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Folklore: Decorated instruments

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Walking Eagle 17 Jan 04 - 06:01 PM
mack/misophist 17 Jan 04 - 06:08 PM
Walking Eagle 17 Jan 04 - 06:36 PM
Walking Eagle 17 Jan 04 - 10:32 PM
Cap't Bob 17 Jan 04 - 10:55 PM
BK Lick 18 Jan 04 - 12:25 AM
Roger the Skiffler 18 Jan 04 - 03:41 AM
Les in Chorlton 18 Jan 04 - 04:11 AM
Dave Hanson 18 Jan 04 - 05:35 AM
Sandra in Sydney 18 Jan 04 - 06:54 AM
Leadfingers 18 Jan 04 - 08:00 AM
Banjo-Flower 18 Jan 04 - 09:28 AM
Banjo-Flower 18 Jan 04 - 09:31 AM
Mooh 18 Jan 04 - 10:14 AM
open mike 18 Jan 04 - 12:46 PM
Walking Eagle 18 Jan 04 - 01:04 PM
Sorcha 18 Jan 04 - 01:18 PM
GUEST 18 Jan 04 - 01:18 PM
Melani 18 Jan 04 - 01:22 PM
Walking Eagle 18 Jan 04 - 02:26 PM
Mooh 18 Jan 04 - 02:32 PM
open mike 18 Jan 04 - 02:47 PM
Uncle_DaveO 18 Jan 04 - 05:40 PM
Walking Eagle 18 Jan 04 - 06:40 PM
Margret RoadKnight 18 Jan 04 - 08:17 PM
MickyMan 18 Jan 04 - 09:16 PM
Walking Eagle 18 Jan 04 - 09:51 PM
Dave Hanson 19 Jan 04 - 05:02 AM
PoppaGator 19 Jan 04 - 12:58 PM
freightdawg 19 Jan 04 - 01:19 PM
PoppaGator 19 Jan 04 - 03:06 PM
Grab 20 Jan 04 - 10:13 AM
PoppaGator 20 Jan 04 - 04:41 PM
open mike 20 Jan 04 - 05:28 PM
GUEST,Seamus Kennedy 21 Jan 04 - 04:02 AM
C-flat 21 Jan 04 - 08:17 AM
Walking Eagle 21 Jan 04 - 01:03 PM
Walking Eagle 21 Jan 04 - 01:15 PM
oombanjo 21 Jan 04 - 02:55 PM
Cluin 21 Jan 04 - 06:33 PM
Walking Eagle 21 Jan 04 - 11:43 PM
Cluin 21 Jan 04 - 11:59 PM
open mike 22 Jan 04 - 12:19 AM
Cluin 22 Jan 04 - 12:20 AM
Mark Ross 22 Jan 04 - 02:07 AM
Neighmond 22 Jan 04 - 03:11 AM
Walking Eagle 02 Feb 04 - 01:23 AM
moocowpoo 02 Feb 04 - 09:11 AM
PoppaGator 02 Feb 04 - 11:29 AM
Steve Parkes 02 Feb 04 - 12:28 PM
moocowpoo 02 Feb 04 - 10:40 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 17 Jan 04 - 06:01 PM

Woody Guthries' guitar had the phrase 'This instrument kills facists' on it. Jimmy Rogers' guitar had the word 'Thanks' stenciled on the back of his instrument, which he flipped around to show the audience when he finished his show. For the life of me, I've forgotten what Pete Seeger has on his banjo. Could someone please remind me what it is? Does anyone know of any other uniquely decorated instruments? I just thought it would be interesting to know.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: mack/misophist
Date: 17 Jan 04 - 06:08 PM

I think Peter Seeger had "This machine kills facists" around the resonator, but I wouldn't bet on it. No idea which was first, but one was a tribute to the other.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 17 Jan 04 - 06:36 PM

I don't think so. Somehow, I don't think that Pete would have something about killing on it. Don't you hate it when you rack your brain for something and the answer is just beyond your outstretched hand?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 17 Jan 04 - 10:32 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 17 Jan 04 - 10:55 PM

I have a uke that I bought in Kobe Japan back in the early 50. I was in the Navy at the time serving on a heavy cruiser. The uke only cost me 800 yen which at that time came to around $2.30. The sound wasn't all that great but it was the only instrument I had at the time. Anyway, I had all of my buddies sign (scratch) their names on the back, sides and neck. Also scratched in the names of all the places and ports we visited.

