2014 - Johnny Depp concert, Stones ashtrays in Madrid

(These Duesenbergs are just much, much better than these guitars of the 60s)

On New Year's Eve I was with Paloma in Palermo, Sicily. One of the best places to spend the turn of the year! From there, just outside the center, there is a kind of underground cemetery, catacombs of a 16th century Capuchin monastery, where over 2000 people have been buried. But not in coffins, but mummified, dressed, standing or sitting. This is a bit creepy, and most female visitors go out of there right away. Besides, taking pictures is forbidden, but that didn't stop me from taking all kinds of snapshots. I put this nice text into the mouths of the two mummies on this photo. But it was rejected by our advertising department as a motive for advertisement and so it was unfortunately not published anywhere until today.


On this ovation photo a Johnny Depp special model with tremolo, which he used quite often. And always nice people at this four-day meeting!

The Eagles in the Forum Arena


Instead of inviting customers and distributors to his restaurant in Fullerton on Friday, Nathan had the glorious idea to rent a Hummer stretch limousine with driver and take us to an Eagles concert at the "Forum Arena" in Inglewood.

It was quite an uplifting feeling to listen to the Eagles from the stands and my heart leapt meiomei, you sit in the stands listening to the Eagles, rejoicing every time Joe Walsh, Glen Frey or the bassist appeared on the video screen with a Duesenberg instrument. And we got into conversation with the two girls in the row in front of us, who were so excited about meeting us, the creators of these fantastic instruments that are constantly played on stage, that it almost came to a fling.

Oh, and at Joe's we were able to present ourselves afterwards. A proper evening  ...

College-Event with Johnny Depp & Co.

As every year, Duesenberg hosted the already traditional Imperial Ball NAMM after-show party together with 65Amps, TonePros, American Hot Rods Inc, Tatuaje, Sapporo and the Fullerton FMC Museum. While in the last years it was held in Fullerton, this year we moved to the school hall of Servite High School in Anaheim.

The following text was written by Andrej Lillak at that time for our blog. I have to anticipate that I was at least halfway through the whole concert in a hacked mood, which I will explain in more detail below.

Andrej's Blog

(By the way, Martin Huch sat in the first row with his backstage pass and took a huge number of sensational photos).

As soon as you entered the hall, the world was a completely different one. Duane Mayer from American Hot Rods supported the party by placing a selection of his coolest hot rod cars around the venue. And he even put a blue 40′s Chevy on the stage.

The whole location was unique, weird and at the same time really cool. Understatement and exaggeration curiously took each other by the hand.
And the crazy thing was that everyone present was able to see a selection of the crème de la crème of the world's greatest artists on a simple high school stage.

The Fullerton blues man "Bubba" played the "warm-up" with his very smooth Texas blues in SRV style. Lots of sound and feeling - absolutely amazing. (Photo from another concert)

Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs

Then the curtain rose for the first part of the show. I was staring intently at the stage as Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs put on a great show, surrounded by two shiny hot-rod cars. Most of the time Mike played his Duesenberg Mike Campbell II signature hollowbody guitar. I had never seen The Dirty Knobs live before and was very impressed with the ambience and sound of the whole show. Intellectual songs and extremely well articulated guitar playing, and that's what this show was all about - "She Likes To Lick My Finger" was my personal favorite, which still reverberates in my head.

Thanks a lot, Mike!
 It was a real pleasure!

Then Marilyn Manson came on stage. Now you can say and think what you want about Manson, but this man has a kind of raw energy in him that few people have. Absolutely powerful, absolutely shocking and absolutely amazing. It was literally a kind of "wake-up call" that this night would be much more interesting than expected.

After the last chord of his song "The Dope Show" vibrated through the room, two words hit the crowd like a baseball bat. Probably only few visitors knew anything about the actual star of the evening: The guy on stage, that was Johnny Depp. The name came up and the crowd cooked.

