Doug Irwin Guitars

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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby pablomago » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:19 pm

A little side track... Does anyone know anything about the Alembic 12 string David Crosby plays to this day? The body came from a Gibson Crest, a high end ES-335-type guitar. I no longer have David's e-mail, and I've always wondered about that guitar.
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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby mkaufman » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:33 am

I don't know anything about the guitar, however, I did see him play it a few years ago and it sounded great!

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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby jalevinemd » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:58 am

pablomago wrote:A little side track... Does anyone know anything about the Alembic 12 string David Crosby plays to this day? The body came from a Gibson Crest, a high end ES-335-type guitar. I no longer have David's e-mail, and I've always wondered about that guitar.



http://alembic.com/club/messages/411/58 ... POST117382
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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby Rick Turner » Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:27 pm

I put Crosby's guitar together at Alembic in 1970. The body was a Gibson "Crest", Mario Martello made the Brazilian rosewood neck. I added the LED side markers, made the stereo pickups and the welded bronze tailpiece, made the electronics drawer, and Ron Wickersham made the preamps. Everything still works, and David still swears it's the best sounding 12 string in the world.

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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby moonliner » Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:13 pm

I was lucky enough to back up CS&N for a couple of tunes about a month ago. I asked David if he had his electric 12 string with him… sadly no, but he went on and on about how it's the best 12 he's ever heard. Wish I could have seen it in person!
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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby Sparechaynge » Tue Jan 14, 2014 12:41 pm

What show did you play at Moonliner? I'd love to hear it!
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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby moonliner » Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:56 pm

Sparechaynge wrote:What show did you play at Moonliner? I'd love to hear it!


It was when they were being inducted into the EMP Museum in Seattle as part of Paul Allen's Founders Award thingy. It was a private event, so I don't think it will be released. Super fun night though!
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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby Sparechaynge » Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:25 pm

Very cool!
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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby tatittle » Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:52 pm

What a great thread, I just came across it. The Bass player I used to play with raved about Liebers guitars and highly recommended I buy one. Unfortunately I am about $5000. short and he wasn't willing to make up the difference. This guy didn't have one either but had a house near Lieber's shop. If I remember correctly Lieber was instrumental in using graphite necks right?
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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby Tonetodiefor » Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:44 am

I just joined the forum and introduced myself here...

http://www.rukind.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=361&t=15909

I am one of the fortunate Doug Irwin instrument owners. It's a long and crazy story but I feel it was a matter of the times in the 70's where anything seemed possible and that meant even coming up with the money to have Doug build me a bass.
Both my brother and I contacted Doug in '77 but had spent a fair amount of time with him over the previous year discussing woods and sustain and weight. It was my brother's and my decision to have Doug craft both instruments with solid Ebony necks.
Similar to Travis Beans aluminum neck instruments we also thought that by having the necks terminate their length at the bridge would help save a little weight and isolate the pickups and bridge to the neck. Doug loved the idea (course that meant some long discussions sometimes forgotten by the weed that was being smoked during the design phase)!
I chose some beautiful flame maple for the front and back with a walnut core while my brother chose a gorgeous flamed Koa for his front and back with a mahogany core. One of my conversations with Doug was that I wanted my bass to sustain more than anything. Doug had a number of beautiful pieces of ebony to choose from and after holding that raw wood in my hands and smelling it... I knew I was going to have something special. I looked at Doug and said "This thing will sustain till tomorrow and knock done mountains!"
Three years later I took delivery of my bass even though Doug had completed 90% of it within the first year. Those two years were like the longest anticipated Christmas morning one could ever have to deal with. On many trips up to Doug's place in Santa Rosa and then to Geyserville, we spent a great deal of time sampling the finest weed available on the planet and then spent hours discussing life, wood, dreams and even politics. Doug was a very pleasant man who definitely also had his share of demons. The experience for my brother wasn't as memorable as mine as Doug seemed to have gotten lost by '81 to '82. His guitar ended up disappearing with Doug when he left Geyserville. It took my brother almost four years to recover his guitar and that was just a stroke of fate to have recognized Doug's wife on the streets of Santa Rosa one day. She promptly took him over to their house and retrieved my brother's guitar (which was already paid in full). The guitar was almost completed but still needed to be wired and setup. At that time my brother had switched to playing keys and then bass so he ended up sticking the guitar in its case and closet for almost 32 years! I've had possession of it now for a year and took it to John at Amazing Grace in San Anselmo to have it setup and the wiring done.
It sounds amazing and has incredible tone and sustain. The neck feels quick and the overall weight is very playable. It has a Humbucker and single coil Fender at the neck and a split coil Humbucker at the bridge. Two volumes, a threeway switch for neck and a threeway switch for the bridge.
Both instruments have Doug's very beautiful Mother of Pearl eagle logo and the bass has brass neck and headstock binding where as the guitar has Mother of Pearl neck and headstock binding. Both have Mother of Pearl side dots and I chose to have the same for fret markers.
I have never been disappointed with my bass except for deciding rather quickly that the Bartolinis weren't for me. I changed them out within a year to EMG's and recently upgraded the preamps to ACG filters.

