2012 - Joe Walsh, new tremolos, Wandré
This time the two Hanoverian filmmakers Olaf Neumann and Steffen König were in on the action. Olaf is a full-time music journalist and had set his mind on making a film about the guitar with Steffen (this actually rather commercial film maker), with a special focus on the Duesenberg brand.
Besides all kinds of sight-seeing including a visit to the fascinating Joshua Tree National Park, the two interviewed a lot of well-known musicians at the NAMM show.
wild life on the booth ...
and always rich food ...
and Dieter was allowed to play something at the Ballroom concert ...
Lilientalstreet 2 and the whole crew
The new paint booth
We were able to return to Hanover in good shape. Meanwhile Arijan had finished the new spray booth, which finally had a reasonable exhaust system to the outside. Everything went like clockwork.
New workbench on the upper floorI had moved my personal workbench to my office, with the ulterior motive that I wouldn't come here too often anyway. And the office was still big enough for everything.
FrankfurtOur penultimate appearance at this fair. The noise level in the halls had increased to such an extent that sometimes you couldn't understand your own word, let alone do proper business with our partners.
NewsFullerton double cutaway models were the order of the day. In addition a TV-Custom with three pickups and a fretless D-Bass.
Still with Joe Walsh. Also the Motown bass with three Alnico blade pickups and new lap steel designs.
back to Madrid
My lathe, milling and saw are perfectly functional and I started working on new designs again.
The metal-top guitars, like those made by Mr. James Trussart, had always kind of appealed to me. In addition, the assembly of the Resobros took a considerable amount of time, which had not been calculated before, so I thought about how to reproduce that sound in an even easier way. An all-metal top with a pressed-in arch for static stability, from which the metallic sound could be taken off again from below.
Luigi, Formentera-LyonMy friend Luigi, Swiss and currently living in Formentera, gave courses at a business school in Lyon. He had the idea of developing a study with his students in the next course on how Duesenberg could be marketed in South American countries. To do this, he asked me to make a video with a short presentation from me. Here is a part of it:
In July 2012 this dubious Prime Minister of Lower Saxony McAlister came to visit us on his election campaign. What should one think of politicians today, please? Of course it was still good publicity for us, plenty of press and media coverage, but somehow it went against the grain.
Afterwards, a quite stupid newspaper article appeared and afterwards a stupid note on an internet site, supposedly quoting me as saying "McAlister helping with my worries". This made my blood boil, because I had no "worries" at all and this CDU minister is presented as a "helping hand" - contrary to reality. On the same day, I wrote these people an e-mail with a message that read: "What idiot could be stupid enough to publish such nonsense". Politicians and journalists - beware!
Unfortunately, the factory that had made us these tuners closed its doors, so we had to put Clip-Haus on ice for the time being.
Perloid, solid Celluloid
I always found these pearl celluloid bindings of the Höfner jazz guitars beautiful. We could also use something like that. So we had massive, 2mm thick celluloid made in this vintage pearl look. This looks super elegant in my opinion, in contrast to those kitschy abalone ornaments.
There was a very simple tremolo on a couple of Italian guitars of the brand "Zerosette" with a pin-point bearing, which worked wonderfully smooth without going out of tune. But it had those typical "European" flaws: too narrow string spacing, too high (bad break angle across the bridge), a very easy to lose trem bar with no adjustability. I took up the challenge and perfected all the details. We put this into production some time later in various designs.
Single Twins - First a bad surprise!
All previous attempts to make single coils "hum-free" turned out to be useless upon closer examination. All sorts of companies had tried and failed. Two coils on top of each other, side by side, whatever. Even if the sound of these pseudo developments was very similar to a single coil, in the end the attack, the dynamics when striking the note was missing - loud and soft. So I had the idea to place two counter-pole vertical coils in one Strat pickup case, just like in a Precision-Bass-Pickup. That worked and it sounded great, just like a real single coil. And then the nasty surprise: When I pulled the G-string upwards towards the D-string, the sound went out. Shit! This had to be caused by the counter-pole magnetic field between the strings. The only solution: to position the coils at an angle so that the magnets are further apart. Of course, it doesn't fit into a single-coil housing anymore. But it is feasible for a Fender-like pickup in a mini humbucker housing and for a P-90 (larger dimensions in a humbucker housing). What should we call this? Idea: Single Twins! That's how they were created, the P-90 as an authentic humbucker and the mini single twin as a "Fender sound" replacement.