As cool as he is on the screens of this world, as cool he is on stage. Johnny Depp definitely knows how to be cool. As a musician he was sympathetic and skilfully restrained that evening. As one of three guitarists on stage he knew how to set the right cool tones at the right time.

But this show was not (only) about proving his skills - it was much more about having fun on stage and enjoying the energy of it all.

Given the front men that Johnny brought on stage one after the other, energy was a given. Hardly anyone knew who would join Mr. Depp on stage. And when Marilyn Manson entered the stage again, it was clear that this evening would hold some surprises.

Then Alice Cooper joined in. With an outstanding smile and already swinging his famous walking stick, he started the show with an interpretation of the Doors Agit Prop song "5 To 1″, followed by a medley with the Doors song "Break On Through". I wouldn't necessarily call myself an Alice Cooper fan (especially since it wasn't my decade), but I was absolutely entranced by the performance and the contagious enthusiasm this man unleashed. To top his show, he ended up giving his cane to one lucky person in the crowd (he'll certainly have an arsenal of canes at home...

One of my personal highlights that night was Cooper's classic "School's out" and the way he mixed it with "Another Brick in the Wall" - overwhelming.
 Youtube videos probably can't reproduce what happened in that moment, but you should watch it anyway.

After the set, there was a moment of silence and general murmuring. The audience began to say, "What's next? Is there anything coming next?". Alice Cooper had brought the crowd to a boil and set an almost unbeatable energy level even beyond Manson.

A technician placed a microphone stand with some long ribbons on the stage. Someone behind me shouted, "You're fucking kidding me!"
 All those who knew what this striking stand meant started clapping and cheering. Steven Tyler entered the stage, walked towards the microphone and croaked that he had to apologize because he had problems with his voice since the rehearsal.

But far from it and immediately all hell broke loose. He screamed, gestured and danced around on stage. The audience was breathless and intoxicated by this voice. I thought he could perform one or two songs in this way at best, but in the end he sang a set of five songs (one of them all alone with an acoustic guitar). And all songs were loaded with power and energy right down to the last note.
So was an extremely cool and smoky version of "House Of The Rising Sun", which ended in the Aerosmith classic "Train Kept A Rolling".
 And without interruption he danced and swung his microphone stand over his head in the old rock'n'roll manner. A total bundle of energy - great respect for this contribution!

After Steven Tyler's last song Manson and Cooper came back on stage and the whole ensemble played the Beatles song "Come Together". That was it. The crowd was overwhelmed - happy faces everywhere. Now Nathan Fawley entered the stage, thanked Johnny and everyone else and looked refreshedly relieved that everything had worked out so well. So I got a few little insights into what it was like to organize such a show. And believe me - you have no idea. Many thanks to Nathan and all the others who organized the show. Great job!

Finally, Nathan had his son bring a "Duesenberg Fullerton CC Hollow" guitar onto the stage, which was signed on the back by all the actors of the evening. And Nathan announced that this guitar would be auctioned off and the proceeds would be donated to charity. But such a guitar is not so easy to buy at auction. I saw some really big eyes in the crowd.
Bids were coming in faster and faster, and when the highest bid was $20,000, Nathan asked Ingo if we could put a Johnny Depp signature guitar on top of it - Ingo nodded.
Finally, both guitars together fetched a whopping $36,000!

Little by little the guests left the room; chatting, laughing, some drunk, some sober, some silent, some relieved. 
I stood next to Ingo, Dieter, Martin and the others as if rooted to the spot and just let the moment breathe for a few minutes. What a successful evening!

At least I met Johnny Depp, who was just about to leave the room. It was a warm meeting and I was even able to give him a DVD of our Dooros-Formentera concert. Johnny also likes the Doors. Martin photographed the presentation.

Here at the beach ...

That's it for Los Angeles for now. I flew back to Mexico City with Paloma. Again a lot of nerve at the L.A.-LAX-Airport.

some Mexico

Statement of a Mexico vacationer: "Hmma dude, we made Mexico this time. Dude, this is the best thing you can do in January, February, specifically, make Mexico!"

