Thursday, December 27, 2007

Guitars For Vets

While doing the Email today I got a letter from Steve Benford of Benford Guitars and Guitars 4 Vets fame. Those of you who have been following the saga of the Guitars for Vets Airborne Eagle guitar auction may have noticed that it didn't reach it's reserve of $3000. Perhaps we haven't gotten the word out like we should have. Perhaps folks were saving for Christmas. Perhaps some people think this guitars is a cool wall hanger and not a real guitar. I don't know why the guitar didn't reach it's reserve but I can tell you that the guitar is made from 100% top materials. I know for a fact that the pickups are worth $180 because I sell them for that much all day long without a cover at all much less a custom cover. The carved guitar body is a one of a kind made by a master craftsman and artist. So if you had any worries about the guitar let them go... In fact why don't you go listen to Benford play this thing a little and then decide.

And we all know the cause is worth while.

So... with all this new information let's see what Steve has to say today...

Ahoy, and Happy Holidays G4V supporters.
The story Fox 6 News did on Guitars For Vets aired this past Sunday on the 9pm News. We have had an overwhelming response from the story. For those of you who missed it or are out of our broadcasting area, here is a link to the story on Fox's website.;jsessionid=702ACAB2A5EF379F250698A0E72FAA77?contentId=5302146&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=1.1.1&sflg=1
Please pass this link along to whoever you can. I am unsure how long it will be active. We are getting a copy of the story and will either have it on the G4V site or You Tube it. Probably both.
Also, a quick reminder about the Airborne Eagle guitar raffle. Tickets are available and moving quickly. The sale will be limited to 300 to buy one today!
Those of you in the Milwaukee area on New Years eve are invited to The Coast downtown Milwaukee. My band will be playing 2 sets. We are excited to have special guest vocalist Annie Fox on board. She will tickle the ivorys a bit as well.
Thanks ans happy holidays!

Wow! How cool is that?! So if you didn't have the cash to shell out $3000 for this killer one of a kind bit o playable art now you can just grab a few raffle tickets and have as good a chance as anyone else! Come on... the tickets are only $10 each and they even take PayPal. You'll piss that much away renting DVDs this week end. Tis the season... give a little back to those who have give a lot for you.

We get letters! (another brick in the Wal...)

I took most of this week off to be with family and enjoy Christmas. No web work other than this little bit I did over at Six String Bliss showing how to replace your pickups.

Wow! I'm behind on my Email!! I'll be sitting down today to write to folks who have had questions this week. I have a few letters about the "Wal" Music Man bass pickup I'm working on. I'll be answering those. I got a guy who wants to know about a 13 string bass pickup. Some Neo Jazz questions. A sad story about how one of my Piper Tele pickup was killed in a freak Christmas accident. One crazy luthier that is wanting to work with me on designing his own pickups for some very unique guitars.

I better get busy!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Scarab Single String Pickups ( Back where we started...)

As I mentioned in an earlier post I didn't start out trying to be a pickup maker. I just wanted to make guitars and basses. The first bass 100% original instrument I ever built was the 5 string DragonFly bass. A vitality part of this basses design was a pickup system that would allow me to switch each strings out put independently.

This meant that I needed a small pickup for each string but one one was selling them at the time. Determined to see the project through to the end I started looking for information on making my own pickups. Back then there wasn't a lot of information out there on h
ow to design or make pickups. I didn't' know where to get parts or what parts would work best so I had to feel my way around in the dark.

