Jazz Baron: The Story..... (And some pix)


Senior member
As I said back in July, before starting the build, there's a long story behind most of the design aspects of The Jazz Baron. It's is named after, and dedicated to, my second guitar teacher, Mr Dave Baron.

I all started in 1963 when I saw the Beatles American debut on the Ed Sullivan show. For the entire year thereafter, I begged for a guitar, finally getting one for Christmas. I was 9 years old. Dad was a working man, but begrudgingly sprung for the ungodly sum of $5 for half hour lessons.

My first guitar teacher, Mr Patrick, was an older man and very proper in his teaching method: Sit up straight, thumb behind the first fret, hold the pick just so.... We did not get along well. I was not a sit up straight kind of kid. I was transitioned to a new teacher by the end of 1964.

That's when I met Dave Baron. Dave was definitely NOT Mr Patrick! Dave he was probably about 25 or so. He was a young jazz/blues musician from Brooklyn who taught music as a side gig. And he was black. It could not have been easy for him, teaching little white bread kids in a neighborhood known as "Little Germany", in the mid 1960's.

Dave's teaching was totally different from Mr Patrick's. Dave wrapped his thumb over the neck, slouched over, and kept time by nodding his head along with tapping his foot. He started teaching me chords right off, something Mr P had never done. Dave wrote out songs in my notation book from memory. And he played like I had never heard before.

As time went on, it became abundantly clear that my parting with Mr P was not entirely due to personality. Seems I was much more in love with the thought of playing guitar than interested in putting in the effort necessary to actually learn how. Dave recognized this and took steps to correct it.

One day I walked into the studio, and Dave was holding HIS  guitar. Not the one he kept there, he told me that it was the one he played on stage. It was a big, hollow body, jazz box, in natural curly maple, which he called "Violin Wood". It had a single Florentine cutout, two pickups, and a tortoise pickguard. He explained that it had been made for him by a man in Manhattan, who measured his hands and fingers to insure that it fit him exactly. He said it cost him almost $2000 dollars. (That's as much as a new car cost back then!) He played it for a few minutes, demonstrating how beautifully it sounded. Then he handed it to ME! He actually handed his prized instrument to an 11 year old kid.

He let me play it as I fumbled through the entire, poorly practiced, lesson. At the end of that half hour, he put it back in its case, looked me straight in the eye, and told me I could play like he did, if I really practiced and applied myself. Then he told me that something that changed me forever, he said that if I didn't want to practice, I should not waste his time and my parents money!

Wow, I was devastated. That really hit home. I started practicing every day, and kept at it until I learned each lesson by heart. A year later, I got my first electric guitar for Christmas. My Dad told me that Dave had called him to suggest it, he said I had earned it!

My family moved to the Bronx the following year, and I never saw Dave again. If Dave hadn't let me play his guitar and spoken so plainly, I would probably have given up. As it turns out, he gave me a gift that day that has been cherished every day for the last 50 years.

Thank you Dave, this one's for you.








FernandoDuarte said:
Cool! What pickups are in it?

Covered SD P-Rails. Here's a link to what I did with them:
It's a great looking guitar and a great story to boot. I could've done with some hard truths like that in my early days. I wasted my parents' money on lessons for five years, rarely practising for my teacher and messing around with my mates in the garage instead. It was great fun, but I'm only now learning a lot of the theory I should've learnt years ago.

Any chance you'd be able to record some audio for us? I'm really keen to hear the P-Rails in a Jazzmaster.
That is a wonderful story. I was moved when reading it. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

BigSteve22 said:
.... He explained that it had been made for him by a man in Manhattan, who measured his hands and fingers to insure that it fit him exactly...

This ^

This is exactly the reason I play 24" scale guitars now.
This is something all who play guitar should consider; do you have the right size guitar?
I thank Fender for their diversity and bringing out 24" scale guitars in the first place. But I'm disappointed in them for branding them "student guitars".
I believe they - the short scale guitars - have gotten an unfair reputation and I for one would like to show people that the size of a guitar doesn't affect the sound as much as the ability to play one.
To me, a 24" scale guitar is not a short scale guitar, but a perfect guitar. And a Strat is a "long scale guitar", that's as uninteresting to me as shoes that are 5 sizes too big...

Steve, I thank you! :eek:ccasion14:
Memories of Dave mean a lot to me, glad you guys appreciate the story. I chose flame maple, tortoise pickguard and two pickups to remind me of Dave's guitar. (I was too young to notice the makers logo, but somehow I believe it was a Benedetto.) The serial number is the dedication: 2016-4DB1965. Which means: 2016, For Dave Baron, 1965.

T89Rex said:
Any chance you'd be able to record some audio for us? I'm really keen to hear the P-Rails in a Jazzmaster.

I don't have a recording interface just now. I was thinking of getting a Focusrite Scarlett Solo. Anyone have experience with one of these? For $99US, it's at the right price point. Want it mainly for recording a few rhythm tracks for me to practice over.
I've got a similar interface from Presonus, the Audiobox 2x2, I think it's called. It's basically the same thing. Presonus or Focusrite is probably just a question of taste I guess.

The Scarlett looks really good:

A recording interface is a handy thing to have, but something else you might find useful - perhaps even more useful for practicing - would be a looper pedal. Depending on the device, you can record different lengths of rhythm or whatever and play them back indefinitely. What's nice about them from a practice point of view is you can change keys, tempos, chord patterns, etc. pretty much on a whim. So, put down something in G, play against that for a while, change it to D, play with/against that for a while, etc. Some of them, like the Trio, for instance, are complex enough that they'll even listen to what you do and create bass and drum tracks for you to play against. Buddy of mine has one of those, and it's a pretty remarkable device.

They're also handy for performance work, if you need a rhythm player once in a while but don't feel like hiring and/or putting up with one  :laughing7: