Chris Larkin Custom Newsletter November 2017.
Hello again from the West coast of Ireland,
A couple of days late but worth the wait!
A tale of two storms. First was Hurricane Ophelia who snuck up from the tropics along the west coast of Europe and then had the eye pass 32km (20 miles) to the west of us. The weather warnings for this one were scary so we put up the flood gates on the doors and waited for the worst. This the picture I took when the 'hurricane' was at it's closest point - blue skies, rainbow and no wind!
Not so scary! It was a little windy before and after the eye passed but nothing spectacular. But we were very lucky as up to 500,000 homes were without electricity, mainly it seems, from trees being downed. It took over a week for all homes to be re-connected.A few days later the second 'regular' winter Atlantic depression hit us. This time the winds were high and this was the way our palm trees looked bending when this was passing.
Note St Patrick standing on the wall looking on!
As I mentioned in the last Newsletter I was due to start chemotherapy in Cork for my prostate cancer. We had a very early start to get to the hospital and it was a long day. The staff were amazing and almost everything went like clockwork. I was told about all the possible things that could happen during the infusion (the chemo is administered by a a drip which takes over an hour) but nothing did so I was lucky. Syra drove me home in appalling weather, in the dark and on unfamiliar roads as the main road was closed. The girl done good!
24 hours after the infusion at home I had to inject myself with a drug that increases the supply of white blood cells that the chemo destroys. There were a couple of days of side effects from this but nothing serious. Apart from that all has gone well until 5 days ago when I discovered my hair was falling-out! This was expected and Syra and I talked about what we should do. We decided to cut my hair short and she did it for me - not quite a full shave yet. So here are the before and after pics. I really like the new look.
I'll keep this section in the Newsletter as long as there are things of interest going on. I expect the effects of the treatment will be cumulative so it will be an interesting journey. Syra is my rock! And while she is being mentioned you can read her latest Newsletter here
Tech Bit - Fixing Wooden Components in Place While Gluing.
Anyone who has tried to glue two smooth wooden surfaces together will probably have experienced the problem of the pieces sliding apart from the place you wanted them to be as the clamps are tightened! Not always a problem if a critical positioning is not important but with parts that have to line up (for example book matching) this sliding has to be controlled. Here is how I do this.Here are two body halves for a solid guitar that have to book match and the overlay (Tasmanian blackwood) has to align across the top as well. I allow an extra lip of wood at each end of the joint area which will be removed when the body is cut to size. The pieces are clamped together without any glue exactly as I want the joint be when glued.
I drill a 2mm hole through the extra lips so that it passes into both sides. Why 2mm because I discovered that the cocktail sticks that I can buy locally are 2.1mm in diameter!
I hammer in a length of cocktail stick into the hole and then I can unclamp the body halves. The stick comes away in one side or the other.
Now I can put a layer of glue on the jointing surface (one or both) and push the two halves together so that the pins fit into the holes perfectly aligning the parts. Add the clamps and the pins prevent any movement while the glue sets.By leaving an extra lip on other parts that will be in places that will not be seen when the job is finished can work in many different situations. Also screwing the parts where the screws can be removed afterwards and the holes will never be seen - this is the underside of a tenon for a neck.
If you have an idea that you think would make a good subject for the Tech Bit let me know and I'll see if I can include it in a future Newsletter.
In the Workshop.
Due to the medical stuff I have not spent the usual time in the workshop this month. I was advised not to work too hard so I didn't. No visitors but here are a couple of basses that I shipped. The first is Freddy's 8 string semi solid, through neck, headless with a top of Irish walnut and wings of Irish fiddleback sycamore.
Biggest pickup in the world? Actually there is a humbucker in each end of the 'slab' and the middle is used as a ramp. Works really well. There are no active electronics just volume/volume tone wired as a J Bass and the range of tones is superb.
The string clamps are a new style from ABM. Each string has it's own mini clamp. This allows for custom string spacing without requiring too much extra room at the fingerboard end. The individual tuner/bridges are also ABM. Tuning is low B to hi A.
Freddy has been a customer since he was child and I've enjoyed making some weird and wonderful pieces for him. Here he is with his newest bass. What a handsome chap. He is also the model for the T-shirt section - see below.
But can he play? I think this link might explain that.
And there is lots more here.
The second bass is Joe's headless, semi solid, bolt-on neck 5 string fretless. In this case the overlay is 350 year old Irish oak onto a body core of red cedar (to keep the weight down) with a centre section of Irish fiddleback sycamore. The neck is a laminate of Irish sycamore, rock maple and flamed maple.