My first attempt (1) was a bobbin made out of a yellow Bic pen. I melted the ends and mashed them into flanges to hold the wire and ran a set screw through it to act as a pole. Then I needed some magnet wire. I found some at my local Radio Shack. I think it was 32GA wire or something huge like that. To wind the wire onto the bobbin I used an old cassette tape recorder and just glued the bobbin to the little spinning hub and away we went. I might have gotten 200 turns on that first bobbin. When it was done I wrapped the whole thing in Scotch Tape to keep it from coming apart Then I soldered a lead to it and stuck a ceramic button magnet on the bottom. Finally I went into my studio and plugged the thing into my amp and turned it on. It buzzed like a bee hive. I plucked the E string on my Fender P bass and held the mutant pickup up to it.... it was there.... if you listened through the buzz and the hum there was a sound that was an E note. I was stoked!!! I had made a pickup!! The thing was crap and would need to be developed but I was on the right track. Over the next 6 months or so I spent ever second I could refining the design and hunting better parts. My second (2) try at making a pickup was closer to the mark I was looking for sound wise. It used 44ga wire and a small Neodymium magnet at the center of the phenolic bobbin. I potted my windings with blue nail polish as I went to kill any microphonic feedback. It sounded good but I still wanted more low end for the bass that I was getting from it and it looked bad. This led to design #3. This time I used a cover from a CD case to make the flanges for the shorter and fatter bobbin. The pole was a bigger steel screw with a wide head on it. The Neo magnet was attached to the screw under the bobbin much like a P-90 does. The new bobbin design allowed more wire to be used. This was it!! This was the sound I was looking for. Now all I had to do was make it look like something... But how? I would cast it in plastic that's how. The next few months were spent mocking up dummy pickups to get the look right . Then I started learning to make rubber molds and experimenting with casting agents. Finally I decided on black Epoxy as my casting agent and I was on my way to realizing my idea.My wife decided the new pickups looked like little bugs... like Scarabs. And thats how the(4) Scarab Single Sting pickups were born. The bass came out fine. I showed it to some people and was having fun playing it and recording with it and planning the next one....

Then the orders started coming in....

There is an MP3 called Scarabs on the sound files page of Searcy String Works of me playing this bass in a touch guitar style, something I'm not very good at, to show the string separation and clarity. It's just a sloppy demo of the G and D string running through one effects chain and the other strings running dry through an amp to show what could be done with such a rig.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Piper Special ( Tele master...)

So, have you ever wondered what the pickup on the home page of Searcy String Works is? Well, It's a Piper special. Being based in Nashville I have built a lot of Tele bridge pickups but the most popular has been the Piper special. I shipped out a lot in the last few weeks. Benford bought a few and I even shipped one to Alaska. This pickups was named after Pipes, the co host of the Six String Bliss podcast because it was built to his specs. Pipes ordered a custom Tele from Steve Benford that was going to have 4 pickups and a crazy switching system . Because a Tele bridge is grounded through the pickup it can have all sorts of problems if you get too fancy with the switching. To avoid all that we decided to ground the bridge plate separately. It's not an innovation that will revolutionize guitar building but it can be handy. The Piper Special is wound slightly hot with 42 ga wire and this batch features a vintage style string wrapped coil that looks more at home on vintage and relic guitars. I also make them in a black tape finished coil if the string ain't your thing. They are double wax potted and the Alnico 5 magnets are insulated from the bridge plate to prevent shorting. If you need one drop me a line.

Pipes: “…holy shit does it sound amazing!…I got Quality pups at a fair price and I got them from someone who puts in the extra effort to make sure they are perfect....In my book you cannot beat that”.

They are $79.99 USD.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sometimes I build guitars... (part 1.... Black Sunshine)

I didn't start out trying to make pickups. Originally I wanted to build the worlds greatest basses and guitars but somewhere along the way the obsession to make great pickup took over. Most of my time is spent making and designing pickups now but every once in a while I build a guitar or bass.

Here's one I just a few weeks ago. The body style is one I call the DragonFly. This one is almost totally hollow. It's made from Poplar and red oak. It's very light. This one I call Black Sunshine.

The Knucklehead pickups are the last of a run of epoxy cast neodymium magnet humbuckers I made a while back. They have a very bright top end compared to an Alnico pickup. They are running through a booster preamp made by my friend and master luthier Mark Swanson. Mark builds some of the most interesting acoustic and electric guitars you are likely to see. His work has been featured in several publication and his client list includes some rather big names. If that wasn't enough it also has a Bid D Varitone switch in it. I love the Veritone that Dennis makes and this combined with the preamp gives this guitar an unbelievable amount of sounds to work with.

