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Murphy Inspects . . .

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Tremolux & Barris Custom, Murphy

Murphy inspects my 1966 Fender Tremolux amp in its custom JD Newell cabinet with two Weber 12A125A speakers; the amp has been at Don Oliver’s studio for a couple of years and returned last evening.

Murphy hasn’t seen this amp before!

The Tremolux is not a Fender amp that’s often seen; they were only made for a couple of years. I had wanted one since I first saw the cover of the Blind Faith album; Clapton is shown here with that amp at the Rolling Stones December, 1968, Rock and Roll Circus event as a member of the one-shot Dirty Mac Band, consisting of Clapton, John Lennon, Keith RIchards on bass, and Mitch Mitchell on drums.

Clapton's Tremolux

I believe Clapton endorses a new Tremolux combo amp made by Fender nowadays, but I’m sure it isn’t much like the original ones. For one thing, they cost over two grand.

I have the original piggyback head cabinet for my Tremolux, restored by Rocco Egizio of Rockometer Amp Cabinets in Chicago, but I don’t have a proper speaker cabinet for that configuration, so it lives as a combo. One day I’ll find a speaker cabinet, but it has to be a 4-ohm one for the Tremolux.

The guitar is my Hallmark Barris Kustom, which sounds nice through the Tremolux. For you gearheads out there, the Barris Kustom has a single pickup with just a volume control; the pickup is Bob Shade’s recreation of the old Carvin AP-6 classic.

Jim’s Acoustic Guitar Gizmo!

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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!