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David Neely Bio

photo 4I was born in Nashville,Tenn… December 1950. It was the middle of the worst blizzard on record. Still, all of my relatives had to get to the hospital somehow to see me. My uncles all loved that Country/Western music, especially the pedal steel guitar. I was more interested in Chet Atkins and Merle Travis and those big Gibsons and Gretsches they played. I think I was 10 years old when I got one of those crystal radio sets and I tuned in to the pop stations WKDA, WMAK and the R&B stations WVOL & WLAC. Many nights I went to sleep with that earplug cranking just waiting for my favorite song “Apache!”

All of my friends played as kids and I would come home from school, and watch those country music shows on TV featuring Bobby Lord, Eddie Hill, Porter Waggoner, and Ralph Emery. Besides Chet and Merle, there was Hank Garland, Jim Colvard, Jimmy Capps, Don Rich, and Grady Martin. Later came Reggie Young, Dale Sellars, Brent Mason, and Mac Gayden.

I started playing professionally at age 15. I was making money and could afford to buy guitars, motorcycles, and hamburgers. The most popular music store in town was Hewgley’s located on Commerce between 7th & 8th. Any Saturday, you could see Chet Atkins, Jimi Hendrix or Duane Allman. I was playing a Gibson 335 through a Twin. I loved the Les Pauls but they were just too heavy. I had a chance to buy a 1961 SG Les Paul (fretless wonder, white, 3 gold pickups) from my bass players brother for $300 and that guitar was probably my all time favorite.

In 1968, I was invited to the newly opened Woodland Sound Studio in Nashville to record and meet a band from Cincinnati. The guitarist with that band was a guy named Seymour Duncan. He immmediatly became a big influence on my style.

In 1970, my band was lined up to tour New England playing for the Mafia in towns like Boston, Providence, Pawtucket, Newport, Block Island, and North Attleboro, Mass. We were in Providence when we went out for breakfast after the show and somebody broke into our bus and stole that SG. I was destroyed. I called the club owner and he said he could get it back when they tried to fence it. Meanwhile, I was to go see Sylvio DiPippo at his music store in town and pick out something to play. All he had was a Fender Stratocaster to take to the gig that night. After 2 weeks, I got used to that Fender and later when I got my first Marshall stack, those weak pickups somehow didn’t seem to matter anymore.

I began my work on custom instruments in 1974 when I met Bill Lawrence. He had just been relocated to Nashville from Michigan and was in the process of setting up the new Gibson
Guitar factory. We were constantly going over previous designs and redesigning the latest test models for Gibson through Lawrence Sound Research and our custom shop. Several versions of pickups were released including the first soundhole acoustic/magnetic pickup, the L-90, the L-280 for Stratocasters and the L-500 for Gibsons. We went ahead with full scale guitar designs and brought in Tom Holmes to help with production. I took over the in-house Custom Shop doing custom modifications and installations.

In 1976, I left to start my own custom shop. My shop was right across the street from the Musician’s Union and I had most of the repair and custom work from the Nashville area professionals as well as the local music stores….Chet Atkins, Grady Martin, Neil Young, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, just to name a few.

After many years of building guitars, playing in bands, and touring the country with Waylon Jennings and The Crickets, I packed up and moved to Los Angeles in 1984. I moved into a house and built a studio with my good friend Dallas Taylor. We were writing and recording songs for years. In 1987, Fred Walecki asked me to help him with guitar repairs for Westwood Music. Soon, we had the good fortune of bringing in Rick Turner to work with us. Rick is best known for his work with the Alembic Guitar company in the early 70’s, as well as the popular Rick Turner Guitars of today. Everyday was a party working with RickTurner.

During this period, I also hooked up with Robin Whittle of Real World Interfaces in Melbourne, Australia and helped him market his wonderful modifications to the Roland line of synthesizers here in the U.S. I already had my degree in electronics so I did all of the circuitry modifications. These mods were a complete circuitry redesign and hardware upgrade to the Roland line up. Our mods to the MT-32, D-110, D-10, and D-20 have been very successful worldwide.

Neely Custom Guitars has evolved over the last 40 years. It incorporates my many years of playing the guitar professionally with the wonderful designers and musicians I’ve been able to work with. My years in college studying electronics, architectural drawing, photography, and computers have blended with years of building guitars to aid in the designs of my own line of instruments. My NepTune interval correction has been installed on over 400 guitars as an aftermarket modification and is incorporated in every acoustic or electric guitar that I build.

MUSICAL INFLUENCES
Country music always reminds me of the barber shop. Although it was my first influence, I always enjoyed R&B more… guys like Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Nashville had a large R&B community with clubs, record labels, and television. Saturday night at 12:00 on channel 5, came Night Train with your host….. Noble B. Blackwell. The show started with a full quart of Sterling Beer on the desk, and as the show progressed, the bottle emptied. The house band was The King Kasual band with Johnny Jones on lead, Billy Cox on bass, Ring Brown on drums, and Jimi Hendrix on rhythm. Hendrix actually played a Telecaster upside down, while Johnny Jones playecd lead on a Gibson 335.

Early on, my bands were playing R&B because I liked to make the people dance. I would get in real close with my drummer and bass player and concentrate on that power to move people. A guy named Tant Dowell lived in my neighborhood, and his band, The Monsters, were Nashville’s finest. Although he was a couple of years older than me, he let me into there rehearsals because they were always borrowing my gear. Even though I was under age, my friends Jimmy Lewis and Blanton Wooten could get me into the Briar Patch and hear The Allman Joys. Damn they were good, and they were funny.

