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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Showing posts with label Novax Guitars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Novax Guitars. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Novax Natural Figured Maple 6-string

These guitars feature stunningly beautiful woods, at times distressed by insects, fungi, and mineral spalting. The organic shape of each instrument is a blend of the shape suggested by the particular piece of wood, inclusion of the natural “raw edge” where practical, and ergonomic considerations. Woods that are both structurally sound and stable are hand carved into three-dimensional musical sculptures; woods that are not structurally sound are laminated to woods that are structurally sound, yielding a more traditional aesthetic. Electronic and pickup offerings will vary, with an eye toward minimizing the visual impact of these non-organic components while retaining versatility. Neck woods are typically vertical grain mahogany or eastern maple, with ebony fretboards; some will have custom inlay. Neck details include fretboard binding to match the body wood and a headstock overlay to match the body wood. Finishes are natural oil to enhance grain depth and detail; they are long-wearing and renewable. The featured woods will often be locally harvested Western maple, Circassian and English walnut, and Oregon myrtle, which are fully air-dried and resawn at our shop. Exact specifications for each instrument will be included with photos.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Who Was Charles LoBue

Charles LoBue was one of the fathers of the custom electric guitar business. Charles came to the industry after taking classes from Michael Gurian, first working in and around the guitar repair business in NYC in the mid 60's. Charles' interest in the business began by doing basic repairs on factory made guitars. These were primarily made by Gibson and Fender, the "Gold Standard" for electric guitars, as well as any guitar including acoustics which came through the door. As a professional player in the U.S. in the 60's, Gibson and Fender were the most likely choices if you wanted an electric guitar. It is well known that the Brits used European made guitars as well, primarily due to their accessibility. By the mid late 60's both companies had been sold to larger corporations which were not primarily in the guitar business. The basic perception even today is that the guitars made by these companies during this period were inferior in quality and also lacked many options. Jimi Hendrix was making all kinds of weird (wonderful) sounds and more adventurous players wanted alternatives. Charles was a guy in NYC who had a strong interest in guitars and experimentation. By luck or by design, Charles ended up in a circle of brilliant people such as "Dan Armstrong" and "Matt Umanov" (plexiglass guitar), Carl Thompson ( "CT Basses" ), Larry DiMarzio (DiMarzio Pickups), Steve Bleucher ( "DiMarzio Pickups"), Michael Gurian ("Gurian Guitars"), Sherwood Phifer ( "Phifer Designs" ), Ralph Novak ( "Novax Guitars"), "Bill Lawrence" (custom pickup inventor) among others, building custom designed electric guitars and basses. LoBue and Thompson started a repair shop in the village and quickly became known as the "go to" shop for anyone who wanted the best repairs and setup. After only about a year, LoBue and Thompson split, Thompson indicating that LoBue wanted to build guitars and he was happy with the repair business. (Thompson of course went on to make world renown basses for such players as "Les Claypool" and "Stanley Clarke").
LoBue attracted a small group of apprentices and began customizing and building standard guitars for sale, but also designed custom guitars for "Rick Derringer" (at the time with Johnny Winter), "Steve Khan" , "Paul Stanley", "Gene Simmons", "Steve Hunter" and "Alfonso Johnson" (then with Weather Report). The well recognized picture of Rick from Guitar Player magazine with his famous explorer was a LoBue Guitar. Derringer commissioned this and many other instruments initially to protect a split head explorer which had become too valuable to take on the road.