Somehow the uke managed to survive years of neglect, poor storage, etc. About ten years ago I decided undertake a restoration. I patched the cracks, reattached the bridge and installed some tuners. Then I added some good strings and was amazed at how well the old uke sounded.

It's interesting the amount of interest people have shown in that old uke and especially all of the scratched names and carvings. I played it just tonight at a fund raiser and several people checked it out.

Not much in the way of decorations but it sure means a lot to me.
        
Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: BK Lick
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 12:25 AM

This machine kills facists -- Woody Guthrie
This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender -- Pete Seeger
This machine kills time -- Art Thieme
This machine kills -- Donovan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 03:41 AM

The UK Spinners used to have RMFTT or something similar on their guitars, nevr did work out what it meant. I decorated my washboard with pictures of influences: Leadbelly, Jesse Fuller, Lonnie etc. Maybe I should add "This machine kills music".

RtS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 04:11 AM

Who is this Martin that so many guitar players have, is it Martin Carthy? And Gibson, who s/he?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 05:35 AM

Both my mandolin and tenor banjo are decorated with various beer stains and scratches. Pete did have ' this machine kills facists ' on his banjo.
eric


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 06:54 AM

I've seen several guitars with painted decoration on the front. One was painted the wrong way so the aaudience saw it upside down! It was rather disconcerting.

sandra


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Leadfingers
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 08:00 AM

ROMFT rather belies the 'Goody Goody' image a lot of people had of the Spinners as it is an old Royal Navy thing --- Roll On My F*****g
Time.
I stole an idea from Tom Napper and adapted a 'Flashing Bow Tie' as a decoration for my banjo - a little switch set into the resonater support a PP9 battery and a bit of sellotape and lo and behold , flashing lights behind the banjo head.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 09:28 AM

I bet you can't guess what I've got painted on my banjo

Gerry


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 09:31 AM

Or what Geoff The Duck has on his?

Gerry


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Mooh
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 10:14 AM

"Too bad you are a Communist" on the inside of the Martin 0-45 Joan Baez made famous. Apparently written by a repair person.

Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: open mike
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 12:46 PM

john hartford's fiddle had a "scrimshaw" type etching of a steam boat
on the back....wish i could find my picture of it--or any other foto
of it.
Hardanger fiddles are beautifully inlaid, ingraved and carved...often
with a scroll head in the shape of a lion wearing a crown, and pearly
designs inlaid into the fingerboard.
Marion our busking canadian had a thread about decorated
instruments a while back too. she has a ribbon reminiscient of
a scottish tartan plaid decorating her fiddle and i have a
little jeweled bead thing hanging from my guitar...sort of like
guitar earrings...I have seen some beautiful abalone inlay on
some guitar finger boards too....
many guitars had a humming bird design on the ;front...
perhaps the one you saw which was upside down was being played
by a left handed player..


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 01:04 PM

Thanks for the stories. Keep them comming if you can.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Sorcha
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 01:18 PM

I hang a curly ribbon cascade in Seasonal colors from my scroll head.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 01:18 PM

Years ago my mother put blue and green paper decals on the top of her guitar. They got grotty with fingerprints over the years, and I recently removed them, more or less with my fingernails. Now the guitar has funny light places where they were.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Melani
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 01:22 PM

Egad! That's the first time my cookie was eaten! (See above)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 02:26 PM

I had a small teeny tiny coffee cup (scaled to a large doll house size) with my name on it that I glued to the peg head of ome of my dulcimers. Kept coming off though.

Guest (just above) the shadows of things past eh?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Mooh
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 02:32 PM

My youngest, as a five year old, designed and painted (with a little assistance from me) a setting sun on my fretted bass, with sparkle nail polish and various colours of Tremclad. That bass was intended as a prototype but I've never had the heart to replace it. It generates a lot of questions.

My favourite and oldest guitar strap has several strands of braided wool hanging from it, a gift from my eldest.

