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  #1  
Old 01-07-2019, 11:12 AM
EvanB EvanB is offline
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Default HISTORY

At some time and place in the future there will be a museum of composite guitars. It seems to me that right now is the perfect time to write that history. And this forum could well be the source of that history.

We have an editor/publisher with solid credits and a keen interest in carbon fiber instruments. We also have an array of makers who could provide their basic time-lines and photos. We also have a number of very literate members capable of bringing to life the origins and characteristics of composite guitars.

Such a history might being with Maccaferri and his plastic guitars that came out in 1953--guitars that were endorsed by the likes of Andres Segovia. And then there are the Danelectro massonite guitars that came out in 1954 (if I remember correctly).

And then there's Rainsong, CA, Emerald and so forth. Plywood guitars would also have a place in any discussion of the development of composite instruments, including cigar box guitars which are generally plywood .

There could also be a wild card category. For example Sea Sick Steve's hubcap guitar, and other guitars made of various metals.

There's a book here, the time is right, and the players and makers on this forum could write it. Just a thought while looking out my window at a cold winter landscape.
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Old 01-07-2019, 11:30 AM
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kramster kramster is offline
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It must be cold there... I knew I should have been better at book learning' history stuff.... might have finally payed off...sigh..
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Emerald: X-20, Center hole X-10 (Maple) and X-7 (redwood), Amicus, Paduak X7,X10, &, Spalted Chen Chen X 10,
CA: Early OX and Cargo
Blackbird: Savoy
RainSong: CH-OM, CH-WS
Journey: OF660
McPherson: Touring(Honeycomb and gold), Sable
Some wood things by Epi, Harmony, Takamine, Good Time, PRS, Gypsy Music, keyboards, wind controllers.. etc

Last edited by kramster; 01-07-2019 at 11:33 AM. Reason: Grammar
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Old 01-07-2019, 06:25 PM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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It might be cool to have a coffee table book detailing the history of CF instruments. Paging Wicked Wahine.....

I have some notes on Rainsong pieced together from the forums and personal experience over the years. Saw my first RS in the late 90's and thought it cool - but the early ones were VERY expensive ($3500 retail). I bought my WS-1000 in 2017 once the prices were more moderate.
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Old 01-07-2019, 06:37 PM
EvanB EvanB is offline
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On the old McNichol forum there was once a visual history of Rainsong guitars--it was stunning. I had had no idea that Rainsong had been so experimental.

I think that such a book could start with a Fund Me sort of thing, with significant contributions from the makers. Many of the original makers are still around--Maccaferri, Danelectro, and so forth--and each could be tapped for $ and material.

Contributions from users could be part of the running narrative. Contributions from Acoustic Guitar could include a serialized version.

The Go Fund bucks could go toward paying a good editor/layout-artist, cost of publication, and promotion.

It would be a lot of work for the editor/publisher, but a valuable work and one that can only be captured live right now--with many of the more prominent makers still alive.
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Old 01-07-2019, 08:10 PM
studioman001 studioman001 is offline
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I think this is an awesome idea!
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Old 01-07-2019, 08:52 PM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is offline
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Ah, Evan, I know you have written some books. I have written a couple and edited a bunch more. Trying to compile the information from a bunch of different manufacturers, and get releases for photos and copy from so many different sources, and then add in info from folks on this forum... a lot of work for not a lot of potential return.

Not to seem contrary, but no major publisher is going to be interested in a producing what will be an expensive book without a wide general audience. So, you are looking at self-publishing... color images (expensive)... waiting to get copy from a bunch of different sources, then getting the OK from all those sources for the necessary editing. The coordination of all this would take an incredible amount of time.

Maybe you can get manufacturers to chip in something, but they are in business to sell their instruments; advertising is one thing, but you are going to be hard-pressed to convince one manufacturer to pony up bucks for a project that also showcases other builders.

I appreciate what Wicked (Staci) is doing with her in-process work about Emerald... now, multiply that times a dozen or more and the never-ending amount of content to wade through on the internet. Hooo-boy - I think this would be a good project for you, instead of volunteering someone else.

Many of us here are enthusiastic about carbon fiber guitars. But, how many would go to the point of giving up a year's worth of time and effort to compile this? Or, willing to fund (it's a "Go Fund Me") a good, patient editor to do that?

Now that I've told you why most wouldn't take on this challenge, this is your chance to go for it! (Crowd chanting: Evan! Evan! Evan!)

Thirty or so years ago, I had a friend contact me saying that he had a friend who has "an amazing guitar collection". We owned a photography studio at the time; my friend wanted to know if I would travel nearly 1,000 miles, set up lighting/background/props on location (because his friend didn't want the guitars to leave his home) and "do what you have to do to make the photos for a coffee table book." At that time, it meant shooting 4x5 or larger color transparencies and making 4-color separations. Coordinating with a printer/publisher to get the book printed on quality stock.

