Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby lesh_lash » Mon Dec 21, 2009 2:50 pm

Looking for photos and information on the Alembic Osage Orange Guitar guitar used between 74-79. Specifically I am trying to figure out the neck inlay, any help woul be greatly appreciated. Please send or post any and all photos you might have of the Osage.

pickups1.jpg
pickups1.jpg (109.1 KiB) Viewed 36886 times


pickups2.jpg
pickups2.jpg (91.39 KiB) Viewed 36886 times


These photos I am adding are the pickups of Osage Orange that now reside with Fred Hammon of Hammon engineering.
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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:06 pm

This is my favorite-sounding Phil bass, along with the final version of the Godfather. Fred Hammon has the pickups????? That is some seriously interesting news.

Any idea what happened to the rest of the bass? Or what scale length it was?



About the inlays, I just have the standard pics that Google-image conjures up...

Image

Image
Last edited by Rusty the Scoob on Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby tigerstrat » Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:22 pm

More shots...
Image
Image
Image
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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby Tennessee Jedi » Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:27 pm

tigerstrat wrote:Image

the bridge says BADASS ????????
sweet !
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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby tigerstrat » Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:45 pm

Tennessee Jedi wrote:
tigerstrat wrote:Image

the bridge says BADASS ????????
sweet !


As in the widely available Leo Quan® - Badass™ Bridge.
"There, in huge black letters, was 'The Grateful Dead'. It just... cancelled my mind out."-Garcia
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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:51 pm

Very widely. My old road-warrior P-bass has one... I added it in the 90's sometime while it was my main gigging bass. I never knew Mission Control had one - although it appears to have been added later since the older pics show a handmade Alembic-style bridge. The last pic marked Grateful-Dead-Photos.com shows a different tailpiece added below the Badass bridge... not sure what is going on there, it's unusual-looking. Almost like fine-tuners but I only see three items toward the butt end of the bass.

Image


And some shots of the inside. Yeah... I think I'll stick with commercially-available preamps, thanks! :lol:

Image

Image


To answer my own question above, a user at Alembic.com quotes Mica in saying that the Osage Orange wood rejected the glue and the neck de-laminated. So I suppose that is what happened to it. Also speculation is that the bass was 32" scale, in between standard the 34" of a Fender and most basses, but longer than the 30.5" of a Starfire or EB3.

http://alembic.com/club/messages/393/20169.html
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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby tigerstrat » Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:21 pm

Rusty the Scoob wrote:To answer my own question above, a user at Alembic.com quotes Mica in saying that the Osage Orange wood rejected the glue and the neck de-laminated. So I suppose that is what happened to it. Also speculation is that the bass was 32" scale, in between standard the 34" of a Fender and most basses, but longer than the 30.5" of a Starfire or EB3.

http://alembic.com/club/messages/393/20169.html


I was looking for but and did not find the story, but there is an account out there somewhere of Phil discovering it had an intonation problem, and giving the O-O bass to someone in Pennsylvania(?)to use as a test bed for electronics, then dismantled pieces being discovered in a closet or something, and Fred Hammon getting ahold of the pups... somewhere in the talkbass forums maybe, I can't seem to google it.
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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby tigerstrat » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:36 pm

tigerstrat wrote:
Rusty the Scoob wrote:To answer my own question above, a user at Alembic.com quotes Mica in saying that the Osage Orange wood rejected the glue and the neck de-laminated. So I suppose that is what happened to it. Also speculation is that the bass was 32" scale, in between standard the 34" of a Fender and most basses, but longer than the 30.5" of a Starfire or EB3.

http://alembic.com/club/messages/393/20169.html


I was looking for but and did not find the story, but there is an account out there somewhere of Phil discovering it had an intonation problem, and giving the O-O bass to someone in Pennsylvania(?)to use as a test bed for electronics, then dismantled pieces being discovered in a closet or something, and Fred Hammon getting ahold of the pups... somewhere in the talkbass forums maybe, I can't seem to google it.


