Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Three Fold Way to Freedom

Five and a half years ago my life as I knew it exploded.  Tensions that had been present in my marriage finally reached a point where something snapped and it was over.  My wife left.

At the time I couldn't understand why.  I was crushed and felt like there had to be something I could do to fix it and make it better.  It took me several weeks to move to a place of acceptance.  Several surreal, confusing, and painful weeks.

Even when I found acceptance there was a feeling of rebellion and resistance in it.  Kind of like "ok fine, you really want it to be over then I'll stop trying to fix it.  Let's see how you like THAT!"

Didn't matter.  My wife had grown tired of my controlling and judgmental nature and was done.  Now, looking back after all this time, I totally get it.  As a matter of fact, there are things that happened in my marriage - things that I did, judgmental nasty things - that now cause me great grief and elicit quite a bit of pain and regret.

The things is, I didn't know at the time how much of a monster I was.

How could I not have known?

Conditioning.  Adaptive survival conditioning that happened when I was very, very young.  Unconscious somatically embodied conditioning.

How do I know that?  I found a way out and became conscious of it.

How did that happen?  Well that's a bit of a long story.  It started with a bit of luck and a desperate attempt to end the pain resulting from the end of my marriage.  I went searching for a therapist.  I had decided that I could fix myself and not only end my own pain, but I could become what I needed to be to make others (like my wife) happy and love me again.

I did an online search for a therapist in Yucaipa/Redlands.  I ended up on Psychology Today magazine's referral page.  There was one man in Yucaipa (I lived there at the time) that looked great.  I called and left a message.  I also found a man in Redlands named Michael Sieck.  He got back to me first and we set up an appointment.  This was the beginning of a journey of awakening that I had no idea was even possible at the time and am still to this day quite amazed with.  (And it never ends.)

What I found in Michael was not only an incredible Western therapist that was able to help me intellectually understand my "issues", but a deep, non judgmental, spiritual, and witnessing presence that allowed me to finally, over the course of several years, let down and find some awareness of my conditioned "self".

My progress was aided by my participating in a retreat group that met every 3 months.  This was a "process" group that involved an instructional component at the beginning and then group work for the remainder.  Every participant got about an hour to bring up their "stuff" and then work through it in the group.

As profoundly effective as the personal therapy with Mike was, the group work was absolutely transformative.  I'm not going to get too deeply into the details here, but there was one weekend in particular that revealed to me how subconscious the need to be loved (exalted really, from the perspective of the very narcissistic adaptive self) had twisted my way of being into a nervous performance designed to "be" what I perceived the other wanted and needed.  I really had no idea of the degree to which it affected me until my anxiety was pointed out to me and I was invited to believe that I didn't have to "be" anything other than myself.  Or that I was ok and loved even if I revealed horrible and shameful things that I had done.

Essentially, I didn't "need" to be anything other than my true self.  I suppose this could sound really weird and quite possibly not make any sense.

But if it does make sense to you on some level then I invite you to start your own journey of self discovery.  I invite you to learn about a Way and a place and some amazing people that can help you find awareness of those unconscious ways of being that bring pain and frustration and impede your dreams and desires.  I invite you to begin a process of discovery of your true underlying self.  I invite you to find that self and allow it to come forth into the world.

You can start here -  This is the brand new website for the Three Fold Way, which is the system that I so luckily stumbled into when I found Michael Sieck in my moment of panic and pain.  I have very involved in putting this site together and am even interviewed in one of the videos on the "personal growth" page.  I am honored to be a part of it and share it with you now.

Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have about all this.  I'll do the best I can to help and provide answers, if I have them, given my available time.

I plan to have more writings about my journey of self discovery soon.  In particular I'm currently taking singing lessons and am learning a LOT about how my self emerges or is constrained in the voice.  My personal path is deeply related and intertwined with music and I think there is much that may be of value to many of my musical friends.  So much to share.

Thanks for your time.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Rather Interesting Lakland Bass

We had a bass come in for a pickup replacement and some other work today.  It's quite interesting to say the least.

Here it is.  A Lakland.  Cool!  It has our NP5 pickup in it!  Wait a sec.  Then why does the owner want us to change out the pickup?

Well we opened it up and discovered that it's not our pickup.  It's a copy. 

And not an exact copy.  It has Neodymium bars on the bottom and shorter pole pieces.  Apparently the owner is not happy with the sound of this pickup.  

Lakland used to buy NP5's from us.  They stopped a couple years ago.  Now I know why.  

I looked for this bass on their website and couldn't find it.  There was a confusing post on Talkbass a while ago too.  But nothing that was that conclusive.  When this bass showed up my suspicions proved well founded.

I'm conflicted about this.  On the one hand I'm quite flattered that they like the basic design enough to copy it.  On the other I think it could be very confusing for the bass playing public to see and hear a bass like this and assume that it's our pickup and then have a wrongful impression about what we make.

Not sure what to do here, other than this blog post.  Maybe I'll look into legal options.

