Jim’s Acoustic Guitar Gizmo!


A few years ago, I came up with an idea to keep an acoustic guitar’s strap from falling off the endpin pickup jack. I called this little thing my Gizmo.

There is a problem with acoustic guitars fitted with an internal pickup; if you have a cable in that jack, all is well because the cable will keep the strap from falling off.

If you don’t have a cable connected to your guitar, and most of the time you are playing you won’t, there’s nothing to keep that guitar strap from slipping off the endpin jack, and then your guitar hits the floor or deck or whatever else is under it!

This irritating and dangerous problem happened to me more than once and could have had bad results. So I came up with this little Gizmo to keep the strap from slipping off when there’s no cable in the jack.

Here’s a photo of the original brass Gizmo prototype made for me from my specs by my buddy Frank Ford, the guitar repair genius at Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, California. Frank is, in addition to being the fellow who sold Joan Baez her first guitar and the most talented guitar repair-person I know of, a skilled machinist:

Gizmo Prototype

Gotta include this charming photo taken recently of Frank and Joan playing with some ukuleles in Frank’s store:

Frank & Joan

A few months later, when I was visiting the CF Martin guitar factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, one day, I had Frank’s brass prototype of my Gizmo in the pocket of my jeans and showed it to Brenden Hackett, Martin’s marketing guru and a smart and supportive guy. Brenden loved the idea and we showed it to various folks at the Martin factory. It was Brenden who encouraged me to get the Gizmo patented.

Patents take a loooong time to research, write, get drawings for and so on, and once submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, it takes a loooong time for them to be processed and reviewed. But I did all the stuff one has to do to submit the patent and it’s been at the Patent Office for a couple of years, inching its way through the pipe.

Page Patent

Here’s a very low-end video I made one morning on my iPhone that shows the Gizmo and what it does. I made this video in support of a Kickstarter.com effort for the Gizmo. I had some great and enthusiastic supporters for this Kickstarter attempt, but didn’t generate enough financial backing to make the Kickstarter threshold. So it goes!!!:

While the Gizmo was still “patent pending,” one of my other great friends, Bob Shade, president of Hallmark Guitars, joined with me to have some prototypes and samples made overseas. We made them from brass with finishes in nickel, black and gold. Here’s what those look like:

Gizmos Final

Larry Stein, my very patient patent attorney, emailed me Friday afternoon that my Gizmo’s patent application has been published (whatever that means) and is in the final review stage now, after about two years. Maybe the Gizmo will finally come to fruition after all this time. Whether anything comes of it after that, I can’t say; it’ll need to be marketed by a firm with more resources than I have.

But if Jim’s Gizmo can help prevent someone’s nice guitar from being smashed to bits after a five-foot drop, then it’s a good thing!

Wish me luck!

Gazebo Nights and Knights

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Last night, four of us gathered, as we often do, under the gazebo roof at John Sapper’s place. We’re preparing an acoustic-music set for the 23rd Annual Adelphi Music and Arts Fest that Dave Martin puts on at his place.

The weather was pleasant, the insects weren’t too intrusive, and the grove of trees behind John’s gazebo made for a relaxing atmosphere.

Here’s Dave Martin on his six-string banjo. Dave and I squabble like brothers; maybe because we’re as tight as brothers. We’ve been playing music and having adventures for a good number of years. As many of you know, Dave jokingly refers to himself as NFD (nine-fingered Dave) after a tragic woodshop accident in 2006. All of us were stunned when Dave was hurt, but none of us were surprised when he refused to let such a blow hold him down or keep him from playing music. If anything, his playing is better now than before the accident. Says a lot about the man:

Here’s John Sapper, our host for the evening. John is an absolute guitar wizard at tasty, perfectly articulated solos and has a deep repertoire of what he calls “fiddle tunes.” He augments these with elegant arrangements of classic and classy country and folk songs. His versions of Grandpa Jones’ Eight More Miles to Louisville and Are You From Dixie? are so good that I always insist on hearing them each time we get together, along with his flawless rendition of Machine-Gun Kelly. What a player and singer, and a genuinely nice guy. John’s playing his Santa Cruz here, for you guitar buffs out there, and he has a gorgeous old Gallagher guitar (think Doc Watson) I’ve been trying to sneak out of his house for years:

The most recent addition to our group is Doug Percival, seen here playing my cowboyed-up old Martin D-41, because we made him play some more after he had packed up for the evening. Doug’s singing and guitar playing are first rate, but we like him anyway. Doug has a knack for taking tunes you’ve heard a million times (or not) and reshaping them with novel arrangements and interpretations. He is also the only fellow I’ve met who, in a former band years ago, was flown by the U.S. military to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to play for a couple of weeks in the Naval Base service clubs there:

I think we’ll have a lot of fun next Saturday at Dave’s party and make some great music, too!

The Man, The Legend: Jerry White!

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Here’s a studio portrait I did a few years ago of my great friend, Jerry White. As the photo tries to convey, a classy guy and a great guitar player. Jerry’s enthusiasm and helpful spirit are second to none.

Jer and I shared a lot of laughs!!! We need to get together, Jer!