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Incoming NGD. Venus
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BearBoy
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Joined: 30 Aug 2011
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can see the original Mercury in a few Hole videos:


Link



Link

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Fran wrote:
I love how this place is basic as fuck.

ekwatts wrote:
I'm just going to smash it in with a hammer and hope it works. Tone is all in the fingers anyway.
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BearBoy
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

paul_ wrote:
Fran wrote:

Given the connection, never been able to figure out if it's Courtneys take on Kat Bjellands Rickenbacker or the design is just weird for the sake of being weird.


It’s very closely modeled on some independent guitar builders’ thing that Courtney Love ended up with during early Hole.

Noirie. wrote:
And here it is
Hidden: 
Here�s the story about the design of the Mercury (AKA Venus) guitar.



My name is Tim George. When I was in high school I met a brilliant kid named Danny Babbitt. We played music together and he had already made a heavy metal style guitar when he was about 16 and had just made a copy of a skull guitar that George Lynch (Dokken) once had. Danny eventually sold the copy to George Lynch! We were inspired to make guitars because of this and set out to make one of our own design. Danny was almost totally responsible for this first design. It was extremely Metal themed and I really did not like it. Alternative music was getting popular and I liked vintage guitars that I saw in that scene. I talked Danny into scrapping the metal guitar even after we had piles of bodies cut and sanded and tons of jigs already set up. At this point (About �90 or �91) we were building these guitars in at my house in Pearl River Louisiana.

We started on the aesthetic development of the Mercury. We probably started in early �92. It was originally called the �Gemini�. I can�t remember if that was because I was born on May 31st or not. We wanted a name that was timeless and somehow we settled on Mercury. The actual shape was inspired by the smaller Rickenbackers, which should be obvious. The problem was that we thought that Ricks were hard to play and sounded bad. I also at that time had a huge guitar collection that included and early Stratocaster Plus. Strat plus� were well designed and played great. The idea then came to us to combine the great looks of the Rick with the wonderful playability of the Strat Plus. Then we worked on the functional design.

My friend Danny is one of the few people I ever called a genius but his weak point was Aesthetic balance and other artistic decisions so he left that up to me. We would draw shapes and refine them, sometimes in my girlfriend�s living room in Slidell Louisiana. One of the many good things about hindsight is that you can design with it in mind (ex. If you could maybe take a little chrome off of that old 50s American car to make it more �Timeless� etc.). This is one of the reasons that I think that the shape worked so well�hindsight.

The guitars were always designed around mass production. This is the reason for the
String through body design, it was a bunch cheaper (we actually got the parts from the hardware store). I was lucky that Danny trusted my eye because they would have ended up with heavy metal tremolos and fine tuners and the like. The original knobs were black and sourced from Radio Shack. The Mercury always had tone pots too. We also developed our own pick ups and even experimented with active systems but decided on the stacked humbucker of Danny�s design (His dad worked on the original Gamma ray experiment for NASA) so he comes from that kind of technical background. After high school we moved to Atlanta to pursue the guitar business. We set up shop in a horse stable in Stone Mountain Georgia. Times were lean but I came into some money and invested in some bigger tools. We built the prototype (I think it was a brown burst). At this point, things started to go fast.

The original ones built were of various colors. Danny worked during the day at a huge store in Atlanta called Rhythm City and they allowed him to put our guitars in the store! We sold one to the band Collective Soul; I even think that they came to our house to get it or something. Then we sold one to a guy in a band called Head Hunter. Another one was sold to the guitar player for Porno for pyros. My favorite sale though was to Guy Picciatto of Fugazi. His guitar was a beautiful black one with white binding. I was also a huge fan of the band. After a while I decided that I deserved one of my own. We built a metallic green (Vintage GM color) guitar for me. One night Danny said that Nirvana was in town and asked me if I would let him take my guitar to the show and try to talk them into ordering some! He called me from the show saying that he got back stage (We used to somehow just show the security guard the guitar and get in!) and met Courtney Love and she fell in love with my guitar and asked if he could sell it to her.


Since cell phones were not common then, Danny called me from a pay phone and asked if it was OK to sell Courtney Love the guitar. I said yes and he sold it to her. We were now on cloud 9. This was huge. Soon after we sold Love the guitar we went to another Nirvana show(I think in Mississippi) and got back stage again(Thanks to a guy named Spike) who looked like a cross between a bodybuilder and a Mogwai. We met the band (Minus Cobain) and presold a guitar to Pat Smear and somehow got the go ahead to build one for Kurt Cobain. This was "Off the charts" as they say and we went home in a daze. Pretty soon after this concert Cobain killed himself and Love got signed to do the Lollapalooza tour.



Life at our house on 10 acres of land in Stone Mountain, on the other hand, was getting worse. Nine of us had moved there in a five car caravan right after we got out of high school. The house was really a two bedroom so one of our friends lived in a pantry,two lived in an entry room and we even had friends sleeping on a bunk bed in the kitchen. At some point a new friend moved in and built a cardboard room on our covered porch! Danny was painting guitars with car paint in his bedroom (I have pictures to prove it) and generally speaking, we were all going through changes. Somehow I grew apart from Danny at that time and I moved back to Louisiana. I did not really care as much about the guitars as Danny did because I wanted to be a music engineer, so I just let him have all of the tools.