To be able to compare the sounds in an authentic way, I ordered two super cheap Chinese Strats with plexiglass body. In these I milled the already existing, so called "sandwich compartment" to the outside and then made inserts to be able to accommodate different pickups. Milling plexiglass is a mess, because this material is electrically charged when you peel it off and sits everywhere like magnetically attracted. Look at my arm and my shirt.
This effort has more than paid off. But to bring the pickups into production was a considerable financial and technical effort: Ordering magnets in special dimensions, having coil bodies lasered, a new nickel silver cap including bottom plate for the mini version and various prototypes made with my small winding machine. But it allworked out. For a good sound nothing is too complex and nothing is too expensive!
Parts & Design
A Bigsby tremolo without a low-pressure roller bridge can be useless, especially if you install a B5 on a Les Paul, because there is no pressure of the strings at the bridge. After all, the strings are routed around the top of the shaft with the small pins for the ball ends. If you install a B7, the roller is so close to the bridge that this again leads to friction and detuning problems. Hence the idea: a short B5 and an adjustable roller, which is screwed into the stud of the stop tailpiece that was previously removed. And then we created these decorative shims for pots and toggle switches, which simply look far more appealing than say, the Les Paul Treble/Rhythm disk. And a cover for Fender switches, all nicely rounded, transparent and screen printed in black and gold from below.
Thumb-Wheels und Endpins in „Three-Step" Duesenberg-Design.
Our tremolos were not suitable as "direct replacement" for Bigsby tremolos because of their somewhat wider construction (better string spacing). So I had the idea to develop a new design which should be halfway Bigsby-compatible in width and position of the mounting screws. The beautiful old BMW radiator grille came to my mind. Let's do it with these internal struts! And the part that lies above the frame at the back got a kind of lobster tail look. That's how the radiator (radiator grille) tremolo was created. My absolute favorite in terms of "Duesign"!
We also produced Fender replacement parts under our Roger brand, i.e. hardware, pickups, bodies and necks. Always the trouble with design patents, which were now over sixty years old. For several decades, this was ignored by all copyists worldwide, until Fender or the current owner of the company found a legal way to protect some of their "shapes" afterwards. Very questionable but of course problematic, because nobody wants to be sued by this giant. So I had two ideas to change the headstock design:
1) The line you see here below the Roger logo has a slight curvature on a Strat. And also the "corner", where it merges into the circular end, has a much bigger inner radius. So I straightened this curved line and made the inner radius extremely smaller, which, by the way, was technically practically impossible to do with the 1950s milling technique. For this purpose I placed this elliptical part underneath it at half height. For my taste it even looks even better than the original.
2) Version 2 was the same, but without this half-high elliptical part. In this way you can get past the restrictions of protected designs!
Here also our tremolo with the saddles, which had a "Deluxe" engraving on both sides. We offered this with different tremolo blocks: steel, brass and aluminum. And the blocks were milled diagonally at half height so that you could push the tremolo further down until it hit against the milling in the body.
For this bridge, our elegant Tunamatic bridge was milled from the bottom to be used as the upper part of our special piezo bridge, which sits in a u-shaped lower part and should not be higher than a "normal" Tunamatic. A few years later, Heinz Rebellius and Daniel Frantz had the brilliant idea to market the bridge - as flat as it was - as a so-called "low-rider bridge", for guitars on which a "normal" Tunamatic could not be used because of its taller construction. Then we had this Telecaster-Control-Plate with the much more comfortably positioned controls, fancy new packaging with a viewing window and as a "new" product a round rod truss rod with dual-function, which had been developed more than twenty years ago and which allowed the neck to be adjusted concave or convex in both directions.