"Gripping the wheel his knuckles went white with desire
The wheels of his mustang exploding on the highway like a slug from a .45
True death: 400 horsepower of maximum performance piercing the night
This is black sunshine.

Finally nothing moves.
High noon.
Black top rolling below the asphalt drive
A concrete fascination scraping the edge of nothing
This is black sunshine."

Read more about this guitar and see some more pictures over at Six String Bliss.

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: A link is right on the front page This is the page with all the eagle pics and specs. Link is located at the top of the page 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!
P.S. we still are selling shirts for $15 and have a couple 75mm shell lamps available.

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 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’

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Halloween 2007 Humbucker Release!! ( Must be the season of the witch)

The Searcy String Works fall 2007 product release is almost here gang. If you haven't reserved your set of Obsession or Bolero humbuckers you might be out of luck this time because there are only a few sets left. I banged out a very rough MP3 of the humbucker sound if your interested in hearing it. I plan to do a few more as I have time.

The Bolero is a nod to the hotrod humbucker sounds of the '70's. With a DC resistance of 14.8k ohms, the hotter, wax potted coils give it a great bite for driving your amp. The vintage style Alnico-5 bar magnets ensure a controllable output that can clean up nicely when needed. The 4-wire lead allows for coil splitting and phasing switching.

Every guitar pickup maker eventually attempts to capture the vintage humbucker tones of yesterday. This pickup represents my attempt to satisfy this "obsession". Using Alnico 5 magnets and 1950's specs as a guideline, each of these pickups is handwound to 7.5k ohms. The design has been updated with a 4-wire lead, making the Obsession a perfect neck position match to the Bolero.

We have only made these pickups in black this time around.

Halloween 2007 Neo Jazz release!! ( You've got to pick up every stitch,)

The Searcy String Works fall 2007 product release is almost here gang. If you haven't reserved your set of Neo Jazz pickups you might be out of luck this time because there are only a few sets left. I banged out a very rough MP3 of the neo jazz sound if your interested in hearing it. I plan to do a few more as I have time.

Neo Jazz Bass pickups are unlike any Jazz Bass pickup on the market today. The use of a long, single neodymium magnet gives the Neo Jazz it's name and it's unique sound. The traditional Jazz Bass clarity and "burp" are loud and clear but these pickups also produce better bottom end definition for a richer and fuller sound.

The 3" long blade style pole eliminates string spacing issues. The Vintage style leads are connected to the pickups using screw terminal connectors. This allows for fast and easy phase corrections without even opening the control cavity. This standard will be used on future Jazz Bass style pickups so that even someone who can't solder can replace their pickups. Epoxy potted for your protection and 4 black mounting screws are included.


Friday, October 26, 2007

8 String Neo Jazz (part 6 ... Done, Done on to the next one...)

Ok, finally got those crazy 8 String Neo Jazz
I had some trouble making the screw holes so close to the corners. In the end I used my new Scroll saw to shape the holes exactly the way I wanted them without blowing out the side of the pickup cover. It took me some time to get used to the new pinless blades. They are a bit tricky to install but once you get the hang of it they are a handy option. I think I like this new tool!! I can see the scroll saw finally becoming an important part of my shop.
I hope these pickups impress Jared over at JC Basses. I can't wait to see what they look like in the 8 String Royal JC Bass. I like the variety of work he does over there and would be only too happy to have my pickups seen in a few more JC Basses.
pickups done and out the door right on time. After they were epoxy potted and the copper shielding put in place I played them in my test bass (only has 4 strings but it’s better then nothing) They are impressive pickups if I dare say so myself. They sound full and punchy but not too powerful or aggressive. These are the biggest NeoJazz pickups I have made so far. The blade poles offer nice even response across the strings. Reverse Wound / Reverse Polarity construction offers some hum canceling ability when both pickups are on. I did a little series / parallel switching with these and they go from full and dark P style sound to a bright and clear J style sound with the flick of a switch.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Meet Antonella Mazza (part 1... the girl's got rhythm)

Do you know Antonella Mazza? She may look like the spokesmodel for Warwick basses or MarkBass Amps but the truth is she one of the most well respected and in demand bass players in Italy. If you need a grinding groove goddess to hold down the low-end in a rock band or a master of the upright bass to fill out a jazz gig Antonella has what it takes to adapt to almost any gig. Having played shows for crowds of 450,000 and even breaking her foot during a gig without missing a beat Antonella is a veteran of the road. She has played for jazz greats like Lillian Boutte' and Lino Patruno but she can hold her own with rock guitar shred masters like George Lynch as well.