Three of my guitars have personalized inlay, but nothing as seminal as Seeger or Guthrie. Maybe someday...

They are tough acts to follow!

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: open mike
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 02:47 PM

oh yes i have seen some awesome stand up basses..
more surface area to decorate! check out Prairie flower's bass here:
http://www.renwah.com/
Cactus Bob and Prairie Flower are part of Faus Renwah and also play
with Sourdough Slim in the Saddle Pals


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 05:40 PM

Eric the Red says that Pete Seeger had "This Machine Kills Fascists" on his banjo.   If he ever did, of which I have some doubt, he replaced it.

I have his video, "How to Play the 5-String Banjo", and there, big as life, is "This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces it to Surrender".

I've see him in TV appearances of recent years, and the "surrounds/surrender" message is still there, as it has been for many years.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 06:40 PM

I agree Dave. I know the phrase goes all around the resonator so I know it is longer than three words. Somehow, the word 'surrounds' and the 'round' resonator is very Pete-like in humor.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Margret RoadKnight
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 08:17 PM

My kora has the makers's treble clef logo outlined with drawing pins....these are usually used for decoration as well as for attaching the hide to the calabash.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: MickyMan
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 09:16 PM

We have a very cool picture of my now 23 year old son sitting on the back porch playing his plastic Smurf guitar when he was 3-4 years old. I'll bet lots of us had toy instruments with some decorations that would be pretty interesting to hear about.
My friend has a 1950's Maccaferri (also plastic) that is called "The Romancer" and has pictures of spinning records, dancing teenagers, girls in poodle skirts...etc all over it. That thing still plays very well although it was built as an entry level cheap novelty instrument.
Come-on folks...you Americans can tell us all about your Andy Griffith guitars and I'll bet you Brits had some mighty fancy things in the skiffle days. Those glitsy things were what we played at the start and sometimes betray some deeply held sentiments. No...my son does not play songs now about little blue elves.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 09:51 PM

I wish that my dad had taken some pictures of me imitating Elvis Presley complete with my 'Bo Diddley' type guitar. It was a cigar box with a yard stick attached, strung by rubber bands.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 05:02 AM

Derroll Adams had a [ I think ] Japanese proverb on his banjo head.
eric


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: PoppaGator
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 12:58 PM

Frank Ford's website (either frets.com, or someplace easily linked to from frets.com) features some "cowboy" guitars with full-color western landscapes painted all over the bodies (front and back, I believe). I was directed to frets.com by a Mudcat thread when my pickguard started to peel off last year.

My 40-year-old D-18 currently has a "bald spot" where the pickguard used to be. (Prior to the 1980's, Martin glued their pickguards to bare wood before applying lacquer.) I've been thinking about putting some custom artwork there, like maybe a cartoon of my favorite swamp-bound reptile, before or instead of a few coats of lacquer, followed by some kind of clear plastic protective overlay.

Any advice? Is there any danger of diminishing the sound quality of the box by applying pigment to bare wood? Would one type of paint or marker be worse than another? (I would prefer to go with some kind of permanent markers, since I would be able to control them better than a paintbrush.)

As far as my mediocre illustration skills diminishing the resale value of an almost-vintage instrument:
A) I have no plans to sell the guitar as long as I'm alive, and
B) My heirs or whoever will always be able to apply an opaque black Martin pickguard (like the original equipment) to completely cover the offending picture. (If I do this at all, I'll be careful to "color within the lines," that is, within the area normally covered by the standard pickguard.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: freightdawg
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 01:19 PM

For some beautiful inlay work, check out these guitars:


blue clicky

One of my favorite musicians has a guitar with the inlay of a fly rod and a dry fly on the headstock. What a combination: flyfishing and guitar playing. Can't think of better description of heaven.

Freightdawg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: PoppaGator
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 03:06 PM

Those "cowboy" guitars I mentioned above aren't as easily found from frets.com as I thought. (Maybe the site was laid out differently a year ago.) Here's a link:

Collings Cowboy Guitars

Don't miss the links at the bottom of the page, to see items like the "Yowl-a-lele Uke."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Grab
Date: 20 Jan 04 - 10:13 AM

Call me odd if you like. But why would anyone plaster crap like that over a perfectly good guitar? It's like getting yourself a good-looking girlfriend and insisting that she wear a yashmak. I can understand personal touches, I guess - if your kid has drawn the picture or something like that. But the whole inlay and painting thing is just *wierd*.

