2009 - Bob Dylan, Eagles, Madrid, Dooros
NAMM for the umpteenth time, the Ballroom for the third time!
NAMM, what can I say? Nothing really worth mentioning, because every year it’s the same motel, almost the same rental car, the same history, the same people, the same concerts, the same breakfasts, the same dinners...
But check out our nice booth crew!
Bill looked worse every time, with the added 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 these days!
Ballroom, this time also with 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, born in 1950, but looking like it was 1960, took us on a trip to Joshua Tree National Park the Monday after NAMM. A short stop at a ridiculous dinosaur park because we had to refuel, then onwards. Just where the actual National Park begins, Mike has his "Airstream" standing in a valley hardly visible from the main road. This is a motor home with an outer skin made of polished aluminum, which reflects the sun's rays very well and provides inner coolness. And in this alien environment, this piece looks totally surreal, almost as if a UFO had landed there.
Soon we saw were more and more of these pointed palm trees, bizarre bushes in front of bizarre rocks.
After some miles we reached 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 heavy druggie, couldn't resist the temptation and finally died at the young age of 26 in room no. 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn. The story: He was packed into a coffin and taken to the nearest airport for a funeral in his home town. But Gram had made two friends promise to burn his body in case of death and scatter his ashes somewhere on the Joshua Tree land.
The two - not lazy - forged some papers and got the coffin with the body out of the airport. In front of a gigantic rock in the moon and star light (including the Milky Way, because the air is clear) they doused their dead friend with gasoline and threw the burning match. Unfortunately, due to a lack of sufficient gasoline, the plan did not work out well, so that they were forced to go to the police, with the remaining remains recovered and finally sent to Gram’s home town.
They got away with a small fine for gross mischief. Nothing else, because the theft of a corpse is not a crime according to US laws.
Anyway, we visited everything, the motel and location of the burning, and in the car we listened to Gram Parsons music all day long.
Nothing 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!
And we made chic "KLUSON" products!
and nicely aged tremolo saddles ...
I had made friends with Andrés, a good friend of Ines, and told him about my musical ambitions. My idea was to form a group that plays only songs from The Doors, without keyboards and all in my own versions. I like a lot of music: Stones, Steely Dan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Roachford, Carl Carlton, Free, Cassandra Wilson, Black Crowes etc. But the Doors always had a special place in my life. Besides, a band needs a "theme". I did not want to start a 60’s 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 everything (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.
The 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 Dylan
Mike Campbell had given one of his "Mike Campbells" that we sponsored to Bob Dylan and Bob was hooked. Sure, how can you NOT be taken with a Duesenberg? The first thing we did was to gather information about what would be especially appealing to Bob, such as symbols, signs, scales, colors etc., the whole communication with this shy icon was very difficult. First requests: a black ebony fingerboard with a "61" inlay on the 7th fret, possibly his name on the 12th fret, body finished in a delicate violin-tobacco-burst, bindings etc. to be acoustic-guitar-like, and an Egyptian symbol (the eye of Horus) on the headstock. Anyway, everything was official. Bob even sent us his signature so we could make a mother-of-pearl inlay or a decoration on the pickguard from it.
We made him a simple preliminary design without many special features, just a nice Starplayer in violin-burst with block inlays and checkerboard binding and at least his Egyptian-looking logo on the headstock. Apart from that we used our proven standard equipment to see if something like our basic model would be suitable for him. Time passed without further response, 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 wouldn't you know it, Bob appeared on stage and played our "Dylan" guitar.
On top of that two verses of guitar solo, with our our fine guitar not helping to improve his playing skills. But this performance made us famous. There were lots of press photos and even an article in Rolling Stone. Also in an American Dylan book and in a biography of a German author these photos appear.
Here is the video on the occasion of the presentation of a film award to Michael Douglas - Bob with our guitar!
We continued to design and implement everything for his guitar: various fingerboards, the Egyptian symbol made of the finest mother of pearl inlaid in the headstock, various prototypes, until we got the message that the guitar was too heavy for him, shit! Bob had a slipped disc (like me a year and a half ago), 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 ...
After that nothing else happened until this: One day Nathan got a call from a person who spoke an extremely weird slang. After questioning him several times, Nathan found out that the caller wanted a blank pickguard for a Duesenberg "Mike Campbell" guitar, a nickel-plated pickguard without the engraved signature. Why, why, where from? Finally, Nathan realized that he was talking to Mr. Bob Dylan in person! He, of course his own star, didn't want any other signature on his guitar. The analysis: Mr. Dylan had just recorded every track of his new album with the Mike Campbell guitar - producer of the album: Mike Campbell! Sure, that's how he got our blue-white guitar!
Metallica - no!
But that was not enough! Shortly after that James Hetfield, in correct English Metallica guitarist James Hetfield, came 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 belongs in a flashlight!
Then Martin came up with his 15 year old idea, which had not been realized until then: that it would be revolutionary to have a sliding capo on the fingerboard of a lapsteel. Martin Huch, a man possessed, and according to him there is nothing you can't put into practice! So first of all a groove was milled into the "fingerboard", two aluminum rails were attached 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 we later had a massive aluminum prototype fabricated. Minimum quantity for this material: half a ton = about 840 pieces! At the bottom of the groove we also had to drill attachment holes. All the 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 fear that we would never be able to use it up. But in the following years the opposite became true.
