Thursday, November 29, 2007

Neo-Rocks (part 2..."passive-aggressive" pickups)


I get letters from people who have bought pickups from SSW sometimes. Remember the Neo Rock Neodymium P-Bass pickups prototypes I made a while back? Well, they went through a few changes. I switched to smaller magnets and I'm using Fender covers on them now. There haven't been many made yet because I'm still trying to decide if there is a market for then. There is one set in my personal Fender P Bass and I like them. The reports back from the field have all been positive. Just read this letter from unidentified bass player and all around good guy Geff King. Geff King is an "incomparably semi-professional" bass player, guitarist, and songwriter hailing from Greenbelt, a nice little Maryland town somewhere in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

Dear Clint & Alicia-
The NeoRocks I got from you in September are doing the job! I've posted a couple little notes in TalkBass to that effect, but wanted to take the time to write directly now that I've had a chance to seriously gig test them. Some impressions:
1. I knew I had something special when I was re-stringing the bass and the strings kept sticking to the pickups. I don't recall that ever happening with any of my Fenders.
2. On a recent show the soundman asked me to plug into the low gain on the Peavey house amp 'cos the pickups on my bass were pretty hot. I now refer to the NeoRocks as "passive-aggressive" pickups, something I've wanted for quite some time.
3. Played a nice loud gig in a small club in Arlington VA last week. There wasn't much room for the sound to go anyplace, but I could hear the bass through it all.
I may get rid of this particular P-Bass at some point if another comes up at a good price, but one thing is sure: this pickup stays with me and goes in the next P-Bass, and the ones after that too!
Thanks for providing a great product at a good price.

--
Respectfully submitted,

Geff King


Thanks Geff. It's always great to hear someone comment on new designs. I'm thinking of adding this pickup to the regular line now that all the issues have been worked out.

You can listen to me bang around on these pickups here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Antonella Mazza (part 2 )



I try to slow things down around the Holidays so I can relax a bit and enjoy things. It usually doesn’t work out that way but I try. This year it’s not too bad. I have a few custom jobs waiting in the shop but not too many. Winter is starting to take hold and I have never had good heat in the shop. "Install better heaters" is on the list of things to do to the shop but it never seems to make it to the top of the list. So I will just have to shiver while I work on this weeks projects.

I finally got all the parts in for Antonella Mazza's pickup system. This has taken some time because I'm building a totally new system for her bass and had to spend a good deal of time researching parts. This system will consist of a pair of piezo elements that will fit under the bridge feet. The signal from these will be sent to a small preamp that will be strapped to the tailpiece of the bass. I'm debating adding a magnetic pickup to the mix as well. I think that a small Neo powered magnetic pickups blended with the piezos and combined with the EQ of the preamp will offer the best range of tone control. However a magnetic pickup will require strings that have ferrous metal cores. Antonella Mazza is sponsored by LaBella strings so I need to see which of their sets would work best for magnetics. I’m thinking of leaving that option open by adding a small jack to the preamp that we can plug the magnetic pickup into later.

I should be testing this pickup system in the next few weeks.

Clint Searcy signing off...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The MIMF Bass (Part 2... Pack it up and go...)

The snappy looking EMG sized Neo Jazz single coils with wood caps are done and out the door. Their next stop will be at the shop of David King. David is a well respected top notch bass builder out in Portland OR. who started out making travel basses but now makes a huge range of instruments. Some of his innovations such as his headless tuning system, which allows the use of standard single ball strings, are designed and build by David himself. Other features such as his sliding control cavity shop his amazing attention to detail. I'm proud to be sharing this project with so fine a talent. When it's all done this bass will be auctioned off to help pay the bills over at the MIMF.

Happy Thanksgiving (surfin' with the luthier...)


Here in the U.S. it's Thanksgiving weekend. It's a non religious Holiday where we are asked to give thanks for all that we have. I had a wonderful thanksgiving dinner with my family. I can't tell you all that I have to be thankful for. I'm a lucky guy.

