A couple of weeks ago I wrote: My neighbour Carlton asked me to restring and cleanup this guitar that he’d been given. He’d seen my rather odd collection of guitars and figured I was the man for the job. The jury’s still out on that one, but I’m promising (or threatening) to record a Christmas Carol on it next week. At one time, Ry Cooder would have given his eye teeth to get his hands on this little treasure. I made some rather lame and fruitless attempts to track it down, but didn’t come up with much.
Well, Mark came over and proceeded to put it through its paces, rather fantastically, channeling both Hound Dog Taylor (who played a similar model) and Derek Bailey. That’s Mark for you. Taking to Google, he promptly identified it. And, as the man in the video says, This is a guitar…
Now, I’d totally failed to ID it as a baritone guitar, and had strung it as a conventional six string [non-guitarists look away now, this will get boring]. It still sounds great, but as you’ll see from the video, it sounds even better with that lower B string on. So it’s a Lindell VN-2, made by Teisco, who were the manufactures of the cheap guitars so beloved by Ry Cooder in the late 70’s. Here’s a terrific interview with Ry, posted by Ramon Goose on his guitar channel, that really gets into the story of how the “Coodercaster™” came to be, although this concentrates on ripping out pickups from lap steel guitars and sticking them on a Strat. The story of being hired by Bob Krasnow to help out with the first recording by Captain Beefheart is very funny – “I was just out of High School, about seventeen, I guess – I had a car and a Martin guitar, and he said We need you to help the guys get ready to record, and we’re gonna get the guys some equipment – whadda ya need, and I said, well I guess I could use an electric guitar, I don’t have one, so they sent us down to the Fender factory, which was in Fullerton at the time… I was aware that there was such a thing as a Fender guitar, a Gibson guitar, but I was a folk musician…”
So, suitably inspired, I decided to record a Christmas song using it, which, as is the way of these things, did not come out at all as expected. Hear for yourself in the music player on the right how it ballooned into 7:54 minute long soundscape, taking in flapping flagpole cords taped in Iceland, loon calls, whistling and rather random guitaring. Play it loud.
And I’ve not forgotten Part Two of things I didn’t write about in 2015, that’ll come next week.