It's the difference in scale between a tasteful bit of inlay or carving (roughly equivalent to lipstick & powder), and the full horror that is the Martin painted objects (roughly equivalent to clown makeup). I played some Martins in Elderly which made me wonder whether the current CF Martin really cares about producing musical instruments. Then I saw these bloody things in the Elderly catalogue, and that pretty much settled it for me!

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: PoppaGator
Date: 20 Jan 04 - 04:41 PM

I have never been interested in inlays and other such gingerbread, and always felt that my plain vanilla D-18 was just as good as, and even in some sense "better" (more "honest" or some such, I suppose) than a fancier higher-numbered dreadnaught. I mean, I can admire the craftsmanship involved, but I've always felt that it has nothing to do with the making of music. And I've never been able to participate in conversations about the desirability of guitars with a lot of frou-frou applied to them.

This thread, however, started out discussing homemade "decorations" and inscriptions, which is something else altogether. And I did feel the need to 'fess up to my recent thoughts of desecrating my instrument with a little personalization. (Nothing that couldn't be subsequently hidden under a nice black replacement pickguard.) Please feel free to try and talk me out of it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: open mike
Date: 20 Jan 04 - 05:28 PM

The fellow who decorated many of those instruments for Gryphon, is
Robert Armstrong..he has a geo cities site. He also plays musical
saw and did so on the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest sound track...
when i heard that i rented the movie just to hear his music, and it
sure is spooky!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: GUEST,Seamus Kennedy
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 04:02 AM

My Takamine with the Irish tricolour and my name inlaid in abalone on the fingerboard, and my other Tak with the Guinness logo on the lower bout don't have any decorations.
Sorry.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: C-flat
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 08:17 AM

"My friend has a 1950's Maccaferri (also plastic) that is called "The Romancer" and has pictures of spinning records, dancing teenagers, girls in poodle skirts...etc all over it. That thing still plays very well although it was built as an entry level cheap novelty instrument."

I've just added a plastic Maccaferri to my collection and I think it has a wonderfully distinctive tone for playing those Django rhythms.

As for decorations, the only guitar I ever personalised was my EKO ranger6. I was 15 years old, and, with all the imagination of a spotty 15 year old, lacqured my initials to the front.
I rediscovered the same guitar some 25 years later,(still wearing my mark), after a chance meeting with a childhood friend, and negotiated its return home.
C-flat.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 01:03 PM

I remember that Stevie Ray Vaughn had house/mailbox lettering stickers on his Strat SRV


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 01:15 PM

I don't like the Martin painted instruments much myself. I'd like to clear this up though, Martin DOES NOT PAINT the instruments. They job it out if someone requests it. So, don't let that influence your selection of guitar makers. My guess is that Elderly had them on spec.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: oombanjo
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 02:55 PM

On the back of the headstock on my G. banjo I have a panthers face inlayed, and in the same position on my long neck banjo I hve a wolfs head.Which is a good way of introducing the banjo to a younger audience who are always intreaged by the faces staring back at them.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Cluin
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 06:33 PM

I used to have the signatures of several musicians and songwriters on my guitar top, but a bunch got smudged when I lent it to a sweaty-armed fellow musician to play at a telethon we were both doing a few years ago. After that, I cleaned them all off. Too bad. Not sure I'd ever get to have Dougie MacLean sign it again...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 11:43 PM

I've decided to 'decorate' my guitars by putting a colorful bead on my strings between the tuning pegs and the nut. I'll wait 'till I get to re-stringing time before I do. It's coming up shortly.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Cluin
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 11:59 PM

Might get some distracting buzzing from that, Walking Eagle. Let us know.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: open mike
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 12:19 AM

Cluin has a beautifully decorated bodhran--which can be seen on his web site. I have one too-with a red haired boy on it..