Mando Guitar & Double Cat 12-string
The headstock of course offers the possibility of accommodating 12 machine heads in a very small space. But stringing is always a nerve-wracking job. So, we came up with the idea to accommodate 12 machine heads with round, knurled "wings" of 6 & 6 on both sides of the head. Due to the shape of these tuning knobs and a machine head housing reduced in length, it was possible to build a headstock that is still relatively short and visually appealing. Therefore: stringing made easy!
I had thought it up so beautifully, but still it went into the unused devices storage department.
The "Strat" tremolo bar was placed in a spot similar to our Duesenbergs and its end stuck out about 8mm from the edge. Right next to it I attached a height adjustable "counter bearing knob" which was screwed into the Strat body. When the tremolo lever was rotated 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 in the slot - 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 >> into the unused device storage department it went!
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 thread of the potentiometer and the pickguard and brought into position so that you could move the pickguard so that the two tabs would reach under the top of the body, and then tighten the two fixing screws of the pickguard strip. Result: Pickguard is positioned practically immovably. It can only be removed by loosening the two screws of the metal strip.
But the company was afraid that I could loosen the pickguard by vibrations >> off to the garage of rejected inventions! A pity!
Once again with Ines in Paris, visiting her aunt and looking at the Eiffel Tower from her terrace apartment. In Paris there is a street full of guitar stores, the Rue de Douai. There I entered the completely crazy store "Guitar Collection" of Dany Delepierre. And it was full of guitars of the Italian brand "Wandré". I didn't even know this brand, although I owned a neck (aluminum) and a body (pressboard) of a Wandré "Bikini". Pierro Terracina (Magnetics Pickups) had given me these two parts from 1960 years before. I didn't attach much importance to them, but I never threw them away either. A neck consisting of a fretboard with crazy inlays and a lower part made of an aluminum D-profile is something special. A complete "Wandre-Bikini" sells today for about € 25.000. But I did not know this at that time. It was just the magic appeal of this store, the shapes and colors of these Italian gems. Instead of conventional binding they had something like piping as edge protection. Add to that these futuristic looking pickups, crazy controls, it was as if someone (this Antonio Wandrè Pioli) had invented the electric guitar on another planet.
Vargas & Raimundo Amador
On Formentera I had once made acquaintance with Wolfgang Röhl, a travel reporter for the Stern magazine, who had also reported somewhere about our Formentera Guitars. He sent me a cassette with music from the Vargas Blues Band with a note: "Listen to this! They are not yet so influenced by the Americans! By chance one day, Javier Vargas called 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-Chicago", which I still like better than all the music of Santana.
Vargas was thinking that I would give him a Duesenberg. We have never done anything like that except with absolute top acts. We merely collect an extremely moderate price for a top of the line instrument, without any contracts or conditions. But I agreed that the slightly disappointed Vargas would appear as a "special guest" with the Dooros at the next Formentera Autumn Festival - easy for him, because he has his main home on the neighboring island of Ibiza.
Vargas soon had a concert with plenty of guests in the Sala Caracol up his sleeve. He invited me to perform a few Doors songs there. No sooner said than done and I met Raimundo Amador, who is about fifty times better known in Spain than Javier. Raimundo comes from Sevilla, grew up there under poorest conditions and can only write a little. He played guitar with his father on the streets in his young years for money and is an exceptional guitarist. Together with his brother Rafaél he had founded the group Pata Negra (the word "Pata Negra" actually refers to the best Spanish ham). The two of them have integrated flamenco music into modern rock and blues music and had an enormous success with it. Raimundo later completed a complete tour of Spain with B.B. King. And when you walk the streets with Raimundo today, it is not uncommon to see him being stopped frequently for a selfie with someone's cell phone. That hardly ever happens with Javier Vargas.
Here Raimundos finger tips:
Here are a few Youtube clips:
On the left you can see Raimundo and on the right his brother, who unfortunately is a bit disturbed today because of too many drugs in the years after Franco's death. The changeover to democracy in 1976 meant great freedom for the Spaniards on the one hand. On the other hand, many young people could not deal with this new found freedom.
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 head 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.
We played a few pieces with Vargas, and then the three of us played alone. Ecki still gave us a lot of stress, including threatening that he would cut off our electricity if we ran over time. But he only wanted to play bass again himself.
How nice! Ingo was at the Eagles concert with Martin Huch and accompanied by Wolfgang Niedecken and wrote this wonderful text about it. I take the liberty of including this one in my notes.
Die Eagles: The only true Boy-Group in this world
The 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...)
Joe welcomed us very warmly and Wolfgang and I told him all about Project Rebound.
What is Project Rebound about?
Project Rebound deals with the rehabilitation of child soldiers in the Pader district of Uganda. 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 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 the 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 did 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
As a special gift 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 on several songs.
Oh, and then in the G&B a feature about Joe. 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 totally get 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 an 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 particular
The 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 show. 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...)
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 had my company produce it anyway (already with regard to the aforementioned Roger Saturn). But what a pity. 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.
In in between Billy G. in Hamburg with the Gold-Top-Senior Guitar, which he himself initiated.
Still very expensive for a replacement tremolo, which should be retrofittable for one of the two most sold guitar types in the world. I rethought the matter: The bearing of the 2mm shaft had to be retained, due to the original design. For this function we needed a lower part that was less complex in terms of production. Yes Sir! Punch out and weld the two bearing tabs for the 2mm axle into the base - simplest technology with perfect function!