Echo Park, USA
GABRIEL CURRIE – BIOGRAPHY
Gabriel Currie’s fascination with guitars began during his childhood and has continued ever since; both as a player and, ultimately, as a master luthier. His first exposure to the inner workings of the instrument came during a visit to the Guitar Doctor (Mike Lipe) in Burbank, California in 1980 which inspired him to disassemble his 1960 Fender Music Master to see what made it tick. Needless to say, he was immediately hooked. His new passion landed him in a much-needed role as the local repair and modification tech for all of his high school friends.
Shortly after his graduation in 1986, Gabriel found work in the mill at the renowned G&L Guitar Company in Fullerton, California where he worked under the watchful eyes of the legendary Leo Fender. He worked his way up through the ranks to eventually running the body making department. He would laboriously select the finest blanks, glue them up, cut them out, then route them on the pin routers and sand them with the precision of a dedicated builder. He also applied his increasing aptitude for of each aspect of development to maintain quality control during the five years that he worked there. Shortly after Leo’s passing, Gabriel found himself wanting to continue his education and thrive beyond his already skillful place in the ranks.
In 1992 after a brief hiatus, he sought out Hosono Guitar Works in Glendale, California. There he continued his tutelage with the celebrated Japanese builder Tak Hosono. He spent countless hours building prototypes and producing all of the “USA” custom neck threw models for “Ibanez”. It was then that he was also able to meet the highly sought after luthiers Sammy Sanchez and Mike Lipe. Gabriel also delved into making “Sadowski” basses, along with Hosono’s mail order custom built necks and bodies.
With affectionate recollection, Gabriel remembers, “I was learning from a master craftsman and surrounded by L.A.’s finest independent builders at the time. It was amazing. At Tak’s place, I learned how to hand shape necks. I also learned and mastered lamination methods. I was able to work extensively with exotic woods, book matching, fretting, fine sanding, gluing tops and neck threws. You can’t buy that kind of education”.”
At the same time, Mike Tobias, who was a friend of Tak’s, Tought him to laminate neck blanks and Bodies during “Consulting meetings” w Tak
Soon after leaving Hosono, and with his long term and diverse apprenticeship then complete, Gabriel started his own company – G-String Guitar Works – in Pasadena, California. While mostly filling his schedule with repairs and set-ups in 1999, he decided to spend a while playing in a few bands of his own which ultimately transitioned him away from full time guitar making for a while.
Between 1999 and 2006, Gabriel started to make his individual mark in the guitar buying community by personally hand making 300 instruments for various players. As 2006 rolled on, he decided to finally start his own, private little company to make 100% handmade, traditionally styled electric guitars.
“I love Juniors, Teles, some of the Supros and Hagstrums and definitely old Gretches! Those elements combined to create my overall inspiration. The main thing that I wanted to do was to figure out how to make an improved one from start to finish 100% by hand. I want to use my hands, eyes and ears to select and build every part of every instrument. That was the driving force in the idea behind doing this!” In 2009, Gabriel made the first prototype. Then, shortly after, he rented a space in Sun Valley, California and built five more guitars out of the same shop used by both “Lipe Guitars” and “Bill Asher” for his lap steel, acoustic and electric models.
At the end of 2010, Gabriel moved his shop to Echo Park, California where he already had a repair shop in the Bedrock Studios compound. In 2012, he moved his shop to an undisclosed location in Echo Park where he is currently collaborating with some of the most revered musicians in the field of modern music. Echopark Guitars™ was officially born.
“In a thrift shop called Tunsen around the corner from the shop – that’s where I was introduced to Nick Oliveri. I asked him if he needed a bass for the upcoming Kyuss tour. He was beyond enthusiastic and placed all of his trust in me to craft something that would be incredibly personal to him. So I made him Abby. He became my first Echopark Guitars™ endorsee. He’s been playin’ the shit outta that bass all over the world, ever since!” Singer/songwriter/guitarist Darin Bennett is also a recent endorsee and makes use of his “Bastard” Nashville Telecaster style Echopark Case Study™ model (#001).
2012 has already become a groundbreaking and non-stop year for Gabriel Currie and his Echopark Guitars™ and there is a great deal more to come.
“I recently collaborated with Jonny Two Bags from Social Distortion to create an Echopark Signature Series™ model. Joe Perry and Brad Whitford from Aerosmith, as well as Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers, have been playing the guitars on tour. I can’t say enough about all of these people. It’s a rare honor to have my creations come alive in the hands of my idols”.
Gabriel is still a respected and active working musician which allows him to test drive every instrument he builds in a practical manner. He is also an avid collector of vintage guitars which he regularly uses to spec out the finest details and build upon their tonal palettes. He prides himself on his knowledge of tones and the history of the finest guitars ever built.
“I put these guitars on recordings all the time and listen to the way they sound under a microscope. The response is always the same. These Echopark Guitars™ sound alive!”
If you are seeking a handmade instrument that bleeds soul, and oozes tone, you have found it. Each and every instrument that is created by Gabriel Currie for Echopark Guitars™ is the product of a deeply bred lineage of craftsmanship. For a guitar built with love in mind; for a piece of art that has been coddled and cared for from its inception; for a practical, yet dynamic, tool that is second-to-none for making music; welcome yourself into the ever-expanding world of handmade Echopark Guitars™.
THE “CLARENCE™” STORY
For three years, I had been running the body production department at G&L. I had been there since Floyd, George and Leo hired me right out of high school. In the weeks following Leo’s passing, I found myself outside of Leo’s lab one day with Mr. John McClarin Jr. of BBE co.( the new owners of G&L). I jokingly asked if I could poke around in Leo’s lab. He said sure, pulled out the keys, and in I went.
It was a little surreal, to say the least. I took my time. It was the end of the day and I was poking around piles of projects, pickups, necks, and papers on his desk! I noticed a little ladder leading to a small loft and up I went. There was a lot of dust but I knew something was up there. I crawled around and found a trem mock up, an old case, a few parts, and then in the far corner, I noticed a shape under the dust.
It was like a moment from a movie, as a beam of afternoon sun was shining through the attic vent right on to a unique shape. So I crawled over to the shape and brushed away the dust. I knew it! At first, I thought it was an old Tele but as I continued removing years of dust, I realized it was different – like a model he never put out. I found the templates too… dated 1969.
I had found the body from his Tri-Sonic R&D period or perhaps a prototype for G&L. It was routed for his “Z” pickups and had a “B” bender rout on back, as well as an old blonde finish and a strange trem route. I put it in the case, hauled my take down the ladder, and showed John, John Rodriguez, and Ed Sebest. They all said ‘take it man. You’ve been here long enough’.
So I took it home and put it together with a bunch a parts I had in a box and I made a neck. I’ve been playing and recording with it ever since then. It’s never left my side. I went back to the place i discovered it about five years ago to see if they would have an interest and put it in there line as a tribute or something cool. They said that it wouldn’t fly…….
So here you go world. The lost Leo! I believe I’m doing the ol’ man justice. These are made with love and reverence for a Master and the father of the modern Spanish Electric Guitar – 100% hand made in So.Cal, USA. Every detail is as fine as anyone could wish for!
Leo, Thank you for taking me in and I hope I made you proud! This is an honor. I’m proud to present Clarence™
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