Saturday, August 28, 2010

Vintage Keyboard Studio update

Here's a project at the FMO Gear Shop that we haven't discussed all that much, especially considering how cool it is. It's our Vintage Keyboard Studio.

I've been working on the studio for almost two years with "Keyboard Mike" Thompson. We've rearranged the studio several times since we started, usually when a new vintage keyboard or analog synth has been brought into the fold.

I wish I had thought to document every incarnation, though we have taken a LOT of nice shots of various vintage keys. These are some pictures I took of how we had the studio set up this past May.

I got the idea for the studio a long time ago, and moving into the FMO Gear Shop gave me the first real opportunity I've had to actually try it out. We started off doing a lot of repairs and restorations.

One of the things I was particularly interested in pursuing was doing custom work and modifications on vintage keyboards and synthesizers. One of my favorite projects has been hot-rodding a 1971 Fender Rhodes Stage 73 electric piano, which you can see above. I've named it the Dream Weaver (after the song by Gary Wright).

I also had new custom cases made for my Rhodes Chroma and Rhodes Chroma Expander made of exotic figured Bubinga wood (see below).

The Bubinga wood Rhodes Chroma and Expander cases were made for me by Wes Taggart of Analogics. I have to say, I was really pleased with how they turned out. Both keyboards also have the PSU and amazing CC+ upgrades available at the website.

We're just scratching the surface, there's a ton more info about our vintage keyboard and synthesizer escapades to come. I wanted the studio to have it's own virtual home and individual identity, so we're going to be posting all of that info on our new website:

The website is a work in progress. I got the domain set up, and Keyboard Mike has been working on the content for the past week or so. I originally intended for us to use some kind of Content Management System, but Mike suggested starting with a blog format to develop some of the concepts and material. There's definitely no shortage of material either. The website in its current state is just a taste of what's in store.

One final note - the thing that really prompted the launching of the virtual Vintage Keyboard Studio is the fact that it has officially outgrown its current physical location. We just can't fit all the cool synth gear in that room in an ideal way. Not only that, but we now need the space for our other projects at the FMO Gear Shop.

So... we're looking for a new home. If anyone has any leads on finding a suitable (and roomy) spot in the vicinity of New Haven, CT that's worthy of housing all these cool vintage keys, definitely let us know.

Monday, August 9, 2010

There's a New Girl in Town

It's official... we've got a new member on our team. I hired Kryssi several weeks ago and proceeded to subject her to a grueling 90-day trial period to see if she would work out. Well, she did, and now we're glad to announce that Kryssi is a permanent member of our FMO team.

Kryssi is an accomplished guitarist who studied at Hartt School of Music, and (get this) she's actually into guitar pedals. I think there may be a dozen or so bona fide pedal chicks in the whole world, and one of them now works here. Of course, it takes a lot more than that to be able to actually handle the job, but Kryssi has proven she definitely has what it takes to make things happen. She's already taken charge of all the social networking for Black Cat Pedals, and now she'll be handling sales for Black Cat as well. Feel free to send her an email if you're interested in the pedals, or just want to say hi.

Friday, August 6, 2010

This makes it all worthwhile

It's been more than 5 years since I wrote Analog Man's Guide To Vintage Effects. The book still sells at a moderately steady pace of up to a dozen or so per week throughout the year, except during the holidays when the orders quadruple. We've now sold several thousand copies.

Of course, I realize this book is a weighty tome, but I often wonder to what extent each copy has been read. I suspect there are many owners who have never read it in its entirety, and I'm certain there are a good number who've done little more than look at the pictures (well, they are nice pictures). But once in a while, I'll get actual feedback from a reader. I always love to hear comments from people about the book, especially if they're like this email I got yesterday from "Lefty Perry" in New Hampshire:

Hey Tom,
I had to write this quick story to you. Last night I was sitting at work with your book on my desk where it always is. This guy comes in that I did not know played guitar and looked at the cover. He picked it up and said WOW, WHAT A COOL BOOK. We talked about it. He said he thought it was an old book because it is in such used up shape. I said NO, IT'S ONLY ABOUT TWO YEARS OLD BUT I READ THE BLOODY THING TWO HOURS A DAY. I have read and re-read your book over and over again. I told this guy where he could get your book because I could never lend my own copy out... MAN YOU REALLY DID A GREAT JOB ON THIS BOOK! I am sure you have never received a bad review. Thanks for your hard work!
Perry in NH USA