One order of pickups I sent out this week was to Steve Benford. If you read this blog much you have seen me talk about his Guitars for Vets program a lot. This time I'm just going to talk about Steve. When I decided to take my hobby of tinkering with pickups and turn it into a Searcy String Works Steve was one of the first people to order from me. His first order was for a set of my Scarabs for a 2 string bass he was building for Wes Falk, bass player for Milwaukee area rockers Fabric Motive and Austin Paruch. From there things just seemed to take off. Steves sometimes conventional yet sometimes strange style seems to mesh well with my own. Over the years we have even designed a few pickups like the Benford - 100 humbucker. One of my favorite projects from Steve was the Benford 57 that featured a set of my Jazz-90s. Steve is a great guitar player and he even recorded a demo of the pickups that you can hear on the on his web site. Of coarse he also recorded a demo of the Obsession and Bolero jump wings pickups used in the Eagle guitar for the guitars for vets program. He is such a monster guitar player that I should have him do demos for all my pickups. Maybe someday I will...

Bottom line is that I always get excited when I get an order from Benford because I never know what it will be exactly. He might be planning something crazy like this Ford truck lap steel or something tasteful yet unconventional like this killer Flying V. This week I send him 3 Tele pickups and a Humbucker. I can't wait to see what they went in. Next week it might be a pickups shaped like an eyeball. I have no idea how many pickups I have sent him over the years but I thankful that he is out there building the stuff people want to play.

Thanks Steve!




Sunday, November 18, 2007

Watching the wheels go round...

Because I offer so many different kinds of pickups and need to be ready to make just about anything I have to keep a large variety of parts on hand. Some of these parts need a lot of prep work. Flat work has to be made. Premade bobbins need to be sanded. Alnico magnets need to be charged. So every once in a while I take a week or so and just do prep work. Mostly this consists of making up Neo Jazz and other bobbins, charging magnets, taking inventory and cleaning the shop. Maybe do a little promotional work too and ship out a few back orders. Weeks like this are not exciting and can make it feel like your whole life revolves around magnets and copper wire. Maybe it does... ? It's not so bad though. All play and no work you know...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Guitars For Vets Eagle for sale!




Well, the guitars for vets Screaming Eagle guitar is for sale right now on Ebay. I got the announcement from Steve Benford last night.

Attention one and all.
The day has arrived for the Airborne Eagle guitar to be auctioned off on eBay.
I need your help in either (A) bidding on the thing or (B) spreading the word like crazy. The more it brings in the more the Vets benefit. Please forward this to anyone and everyone.
The auction will run through 11/25/07. 10 Days.
The link to the auction is some giant nightmare that ebay generated. For easier navigation go to any of the following:
http://www.benfordguitars.com/ A link is right on the front page
www.benfordguitars.com/airborne This is the page with all the eagle pics and specs. Link is located at the top of the page
http://www.guitarsforvets.org/ A small link is in the UPDATES section or click on the EVENTS tab
I know I've been emailing and talking about this to death. We need this 1 last push (until the next one)
Thanks for your time and effort!
Steve
P.S. we still are selling shirts for $15 and have a couple 75mm shell lamps available. www.guitarsforvets.org/howcanihelp


So let's help Steve out one more time. Spread the word.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Guitars For Vets (Update 5... Have you heard the news..?)



The boys over at Guitars for Vets are starting to to get some friendly press. This week the Fort Campbell Courier ran a story about their project and the Eagle guitar. Those of you who have been following the story may remember that I bought the jump wings that I used on the pickups for that project at a store called Eagles of War on Fort Campbell Blvd just out side of Ft Campbell.

The guys have also updated the G4V web site with some new information, a tribute page and some cool shirts and crazy artillery shell lamps you can buy to help the cause. The Eagle guitar will be auctioned off on Ebay on 16 November so if you want it you be sure to bid. If you having trouble deciding if you want it maybe you should listen to Steve Benfords Demo of the guitar here.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Too MP3 or not too MP3... (Keep it off my wav...)

