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Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by gravy, Jan 2, 2008.
Very cool. It's a huge honour to have you here.
I can't tell you what a joy it is to find this thread on the Murphy/Shaw/Sunrise guitars, thought it's very sad to find that Pat Murphy and Chuck Burge have passed away. They were two of the most intensely focused, yet genuinely good people I've ever met, as was Tim Shaw and everyone else, it seemed, that worked in that building.
I'm a guitarist, and I lived in Kalamazoo, MI in the 1970's and the Sound Factory music store was where all the players hung out. Seeing the posts from Tim Shaw and Chuck et al. brings back memories of a great time in my life, where everyone was busy creating new and exciting products and sounds. Apologies in advance for the length of this post, too, but maybe someone will find my reminiscences interesting.
I think my first inkling that Pat and Tim were building guitars was when they were making that first double-neck guitar. For some reason I think the guitarist's name was Rob Hayes, though the memory is a bit fuzzy. But then, a lot of things about that time are a little fuzzy. For example I remember being mesmerized by Dark Side Of the Moon played on a state-of-the-art audiophile system just outside the Murphy/Shaw repair shop upstairs from the music store, but I can't remember if it was in stereo or quadrophonic sound.
The Sound Factory gave birth to Pro-Co Sound somewhere in that time period, when Pro-Co started making sound modifying devices you could run over with a car. They built a phase shifter, a flanger and the Scott Burnham-designed distortion box called the Pro-Co Rat, which in a subsequent incarnation is still available today. And yes, I'm using one!
There was a picture in the music store of owner Charlie Wicks - a great B-3 player that I had the thrill of playing briefly with in one version of his band Jasmine Tea - standing on a guitar neck that was blocked at both ends with a big smile on his face. Charlie must've been every bit of 350 lb. at the time, and he had a huge smile on his face because the neck would not bend. The neck he was standing on was a Murphy/Shaw.
I remember Billy Gibbons' Texas guitar being built there, watching Tim wind pickups, playing a beautifully clear and resonant Krempel acoustic guitar, listening to Bill Lawrence diss Budweiser - it wasn't "real" beer, because it was made with rice, not barley - and I was thrilled to play that first 6-12 double-neck in the repair shop one day. At one point, Pat repaired a broken headstock that my Gibson SG suffered in a car crash. I had tried to play it in Bryce Roberson's (no T in Roberson) studio next door, and was appalled at the reason the strings were so far off the neck. That was about summer 1973, and Pat told me that it might break again because it was an SG, but it wouldn't be where he had repaired the neck, because the grain was sufficiently intact that the repair was stronger than the surrounding wood.
I had always wanted one of those beautiful guitars that sounded so full and had such variable tone, and when my 1960's Epiphone Riviera was stolen from a club in Miami Beach between sound check and the show in 1976, I had the opportunity to buy one. Tim and Pat had one at the shop that was older than the ones they were building - I don't remember why - so I bought the plum-colored Sunrise guitar with the aluminum I-beam truss rod with the plaque inlaid in the back that said Murphy/Shaw #32. I think they sold it to me at dealer wholesale, for which I was extraordinarily grateful, being a traveling (and struggling) musician. I dearly loved playing it until it was stolen from my van in a Kalamazoo parking lot, along with a Gibson 6-12 double-neck (recovered) and a natural finish 1969 Les Paul Deluxe with baby humbuckers in 1981 (also still missing).
I'm still playing; currently in a band that does Bee Gees / Disco and Jimmy Buffet tribute shows. Tonight's show was in Kennesaw, GA with a very good Rolling Stones tribute show also on the bill. During our set, a huge gust of wind blew over and broke the headstock on the "never before played onstage" ebony 2011 Les Paul Traditional-Pro which I had traded a 2010 Les Paul Blackwater (Chad Kroeger model) for just 3 days ago. ARRRGHHH!
The Stones tribute had recently had 9 guitars stolen out of their trailer in Dallas and we got talking about guitars we'd had repaired and/or stolen, and I had brought up the Sunrise. Looking for someone to repair the LP in the hotel room after the show, I googled "luthiers" and Pat Murphy's name popped up. That's how I stumbled on this blog, and the rest is, as they say, history.
One other note: The last several Sunrise guitars made had a unique and beautiful finish; I think they used some kind of oxide additive in the paint. The grain in the top had an amazing depth and looked like it moved as you tilted the guitar. These guys were WAY ahead of their time.
R.I.P. Pat & Chuck; your existence enriched the lives of everyone who heard your guitars and those of us who knew you.