Mexico is the most Spanish looking country in South America, rather rich and with a lot of ancient culture and also modern industry. However, the goods do not seem to be distributed too fairly, so there is poverty and crime in some places. There are also a lot of demonstrations of the indigenous people. But 98% of the crime has nothing to do with the political situation, but happens when drugs are smuggled into the United States. And first of all: We have not been robbed. However, the traffic in Mexico City is "murderous". That's why public transportation such as bus and metro is recommended (better than a cab or even a rental car!). Most popular cars: VW bus and beetle, fabricado en Mexico! But Nissan is the clear market leader.

After a short time you get used to the local currency, tipping structures, differently working navigation systems in the car and even to the adventurous driving style in city traffic, which is a mixture of Spanish and Italian driving

The Mexican himself is relatively educated, funny, very helpful and doesn't talk shit, like the US-American waiters drooling over the tip.

If you hear uncharming French, it is about Canadians, who by the way enjoy certain privileges in Mexico, while the common Mexican still has to endure incredible harassment when entering Canada. Oh yes, it can also come to punctures ... (which is certainly not a purely Mexican phenomenon).

But - for me - the most important thing: food and drink. An unbelievable variety of fruits and vegetables (including probably the most aromatic tomatoes in the world). The Margaritas and Mezcalitas taste great and are very refreshing. Wine is rather only available in selected restaurants. Food in all variations - from very cheap and correct to very, very good (tacos with meat, tomatoes, onions and coriander as a very cheap variation). But in some restaurants even molecular appearing foams are used. But there are also strange foods: small locusts (chapolines) whose taste is only created by the added chili-salt mixture, which is otherwise supposed to be high in protein and healthy), ant eggs - white, soft, expensive, tasteless and of course the worm in the mezcal. The lime is very refreshing almost everywhere! Beer: No Corona, but better Double X (2XX) or Victoria, here you go! Turtles: Hunting and eating is prohibited. By the way, they only come ashore on protected beaches to lay eggs. Besides, the Mexican has something wonderful in the restaurants, which we don't have, a kind of "mute servant" - very space-saving, about waist-high stands, on which you can put your jacket, bag, scarf or whatever at the table. Super handy!

Country and people: The further south you travel, the smaller the people become. At least that is my first impression. I didn't notice any big differences in language, the "Mexican" Spanish is easy to understand. Only the sometimes "astonished" tone of voice would attract the attention of a native Spanish speaker.

From Mexico City we drove south with the rental car, first destination: the city of Puebla with its architecturally beautiful center and lots of bars and restaurants. Then we went on to Oaxaca, with about 250.000 inhabitants rather a small town. And still situated about 1,500 meters above sea level. Again a beautiful "Zócalo" the center of the old town (Plaza De La Constitución). And every now and then guys with total character visions, as you only know them from Tarantino and Rodríguez movies.

Further south, the roads get worse: you can't get used to these eternal chicanery bumpers ("topes" or "Reductores de Velocidad") - the country roads and village crossings. For a car distance of 250 km, you can easily be on the road for seven hours. You can get the hate of it, especially since many of these chicanes appear without warning and you brake screaming at the last second, fearing for the shock absorbers and hopefully without hitting the car roof with your skull, rumbling heavily over this nasty bead.

But finally you are rewarded, it becomes tropical: jungle sounds, crazy bird cries and finally the sea. It becomes windy. We are in Puerto Escondido, a hotspot for surfers from all over the world. Incredibly wide, almost completely empty beaches and this pretty village on the Pacific Ocean. Hotter than 30 degrees at noon and around 25 degrees at night. Canadian blues bands and Mexican funkies are playing. And the world is small: At the mixing desk stood Paul, a former Duesenberg Graph Tech employee who was also responsible for the Duesenberg patent nut.

