After a bit of a slow beginning in 2021, our Colorado winter has come on strong to start 2022. With February being one of our snowiest months on record, I’ve had plenty of time lately to hunker down in the shop to reflect on Winters past present and future.
Late in the Winter of 2020/21 I was asked to be featured in a film series called “Beyond Boundaries - Road Trip” presented by SNOWBOARDER MAGAZINE.
As a Colorado native, and lifetime outdoors enthusiast, SNOWBOARDER MAGAZINE reached out to me with their interest in featuring DWP Guitars for an episode of “Beyond Boundaries” in which they highlight creative people who are dedicated to pushing boundaries both at work and recreationally.
The outdoors have always been an important part of my life, and are a big reason why I choose to live in Denver. To me; mountains are a place of inspiration, a place to reflect, and a powerful reminder of exactly who I am at home and in this world. Living in Denver gives me direct access to those places while still being close to everything the city has to offer.
As a guitar tech, I take a lot of pride in being able to assist the artists I work for in realizing their creative vision. Additionally; being a guitar builder allows me to connect deeper with the guitar players I work for, as well as with my own creative passion. Having spent over 20 years working in the music industry and now just over 10 years building guitars; I have been fortunate enough to see those two passions combined in ways I would never have imagined.
I’m humbled every time I step foot into the mountains and I’m humbled every time a guitar player puts their confidence in me and/or my guitars. Whether I’m on stage right during a show, in my shop building guitars, or on my snowboard picking a line down a mountain; I’m constantly searching for that creative “flow state”. To me “flow state” is all about freedom and a sense of self. “Beyond Boundaries” provides a glimpse into what that means for me, and I’m humbled to have been a part of it.
MUSIC FOR MARSHALL TELE
At the end of 2021, Boulder County was hit by the most destructive wildfire in Colorado History. What started as a grass fire in Boulder county open space was quickly spread by hurricane force winds and soon ripped through the densely populated areas of Louisville and Superior, CO. Over night 900+ homes were destroyed, 30,000+ people were displaced, and entire neighborhoods reduced to smoldering rubble. Having spent a large portion of my childhood in the Louisville / Superior area, and with a growing number of friends from my adult life having made the move there, this tragedy couldn’t have hit any closer to home.
On February 4th, 2022 the DRUNKEN HEARTS hosted a Boulder County Fire Benefit show called “Music For Marshall” at the BOULDER THEATER featuring an array of guest musicians from the Colorado Music community. Along with the show; CONSCIOUS ALLIANCE held a silent auction to raise funds in benefit of those effected by the fires.
I was honored to be able to donate a guitar to be included in the silent auction, and I picked a truly one of a kind, custom Tele, featuring a very unique Chechen Rosewood Top and a set of RONIN Gold Foil pickups made with 24kt gold foil. The “Music For Marshall Tele” saw a little action during the show and then was signed by artists that played, before being auctioned off. I couldn’t be more grateful for the $1250 it raised to benefit those who lost so much.
THE "DA-Rel bari"
With the 2022 calendar beginning to fill up with concerts, this seems like a good time to highlight this custom Baritone I built for BON IVER. We use the “Da-Rel Bari” for a number of songs in the live BON IVER catalog, but it’s the song “Minnesota, WI” that dictated exactly what we needed from this instrument.
We tune the “Da-Rel Bari” all the way down to G Standard, a full 1-2 steps down from the standard Baritone tuning. In order to accomplish this on the Baritone we used previously; we had to string it up with pretty thick strings. Between the thicker gauge strings and the resulting tension on the neck, our previous Baritone eventually became difficult to play and we decided it was time to build something custom.
We needed a Baritone that could be tuned all the way down to G Standard, but feel more like a guitar than a bass. So with that in mind; I began the process of comparing the variables of Scale Length, String Gauge, and String Tension to determine what we needed to accomplish our goal. Ultimately; it all came down to finding a way to achieve the ideal string tension.
String Tension is a combination of 3 variables; String Gauge (thickness of the string), Pitch (note the string is tuned to), and Scale Length (distance between the nut and the bridge). With the Pitch already established (G Standard), I needed to determine what our ideal string tension would be and from there; I could establish what the ideal scale length would be.
Operating on the basis that we needed the “Da-Rel Bari” to feel more like a guitar than a bass; I set a goal of roughly 19-20 lbs of string tension for each string. Using the formula to calculate string tension I was able to compare different variables of scale length and string gauge. Through my calculations, it became clear to me that a longer scale length is what we needed. I concluded that a 30in scale length would allow me to use thinner strings and still be able to maintain the ideal string tension when tuned down in pitch to G Standard.
With the design specs nailed down there was just one more decision to make. Since this was to be a fully custom instrument; it needed an equally custom set of pickups.
The tone we aim for on “Minnesota, WI” is a gritty, dark, and rumbling tone. Achieved in part from the low tuned Baritone, but also translated through just the right pickups, and ARCANE INC provided just what we needed.
The “Da-Rel Bari” features a set of two “Tele Bridge” Pickups custom wound by ARCANE INC. The neck pickup is made from Alnico 5 magnets and wound to 6.24k resistance while the the Bridge is made from Alnico 3 magnets and wound to 10.54k resistance. These pickups are gritty, bold and raw when we need them to be (like on “Minnesota, WI”), and balanced, warm and full for other songs (like “Holocene” and “We”).
This is truly a one of a kind instrument and has become a staple in the BON IVER live show. Perfectly suited for everything we need of it.
With spring around the corner, the Music Industry as a whole, is gearing up for one of the busiest outdoor concert seasons we’ve ever seen, certainly in the last couple years at least.
The last couple winters have seen us all mostly separated, and provided plenty of uncertainty about the future. This winter seems different though. In the spring we will gather together again, and hopefully by next winter the challenges of the last couple years will officially be behind us.
I couldn't be more excited to get back out there on Stage Right and I can’t wait to see you there.