2013 - Johnny Depp, Caribou, Chris Jagger
2013 - an important year
The year 2013 should now catapult us further up into guitar royalty.
And again NAMM-Show
When in Spain, you will notice that many names of streets and squares in L.A. are of Spanish origin (Alamo, Katella, Balboa, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, California, Florida etc.), because California was discovered by the Spanish - and Mexico is just around the corner. Almost all the people who do menial jobs here under the American thumb (hotel staff, waiters etc.) are Mexicans who left their wonderful country in the hope of earning better money. And they buy lots of stuff in the supermarkets, generally twice as much as we do.
And this story comes to my mind again, how we - my Spanish partner Paloma and I - one day had dinner with one of Nathan's fair helpers and told him that we had a direct flight from Madrid to Mexico City, because we stayed there a few days and then took the plane to L.A. We went back there after the NAMM to explore Mexico for a few more weeks. This man named Bob looked at us in disbelief and said that Mexico is extremely dangerous and that it is very easy to get "killed" there. In response to Paloma's answer that such things could happen to you "very easily" in L.A., he replied: "But in L.A. they at least kill you in a "civilized" manner.”
My oh my, although Bob knew that my girlfriend was Spanish and that we both live in Spain, he asked us the question: "And how do you do that with the language, how do you communicate with the Mexicans? Unbelievable, this Yank didn't even know that "Mexican" = "Spanish"!
On NAMM-Sunday there will be a small vintage guitar show in Costa Mesa. And - you won’t believe it - right next door they are organizing a huge gun show. There the guys come out with huge pistols, shotguns and machine guns that really get you scared.
In terms of NAMM ...
Everything as usual, here are a few photos ...
Again a glamorous ballroom concert with Mike Campbell. Special guest this time was "Orianthi", an accomplished guitarist, PRS endorser, who had played with Michael Jackson and others and didn't miss the chance to try out a Duesenberg.
Nathan had rented an additional showroom in Fullerton thanks to booming business and also brought in an impressive Harley Davidson and a 1000 Watt loudspeaker system. The restaurant was not quite finished yet, but one could expect impressive things. The brick walls, thick carpets, luxurious leather armchairs and couches. All a bit pompously American, but quite appropriate in this area. Nathan knows his stuff here of course better than we Germans, who are a little differently oriented.
For the first time our booth was divided into two departments: Duesenberg and Göldo-Guitar-Parts. New introduction of the "Rusty Steel" TV: We apply a ferrous lacquer which oxidizes immediately. Then the whole thing is shot with a clear coat so that nothing rubs off on the stage outfit. And Andrei presents a "shady" Fullerton double cutaway.
We have been working on this new model for a long time. Various designs, symmetric, asymmetric, various pickup combinations, a lot of communication with Ingo, "It's better not like that, it's better like that" etc. And in the end we created this body shape with glued-in neck and 3+3 headstock. Pretty "surfy" the whole thing, generally based on American tradition. As a result it was well received. And finally the Johnny Depp guitar came out of it!
Our Nathan Fawley, incredible! Through his first contact with Tom Petty's guitarist Mike Campbell, Nathan was suddenly able to make ALL connections to virtually ALL top stars. The doors were open! Through Alice Cooper, who had just formed his new band "The Hollywood Vampires", he met up with Johnny Depp, second guitarist next to Joe Perry. Johnny was a professional guitarist before his acting career. He even lived in France for a while and got himself into gypsy jazz - so he was a thoroughly respectable musician. Soon you saw photos with this Caribbean pirate playing a "Mike Campbell Signature TV". And shortly afterwards Nathan offered Johnny the opportunity to create a very special Duesenberg guitar for himself. The "pirate" said: "Yes! It was by no means our intention to "exploit" his pirate image. Other companies may come up with such obvious ideas, but not us!
- Body: Caribou
- Head plate: black / or dark rosewood
- F-Hole: with binding possibly? Or none at all?
- Body Top: We thought about it and came up with his tattoos, the vast number of tattoos that adorn his body, which is coveted by virtually every woman in the world. Tattoos all over the place (you could have decorated dozens of guitars with them).
- Body back: a skull and ribs tattooed on his back
- Headstock back: a picture that his son painted.