She has been featured in interviews with The International Instatute of Bassists website and where she discusses her passion for the bass. She explained that "She has studied upright bass at G. Verdi Conservatory with teacher Ezio Pederzani and at the Novara Conservatory with Davide Botto. She received a masters degree in Ethnomusicology from D.A.M.S. and also as Sound Designer. She has held clinics on electric bass and upright bass with Dave Clark and Bruce Geerz from Berklee College of Boston, with John Patitucci, Claude Tchamitchan, Paolo Costa, E.Lo Greco."

So, still thinking Antonella Mazza is just another pretty face? Check out her MySpace page and listen to the music or watch the videos. Check out her relentless tour schedule. Listen to the song clips from her Antonella Mazza Bass Power web site. If, after that, you don't understand that this lady is a master of her craft with more dedication than 90% of the players out there then you aren't paying attention. Perhaps you're distracted by something.

So, why am I going on about this lady? Well first I, too, am a bass player and love the chance to hear new players. Second, Antonella recently wrote to Searcy String Works and asked if I would help her develop a new pickup system for her upright basses. After a few emails back and forth we worked out a rough idea and decided to give it a try.

So keep an eye out here for updates as this project progresses.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Guitars for Vets ( update 4 ... learning to fly)

Steve Benford of Benford Guitars has just announced that the Screaming Eagle guitar is done. Don't those Searcy Custom Pickups look cool? I think Steve's decision to go with the subdued look was the right call. I also got this letter from Guitars For Vets

Help Honor Our Heroes With The Gift Of Music

Guitars for Vets ( is an organization dedicated to providing disabled veterans with the gift of music in the form of free guitars and live musical performances.

Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin the idea is the brainchild of former US Marine Dan VanBuskirk, guitarist Patrick Nettesheim and guitar student turned bandmate/luthier Steve Benford. Together they have played multiple shows at the local VA hospital and have so far given away two guitars. Their goal is to see this idea through to a full-fledged nonprofit organization capable of providing guitars and instruction to veterans. This humble gesture is intended to provide some sense of normalcy and peace to those whose lives are changed forever for their sacrifice.

Nettesheim and Benford are currently raising funds to apply for nonprofit status. Guitars for vets T-shirts and 75mm Artillery Shell Lamps are for sale on the website. Benford has built a guitar with a 101st airborne "Screaming Eagles" theme to be auctioned off on eBay on Friday, November 16th, with 100% of the proceeds going towards attaining nonprofit status. Specs and photos for the guitar can be found at and . Plans are also in the works for Air Force, Navy, and Marine themed guitars to be built and auctioned off at later dates.

So it looks like things have really started to shape up over there. They are going from a nice idea to a full-fledged non-profit. I'm glad to see it and proud to be a part of it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

8 String Neo Jazz (part 5 .... under pressure!)

The gluing and clamping is next for the 8 String Neo Jazz pickups. Jared Carpenter of JC Basses has started a web page showing the progress on the 8 String Quilted Maple bass these pickups will be going into. This bass will also be sporting the most amazing maple top I have ever seen!
I hope to finish these pickups next week so that JC Basses can have them by the end of the month. So far things have gone relatively well and making the dead line shouldn't be a problem. I am having some trouble from my magnet supplier though. After finishing the first bobbin I ran out of magnets of this size. So I ordered more. They have sent me two shipments so far that are the wrong size. These little annoyances are why I have to leave myself plenty of time to get the pickups out to clients. You just don't know what you don't know... It's all very dramatic. Like a reality show only realer because it's happening to me.

Will Clint get the magnets in time?!

Will the covers be finished without cracking?!

Will they sound like the golden voices of Angels?!

Tune in next time for the next exciting installment of Searcy Shop Blog!

