesenberg had become one of his supporters, the man himself was of course his best ambassador.
With senior staff as guides, we quickly went through various security gates and found ourselves in Joe's private backstage area. Joe personally invited us to his room where he and his very attractive wife Marjorie prepared him for the upcoming show. (Marjorie, by the way, is the sister of Barbara Bach, who is best known for her role in the James Bond thriller "The Spy Who Loved Me" and is married to none other than Ringo Starr...)
JJoe welcomed us very warmly and Wolfgang and I told him all about Project Rebound.
What is the Project Rebound about?
Project Rebound is concerned with the rehabilitation of child soldiers in the Ugandan district of Pader. The area has been a war zone for more than 20 years, and children eight years and older had to participate in this war. They had either been kidnapped by followers of the rebel leader Joseph Kony or had been victims of other attacks. The children had suffered a severe trauma and had no chance to return to a normal life without help. Rebound, which was conceived by the musician Wolfgang Niedecken in cooperation with Jack Wolfskin and World Vision Deutschland e.V., is primarily dedicated to educating these children and young people in order to rehabilitate them and reintegrate them into society. The goal is to enable them to return to an independent existence through a mixed program of vocational training, life skills (hygiene, nutrition and basic education) and a psychological and psychosocial support system. The children receive technical training so that they can later earn their own living and hopefully provide for their families.
Joe listened attentively and with growing empathy and then came up with the spontaneous idea that all Eagles could sign a Duesenberg Rebound guitar, which we could then auction off in the name of the project... and this is exactly what happened.
After that we talked about guitars for a while before we went to Glenn Frey. I don't think even the Pope has as much security around him as the Eagles had on the day we visited him. I have never seen so many men in dark suits with earplugs... Nevertheless, after several more security checks we finally found ourselves in front of Glenn's dressing room. Due to a misunderstanding with the security staff we somehow arrived too early and caught Glenn standing in front of the mirror with his undershirt and shaving. Of course we left the room immediately - very questionable if this special security guard had a job the next day. After a while we were invited back in by Glenn's personal manager, and at this point I have to say something: For such an incredible songwriter and singer he couldn't have been friendlier, more polite or more inviting - I never expected such a wonderful reception!
As a special present I had brought a Fullerton CC in vintage white. Glenn already owned twelve Duesenberg instruments and had played many of his guitar parts on 'Long Road Out Of Eden' through his 'Doozy One' amp. When I handed him the guitar, he was so moved that he decided to play it on stage the same night. This came as a complete surprise to me, of course, because most musicians need to get to know a new instrument before they use it in a live situation. Not so with Glenn, who introduced his "new baby" to his audience and played it in several songs.
text: Ingo Renner
Oh, and then a feature on Joe at the G&B. I'm always happy about something like that, because he's an absolutely outstanding musician. Remember also his band "James Gang"!
Design in general
When it comes to "design", it happens to me time and again that I am totally into things. And that of course also apart from guitars. Or let's say it in a different and less important way: I've always liked to surround myself with things that I like visually and otherwise! To this day I still drive this old 1988 BMW-Baur convertible, I am totally into the Rundform furniture of the Mauser company and certain lamps of various brands like Sistrah, Poulsen, Brand etc. And I love the Memphis design, which has unfortunately become unaffordable: brightly colored creations of postmodernism, for some viewers rather "tests of courage" from the 1980s. At least I have recreated one of these creations - a bed in the style of a boxing ring. And a few really shrill Wandré guitars I may even call my own.
Memphis in particularThe time with my then girlfriend Ines was very fruitful for me in terms of "form and color", because she had also moved into designing furniture. A good reason to visit the Milan design fair. Someone had created a fascinating exhibition of these very exhibits of Memphis design separately from the actual trade fair.
Initiated by an Ettore Sottsass, a group of furniture, textile and ceramic designers formed in 1980, which vehemently opposed the pure functionality of furniture. The claim: every single piece should be raised to the status of an "object". Unusual materials like formica, bright colors and crazy combinations of forms. This was revolutionary in those days. At the first meeting of these visionaries, the Bob Dylan song Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again ran in the background according to legend. And so the designer group called itself "Memphis". (And there he is again... Bob Dylan...)
This furniture has never been produced in large quantities: The production was too complicated and not close enough to the public taste. That's just the kind of adversity that happened to my Roger Saturn guitar or the Wandré models, among others. Anyway, Karl Lagerfeld had an exquisite collection of Memphis originals in his Parisian home, because he could afford it.
Inspired in this way, I set out to transfer the influence of this Memphis design into a guitar design. See for yourself! This was more my thing and I never offered my company to produce it anyway (already with regard to the aforementioned Roger Saturn). But too bad somehow. But times will change. And who knows, maybe one day it will be time for a "Duesenberg-Memphis" to shine in the guitar sky.
Here is the "bird". And during its development both a super working kill switch and a pretty nice Memphis-like hardware detail were created. And on the right the Billy G. in Hamburg with the Gold-Top-Senior Guitar he initiated himself.
Still very expensive for a replacement tremolo, which should be retrofittable for one of the two most sold guitar types in the world. So I rethought the matter: The bearing of the 2mm axle, which had always been due to the Erlangen-based hardware company, had to be retained. So for this function we needed a lower part that was less complex in production terms. Jawoll: punch out the basic form and weld the two bearing tabs for the 2mm axle into the base - simplest technology with perfect function!