If anyone knows Doug's whereabouts (or even if he is still alive) I'd love to know. I haven't talked to him for years but feel like wanting to share with him how much I truly love my instrument. The other thing that would be helpful to know is I'm so trying to get an appraisal done for both instruments but haven't found anyone locally that feels confident enough to out a $ price on them.

Thanks

Image

Image
Last edited by Tonetodiefor on Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby TI4-1009 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 3:04 pm

Fascinating. The legend about Doug Irwin is that he was in a pretty bad bicycle accident and never got back to making guitars after that. I'd be curious to know when the accident was- around this time or later? It almost sounds from your story that he was having problems around then ('79 or '80). Tiger was delivered around August '79.

If Doug wants to be found the best way I know of is through Tom Lieber:

http://www.lieberguitars.com/
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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby Tonetodiefor » Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:11 am

TI4-1009 wrote:Fascinating. The legend about Doug Irwin is that he was in a pretty bad bicycle accident and never got back to making guitars after that. I'd be curious to know when the accident was- around this time or later? It almost sounds from your story that he was having problems around then ('79 or '80). Tiger was delivered around August '79.




If Doug wants to be found the best way I know of is through Tom Lieber:

http://www.lieberguitars.com/


According to my brother who was still in contact and visiting with Doug up to 2006, Doug was injured in 2003 in the town of Sonoma. To be honest with you, by '80 to '82 (the last years I spent a lot of time with Doug), there was a lot distracting him from his craft.

Tiger was in Doug's shop while our instruments were being built. He was also finishing a bass in '79 for the bass player in Automatic Man and had finished a double neck flame maple 12 string guitar\4 string bass 4001 Rick lookalike with Doug's standard beautifully inlaid headstocks in '81. He lent me the double neck in the summer of '81 to see if I could sell it for him. I approached Steve Howe and Jon Wetton while they were in San Francisco for an Asia gig. Both loved it but remarked it was just too heavy to be playable. It was beautiful to say the least and I have kicked myself often for not having a camera in those days.

Watching Doug in his shop was an unforgettable experience and he was a truly gifted artist. One project he was working on while in Geyserville was a older Mercedes dashboard. Another was a table. He really could do anything with wood and it's a shame he couldn't continue. Both of our guitars are finished with a Mercedes clear car finish which has been very tolerant to wear. My bass has thousands of hours of use and the finish (at least on the front) looks very fresh.

An interesting story about Tiger... On a afternoon I was hanging with Doug and looking at the removable tiger inlay piece at the bottom of the bridge, I asked him what was the purpose of the cavity under the inlay cover. I don't know if he was joking (because he often did), but he said it was a stash box.
Last edited by Tonetodiefor on Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby Tonetodiefor » Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:26 am

For those of you who had questions on my Introduction page, Here is a bit more info...

The guitar and bass are crafted similar to the Travis Beans of that era with ebony splines to lock the neck in...

Image

The guitar is equipped with a hot PAF 59 and 1\4 pound Seymour Duncan at the neck. The bridge pickup is a custom hot P90 split coil.

Image

The guitar back is arch topped and the second cavity is empty.

Image


At some point I will get around to taking some better photos. All the photos are from an iPhone and don't either instrument any justice.
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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby Jimaroe » Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:35 am

Awesome story and beautiful guitars. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Doug Irwin Guitars

Postby jmfranc » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:06 am

Tonetodiefor wrote:removable tiger inlay piece at the bottom of the bridge, I asked him what was the purpose of the cavity under the inlay cover. I don't know if he was joking (because he often did), but he said it was a stash box.



I thought the stash area was under the flower motif on the back of Tiger? Anyone have a picture of this? I can't see how it could be very deep since the p/u boat is about 1/2" above it.
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