#167362  by Jon S.
 Mon May 11, 2020 6:49 pm
Heiko Hoepfinger's got an eclectic background (German physicist; bassist; classical guitarist; worked on the Hermes' fuel cells; founded basslab.de). That of all the people he could have chosen to quote in his 1-page article he picked Lieber caught my eye:

“The following is from a recent conversation I [Heiko Hoepfinger] had with luthier Tom Lieber of Lieber Guitars, where he explains how he got into the business: “I began customizing and building guitars 51 years ago. During that time, there were no schools for electric guitar building. Luthiers were mostly old-world violin/acoustic guitar makers. Electric guitar manufacturers were really the only outlet for learning the trade, which was mostly an industry fueled by a labor force of mainly woman [sic], who had engaged in all types of manufacturing during World War II. In the 1950s and into the ‘60s, incredibly talented women made those amazing guitars of yours. Unfortunately for me, I lived nowhere near Kalamazoo or California where Gibson and Fender were located in the late 1960’s. So I dug in and taught myself through the reverse engineering of existing guitars. In late 1968 and into the 1970s, there was an explosion of guitar makers, and I was fortunately able to team up with and learn from Doug Irwin.

As builders, our only outlet for reaching the end customer was to literally show up at soundchecks and recording studios to present our wares. And hard-copy magazine ads were the only method for creating a customer base outreach to the end user.”

Heiko Hoepfinger, “Were the Good Ol’ Days Really That Good?,” Premier Guitar (March 2020) at 84
 #167364  by Jon S.
 Tue May 12, 2020 10:19 am
>> As builders, our only outlet for reaching the end customer was to literally show up at soundchecks and recording studios to present our wares.

Even in the early '80's, this applied still, e.g., how Paul Reed Smith got his guitars into players' hands:

"After dropping out of college, Smith opened his own repair and luthiery shop in Annapolis, Maryland, played guitar in bands, and, with help from a handful of employees, built about one guitar per month between 1976 and 1985.

In those days, one of his main marketing methods was showing up at concerts and convincing roadies to take the guitars backstage. Early customers of Smith’s custom builds, some costing $2,000, included Peter Frampton, Ted Nugent, Al Di Meola, and Howard Leese of the band Heart.

Carlos Santana, now one of PRS’ long-time endorsers, was a tougher sell. Santana had Smith build him four guitars before he was willing to endorse Smith as a gifted guitar maker."

 #167367  by Jon S.
 Wed May 13, 2020 8:47 am
Here's a nice Cripe tribute page I'd not seen before: https://cripeguitars.com/bolt.html

At https://cripeguitars.com/guitar.html:

Cripe yearned for feedback on the quality of his guitars. A fan of the Grateful Dead since the early 1970s, he decided to make a guitar for Jerry Garcia and get his opinion. In March 1993, equipped with a copy of the Grateful Dead video “So Far”, he used the freeze frame feature of his VHS player along with a few pictures to study and fashion a guitar body closely resembling “Tiger”, the guitar Doug Irwin built for Garcia.

He added his own unique design by laminating a nine-ply neck through the body construction. In addition, he created a distinctive headstock with a three-pronged asymmetric design at the top. Cripe said, “My logo, an exploding firecracker, is inlaid in the headstock.”

It was the seventh guitar he finished and it took him two months to complete.

Delivering the guitar to Garcia proved to be the real challenge. Through networking, Harriet Rose agreed to get it to Pam and David Grisman who saw that Garcia got the guitar.

In July 1993, Cripe got a message from Dennis McNally, the Grateful Dead publicist saying, “Jerry was fiddling around with the guitar and was intrigued by it and that this was a good sign.”

In August, Cripe got a call from Steve Parish, Garcia’s guitar tech, who said, “Jerry loved the guitar! He was using it for the Jerry Garcia Band and opening with it with the Grateful Dead.” Cripe said, “Parish went on to ask a lot of questions about the guitar and that’s when we officially named it ‘Lightning Bolt’ and he asked me to build a backup” guitar for Garcia.

Cripe asked Parish to “take measurements or draw a template of the neck” of the guitar. Parish was puzzled to learn that Cripe “winged it”, in terms of shaping the guitar from the video. Parish told him to “wing it” again and Garcia got on the phone and told him to “just do it. If I don’t like it, I’ll send it back”.

To better prepare this second guitar for Garcia, Cripe received guidance from Gary Brawer who handled Garcia’s guitar modifications. They spoke at length about Garcia’s preferences and Brawer sent him a video of electronics considerations. “Top Hat” was delivered to Garcia in November 1993. Garcia never returned it to Cripe.

Garcia referred to the guitars as Florida One and Florida Two.

His first sale resulted in a check dated December 13, 1993, for $7,000 from Grateful Dead Productions, Inc. The check stub said, “Two Custom Guitars For Garcia OK Per Parish.”

Cripe started to get noticed by Deadheads and orders for guitars started coming in. The Unbroken Chain, a Grateful Dead fan magazine, featured an article written by Cripe called “Jerry’s New Guitar,” in its 47th Edition, March 1994 issue.

Courtesy of Garcia, Cripe received backstage passes to a run of Grateful Dead concerts at the Miami Arena on April 6, 7, and 8, 1994. He witnessed the performance next to the drums about nine feet behind Garcia.

Cripe’s first and only meeting with Garcia was at these shows. Cripe said, “We spent about forty-five minutes talking about guitars. He (Garcia) said that both instruments looked like museum pieces.” Ironically, they are both now being exhibited at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cripe told the St. Petersburg Times, “It took me a while to get anything out of him about how he would change the guitar.” However, Cripe noted that Garcia said, ‘it’s almost like I sent you the specs for what I was really looking for in a guitar.’ The whole thing was just great; it was a highlight of my life.”

Cripe moved from Miami to Trilby, FL, in 1994, to be closer to his parents who lived in Spring Hill, FL. There he built a workshop to construct his guitars for his growing business. In the same work area, to supplement his guitar enterprise, he also made fireworks.

Cripe again received tickets and backstage passes to a Dead concert in Tampa, FL, on April 7, 1995. He did not get to see Garcia but he met with Parish who told him “’Lightning Bolt’ held up better than any other guitar Jerry has owned and that Jerry was playing “Top Hat” at home.”

Around the time of Garcia and Cripe’s birthday in 1995, August 1st and 6th respectively, Cripe was working with a leftover piece of wood from “Lightning Bolt” when he started getting “strong feelings about Jerry”. That week, August 9, 1995, Garcia died.

[pics omitted from above - see website for those]
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