Same Pickup time... Same Pickup channel...

8 String Neo Jazz ( part 4 ...the new saw)

I got to do some more work on the 8 string Neo Jazz pickups for JC Basses again yesterday. This time I made the lower half of the shell for the first cover and finished a large amount of the second cover. I chose some walnut for the lower half of the pickup. I like the contrast that it has with Ebony. I don't know why I care though. It's not like anyone will ever see this part of the pickup.
After cutting out the walnut blank on the band saw I drill a few holes in it and then it's on to he scroll saw. This nice new Hitachi is the latest addition to the shop. It's replacing the ancient $40 junker that I have had from the start of Searcy String Works. Unlike the old junker it's variable speed and will hold both pinless and pinned blades. It has a nice hold down foot, a tool stand and a light. It's a joy to run and I suddenly feel spoiled. Normally I refuse to buy new tools. There is just too much depreciation. I would rather get a deal on a used one. But this one was on sale so it wasn't too bad a deal.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Guitars For Vets (update 3)

Steve Benford is reaching the end of the 101st Army Air Borne guitar The Screaming Eagle. He has some cool In Progress shots of the guitar being built on his web site. This picture he just sent me is of the LED that will be the eye of the Eagle. I can't wait to see what it looks like with the JumpWings pickups I made installed. When it's done the guitar will be auctioned off to help raise money for his Guitars for Vets program. G4V buys guitars and other instruments for disabled vets learning to adjust to and test the limits of their new circumstances. We should do every little thing we can do to make life better for these brave men and women who have paid a very high price for our country. Please help Steve if you can. He is doing all the work. All we have to do is help him get there.

Steve also has a Tribute page on the Guitars for Vets web site. If you have a friend or loved one who has served in the U.S.Armed Forces drop Steve a letter and tell him you would like to put their picture up in tribute.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

8 String Neo Jazz (part 3)

Got the first cover done for the 8 string set. Band Saw, Scroll Saw, Belt Sander, Hand Sanding Block, Sand Paper, Scotch Brite, Burnisher...

Now can you see why we charge more for a wood cover? Now if you will excuse me I need to go wash my hands.

8 String Neo Jazz (Part 2)

When I get extreme projects like this one I have to make a cover for them. I keep a stock of woods on hand that make good covers but the most popular is Ebony. It goes with everything. That's what we decided to use on this pickup set.

Monday, October 1, 2007

8 String Neo Jazz

This week one of the projects in the shop is a pair of NeoJazz pickup for a 8 string bass. Jared Carpenter of JC Basses is the guy who needs this monster. One of his clients is having him build the bass. If you have seen Jared's other work you know it will be a fine instrument.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Guitars For Vets

Steve Benford has an update for everyone on his Guitars For Vets program. Here's what he has to say.

I wanted to give you guys an update on the Guitars For Vets program I told you about a million years ago.

The non-profit filing has turned into a royal (and expensive) pain. Without boring you with the details, one mis-step can cause HUGE problems.

Heres where we are at right now. A local store donated a guitar to us which we auctioned off at an event. We raised enough money from that to purchase 3 acoustic guitars.

All three guitars got donated to some VETS at our local VA. All had spinal injuries and have limited movement. 1 had played in the past and was very excited to get back into it. The other 2 have loved music and had the desire to play and instrument all their lives. We were able to bring a little relief to the crap situation they are in.

Patrick Nettesheim and I played for the VETS at a function at Miller Park. The Milwaukee Brewers stadium for those of you who dont know. No, we didnt play inside the park. That would have been cool though. Anyway, we bashed on the acoustics for 45 minutes and had alot of fun meeting people. One of the VETS we donated a guitar was there. He wheeled his wheelchair up to within 2 feet of us and just absorbed what we were doing. He smiled. A simple thing, but thats the first time we saw that from him. That was one of the best days of my life.