At some point things got even worse at the Georgia home. The land lord (Who was the nicest man and who had fought in the Hungarian revolution) got sick of the remaining people and the scenario.I can understand why since
we had blown holes in the porch with sparkler bombs, made the yard into a Motocross racetrack (With huge jumps), and had at some point destroyed a car in the yard by jumping the Motorcycle jumps in it. It was upside down in the yard with the words "I love satan" spray painted on it. He kicked everyone out and took most of the big tools as a payback for the damages.
this was posible because the horse stable/guitar factory was on the same property. To this day I feel bad that we were such idiots to that sweet man.

At some point before we left the Georgia house Courtney Love had called to ask for more guitars for the tour. This was not possible. I don't think we even replied. This was foolish because she probably woud have payed for us to build a shop or at least bought us the tools we needed.

Some time passed. I saw the Hole video "Violet" on nigh at a bar and got to see our guitar make music video history. You will notice the Mercury 3+3 headstock in the video and the Mercury pick ups. I went to see Hole play at Lollapalooza and saw our design on the big stage and cried. A Rolling Stone magazine image of her with the guitar was next. I was happy to have given something back to music/guitar history...little did I know.


I was living in Slidell Louisiana and I was bored. I went to the local gas station and picked up a "Guitar world" magazine and thumbed throught the pages for no good reason. There it was...A full page ad with our guitar in it (I think it was the singer of Radiohead). Wait, no it wasn't, it was the new "Venus". At the bottom of the ad it said something like "Designed exclusively by the fender custom shop and Courtney Love". My mind was blown!

Of course, everyone said to sue them, so we looked into it. The law was something like "You cannot patent guitar body shapes, you can only patent the headstock shape". This probably explains the Strat copies with different headstocks and the reason why Fender put their hockystick style on our body shape. I didn't really care much about them stealing the design because I kind of knew we were going nowhere with it anyway. The only thing that bothered/bothers me is Courtney Love's taking the credit. I want it to be clear that she had nothing to do with the design of the body of the Venus and nothing to do with the Fender designed neck and headstock. She may have suggested the putting of the Fender neck on our body but that should hardly be considered "Designing" the guitar. My opinion is that (At the time) she was not a very good person and she was going through a crazy period in her life(Drugs, Cobain's suicide,etc) so she could have not even cared about Fendertaking our design...Who knows? I blame Fender more than Courtney Love because they must have known what it was like to have their designs copied.

These days I am just happy that we made history. I would love to talk to someone who worked in the Fender custom shop in that period just to see how it went down, I doubt that Courtney Love would remember much or that I would trust her if she claimed to.

In closing, I am delighted to see people enjoying the shape of our guitar(I do like our headstock and neck through design better though). Danny has since moved to Colorado near me and we remain best friends to this day (Literally...I just hung out with him for a few hours this evening)
We are in constant search for one of the original guitars to come up for sale
(We have no complete Mercurys left for ourselves). Let me know if you run across one. We are planning on building the Murcurys again one day when we get older just for the fun of it.

These days I build aluminum vintage style car bodies for a living. I am designing my own 30s French style body to build on a 1938 Packard chassis next. On the side, I design/designed furniture, clocks, my own utility vehicle, a bicycle, and will design a wooden speed boat soon. I rode a 1962 Vespa 8 thousand miles around the country in 2000. I road race vespas, a Porsche 356, and a Volvo 1800. I will be racing a vintage fiberlass Dune buggy in the the first "Historic" Baja 1000 in 2010 and will get to spend time with a real design giant...Bruce Meyers (The designer of the ,often copied, Meyers Manx buggy). So, thanks for the interest in the story. If I think of anything I will write more and if you have any questions just ask.-Tim George


That Tim George guy showed up on OSG about 5 years ago as "Clickeye". He and Danny were going to restart making Mercurys but it all seem to fizzle out.
_________________
Fran wrote:
I love how this place is basic as fuck.

ekwatts wrote:
I'm just going to smash it in with a hammer and hope it works. Tone is all in the fingers anyway.
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mkt3000
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Joined: 18 Dec 2011
Posts: 2748
Location: Miami

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, the one and only update.

It arrived and I didn't like the neck. The pickups were meh, standard 90s MIJ Fender stuff, and the tuners needed to be replaced.

I listed it for sale at the same price I paid and sold it locally, instead of having to drive back to guitar center to return it to. Ironically, I sold it to the same guy I sold my Danelectro Dead on 67 to.

Damn it was pretty though. Very clean and original. Just not for me.

Also, I let my nephew jam on it - he loved it, but I couldn't take the financial hit to give it to him.

In other news, the replenishment of my GAS budget has been transferred to the car parts budget. I bought some new parts for my Subaru.
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BillClay
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's always interesting how subjective all this stuff can be; the neck is my favorite thing about the Venus! It's cool that you got to try it out at least
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mkt3000
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BillClay wrote:
It's always interesting how subjective all this stuff can be; the neck is my favorite thing about the Venus! It's cool that you got to try it out at least


Exactly. If I only wanted it because it's a pretty guitar, I'd have kept it. But I couldn't get along with the neck, so away it went.
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