Joe wanted two types of pickup - RMC piezo in the custom made, fully adjustable bridge and a Lace Alumitone at the neck. The RMC preamp can be used to balance and mix the two outputs. Volume and tone for each. The tuners are from ABM. Again most versatile with wide tonal range. Hoping to get a pic from Joe with his bass for the next Newsletter.
A couple of months ago a customer brought in his fretless P Bass that I had made in 1987 - 30 years ago. Somehow the neck had broken cleanly close to the headstock something that rarely happens to that style of neck. I was able to fix it almost invisibly and then I had to spray the neck to match the back of the bass.
Top is imbuya and the back is maple which has been chambered and the space covered with a rosewood plate. Pickup is an active EMG with a 2 band EMG active preamp. I was amazed at how good this combination is.
Proof of age!
Not In the Workshop.
You may remember that I re-furbed Kieran Eaton's fretted Reacter 5B last year. He just sent me this message about a recent gig with it. I'm not shy to accept praise! Howya doin’ Chris!! I’m sitting outside last night’s venue in the car. I drive Pauline’s home last night as she came to the gig and had a few drinks. Thinking of you for a couple of reasons. First because I’m wearing your t-shirt! Second because I was in a rare bass gig last night. This time it was with the inappropriately named Gobshites who I’ve been with since our formation 20 years ago this November 22nd. We only do one or two gigs a year these days but each one is most enjoyable. Anything from Crowded House to Led Zeppelin, Bowie to Doobies to Radiohead. Anyway, not only was I playing my beautiful bass (which the singer rightly described as my second hand made guitar such is the difference between it then and now), but I got to turn up the amp as I wasn’t through the pa. Well Holy God. Wow. The clarity, the power and the diverse sounds that are at my fingertips are stunning. This is the first time I’ve really played it hard if you know what I mean. With this band we all get the opportunity to just play. We’ve never rehearsed and yet we add songs at every gig. Always called by the singer who just starts them and we have to think and play on the spot. It’s such a pleasure but last night was pleasure beyond anything I’ve ever played. Even Pauline said after the gig that the bass sounded superb and presumed I was through the system. Remember, she’s very accustomed to band sounds as she often stands beside me on sax with her trumpet. And the neck is such a beautiful thing to hold and play. It’s perfect. Thank you so much. Every time I take it out the quality of what you did amazes me. Feel free to copy any of this to your site!!
Dave Blackshear of Blackshear Guitarworks a well known repairman and builder ordered two Chris Larkin T-shirts. And here they are on Dave and Denise along with a nice looking F5.
While we are on dogs, Molly has settled in nicely in her new surroundings. She hates being groomed as you can see.
T-Shirts and Straps.
T-shirts (same old logo) and only in black, M, L, and XL (all the 2XLs are gone) available. Price is held at €15 each and postage will depend on where you live. These are going well.The new batch of the exciting Chris Larkin Custom straps are in stock. These are highest quality Levy's Leathers straps custom made with an embossed leather oval. Price is also €15 with the postal shipping costs depending on where you live.
I can't guarantee that these will improve your playing but they will certainly lift your image!If you would like to purchase either of these items please contact me and we can sort it out.
From time to time I have instruments for sale directly from the workshop. Here is what is available now - all basses!
An ASAPB5 acoustic bass guitar with back and sides of Irish walnut, adjustable bridge and RMC pickups. This one is amazingly loud acoustically and has that 'woody' sound.
A solid bodied Syra 4, passive in fetching pink...
...and an SC5 throughneck with headstock in figured Irish maple and all the active EQ trimmings.
If you would like to see other shots of these instruments and get more details on them you can at the Stocklist
page of the website.
These instruments are all available to try if you visit the workshop and if you would like to know more about any of them please contact me and I'll be glad to help.
Our old dishwasher died so we bought a new one. This was interesting as the courier who was employed to deliver it and take away the old one decided instead to mail it (yes by postal service) to us. We were surprised that this was possible at all and the post lady couldn't manage it alone. A friend brought it down to us and Niall, being a pro, helped us install it. We were still stuck with the old one but Soundstore Tralee
came up trumps and accepted it when we bought a new coffee machine from them. Win-win!
Thanks to Philip Lane for the gift of some amazing Chinese green tea which is so suitable for my present condition.
....So Finally, Finally, Finally....
If you have any ideas for the Newsletter, would like to send me a recipe, an article for inclusion, want to promote your band (if it has one or more of my instruments in it), an event, pics of your Larkin, any YouTube video of you playing one of my instruments or anything else suitable, contact me and I'll see what I can do. Feel free to forward this Newsletter to anybody who it might interest. The mailing list can be joined by filling in the form at the bottom of any page on the website.