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Cluin
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 12:20 AM

Does an instrument case count?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Mark Ross
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 02:07 AM

If instrument cases count, you should see the Mark Leaf case for my guitar. Glenn Ohrlin kindly did a western scene in acrylic, oh, it must of been 27 years ago,or so.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Neighmond
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 03:11 AM

my great-grandfater's fiddle has an abalone celtic knot on the back, and some odd work on the tuners, but for all of that is pretty plain.

Chaz


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 01:23 AM

Cluin,

I put the beads on when I re-strung and they look quite nice. No buzzing. They go on the strings on the headstock between the nut and the tuning pegs. Looks like I could have put some on at the other end between the saddle and the string anchors.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: moocowpoo
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 09:11 AM

Hellu thread bears and papagator!
Papa you wondered about the paint somehow effecting the quality of your guitars sound.    I a have a friend who painted the entire soundboard of his guitar, personally I preferred the look of it before but there was no discernable difference in tonal quality.   The guy who made my mando, I think uses shellac because of some sort of relationship it has with the wood and its resonance(I think it was something like this). It All sounds a bit sordid but he obviously thinks there's something in it and his instruments do sound divine. No matter what you do with your soundboard there will be a difference in it's response(often this will not be mesaurable by human ear), but you really have to do something way more drastic than painting a little picture, to make a difference that your ears will percieve, and anyway the plastic pickguard you put over the picture will effect soundboard movement more than the pic itself and that's not very much at all!. muhkuhpuh


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: PoppaGator
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 11:29 AM

Hey Moocowpoo,

Great nickname, by the way -- I noticed your "welcome" down amid the BS threads a week or so ago, and wished that I had thought of so great a pseudonym!

When I first peeled my pickguard all the way off several months ago (after it had already begun to curl away from the wood all the way round), I did my research, found Frank Ford at frets.com, and learned that I should first coat the exposed and unfinished wood with a certain type of lacquer -- which I subsequently found impossible to find anywhere around here. So, by bare spot remains bare for the time being.

Because the wood grain on this "bald spot" is not only exposed, but three-dimensional, leaving it as-is is certainly affecting the sound quality of my playing -- brushing a fingernail across the area creates a sort of mini-washboard effect! To ensure a really clean sound, I'll have to do something -- painstakingly apply and smooth out multiple coats of the appropriate lacquer (if and when I learn where to buy it), or simply slap on a replacement pickguard, right on the bare wood, just the way they did it in the Martin factory back in 1968.

Frank Ford's basic instructions tell you to do the lacquer first, and then stick the self-adhesive pickguard onto a sealed & finished surface (they way Martin has been doing it since 1980, and the way other manufacturers have *always* done it); however, when I emailed him describing my quandary, he "gave me permission" to apply a pickguard to the bare wood until I'm ready to engage the services of a luthier to do it right.

If I decide/dare to gussy up the bare pickguard area with some of my own primitive folk art, I suppose I could do it either on bare wood or after applying a coat or two of lacquer or other sealant. Pigment might run like crazy on the bare wood -- with the grain, of course -- so I'd have to start slowly and carefully to observe the effect. I am considering this only because whatever the result, it could be totally hidden simply by slapping on the same kind of opaque black pickguard that was there in the first place. If I should paint something that I decide to keep, on the other hand, I'd probably want to find some kind of clear material as a substitute pickguard (like that used on flaminco guitars?)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 12:28 PM

I engraved my name on the pick guard of my 12 string years back. It doesn't show very clearly; just as well, as I've never made up my mind if it's just plain conceited. Good anti-theft device, though.

The scrimshaw idea sounds good, though. I'll get some practice in if I can find my burin, and maybe do a ship or whatever on it too.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Decorated instruments
From: moocowpoo
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 10:40 PM

poppaGator! (I got your name slightly incorrect last time!)
I read through your message and got an idea.. If you wanted to go ahead with the design, for a flat paintable surface and some way of covering the bare-bits you could get a clear pickguard and a sheet of veneer that either matches the soundboard or compliments it . paint the design on, glue the painted veneeer on and then the guard on top. Just an idea, painting on to the bare area just sounds so tricky!, let me know how you end up dealing with the bare problem.
Muhkuhpuh.
Sorry, walking eagle for digressing a bit, we diddn't go way off track but still wandered.


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