I said, "So you want me to give you a price on what this would cost?"

"Ummm, no, I thought you'd like to do it for 'the exposure'."

I already owned one of the largest studios in the state, had high end portrait clients, and a Rolodex of commercial clients. We were generally booked 6 to 8 weeks out.

I had to politely decline his offer.

This was at a time (1988-ish) when "the internet" was mostly Compuserve, and digital color imaging didn't exist. Go Fund Me (let someone else pay for it) didn't exist. Should be a snap now - you go, Evan!!
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Old 01-08-2019, 04:38 AM
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kramster kramster is offline
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After reading what all the Captain said that needed to be done I had to take a nap.
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YUP....
Emerald: X-20, Center hole X-10 (Maple) and X-7 (redwood), Amicus, Paduak X7,X10, &, Spalted Chen Chen X 10,
CA: Early OX and Cargo
Blackbird: Savoy
RainSong: CH-OM, CH-WS
Journey: OF660
McPherson: Touring(Honeycomb and gold), Sable
Some wood things by Epi, Harmony, Takamine, Good Time, PRS, Gypsy Music, keyboards, wind controllers.. etc
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Old 01-08-2019, 08:50 AM
Strumalot Strumalot is offline
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Captain Jim, you bought back some memories... I have owned pre-press service companies, publishing companies, advertising companies, photo studios, etc., and went through the transition from the "old school" ways to the current technology.
These days, a project like this could be produced with a close-to-zero investment, with multiple author participation in "autopilot mode" and incorporating different media ~ text, video, images, audio ~ that can be consumed in small chunks that are automatically formatted to the device being used.
How's that for a sentence that just won't quit?

Anyway, I have thought about doing a project like this, and have the technology in place, but too busy hanging out under a tree playing guitar

So Evan, I think you've been elected.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kramster View Post
After reading what all the Captain said that needed to be done I had to take a nap.
Yeah, that wore me out, too.
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:11 AM
EvanB EvanB is offline
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If drafted, I will not run. If elected I will not serve. I am now going through the pimping stage for a book that has taken me 8 years to write--my plate is full.

I am with the Captain on the expense and time of such a project--that's why I think there should be at least $80,000 of up-front money for the editor/publisher.

I do not see a problem with market: every music store in America and abroad, libraries, and owners of composite instruments. It also seems to me that the individual makers get along pretty well, have quite different instruments, and would welcome a book that places them at the forefront of an innovative enterprise.

I did not mention Wicked in this proposal knowing that there are a number of people here who are capable of the task. For examples, Wicked, Strumalot, and Michael of McNichol fame (an avid historian).

This is not a task for me, but it is a worthy task and would be the guide for the future museum of new world guitars.
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:48 AM
wickedwahine wickedwahine is offline
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I think it sounds like a lovely idea and look forward to reading it if it is written.

I can attest it is a monumental task. Right now, for my book on Emerald, I have interviewed dozens of people (Alistair, nearly all his staff with at least one or two more with him and one with his wife to come), multiple musicians (including Steve Vai, Wang Leehom (dragon guitar owner), Dennis Lau (phoenix violin owner), Kevin Kastning (36 string guitar owner) Thomas Nordegg, and Chris Dignam, plus dozens of other Emerald owners, artists that painted his guitars in Tibet and Ireland, etc. I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours on research so far. And I’m still not done.

I hope to start outlining and writing soon, then still have to complete the layout for the coffee table book and edit it. Best case scenario would be to have a draft for Alistair to review in July. But I am fortunate enough to be able to drop everything and focus only on this. I can’t imagine doing this with a regular day job. My mom and I are on a cruise right now and I ended up taking all my research with me, and am editing it here on this trip. It is a LOT of work to do a biography or nonfiction book.

Now I should note, I am having to self publish this and don’t expect to make much money off it. It truly is a labor of love. I’ve done this twice before for books about ukulele companies and they sold more than I expected but were still pocket money, not real money.

But all that said, I still like the idea of reading the one you proposed Evan.
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:57 AM
merlin666 merlin666 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl49 View Post
It might be cool to have a coffee table book detailing the history of CF instruments. Paging Wicked Wahine.....

I have some notes on Rainsong pieced together from the forums and personal experience over the years. Saw my first RS in the late 90's and thought it cool - but the early ones were VERY expensive ($3500 retail). I bought my WS-1000 in 2017 once the prices were more moderate.
By the mid 90s the Adamas guitars with carbon fibre tops were already in production for almost 20 years. Around that time Ovation also developed a full carbon fibre/graphite guitar, the Q. Only 12 were made, and only the last one made it to retail. It is actually now available for sale at another forum for a measly $14,500 ...
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Old 01-08-2019, 11:29 AM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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Apologies for dragging you into this, Staci. Like you, I would be happy to buy and read such a book, but I have no interest in taking on the project. Captain Jim is right - this will be a major undertaking. I once proposed co-writing a book with my tai-chi teacher, with lots of photos that I would take and edit. We concluded it would consume ~2,000 hours of our effort and maybe sell 200 copies locally. Not a very good business model......