Here it is, t'was in my notes to Blair about his 1st draft for the corresponding GD Gear chapter . The link I had for it is dead, so I'll just paste what I got:
This thread on TheDudepit, (an EZ board forum for gear techies) reveals the ultimate fate of Mission Control (it's NOT pretty!)

http://p080.ezboard.com/fthedudepitfrm3 ... =1&stop=20

Fred Hammon:
"I'm told these are the original pickups out of Phil's Alembic Osage bass. Phil had given it to somebody in his road crew who was a machinist for some R&D work.. These pickups were apparently just in the way....
(the photos of the pickups that the thread author posted)
He traded them for a set of Dimarzios to our Pitter friend sometime back in '79 or so.

I took some measurements. The DCR measured in at 2.93K ohms on both. Exactly the same within 10 ohms. Good Job RT (Rick Turner, a member of the forum) !
The magnets measure approx 380 Gauss at the surface (DSs measure 450 average) and the polarity is north on both. Not RWRP. There apparently was another coil (dummy coil?- dark color) that was with the set but our friend couldn't get it.
I understand that the bass originally came with a quad pickup in the center so there are some missing parts to the puzzle. He knows that these came from/with the Osage because he saw it.
These are definitely very early hand made Turner pickups. Look at the brass mounting lugs. Definitely a prototype vibe.

The tech's name was Tom Smith, otherwise known as "Turbo Tom" who was also working on race cars or something in Detroit at the time and experimenting with bridge designs at night. The Osage was going through some major modifications, as in body routing etc. Anybody seen it lately?

They're safe and sound at Hammon Engineering now. Maybe Rick Turner will want them...or even Phil?

I've asked for a detailed account of how these came to be in our friend's possession so maybe he'll feel like posting it for anybody who's interested.

Looking at the pickups on Phil's bass in the photo and these pickups, I see a slight difference maybe. The pickups I have look more rounded at the edges especially in the corners. Possibly they were part of a collection of different pickups that were used in the bass over time. Where's RT? Answers, please!"


" Hi guys,
I'm the "silent" pitter who Fred was talking about. I'm not all that silent, I've just never posted in the Guild forum before. I just finished the little essay about my experiences way back when with the Osage Orange bass. He suggested that I post it here, so here it is:
(Pleas excuse the goofed up format. It's late and I just pasted the text into the reply)