- Fingerboard inlays: his "3" in the third fret & and a lightning bolt in the twelfth - otherwise maybe nothing at all!? o Color: either high gloss black, matt black or a translucent TV Yellow o Trussrod cover: an Indian feather
- One or two Pu's? Even the new PH90?
- 1 x volume with an E compartment on the back of the cabinet / or 1 x volume
- & 1 x Tone? - or with Pickguard?
- Bridge: Our slim wrap-around bridge with Tunamatic spacing?
- Tattoos = great idea! But how and where to put them up?
- First idea: A kind of boat plank wood look - engraving tattoos. Next idea: An aluminum plate on the top, with a few engraved motifs?
Next idea: An aluminum plate on the top, with a few engraved motifs?
That's it: Johnny was enthusiastic about this idea and allowed us to take photos of all his tattoos first. A guy from Hollywood, who worked for Disney, took them and "cropped" and graphically vectorized them all in a program like Photoshop.
Yes, his very own guitar design, absolutely way beyond "Pirates of the Caribbean"! Martin Huch then positioned these designs on the aluminum top and on the back of the body. Toño, a graphic designer and bassist with my Madrid band, created a kind of "pearl necklace" around the aluminum top and vectorized the entire graphic so that the engraving was technically reproducible.
Also a special JD pickup had to be used. We came up with a P-90-like construction with 6300 windings plus an additional winding of a further 1963 turns (corresponding to his year of birth 1963) for more output, selectable by slide switch. Shortly before that I had reproduced a "new" pickup cover in the design of the legendary conical Italian Wandré pickups. It had some rhomboid-shaped elevations on the top, which we didn't need for Johnnie's guitar. In short, we invested in another tool for a cover with a flat surface in the same shape. Such punching and pressing tools for nickel silver covers cost a fortune, but in this case nothing was too expensive for us.
And there it was, the Duesenberg Johnnie Depp signature model guitar, limited to 52 pieces. We sold 40 of these instruments immediately, setting aside twelve guitars for Johnny. Some of them he gave away to people like Keith Richards, Bob Dylan etc. Johnny also allowed us to continue with an unlimited, slightly modified version, basically the same features, but the graphics arranged differently, unsigned of course, and without his tattoo on the back of the body.
Johnny Depp is a super cool guy, whom I met personally, once with his wife Amber Heart. And I don't trust anything that this bitchy ex-wife accuses Johnny of. The meeting was at our second Collage Hall concert, where Joe Walsh and Alice Cooper's band "The Hollywood Vampires" performed together with Johnny. Alice and Joe had their own backstage room, while Mr. Depp just sat together with the other musicians.
There was also Abe Laboriel Jr., that brilliant drummer with Paul McCartney, people from Guns N' Roses and the other créme de la créme musicians in attendance.
We talked about one of his last movies, "The Rum Diary", during which he unfortunately met this female "leading lady" Amber. The script is based on the novel of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson – in my opinion Hunter's best work, although he became more famous for his book "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas". I once translated two thirds of "The Rum Diary" into German because I planned to publish it at my small publishing house "Panama Publication". Unfortunately, shortly before the end, another German publisher had secured the rights. Anyway, I didn't really like the film, because the script differed from the original in important points. Especially Johnny and another very important guy had been merged into one person. Johnny also played the leading role in the movie "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas" and since that time he became such a good friend of Hunter's that he even financed his spectacular funeral, which involved shooting Hunter's ashes over his property by cannon! Johnny had first-hand accounts that Hunter himself had personified himself in his book into those two guys. Anyway, the film was not a great success - possibly also because of the qualities of the "leading actress". But for sure read this book!At the last concert there were a lot of joints going around backstage and I couldn't resist. Wow, that was heavy stuff, especially for me as a non-smoker. At some point everything was spinning! But still: I shared a joint with Johnny Depp!
As a businessman one should not be tempted by the beauty of an employee of another company to rush into business relations!The only China-Connection we ever had was during a visit to the fair in Shanghai. Let's see what's going on in China! The Chinese have come into a lot of money, and maybe we could find a Duesenberg importer here. At the then already unmanageable fair we discovered by chance a company which offered a replica of the best "Fender" switch so far - just that switch with the small tension spring which we had always bought from our American supplier.