This is a short list of players who had guitars built by LoBue and his band of men. DiMarzio and Bleucher worked at Guitar Lab very early. DiMarzio was doing setups and fretwork at the shop and ventured to "Jimmy D'Aquisto's" shop learning from the master about the finer arts of fret dressing. DiMarzio had gone through an electronics course and found working with Charles was a good fit. Charles had the natural curiosity of what could be done and Larry had the practical skill. It wasn't long before DiMarzio wanted to work on the electrical components and LoBue gave him a box of "broken" pickups that they experimented with for new sounds. DiMarzio came up with some revolutionary ideas. Bill Lawrence told me that LoBue is responsible for the replacement pickup industry. Prior to this time, there weren't replacement pickups available. DiMarzio was starting to experiment in his basement and it wasn't long before he opened his own shop across town doing setups and selling pickups not only to LoBue, but other shops who were doing repairs. Woody Phifer was a college student and hobbyist wood carver who wandered into the shop by accident. What he saw excited him and he immediately asked if he could apprentice with LoBue. At the time the only builders were LoBue and college student (architecture/ sculptor) "Bob Sindorf" . Sindorf had experimented with building his own guitar in high school. These were of modeled after current styles, but he had the head start on the geometry.
Sindorf completed his work at Columbia and became a world renown sculptor prior to his passing a few years ago. Phifer brought to the shop the thought that different contours may work.
LoBue was already making custom shapes but this brought another dimension to the formula as Phifer started to learn LoBue's craft. After only a few years Phifer started his own shop and now builds custom guitars in upstate New York (Phifer Designs). Another significant builder who worked in the shop was student, Ralph Novak. Ralph chose to stay around for quite some time and eventually become LoBue's partner. An unfortunate tragedy was when LoBue Guitars (Guitar Lab) was broken in to and a number of celebrity guitars were lost. LoBue replaced the guitars from his own pocket but this put him into a substantial financial bind.

After years of fending off Alex Musical's offer to add custom guitars to his line of factory guitars LoBue finally caved and sold the business to Alex. LoBue signed a 1 year contract and at the end of the period, he and Novax moved to San Francisco... another music capital at the time. After only a few years, loneliness for NYC got to Charles and he returned. Novak became a partner at Subway Guitars in San Francisco and shortly thereafter patented fanned fret technology for guitars starting his own company, Novax Guitars in Eugene Oregon. In 1985 Charles died after a short illness.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tech Talk - Novax Guitars “Slimline Jazz”

The Novax “Slimline Jazz” model has an arched, X-braced spruce top, fully “floating” and acoustically voiced for a warm electric tone with minimal feedback, and “F” holes for a traditional look. The body is 16" across the lower bout, it has a “set” neck of vertical-grain mahogany with an ebony fretboard, and the appointments are available in ebony or rosewood. The full-contact bridge has a wedge-type height adjustment to maintain optimal sound transmission. This model can be made as a 6 or 7 string, with a specially voiced Bartolini “soapbar” pickup with passive volume and tone control.

Options include different top woods, appointment woods, pickguard, choices of binding color and material, and electronics.

Arched, solid spruce top, X-braced with “F” holes
Chambered mahogany back
Mahogany neck, ebony fretboard
Rosewood head veneer, rosewood bridge and rosewood tailpiece cover

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

If 6 Was 9 - Charlie Hunter

Think you've seen it all...note that there isn't a bass player...this guy is doing it all.

First coming to prominence in the early 1990s, Hunter has recorded 17 albums. Hunter plays custom-made seven and eight-string guitars, on which he simultaneously plays basslines, rhythm guitar, and solos. Critic Sean Westergaard describes Hunter's guitar technique as "mind-boggling ... he's an agile improviser with an ear for great tone, and always has excellent players alongside him in order to make great music, not to show off."

Shown here is a custom "Charlie Hunter" model by Novax Guitars.
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Novax Guitars - Natural

These guitars are the ultimate in fidelity.

Novax instruments have several unusual design features; these features, while offering an appealing and unique aesthetic, are primarily performance enhancers. Novax has redesigned the guitar to be more playable, more versatile, more in-tune, and more “open” and “alive” sounding. The playing experience is enchanting and addictive - it sounds so good and feels so natural that you’ll want to play more!

The powerful combination of the Fanned-Fret system coupled to our proprietary individual bridge system results in an instrument with exceptional articulation, a unique tonal signature, and natural playability.