One Saturday morning in early 1981 I got a call from a guitarist friend, Leon Chalnick, who told me that he’d had an interesting conversation with a guy at the bar where his band was playing. He said the guy told him that he was from the Detroit area, but had moved to California and was a part time roadie for the Grateful Dead. He was back in town for a few weeks doing some freelance machining work during the day and he needed a pickup for a bass he was working on at night. Leon told him that he knew someone who played bass and did some work on guitars and basses (me) and that I might have something that would work. I asked him more about what the guy needed and he said that he was meeting him for lunch and asked me to come along.
When we got to the restaurant, Leon introduced me to Tom Smith and we sat down to eat and talk. He
explained that he used to work at McLaren Racing Engines there in Livonia, Michigan, building custom turbo charging systems for BMW racing engines and got the nickname “Turbo Tom”. He was back at McLaren for a few weeks doing some custom fabricating of parts for a helicopter that the one of the top guys at McLaren was restoring, and at night he had free use of the machine shop to do development work on some bass bridges for Phil Lesh. He said that he had been loaned one of Phil’s old basses to use as a test bed but didn’t want to deal with all the electronics that were in it and just wanted to put
a passive pickup in the bass for testing the bridge designs. Well, being somewhat of an Alembic fan, that certainly got me intrigued and I told Tom that I could certainly find a pickup for him.
After lunch, Tom invited us to come over to the McLaren machine shop to see the bass and get a tour of the facilities there. After showing us around the machine shop and the engine testing dynamometers, he took us back to his work area and pulled out a road case and set it on the table. He told me to go ahead and have a look so I went over and opened the case. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I recognized the bass as the one that Phil Lesh played in the Grateful Dead Movie that I’d seen a few years prior. I remembered the scene where he was sitting on stage before a sound check, fiddling with some of the controls on the bass when he started picking up some
noise. When he realized that it was motor noise from the film camera, he motioned the camera operator to come closer and started manipulating the motor noise with the electronics in the bass. Here was the same bass, right in front of me! I distinctly remember several touch switches on the face of the bass, the fingerboard inlays, and if I remember correctly, five
pointed stars in pearl or abalone with 5 controls around each of them. (Bear in mind that that was about 24 years ago, and we all know what can happen to our minds in that amount of time…)
I was amazed that such a beautiful instrument was going to be used as a test bed for bass hardware and asked Tom why they were using it. He told me that it had been sitting in a closet for the past several years because it had intonation problems due to incorrect placement of the first three or four frets. He said that Phil Lesh told him to make use of it and that once he
removed the electronics he was going to mill out the face to install a magnesium plate to mount various bridge designs and pickups on.
I figured it wasn’t my place to question what they’d decided to do so I didn’t, but in hindsight, I wish I’d asked more about it. Tom asked if I had a cheap pickup that he could buy to use for testing. He said he didn’t have much to spend and I didn’t have any spares to donate, so I offered to buy a pickup for him if he’d be willing to trade the pickups in the bass for it. He said that he was supposed to return the electronics pretty much intact, including the middle pickup, but since the other two pickups weren’t anything special he could trade those.
We arranged to meet there again in a couple of days and I promised that I’d have a pickup for him then. I asked if I could at least take a look at the electronics and he said that was fine, grabbed a screw driver and proceeded to remove most of the back of the instrument. As I recall, the center neck section was solid, but pretty much the entire back half of each body wing came off and it seemed like each half was filled with at least two layers of high quality circuit boards. Tom said that he’d have the pickups
out of the bass when we returned.
Two days later Leon and I went back to the McLaren machine shop and Tom led us back to his work area. He pointed to the case and said to check it out. I opened the case and there was the bass, minus all the electronics, and there was a metal plate, about 6 inches wide that extended from the end of the fingerboard to almost the end of the body. It broke my heart to see that! Tom handed me a box containing the two pickups and I gave him a crème colored DiMarzio bass humbucker that I’d bought the day before. We hung out for a while and talked, then left. That was the last time I saw Tom or the bass.
A year or so later I decided to see what I could do with the pickups. I was working as an electronics tech and thought that maybe I could come up with some sort of preamp circuit to work with the pickups. I knew that the pickups were probably single coils wrapped on a magnetic structure and that Alembic typically used a dummy coil for hum canceling, but that’s as much as I knew. I figured that I’d at least try the pickups through a simple opamp circuit, but when I did I found that they were very microphonic with low output, so I put them back in the box and back on the shelf. I figured that there were probably impedance matching issues and that without a dummy coil
there’d be hum problems, so I set the project aside for a while.
24 years of parenthood and life later I was reading about Dark Star pickups and Guild basses in the Dudepit forums, which led me to the Hammon Engineering and Turner Guitars web sites and Rick Turner’s Guild of American Luthiers interview. Somewhere in all that reading it dawned on me that I’ve got an old pair of Alembic pickups, supposedly from one of Phil Lesh’s early basses and that Fred or Rick might be interested in seeing them. They were just collecting dust in my basement and I felt that if they were of any historical significance I should get them into the hands of the people that are documenting that stuff. I emailed Fred to see if he was interested in them, we talked and I sent them off to him a couple of days later.

So there’s my story. Do with it what you will. All I ask that is that you let me know if it’s of any use.