Adios Mexico, it's time to go home. This year there were no direct flights Madrid-Los Angeles, back. So in the morning with Aeromexico back to L.A. Check out there, get the suitcases from the conveyor belt and check in with American Airlines, the self-proclaimed most important airline of the most important state on our planet, the flights via London to Madrid. At least that's the plan ... Then you have to endure this hysterical security check and then you have to drink a certain amount of alcohol in a bar for the flight. About one hour before departure I go to check the display boards: Flight canceled! So we are shocked to an AA service center, where four retired idiots are sitting at their counters, three of them on the phone. There are about 20 passengers in the queue. Handling time per person about 30 minutes.  - Then the first of the four AA pensioners left ... and never came back. Then the second one left, whom I had already run after and shouted "he should do his job and get the people out of there! When the third one started to leave, I completely freaked out - but without any real success. That was obvious. In front of us in the queue there was a Dutchman who spoke German and signaled me that he was promised a flight home with a stopover in London - but two hours later.

Finally it was our turn and I insisted on a flight home to Madrid via the promising London. This seemed to work out and we left this terrible place, where, by the way, you were only allowed to have an alcoholic drink in a restricted area. Two terminals back and to Virgin Air. There we looked stunned at our boarding passes: "But there is no more room on this plane!

Close to a heart attack ... The AA cardboard nose had simply printed out two "blank" boarding passes without seat number and furthermore had not informed anybody at Virgin! But we were told to wait until 20 o'clock to be sure. Maybe there was still something available. And so it happened and we left Los Angeles with a delay of about four hours. Then another hour delay in London, so that we finally arrived in Madrid at midnight after 34 hours of travel.

Joe Perry

Back to the music! Yes, Martin's photos are always a pleasure. After the NAMM he also captured the Aerosmith veteran. What an exotic guy!

Rolling Stones - in Spain always called "Los Rollings" ...

Meiomei, how could this all be? We, göldo and Duesenberg, are connected to all these top acts: Stones, Aerosmith, Mike Campbell, Hollywood Vampires, Peter Strout Eagles etc.

Pierre Debauford, guitar technician of Keith Richards, had mounted an ashtray on the two front corners of the drums podium. Underneath it was a suction hose that pulled the cigarette smoke under the stage using an industrial vacuum cleaner so that Charly Watts, who had been diagnosed with throat cancer shortly before, would no longer have to suffer from these emissions. And there was also no other place where these ashtrays could have been positioned otherwise. Pierre let me know that his design was working, but that I had an idea to perfect it, because a Stones concert was due to take place soon at Madrid's Bernabeo Stadium.

The main problem was that these bakelite ashtrays were fixed with Velcro tape over the exit hole below. But that kept coming loose, and the ashtrays moved from the vibrating stage noise and did not stay in position. Keith and Ronnie enjoyed the tobacco or even hashish consumption, but Charlie was still annoyed by it.

I had the idea to construct ashtrays with a steel plate with many small holes in the bottom. To do this, I had to anchor some strong neodymium magnets in the small tables so that the ashtrays could be easily attached above them. Click and ready to remove in seconds. They were made of bamboo wood, and I had twelve stainless steel pins drilled all around so that the cigarette butts could not be driven away by the wind.

A book about the Stones, here Ronnies Guitars!

And our lapsteels with Multi-Bender were unstoppable on their triumphal procession.

The new "Berlin-Amp", the Fullerton "Elite" and beautiful Pearl-Tops

Rolllings Stones - Madrid - Bernabeo Stadion

At the end of May I received an e-mail from Pierre asking if I would like to have the new ashtrays. Sure, everything already materially available and ready for installation!

The Stones have always had a gigantic stage construction, which became more and more complex from tour to tour and took a few days to set up - not to mention dismantling. Then the call whether it would fit today - two days before the show.

And so Pierre, Michael "Derek" Phelps (bass tech of Daryll Jones) and Ronnie's guitar tech Ken came to visit my workshop in Madrid. Once again a high level visit. Actually, they could have brought Ronnie with them, who would have been interested.