An appropriate analogy might be found in the evolution of the automobile: until now, guitars have been like early cars that had carbureted engines and primitive suspension. Makes and models may look different, but under the hood, they all work the same. Novax guitars are like cars designed with fuel injection and independent 4-wheel suspension: advanced performance and way more fun!

How does the Fanned-Fret system work? By combining scale lengths customized for string tension and harmonic response, instruments with greater “fidelity” are possible. Our technical page has in-depth information about scale length if you’re interested further, but a simplified explanation would be “Imagine six one-string guitars each with a scale length optimized for the pitch and tone of that string. If a chord was formed by striking all of the one string guitars at once, how might that sound compared to one six-string guitar?
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Blue Guitar - Joe Louis Walker

No...your eyes aren't deceiving you...those frets aren't parallel!! Check the Novax Guitar posting later!!

Joe Louis Walker was born in San Francisco, California. He came from a musical family, amidst the early influences of T-Bone Walker, BB King, Meade Lux Lewis, Amos Milburn, and Pete Johnson. Walker first picked up the guitar at the age of 8 and became a known quantity within the Bay Area music scene by the age of 16. Whilst publicly performing through his teens, he soaked up many more influences (especially vocalists like Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Bobby Womack & Otis Redding). Over these early years, Walker's musical pupilage saw him playing with John Lee Hooker, JJ Malone, Buddy Miles, Otis Rush, Thelonious Monk, The Soul Stirrers, Willie Dixon, Charlie Musselwhite, Steve Miller, Nick Lowe, John Mayall, Earl Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix. By 1968, he had forged a close friendship with Mike Bloomfield; they were roommates for many years until Bloomfield's untimely death.

This event was the catalyst that forced Walker into an immediate lifestyle change. He left the world of the blues and enrolled himself at San Francisco State University, achieving a degree in Music & English. Throughout this time, Walker was regularly performing with "The Spiritual Corinthians "gospel quartet". After a 1985 performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, he was inspired to return to his blues roots whereupon he formed the "Bosstalkers" and signed to the Hightone label. Under the auspices of Bruce Bromberg & Dennis Walker, his debut album "Cold Is The Night" was released in 1986. He began a worldwide touring schedule, delivering a further 4 releases in succession for Hightone Records ("The Gift" 1988, "Blue Soul" 1989, "Live At Slims Vol 1" 1991, & "Live At Slims Volume 2" 1992).

After the long partnership with Hightone, JLW was signed by [[Polygram Records|Polygram to their Verve/Gitane record label. His first of many Polygram releases ensued with "Blues Survivor" in 1993. This marked the beginning of an eclectic JLW era that merged many of his gospel, jazz, soul, funk and rock influences with his trademark blues sensibilities. 1993 also saw the release of BB King's Grammy Winning "Blues Summit" album, which featured a duet with JLW (a Walker original, "Everybody's Had the Blues"). This was followed up by a live DVD release, featuring another duet with Walker (a rendition of "T-Bone Shuffle").

"JLW" was released in 1994, featuring guests such as James Cotton, Branford Marsalis, and the Tower Of Power Horn-section. During this period, Walker's touring schedule had seen many reappearances at the world's most renowned music festivals (North Sea Jazz, Peer, Montreaux, Glastonbury, The Super Dome, San Francisco Festival, Russian River Jazz, Monterey, Jazz & Heritage, Sapporo Japan, Pistoia Italy, Byron Bay Australia, Cognac France, Ospel, Notodden Norway, Lucerne Switzerland, Beacon Theatre New York, etc.). JLW also spent many years covering all the major western TV networks (Conan O'Brien, Imus, Jools Holland UK, Inauguration for George W. Bush, inducting BB King for President Bill Clinton & Hillary Rodham Clinton into the Kennedy Centre Honors, Ohne Filter Germany, Rock n' Roll Hall Of Fame) as well as numerous French, Dutch, Scandinavian, German, Irish, Spanish, Brazilian, Italian, Turkish, Japanese, Taiwanese, Australian and ex-Iron Curtain TV networks.
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