I could envision something like each company sponsoring a history of their brand which they could then use independently in book and/or web form, and later combining those chapters into an overall book. But then choosing a common format and getting permissions from everyone will be an issue.
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:48 PM
EvanB EvanB is offline
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Earl;

Great suggestion! If Wicked's book comes out as sweet as it sounds, then you would think the other makers might also want such a book. And then, put them all together and you have an encyclopedia of new generation guitars.
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:59 PM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strumalot View Post
Captain Jim, you bought back some memories... I have owned pre-press service companies, publishing companies, advertising companies, photo studios, etc., and went through the transition from the "old school" ways to the current technology.
These days, a project like this could be produced with a close-to-zero investment, with multiple author participation in "autopilot mode" and incorporating different media ~ text, video, images, audio ~ that can be consumed in small chunks that are automatically formatted to the device being used.
How's that for a sentence that just won't quit?

Anyway, I have thought about doing a project like this, and have the technology in place, but too busy hanging out under a tree playing guitar

So Evan, I think you've been elected.
Ah, Strumalot, we were early adopters of digital technology, back when my first studio quality digital camera cost more than our first house. When commercial clients found out we could go straight to press with digital images, bypassing the creation of 4-color separations (and all the potential issues with that), the cost of that technology was worth it. The cost of moving to a full digital lab from a full service in-house color lab (E6 line, long roll negative, high capacity 60" paper processor, package printers and custom enlarging) was even more. It was great to "get out of the dark", though, and not have to deal with the chemicals.

As the price of digital cameras came down, every amateur that could afford a couple grand for a camera and some lenses was now "a professional photographer." Fortunately for us, we had sold the business prior to that.

I told myself I would consider becoming a brain surgeon for a next career, because no one does it for a hobby! I had been a musician, then a photographer, both careers that many other people do for the fun of it. Then... driving boats as a career... yeah, no one does that for the fun of it.

When I wrote that first book, it was more of a "release" thing for me than wanting to create a literary sensation. I was surprised (pleasantly) when on-line sales of the e-book were better than I had ever considered. And, the return on investment was nice. Then, calls to make "a real book" led me down that path - I sold more paperbacks than e-books (this was early in e-books growth) and made considerably less money on "the real books." (even though the retail cost was higher) Lesson learned for me: better to make something that has little materials cost and sell it electronically than to produce a "real book" that has printing and shipping costs.

A quick check of musical instrument and supplies businesses in the US shows just over 20,000. If the ratio of guitar shops that handle CF compared to those who don't is any indication, one would be lucky to entice 1,000 shops to try to sell the book... if you have the means to promote to those 20,000 shops.

Bookstores that handled my book (pet and travel related, so a much larger market than a CF guitar book) took 40% of the retail cost. After production and shipping, I was able to make a couple bucks per book, as long as the store bought around 15 copies or more. Some stores will only stock your book with a guaranteed "buy back" - if they don't sell it, you get to take it back... and pay them for those books.

In the grand scheme of things, the odds of making money on a book are less than the odds of making it into big time sports or entertainment: everyone would like to do it, only a fortunate few make it. When I wrote that book, I had no thoughts of it going anywhere but my desk. It took me less than 6 weeks to write it; about that much time again (after it sat for a while) to edit it. When I shopped it around to book publishers, the only ones who said anything besides "Thanks but no thanks" said "It's a nice story. But, it's a small story." If they couldn't sell 100,000 copies, they weren't going to go to the expense with an unproven author.

Ultimately, I sold around 4,000 books... which was better than the 10 or 12 I anticipated after doing my research on self-publishing. I was able to do my own formatting, editing, and cover art. From the time I finished the first draft to the actual finished book was close to a year and a half. Much of that time was spent waiting to hear back from publishers.

I only relate this so anyone considering a project of this magnitude can appreciate the time it would truly take. And that is without a book that is full of images. You don't just paste an image into your text - you have to know the difference between RBG and CMYK, how to work up the image so the printer will have less chance of messing it up, color pallets, Pantone®, paper stock, and making sure the consistency from one image to the rest is on point.

And then be able to offer the book at a price point that won't turn people away.

After doing an "image rich" (graphic art, not photographs) children's book, I found the cost of production was prohibitive when self-publishing small quantities.

Yeah, I'm going back into performing music, 'cause nobody will do that for free... you know, for the exposure.

Yeah, that was real wordy again.
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Old 01-08-2019, 04:43 PM
EvanB EvanB is offline
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Ah yes, the RBG (road block gigabite) and the CMYK (can make you krazy). I still haven't figured out how to get those visuals on my typewriter.

I think I'm going to go take a nap.
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