However, it became more and more expensive from year to year, even though it was now - according to the OEM packaging, manufactured in Mexico: "Made in Mexico" was written on it ... The extremely high price could no longer be justified. But that's how the Americans are full of greed. And these Chinese people, who had an incredibly attractive sales manager at their booth, seemed to us at that moment to be offering a great opportunity to take revenge for the completely inflated US price. So we ordered samples. The result: although everything looked true to the original, the center position of these switches was not exactly in the middle and the contacts not only failed, but one or both of the wipers moved past the contacts. So double the annoyance and we had to stay with the damned American-Mexican switches.
At the end of September Raimundo Amador called and asked if I could lend him instruments and amps for a gig at Sala Sol (important live venue in Madrid). No problem. I had all kinds of nice things in my sound booth. One of them was an AC30 replica top built for me by an Argentinean named Pablo Kahayan, an ace gearhead who lives in the Madrid area and is a studio technology specialist. And this amp also had reverb. On the "regular" AC30, size, weight and the missing reverb had always bothered me. But the sound with these EL84 tubes is just awesome. But all this only at the limit ...
We loaded all the stuff into Raimundo's van and started talking. I mentioned a chance acquaintance with a photographer who knew "Chechu", who is very prominent in Spain, and who also recommended the Duesenberg website to him.
"I know him very well and he is a fan of mine," explained Raimundo. "He also makes music. I'll give him a call right away so he can come to our concert!" In the evening a hot blues concert. And there I met the man with the nickname "Chechu".
A MAN WITH THREE NAMES
Chechu's stage name is "El Gran Wyoming". Born José Miguel Monzón Navarro, he is one of the most important political figures in Spain, as important as our Harald Schmidt was at that time. He has a television show every week evening from 9:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., in which he and several of his comrades-in-arms shred the political events of this country. And in Spain, with its Franco-fascist past, which is still going on among the right-wing parties, there are a lot of incredible events that have to be communicated to the public: Corruption, bribery cases and criminal affairs. In my opinion, the right-wing party "PP" - "Partido Popular" is rightly accused of running a mafia-like organization. I could tell a lot of stories - maybe later. But back to Chechu: This man is an absolute multi-talented individual, he is a musician, singer and the guitarist in his band "El Gran Wyoming y los Disolventes". Paloma used to watch the recordings of his previous day's program on her computer every morning and laugh her head off.
Concierto en the Sala Sol
Raimundo played with a session band. At some point a string broke and I realized that the famous Chechu was taking Raimundo's guitar backstage to replace the string him for him. Wow! What more can you expect from a human being?
During the break I introduced myself to him: "Dieter, Duesenberg guitars. I would be happy if you would stop by my secret laboratory in the Ventas district.”
He actually came by a little later with two musicians who were friends and wanted to buy some Duesenberg guitars. By the way, one of them was a certain Carlos Vega, architect and brother of Antonio Vega, the late Spanish superstar. Anyway, we became good friends around this guitar thing. Future excessive eating and drinking in our mezzanine kitchen with visits to restaurants etc. were the result.
Chechu has a nice vacation home in a place called Zahara de los Atunes, where he often let us stay in for free. Zahara is located on the Atlantic coast between Tarifa and Càdiz, a former idyllic fishing village, where life is very good. From there we often went to Càdiz with the result that we soon found a house in the old center of this wonderful town.
This man not only writes political books, but is also a very talented actor and appears in practically all the films of my favourite director Alex de la Iglesia, whom I was lucky enough to meet once in Zahara, because he had a house there along with all sorts of important media stars. Best movies, very well dubbed in German: Mad Circus - A Ballad of Love and Death, Perdita Durango (with Javier Bardém), "The Day of the Beast" (Muertos de Risa).
You heard it right here: Chechu had purchased an Ice-Pearl and a Mike Campbell-II. Both of them appeared in his shows from time to time, when he was performing something with his band for special events with the "Insolventes". But that was not all! In all the months of the Corona crisis, in which they broadcast their program via the Internet from the homes of the actors, the red MC-II stood every evening half a meter to the right behind him in the picture. You can hardly get much better free advertising. Chechu! Thanks a million!