If I bored anyone, please forgive my foray into warm fuzzies from the distant past; once I got started, it wasn't easy to stop!
And if anyone comes across Sunrise #32, please let me know! I'd dearly love to get my hands on it again!
Bill Van Allen, Jr.
Not dead yet but there are days when I sorta feel dead LOL. Just getting older and more ornery.
Sunrise guitars and pickups are now over 40 years old. Got to admit that my memory of that time has faded a bit, but the news of my death seems to be started by a past wife. sigh.
Yes, loss of Chuck Burge hurt me a lot. One of the most talented guys I've known. Of the original group that formed Sunrise guitars, only Shaw and I are left. I tried several times to get back into the instrument business over the years, but was never in the right place at the right time I guess. So have moved on to other pursuits.
Thanks for the note. Pat Murphy
Hello Mr. Murphy,
I made a video of you telling how the Sunrise guitar were made.
It was 1976 and I was a high school student at Kalamazoo Central High School.
I visited your shop upstairs with a schoolmate one afternoon with the intent to video tape how you made your guitars.
I remember watching you route a body, and you showed us Tim Shaw's work bench. Afterwards you sat down, lit one of the Mary Jane cigareets and demonstrate one of the finished guitar. You played a really sweet finger picked song. That was the best experience of my entire high school and I again thank you for allowing us into your world for those few minutes.
I also was at your shop a few other times for one reason or another.
One that really changed my life.
I brought a guitar to your shop and asked if you could set up my guitar.
You were sitting down and looked me directly in the eye and said...
"You do it. If you're gonna play the thing you better know how to fix it!"
I think that was my my last visit to your shop.
I really took that advice to heart. I wanted more than ever to play guitar and have been doing so to this day. I taught myself without help the process of set-up a guitar. I also taught myself how to repair and modify tube amplifiers. And... I ended up becoming a shop teacher from which I am now retired. My favorite subject to teach was woodworking and every semester I'd play a video call "The Ken Smith bass" showing all the work involved when making a custom instrument.
On behalf all the students I taught for all those years I say "Thank You".
If you had not lit that fire under me I may have followed a totally different path.
I appreciate the works of art that you and your colleagues built.
I had the pleasure of playing the Gale Baker guitar. I always wanted one eventually. Maybe someday.
In closing if it had not been for you, Tim Shaw, Rob Hayes, Charlie Wicks, and the I would not be the man I am today.
Mark D. Tinklenberg
There is a whole lot of awesome in this thread!
Pat - happy you're in the land of the living! Mark - do you still have the video you shot at Sunrise?
I found this thread some time back, and it has been truly enlightening. I have attached some pics from one in particular that belongs to my wife. She bought it new at a store in New York when she was playing regionally along the east coast. It was put away for many years, and it wasn't until I found this thread that I understood what a machine this is. Before I knew any better, I had reached out to Pat Murphy for information about the pickups, thinking they didn't have enough output for today's music. He probably thought I was nuts, and I meant no disrespect. But after a failed attempt with the wiring, since I didn't yet understand it, I replaced the volume pot, went through the soldered connections, and the tone just blew me away. It was gig ready and she was back to work. I am including some pics as this guitar went missing after a gig in Daytona in December of 2013. She actually said that all of the guitars she picked up when shopping for something else felt "cheap" in comparison...I would gladly toss my Les Paul off the roof to find this one again...
The links don't work! Maybe post the pics on flickr or similar service!
Try this link:
Hi guys,wanted to post some pics of my Sunrise that i bought from a overseas guitar store.I emailed Pat before the purchase and he was kind enough to respond with some info.I believe its all original including the pickups.
Wow. How did I miss this thread?
I used to frequent the Sound Factory/ProCo store in the mid-seventies. Bought my earliest gear there. Several years later I was working with Loring Janes, who was a great guy and musician. I knew Chuck Burge as a friend of a friend and he was also a great guy and a talented guitar builder/designer.
I was bummed when I learned of Chuck (or Charlie) as we called him, had passed away. I do know that he built some pretty "special" guitars
That looks to be in fantastic shape. I'm curious of the serial number, only asking since the production is so similar.
I will post a pic of the s/n,curious too.
There is a very early murphy-shaw on ebay right now.No affiliation but i hope he gets his asking price.
Hello! I found this sunrise guitar, no serial number on it. SOMEBODY has information?
HEY PAT: Joe here. I have lost touch with you because your email address no longer works. I am still in Gainesville. If you are still around can you drop me a line at: joeprager<at>yahoo.com?
Pat Murphy, if you still follow this please get in touch with me. Seems the email I have for you is not in service.