In my "essay" I forgot to mention that the pickups originally had some cool micro coax connectors on the leads that pushed on to corresponding jacks on one of the circuit boards in the bass. I was never able to find the jacks anywhere and so I removed the coax connectors and hard wired the leads for my "experiments". A coupe of decades later I came across the same kind of connectors used in some studio quality video gear. The connectors that had been on the pickups were long gone so I didn't pursue it any farther.
In our conversations, Fred asked about a black quad output pickup that was known to be mounted between the two regular pickups at some point. There was in fact a third black pickup mounted in the middle when I saw the bass, but I assumed that it was the dummy coil that was used for hum cancellation and never got to check it any detail."

RICK TURNER COMMENTS: "That article isn't necessarily all correct. For one thing, Phil did not design the filters, and there's no credit given to Ron Wickersham who really should get the nod as he supervised George Mundy all the way through that project. Then there's the assumptions re. humbuckers which may or may not be right.

I did way more pickup experiments, prototypes, customs, and short runs back in those days than anybody knows about. I made single coils of various apertures, trapezoidal pickups, humbuckers, humcancellers, quad pickups, hex pickups, and even a side by side hum canceller inlaid into a neck between the first and second frets (because someone paid me to is why). I did so many different things that I don't remember all of them or if I remember them, I'm not sure which instruments got which pickups.

Too much data on the hard drive, old boy...and the magnets keep interfering.

Too bad the bass got hacked...
RT"


FRED HAMMON: "Rick had asked me to do a simple test with a bar magnet to determine if there was in fact only one polarity in the pickups and not a double set of "mini" coils RWRPed like a P pickup.
I reported back there was only one polarity with the flux emanating from across the center lengthwise.

He writes back:

So,
They're single coils and there would have been a hum canceler somewhere inside the instrument. They're probably fairly wide aperture pickups, and at 3K that's consistent with what became the Alembic standard. That put the resonant peak above 20KHz. The hum canceler wasn't necessarily the same size or shape as the pickup, nor necessarily wound to the same resistance/turns, by the way.
Myth busters at work!- RT
(Rick Turner)
"
"There, in huge black letters, was 'The Grateful Dead'. It just... cancelled my mind out."-Garcia
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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:51 am

I figured that I’d at least try the pickups through a simple opamp circuit, but when I did I found that they were very microphonic with low output, so I put them back in the box and back on the shelf.


Interesting diagnosis here - is it possible that the pickups themselves needed a 9v power source, like EMG or similar bass pickups? How many individual wires are coming out of each one?
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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby lesh_lash » Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:42 am

Thanks for all the info everyone!!! Those are some really cool stories. Any more photos out there???

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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby lesh_lash » Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:22 am

Here is a list of neck inlay I have compiled. I cant figure out fret 15 any help out there wuld be great.

Fret 1 Lightning out Lapis Lazuli
Fret 3 Serpent eating its own tail
Fret 5 Crescent Moon
Fret 7 Alchemical Salamander
Fret 9 Dark Star
Fret 12 1 big star 6 little stars
Fret 15 ????????????? (It appears to be a bird, phoenix or something winged but ????????????)
Fret 17 Infinity Sign
Fret 19 Saturn
Fret 21 2 dolphins for picses because phil is picses
Fret 24 lightning out of lapis lazuli

Back of the neck an inlay of the Egyptian god Osiris.

Front of the guitar are two stars mado out of abalone.
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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby lesh_lash » Wed Dec 23, 2009 7:28 am

EdPerlstein_B547-33A_c.jpg
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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:17 am

That could be anything. Have you tried the Grateful Dead Movie? There are some great shots of that bass in the scene where Phil's warming up and realizes that the bass is picking up noise from the camera motor. Might be able to freeze a frame or two and see it.

Or the Alembic Club forum on Alembic.com. http://alembic.com/cgi-bin/alembic-club/discus.cgi Good people, great info there.
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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby lesh_lash » Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:40 am

Believe me I have watched the movie talked to several people, photographers etc. I have talked to people on alembic forum and elsewhere. I am still looking!!!!
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Re: Phil Lesh Osage Orange Guitar

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:56 am

Ok. I'll keep thinking.

Just out of curiosity, what are you up to that requires all the research on the inlays?
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