In the 80s we had the extremely exotic Staccato basses that Chris Jagger had tried to sell with moderate success in Germany. Nevertheless, a friendship developed out of it that has lasted, which also resulted in the fact that Mick’s brother had brought our Pearl-Top guitar to Ron Wood. This brought us, among other things, our international success. In Madrid I had made the acquaintance of a Stones fan group, musicians who had produced two CDs under the name "Angel Slang", which sounded very much like the "Stones", really well done! But as it is, they had enlisted me to create a connection to the Stones. In addition, there was a painter who called himself "Abdul Bas" and who had painted various AC/DC pictures in the Sebastian Kruger style, with the dream that somebody could organize an exhibition in Madrid with works by Ron Wood and his. But Abdul's art was rather of inferior quality and so it immediately met with Chris Jagger's reluctance. In order to motivate him to continue his "collaboration" in terms of exhibitions, he was offered concerts with his band Atcha in Madrid. Chris Jagger was by no means lazy and Madrid sounded good to him too. Despite being Mick Jagger’s brother and a really good singer and musician, he wasn’t really high up in the music business. He agreed to come to the Spanish capital with a small line-up. We accommodated him in our place with the boxing ring bed and his bass player and violinist in Paloma’s currently empty apartment near the bullring. A lot of money saved!
A little technology:
We have always sold considerably more guitars than basses. That could be because I'm not a bass player, although I'm very good at playing bass, as is Ingo. We also know a lot about how a good bass should be built. We never designed basses with active electronics, because - as Bill Lawrence said: "A battery sounds like a flashlight." And this devastating sentence is quite justified: You play a gig with an active electronics instrument, suddenly the battery is dead, which gives you at least an unpleasant time-out to replace it. In addition, for over half a decade there have been passive basses that are highly regarded by bassists. If you're looking to "bend" certain frequencies, you can do that with an amp or even stand on it!
A good example: our Starplayer Bass. Small quantities, but just about everyone who owns one is totally happy with it. Even bassists like Ron Blair (Tom Petty) or Luis Mayol (Vargas Blues Band) prefer this bass.
Nevertheless a battery!
Mike Campbell wanted to have a volume adjustable booster directly on his guitar, which he could switch on with a fingertip for overdriven solos. Of course, the guitar had to be playable "normally" when the booster was inactive.
As already mentioned at the very beginning, Robert Kolb had developed this tuning mechanism, later copied by Schaller, in which the worm shaft was pressed against the gear wheel with a spring steel clip, which resulted in a backlash-free action. A construction that still worked just as perfectly 50 years later and was used on many Guild, Framus and other brand instruments. Despite this ingenious idea there were technical, optical and dimensional deficiencies, as with many German developments. A good reason to re examine this matter.
1) The case was too long, so that it was not compatible with the conventional American machine head dimensions, which had become the standard in terms of "distance between the fastening screws". Not suitable for replacement! In addition one needed to simply cut off the two ends of the case like a 6-left Kluson tuner to have a single-sided tuner with 24.5mm clearance.
2) The covers were simply ugly, smooth without any decoration or brand emblem.
3) For me, our patent was simply missing the issue of being able to route the strings through the shaft from the top to be able to cut the string ends below the cap.
So: the basic construction was good, but we needed to create a modern version of it! To convert this old 60's thing into a modern design was a real job. Shifting and modulating the measurements by tenths of a millimeter, then the engraving of the cover spring plate with Kluson-typical lines, positioning the hole in the middle of the cap from which the string end could emerge through the machine head shaft according to our patent. Several weeks went by, whereupon we applied for a new, extremely sophisticated patent.
Another tremolo-version with a leaf spring. This project I will continue 7 years later.
So we have just generated new "Wing" inlays from the back of our D-logo.
Sound-City - Rick Springfield
There was a movie about a famous recording studio in L.A. And there a certain Rick Springfield shows up with our senior guitar. This guy had many hits!
It kept on going. A new featured Bob Dylan book - Bob again with our guitar. And another one about Tom Petty, where you could see two of our Duesen in his guitar collection. Thanks again!
Sevilla - Los Dooros in La Caja Negra
November, yes! In Seville there is not only the legendary bullfighting arena but also the legendary club La Caja Negra. Raimundo Amador had arranged a gig for us there and was also present as a "special guest". The place filled up and we had a triumphal gig. Chilean drummer Chiloé Concha and a rather heavy metal guitarist Miguel Lopez were also part of the group.
Dezember – Göldo-Duesenberg-Xmas-Fiesta
It was also nice to be in Hannover for the Duesenberg/göldo-Fiesta. Again a lot of new employees in the company, who I hadn't met until now.