Chris Larkin / Odello / 2014 / Bass
Well, where do you start? This one is another idea of Del's. This is a five string (high C) 3/4 scale length, small bodied, true acoustic, electric, upright base made to be played sitting down. Constructed with a carved, tuned, arch top of one piece, quartersawn spruce on a body of walnut and a neck/headstock made from one piece of fabulously flamed maple. The full sized carved scroll has the most expensive handmade machines I have ever come across! Interesting pickup arrangement with 3 separate systems, a Highlander piezo in the bridge, a standard magnetic (all strings) and individual magnetic pickups for each string. The Highlander and standard magnetic can be blended and the signal passed through an EBS 2 band EQ and out via a standard jack socket. In order to reduce volume changes when playing up the neck the magnetic pickup is cantilevered from the bridge and has it's own adjustable 'foot'. This pickup is actually two pickups in one housing (the standard magnetic and a quintaphonic) and was custom made by Aaron Armstrong. The individual string signals can be panned to any position in the stereo spectrum and the signal goes out via a balanced XLR to desk. The active circuitry required for the panning was complex and the small control panel a bit congested! The acoustic tone is surprisingly good considering the size of the body and hanging a condenser mic inside the body cavity produced excellent results.
So it ends up as a stunning looking instrument with huge tonal range and great versatility for stage or studio. One of the joys of my job is getting projects like this to realise for customers.
Chris Larkin Custom Guitars, Ireland
About Chris Larkin
I work alone hand building a variety of instruments beside the beach on the beautiful west coast of Ireland. I am in my third decade of guitar making and it is still the best job in the world. And, so far, I get paid to do it. Nothing could be better!
Working alone gives me total control over the process. I do everything from buying in the wood to packing the instruments for shipping and nothing leaves the workshop that I cannot be proud of. Each day I look forward to going to work and learn something more about my craft. The more I learn the more I know I have to learn. And there is no Holy Grail in guitarmaking, there are too many variables in hand making an instrument to be sure of anything. The traditional 'rules' are there to be tested. At this stage, working with wood has become largely intuitive for me. And I am a wood junkie!
The wood junkie on the left is cuddling enough yellow cedar to make at least 40 flat top guitars when he cuts it up. This yellow cedar board is perfectly quartersawn with 80 grain lines per inch (31 per cm). Yellow cedar makes great archtops (jazzers and mandolins) and is also very good for steelstrings. In my opinion more people should try it.
The man on the right is taking instruction from Melody (the guitar building dog and real brains behind the business) on the best way to carve the top plate for an ASAS Semi. (yes Harvey, it is yours!)
I produce a limited number of master grade instruments each year almost all of which are exported (thanks to contacts made by exhibiting at the Frankfurt Musikmesse since 1985). Naturally I use the finest available materials. My designs are original, practical and, I think, beautiful. My instruments are individual for individuals.
My wife Syra is a professional painter (there she is on the left working on a portrait of Robbie Overson which was used for his album cover) and after years of makeshift workshops and studio space we finally designed and built our ideal workplace attached to our house in 1997. Syra has most of the upstairs with great natural light and wonderful views over the bays and mountains while I have the ground floor and an upstairs sprayroom. All of my areas are humidity controlled (47% RH) which gives me great confidence in dealing with the wood and the assurance that the possibilities of future climatic damage to instruments is limited to extreme conditions (which instruments should never be exposed to anyway!).
It is possible to order from a dealer or directly from me at the workshop. When a customer makes an order they will fill in a Conspec which is a document that specifies all aspects of the intended instrument. The Conspec is exchanged between me and the customer being changed by agreement until we are both happy with what is to be made. At this stage a firm price and delivery date is set. The Conspec now becomes the blueprint from which I will work when I am making the instrument. The Conspec can be changed at any time up until the start of building with agreement between the customer and me. As both the customer and builder have a copy of the Conspec there should be no surprises on delivery! Payment.
For orders from the workshop a non-returnable deposit of 30% is normally paid when the Conspec is agreed and the price is set. The balance is payable on completion of the instrument. A photograph of the finished instrument is sent to the customer (by mail or email) to show that the building is complete and shipping happens when the balance of the money reaches my bank.
For orders from dealers the payment details should be arranged with the dealer concerned.
Shipping costs are the responsibility of the customer. For orders from the workshop I can arrange shipping by insured courier at cost if required.
Someone once said that the only two things you can be sure about in life are taxes and death! I can tell you a bit about the taxes.
Orders from the workshop that are to countries within the European Union to persons who are not registered for VAT will have Irish VAT included in the price at the rate that is current at the time of payment. Orders outside the European Union will be free of Irish taxes but note that most governments charge some sort of tax on imported instruments. Check what this will be locally. Orders from dealers will include whatever taxes are relevant in that country.Your dealer can tell you about this.