Then in 1964, those clever Britts were imitating a lot of our R&B and doing a great job. A whole wave of British bands came along. In Memphis, there was that whole Stax thing going on and I just loved it. There was Wilson Pickett, Albert King, The BarKays, The Memphis Horns, Elvis and all that good barbeque. Motown was delivering the absolute best formulated R&B sound and I was just enthralled by The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops, and The Temptations. Phil Spector was
making “The Wall of Sound” records with Martha and The Vandellas, The Ronettes, et al, and I just loved it all. Then the Beatles did Sgt. Pepper and the whole world changed.

Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Jack Bruce, and Stephen Stills were my main musical influences. They had musical integrity. Not only were these guys great guitarists, but they were great arrangers, songwriters, and producers.

Back in 1968, my playing was starting to peak and everybody wanted to know how I did it. I was reluctant to show anyone, figuring they could do better by working at it like I did. There was this one kid who was friends with my schoolmates and he showed up at one of our rehearsals. Off in the corner, I heard him playing and though he had only been playing a couple of months, he was good. I said,” Hey Stanley, you’re getting pretty good, let me show you some stuff”. I showed him some basic Pentatonic shapes and how to play through Majors and Minors and the grace notes that went with it. Well, he went home and locked himself in his room for 6 weeks, and when he came out, he could just blow me away. He was a natural. Stan Lassiter still lives in Nashville, and he became my teacher.

Client List

Joe Bonamassa
Ry Cooder
Stephen Stills
Larry Carlton
Bob Dylan
Steve Howe/YES
Waylon Jennings
Steve Cropper
Chet Atkins
Tom Petty
Joni Mitchell
Keith Richards
U2
Neil Young
B.B. King
Paul McCartney
Coldplay
The Allman Brothers
Willie Nelson
Crosby, Stills, Nash
Moby Grape
Iron Butterfly
Foo Fighters
Motorhead
Ziggy Marley
Earl Klugh
The Grateful Dead
Chicago
The Beach Boys
Hank Williams Jr.
Metallica
Beck
Skrillex
Kat Von D
Paul Gilbert
The Police
Ryan Adams
Bill Withers
Jackson Browne
The Doors
Jerry Donahue
The Black Crowes
Journey
John Fogerty
Fleetwood Mac
KISS
Elvis Costello
Johnny Depp
Steely Dan
Peter Frampton
Nine Inch Nails
Dan Fogelberg
Pink
Jennifer Lopez
Aerosmith
Johnny Cash
Judge Judy
John Stamos
Government Mule
Kenna
Tenacious D
Bow Wow Wow
Nick Waterhouse
Robben Ford
Leon Hendrix
Devo
Talking Heads
Al Stewart
Adam Sandler
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Richard Gere
Paul Gilbert
The Crickets
Dane Cook
Blondie
Craig Ferguson
Connie Francis
Avril Lavigne
Carl Verheyen
Canned Heat
Steve Miller Band
Jerry Reed
The Eagles
Brent Mason
Babyface
Dennis Quaid
Eurythmics
James Taylor
Three Dog Knight
Heart
George Lynch
Limp Bizkit
Cheap Trick
Cyndi Lauper
Robbie Williams
Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
War
Sade
Scorpions
Jefferson Starship
Lionel Richie
Quiet Riot
Brian Wilson
Marc Antoine
Greg Lake
Keb Mo
Laura Wylde
Nils Lofgren
Lee Ritenour
Christopher Stills
Lisa Loeb
Jeff Bridges
Seal
Christopher Cross
Vonda Shepard
Danzig
Sugar Ray
Weezer
Michael Johns
Stanley Clarke
Vernon Reid
Jon Brion
John Denver
Nanci Griffith
George Jones
Sonny Curtis
Patrick Swayze
David Lindley
Abi Von Reininghaus
Billy Swan
Barefoot Jerry
Mickey Newberry
Bobby Neuwirth
Lyle Lovett
Julian Coryell
Tom Rotella
Liona Boyd
JJ Cale
Stevie Nicks
Zak Daniels
Carlos Rios
Frank Stallone
Willie Weeks
Remy Zero
Brian Bromberg
Linda Rondstat
Little Feat
Yellowcard
America
Eric Gale
The Cult
Gary Busey
David Crosby
Michael Nesmith
Graham Nash
Dave Baerwald
John Hiatt
The Nelsons
Andy Summers
Spinal Tap
X Japan
James Caan
Venus Williams
Glen Campbell
Tracy Chapman
Eddie Rabbit
Stray Cats
Johnny Rodriguez
Bunny Brunell
Dottie West
Kris Kristofferson
Buzz Feiten
Mac Gayden
Bernie Leadon
Stephen Bishop
Don Everly
Emmylou Harris
Joe Walsh
Gary Scruggs
Waron Zevon
Jeff “SKUNK” Baxter
The Commodores
Robbie Robertson
Bonnie Raitt
Bruce Cockburn
Barry McGuire
Ethan Johns
George Segal
Don Felder
Kenny Loggins
Tony Jo White
Marty Stuart
John Michael Talbot
Dallas Taylor
Drew Carey
Ricky Lee Jones
Roy Clark
Buck Trent
Desert Rose Band
Johnny Paycheck
Jesse Colin Young
Jellyfish
J.D. Souther
Albert Lee
Jimmy Buffet
Peter Cetera
Puddle Of Mudd
Colin Hay
Kyle Eastwood
The Knack
Wayne Johnson
Jonatha Brooke
Rick Danko
Bob Welch
Confederate Railroad
Charlie Daniels
38 Special
The Outlaws
Jeff Bronchick