This weeks freaky pickup is a set of Neo Jazz single coils made in the EMG size with European maple/Gabon ebony cap on top. These freaky hippie sandwich pickups are going into the MIMF bass project. This is a bass was designed by legendary arch top guitar maker Bill Moll. The project is being headed by master luthier Mark Swanson and being built by the members and staff of the Musical Instrument Makers Forum. When it's done it will be auctioned off to help pay the operating costs of the MIMF which has the reputation as the greatest and most important luthiers forum in the whole wide world.

Here you see one of them fitted into one of my test basses. I have had this bass since I was 13 and it has been through hell as you can see. I record a lot of my test MP3s on it these days. I resisted making MP3 demos of my pickups for a long time because it just didn't make sense to me. I mean, can you really get a good idea of what the pickup in this picture would sound like in your bass by listening to an MP3 of me playing it through my little Nemesis amp on my old test bass? What is I use on 1961 Premier tube bass amp? What about the compression rate of the MP3? What about the limits of those crappy speakers on your computer to reproduce the sound? Should I use my SansAmp? I just don't believe that the an MP3 or a pickup on a web site is a fare way of judging it's honest sound. But people have demanded I post some samples so I have. One guy wanted to know what the Neo Jazz would sound like in an extreme neck position like a Gibson EB so I recorded one. Never heard from him again. Did the MP3 scary him away? Should I have EQed in more high end?... more mids? I have also seem guys complaining at TalkBass.com that all the MP3 file you see on the web sites are all jazz and R&B stuff so I recorded a few rock lines being played with a pick through a Boss DS-1 to show that the NeoJazz pickups can grind with the best of them.

In the end I just put up a page of MP3 files and stared posting what ever sounds I felt like or were requested.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ellie Guitars ( People of the Earth can you hear me...?)



Ellie is a guitar builder like none on Earth. Perhaps that's because she isn't from Earth. Ellie is an Alien who crash landed here many years ago and is now just passing the time till the parts for her star jumper get here. The problem is she keeps making guitars out of what few good parts are left on the old star jumper so she keeps having to place more orders for more parts. You can see how this might drag on a bit...

One of her most recent guitars was this V built in the Steam Punk style and it feature a Searcy String Works custom one off pickup called "DaBomb". Once in a while I get an urge to make a crazy pickup. Many times these orphan pickups end up in Ellies shop . That's because Ellie is the only being with the powers to use these Weapons of Mass Distortion (I'm gonna get a letter from the Dept. of Homeland Security now...) for good and not evil. So if your in the market for something out of this world or if you just like to see freaky stuff give Ellie a holler. There ain't nuthin like 'em Baby.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Secret Agent Man


There hasn’t been a lot of work in the shop this week. It’s mostly been shipping out the orders for the Neo Jazz bass pickups and Obsession / Bolero guitar humbucker sets. They should all be out by the end of the week. If you haven’t gotten your tracking number by Monday let me know. Those of you who haven’t ordered yet better speak up. There aren’t many left.

The little bit of work from the shop this week is something I can’t tell you about. Well, I could tell you but I would have to kill you, and then you have to fond a place to hide the bodies... It gets complicated fast... That's why I just keep my mouth shut these days.

You see, some of the clients I get are high-end bass builders. You know the sort of guys that have ads in the back of Bass Player and build exotic wood fantasies if you have the cash. Many of them would prefer you not know who makes their bridges, pickups, preamps and so on. They have their reasons for that. It keeps a level of mystique and exclusivity around the bass that is expected once you get into this level of instrument I suppose. Well, that’s the sort of project we have going on in the shop this week. I’m developing a new soap bar style bass humbucker with a client. He is very clear about what he needs from his pickups and the design we have come up with is unlike anything available on the market today. If he likes them we will work out a deal for these pickups to be available on his basses only. You won’t be able to buy them here or at Guitar Center. You can tie me to a pole and make me listen to Culture Club hits being played on a banjo by Barry Manalow for a week and I ain’t telling you how these pickups are made or who they are for.

So now you know what the black epoxy is all about. The only one who has seen me make these pickups is my dog Jack. And he ain’t talkin’