No, I haven’t gone all Caitlyn Jenner or anything – although I sort of feel like we spent about as much time trying to get where we wanted. For me, however, my search was for something much easier. Guitar knobs.
Did I say easier? Well, scratch that notion. When I got my first electric guitar, the round knobs were serviceable, but only if I started at 0 or 10. I needed to have a start point and estimate where 5 was, or 3, whatever. The only easy one, of course, was 10. So, I went online and started hunting for the knobs you see pictured on Lori, my Epiphone semi-hollowbody guitar.
I knew immediately what would be perfect. Teardrop shaped knobs, the kind you would’ve seen in a ’50s sci-fi film on some piece of high tech military equipment being used to turn giant grasshoppers into green paste. But despite my best efforts, the search proved fruitless. I called everyone. Guitar Center. Sweetwater Music. Custom shops. The best anyone could do was suggest chicken heads, which I don’t like and aren’t terribly easy to use while playing. I even tried to enlist a resin kit manufacturer to take my design and produce the things in a run that could be sold on Etsy. Still no luck.
So, two weeks ago, my friend Billy’s dad gave me a couple of recommendations for companies that sold all sorts of switches, since he used to be in TV repair, and my friend John, who shared a stage with me at BackStreets Sports Bar the night I played live, suggested searching for places that sold antique radio knobs. He understood what I was looking for, and thought that might be a good option.
After multiple calls to various switch sellers/makers, I struck out. But, when I started searching for old radio parts. Bingo. I found a set of three ’56 Emerson radio knobs. Guy on Etsy had them. He only had one in the size I needed, but that was okay, I didn’t think I was going to find a four pack as easily as I could grab one at Guitar Center. Besides, I had different plans anyway.
Having the knob in hand was all I needed. I recruited my friend Scott, a jack-of-all-trades who’d welded the custom lights I needed for the Redemption TV pilot shoot, and we used the radio knob as a template. We made some modifications, as I didn’t want bevels and routered edges, and voila. Four perfect, teardrop shaped knobs that don’t look like cheap plastic.
A year and a half, but, well worth it. I spent two hours yesterday playing and another 90 minutes tonight, putting the knobs in different positions and changing my sound on the fly. Result? Getting the sound I want or changing it mid-song is just as easy as I’d hoped for.
Never expected when I first started learning a couple of chords, that in five years’ time I’d be playing a guitar this nice, much less modifying it with hand-made parts. Here I am, though, strummin’ away. Next backyard party? Oughta be great fun.
Currently listening to: “Dancing Barefoot” by The Mission UK