Currently im am building 2 guitars which will be auctioned off for the program. The first is a Army Airborne tribute guitar. Its a hand carved eagle in the front of the body. Airborne 12th fret inlays, and the Army seal/logo on the headstock. Last but not least is some KILLER pickups donated by Searcy. The are closed cover Bolero and Obsession humbuckers. The have Airborne jumpwings on the face of the pickups. He made a trip to Fort Campbell, home of the 101st and got the jumpwings. An amazing addition to the axe. The guitar is about 85% done. In progress pics can be seen at my website.

The second is a standard strat that will have a camo paintjob. Not sure about the pickups yet. I loved the jumpwings so I may be having another chat with Searcy.

Now! We have G4V t-shirts in stock. The logo was done by my father and just looks great.

They can be purchased at They only $15 including shipping (in the US) and every penny will go toward the program.

For those listeners overseas who are interested in one, contact me and we'll see what we can work out!

I also have a cool 75MM artillery shell lamp I made which is for sale on the G4V website. Its SUPER cool.

A lot of you contacted me and wanted to donate a stand or stuff you had laying around! That is MUCH appreciated. At this point I like you to hang onto your stuff. We are still feeling our way through what we need. If you really want to help, buy a shirt. The $15 will go ALONG way.

Patrick, myself and a couple other musicians are going to Vegas in early Nov to play for a Marine Recon reunion. We are looking forward to meeting these Namm era VETS. Should be a blast!

More to come. If I dont update you, email me and bug me about it! Between teaching, building, playing out and G4V I need another 5 to 6 hours in the day!

Thanks for the support!

Taking care of our fighting men and women returning from war is a cause that is very important to me. If it's important to you too won't you stop by Steves web site and help out? Thanks.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pickup the pieces

After Hurricane Katrina I was asked to help with some instrument restorations for some NOLA musicians. Some of you may have seen the writeup I did on the Gibson F200 electric mandolin pickup or the Fender Jazz Bass pickups I rebuilt for Amy Hopkins a few years ago. Well, Amy is back in New Orleans and this time she's rebuilding the house of Charmaine Neville. If the name looks familiar it should. Charmaine is a member of the world famous Neville family of New Orleans.
In addition to my duties here at SSW I also work on the staff of the Musical Instrument Makers Forum or the MIMF as most people call it. The MIMF is in the process of taking donations to fund some of the restoration that Amy is working on.

I know that some folks are tired of hearing about NOLA and there is a lot of political finger pointing and government waste associated with the disaster but Charmaine is a real person who works for a living and the work that she does is part of what makes New Orleans important to us music fans. All she wants to do is get her home back and be able to work in the city she has always loved.

If you can please stop by the MIMF and make a donation the help rebuild Charmaine Nevilles home.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Neo Rock P-Bass pickup

This week I have also been trying to finalize the design for the new Neo Rocks. These are P-bass humbuckers with Neodymium magnets and a massive 18K winding on them. They sound huge but I have been having some trouble with the covers. I think I finally have it all worked out.

It's interesting. When I first started playing bass I dreamed of getting a Fender P-Bass like Steve Harris or Billy Sheehan so you would think that when I started making pickups I would have tried to make my own version of the P-bass right away. But I didn't. Until now. These new pickups are aggressive sounding like a P-bass should be but they have a more defined top end and more pronounced upper mids because if the Neodymium magnets. But they don't wimp out. I'm putting a set in my old Fender this week I think. They will be a great match for the Neo Jazz pickups.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Day One "Jump Wings"

Well, If everything works out this will be the new place for posting the latest news and projects from the Searcy String Works shop. For example this week I went to Ft Campbell to pick up a few sets of jump wings. I'm using these to make a pair of pickups for my buddy Steve Benford who is making a guitar based on the 101st Air Borne Screaming Eagles. Steve is a guitar builder in Wisconsin. This guitar is going to be auctioned off for charity to raise money for a program that buys guitars for disabled vets returning from Iraq. Check out Guitars For Vets.

He wanted a set of pickups for the project but didn't want them to detract from the rest of the guitar. We batted a few ideas around like a Purple Heart version that was purple and white. It looked cool but was a bit distracting.

In the end we settled on this all black version. It's one of my Obsession / Bolero sets but with a set of black plastic covers and some jump wings added. Steve seemed to dig them.