They looked around eagerly, and I explained some of my projects in progress to them, and of course I also presented the ashtrays. And it was here that Pierre, who had first flirted in my Plexi hanging chair, had the idea of tailoring a special guitar to Keith. Keith runs his own production label called "Mindless", and his logo is a skull with an oval hole in the skull, because Keith knows very well that many people have a big hole in their head. So we brainstormed on the computer and designed a body in the shape of a caribou, but "reverse" and with this logo on it, the outer edges " brushed" reggae-like green-yellow-red.

Yes, a new project ... but one that was to be completed much later, in 2020. That's how it can work with the superstars - see also Bob Dylan.

Finally I was able to bequeath Pierre the already mentioned tweed suitcase. And in the evening we invited the boys for a really good paella in the Galician restaurant "Terra Celta" just around the corner. And I hardly believe that there is such a good Spaniard where these guys come from! Afterwards some drinks in front of the hotel at Plaza Santa Ana, where usually the toreros stay.

Paloma and I took good care of the boys and on the day of the concert we got an extremely pleasant "payback": stay in the backstage area with all the trimmings. As a souvenir we had two guitars with us, of which we wanted to give a Carlton to the Stones for an auction for charity (signed by the Stones, of course), and an outlaw with the request to have Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie sign it for us, because it was meant for our Hanoverian museum. At the time, we had no idea that instruments signed by the Stones could often be worth well over 100,000 euros. But years were to pass before we finally got the Outlaw back. More about this later!

Bernabeo Stadium, Madrid

So, backstage at Bernabeo Stadium, the home ground of Real Madrid, my hate club. And the new, much more modern stadium of my favorite team Atletico Madrid didn't even exist at that time.

Anyway, an impressive ambience, and as always, they had built this catwalk right into the center of the stadium, where the Stones would perform a blues set in the old style.

Duesen on stage ...

Here Ken with a DCC for the auction and the Outlaw where I celebrated the soundcheck.


First mount the ashtrays! Pierre screwed the ring-shaped sheet steel disks onto the small tables, whereupon the neodymium magnets embedded in the bottom of the ashtrays docked practically immovably. And underneath, the two holes in the wood that held the suction hoses, so that all smoke disappeared immediately under the stage. Charly Watts was saved!

Soundcheck with the Techs

And then Pierre said: "Come on, let's do the soundcheck and you play your Outlaw over Mick Taylor's amp, who would perform as a "special guest". Yes, Outlaw plugged in, but nothing else happened at first. Nobody started to play. So I played the intro of the Roadhouse Blues in the hope that the guys would get into it. But it was not accepted. Sure I would have liked to sing, but the mics were still off.

You can see all this from Paloma on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3pTvoXUMIU&feature=youtu.be. With the Outlaw over Mick Taylor's amp I had a great sound, and watch out for the yellow spats over my Birkenstock sandals.

But that is not all. After enjoying an excellent catering, we were then directed to a light desk from where we had a 1A view of the stage. The concert was a real blast. These gentlemen are getting better and better from year to year despite their increasing age. And this stirring show of these incredible musicians, with all these visual effects, just can't be topped.

Well, see you next time!


A somewhat Wandré adapted hardware design ...

all kinds of designs ...

Here you can see very nicely how the maple neck goes through to the tremolo front. Hold "only" wood instead of aluminum ... In the end this became our "Julia" model.


Our Z-Tuners had a knurled wheel as a "cap" over the housing and the gear wheel, which rotates when you operate the mechanism. Some unintelligent guitarists thought that you should somehow tinker with it, like with a lock mechanism. Far from it!

But in the end, to counteract such aberrations, I designed a new, doozy cap that closes the case in the conventional way. In the middle, of course, the hole through which the string is pulled and then cut off.

HSC-Bass-Pickups and more ...

In autumn at Chechu a Centollo celebration


There it finally came, the expensive trumm, which should save us a lot of work and provide even more precision.