Pre NAMM thoughts

As I get ready to head to another NAMM show in a week my head is swimming with random thoughts.

I started working for myself at the very beginning of 2003.  I was planning to just make bass guitars.  I wanted a humble shop all to myself and I wanted to build what I had in my head.  I can remember that I was going to sell 4 string NJ basses starting at $1200.  Seems crazy now.  Might have been crazy then.

Fast forward 11 years and I have a pickup company that employs 10 people in some capacity.  We build OEM pickups for some major major companies.  Such as:

Sadowsky - I never imagined in my wildest dreams that Roger would ask to try out some pickups, let alone decide to have us supply him with PJ5 sets and all his single coil J pickups, both 4 and 5 string.  Wow.  Thank you Roger!

Ibanez - I owe a large debt of gratitude to Tim Cloonan of Callowhill Basses for really helping get Ibanez to notice us.  It was almost 3 years from first contact to first production order with them, but it's easily been one of the most significant things to happen to my business.  The order volume and support we've gotten has been humbling.  We are most grateful indeed for the wonderful partnership that has developed between us.  I can't reveal any details at the moment, but expect a lot more great stuff from us and Ibanez.

Warwick - We brought an OEM salesman onboard early last year named Pete Chiovarou, and he has been outstanding.  One of his biggest achievements so far has been connecting us with Warwick.  Warwick now distributes our products all over much of Europe and as of this NAMM show you'll see many basses and even guitars (coming soon) with OEM Nordstrand Pickups in them.  Again, I am absolutely amazed to realize that my name is going on a product that will be installed in basses that were objects of severe GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) when I started playing bass over 20 years ago.

Beyond these big three, the list of OEM companies that we've supplied over the years is extensive and impressive.  Fodera, Ristola, Valenti, Cliff Bordwell, Roscoe, Modulus, Callowhill, De Geir, Mayones, Tino Tedesco, Le Compte, Martin Keith, Mike Lull, Jeff Mallia, Mollerup, Overwater, AV Guitars, R Basses, Normandy Guitars, SEI Basses, Soller Guitars, LedBelli Bass Guitars, Stambaugh, Allan Tomkins, Scott Ambush, Utrera Basses, Jerome Little, Xylem, the list goes on.  Somebody slap me.  Wow.

And we've sold pickups to all kinds of name players too.  Well, some we didn't sell to them directly, we sold them to companies that were making instruments for them.  But nevertheless, one way or another, our pickups have ended up in the hands of players like Stefan Lessard, Juan Aldrete, Jerry Watts Jr., Owen Biddle, Pino Palladino, Calvin Turner, Chris Tarry, Mike Kroeger, Chazz Frichtell, Bruce Stone, Michael Rhodes, Darryl Anders, Juraj Griglak, Walter Jones, Igor Saavedra, Edo Castro, Mark Egan, Darrell Freeman, Koko Powell, Rafe Bradford, Andy Cichon, Roland Guerin, Rob DiSantis, Chris Wood, Steve DiGiorgio, Bryant Siono, Gilles Loes, Dave Swift, Derrick Hodge, Tim LeFebvre, Steve Jenkins, Tommy Harron, Rick Skatore, Robin Ruscio, Amanda Ruzze, Ben Williams, Ben Jones, Will Birkhead, John Giblin, Travis Carlton, Hershel Yatovitz, Michael Thompson, Tye Zamora, Josh Smith, Vail Johnson, Scott Pazera, Brandon Gilliard, Keith Duffy, Federico Malaman, Marc Browne, Tom Hamilton, Paul Turner, YIKES!  I know there are many many more but I don't keep track and I forget.

Which is not very smart I think.  Were I to have an effective marketing plan, I'd take advantage of all of the above and put together a good campaign.  But I don't think in terms of "how can I sell more and more PICKUPS?"  Or "how can I make more and more MONEY?"  Because that's not what gets me going.

What gets me excited is great music.  And helping musicians make great music with inspiring pickups and instruments (and occasionally in my studio).  That is the singular focus of what I do and what I am about.

So, in these weeks before NAMM I start to worry that maybe I'm not doing it right.  Maybe I'm blowing it with my lack of marketing.  Maybe I should have tons of artist demo's at our booth and have artist signings and maybe I should be competing for top tier players and maybe I should have endorsement contracts, and maybe I should give pickups to all the players I like and maybe and maybe and on and on.

And then I think maybe this was all a big mistake and soon the fun will end.  Maybe I'll wake up and none of this will have happened. Then I'll go see my therapist and we'll start talking about my childhood again.  Ugh.

And then I calm down and realize that everything is as it should be.  That all of this has happened and is happening.  I am both lucky and skilled at what I do.  And I have a shop full of great people that believe in all this as much as I do.  I am truly blessed with the way my life has gone.

I will start working on some effective marketing.  I have to.  We have grown to the point where we can't afford not to.  Also, I want to see what is possible.  What will the next ten years bring as we grow and evolve into a "proper" company with a marketing department and a sales staff and an R & D division and a production floor?

I am genuinely curious.