I have always liked the pickups of the Gibson Melody Makers. A cheap construction to produce like a Fender pickup. But instead of the six cylindrical magnets an Alnico block magnet. That sounds very similar, but a bit more powerful. And the strings are taken off evenly everywhere. Nice even in our open nickel silver caps!
This thing did not let go of me. Damn it, how many hours, days and weeks did I spend on it? But this project always ended with problems. Let's see, someday I will bring this to perfection! But so far: into the Garage!
Why does the neck always have to be attached in a body/neck pocket that is as wide as the neck? This way you never get up to the last fret unhindered. So the idea: simply remove the neck pocket on the side of the three high strings! And simply mill the neck profile rounding on the same side to the end. In the past you might have expected problems with the stability of the connection. But with today's CNC technology, this can be milled so precisely that the side of the three low strings easily fits tightly against the edge of the neck pocket. Two strong screws are quite enough that nothing can move. Finally in the year 2020 this has been incorporated into one of our solid body series models.
After this first Wandré experience in Paris, these creations of Mr. Pioli drove me extremely crazy with delight. I remembered again these two gifts from my Roman "Magnetics" friend Pierro, who had bequeathed to me the body and neck of a "bikini" guitar. I dug them out of a box to make an at least halfway authentic recreation. This is what the complete original looks like, for which you have to invest at least € 25.000 nowadays.
All hardware and electrics including the pickups were missing, as well as the oval loudspeaker. But I didn't really need that either, because Dieter owns several amps! So here is my modest possession:
The hardest thing was to somehow recreate the pickguard. I sawed out an appropriate shape from our beautiful vintage perloid and framed it with a chrome-plated plastic profile - which would have been more likely to be offered on the internet as a spare part for a car. Then I installed a volume pot in the shape of a thumbwheel and a 3-way switch above the pickups that sat in our special "senior" housings. I didn't (yet) have the original Wandré pickups, but I wanted it to look as "vintage" as possible. The "W" logo was cut out of an aluminum plate, grinded and polished and mounted behind the bridge on the continuous aluminum neck. As a bridge I installed our 12-string bridge, because with that you could put the strings a bit closer together.
Underneath this aluminum neck there was also an aluminum tube running through the entire body which was designed to hold a number of these thick 1.5 volt batteries which were used to power the amplifier in the oval speaker section. I closed this on both sides with self-twisted, matching aluminum discs and mounted two end pins inside.
And there it was, that crazy bird!
Wandré and Marco Ballestri
Here is a Marco Ballestri, doctor in a clinic in Modena, who nursed the creator Antonio Wandré Pioli for a year until his death. The two became very close friends during this time, and Wandré left his complete document archives to him. By the way, "Wandré" is a nickname given to him by his father (guitar maker) because little Antonio Wandré Pioli was too often in the way somewhere. "Wandré" means something like "get out of the way! In Spanish by the way "vete!". Marco looked through the archive material and (like me in terms of "Kottan") wrote an extensive book about it in his spare time. Two years later it was published with the announcement of an exhibition in the village of Cavriago, where the former Wandré factory was located. Worth seeing also the website FETISHGUITARS.COM >>> https://www.fetishguitars.com/wandre/
And even more of it ...I then not only started to acquire a few more of these pieces of jewelry, but also developed ideas to incorporate these Pioli designs into our creations.</br /> Various experiments!
Necks are still made of maple, but I was particularly fond of these mechanisms made of aluminum, especially since the originals from the 60s were not exactly of the best quality. So let's use modern technology! And an invisible neck connection came to my mind.</br />
Such obsessed I decided to rebuild these trapezoidal Wandré / Davoli pickups. A real investment, because three super expensive stamping and pressing molds for the caps, the base plate and the internal U-profile, which directs the magnetic field around the coil so skillfully that despite the actually simple construction this brilliant, open sound with lots of output. But nothing is too expensive for good sound and good design! Therefore I thought: Let's make a second, higher cover version, in which you can put any pickup inside, i.e. humbuckers, P-90, SC-pickups etc.! And a height adjustment option had to be created. No sooner said than done, our replicas were off the ground. And I even had the W-logo made by a company that otherwise makes jewelry. See for yourself!