The story of the Dewey Decibel FlipOut guitar.


Bert - a.k.a. ERiC AiXeLsyD - rocking the Dewey Decibel FlipOut Lit Cigarette model.
Bert – a.k.a. ERiC AiXeLsyD – rocking the Dewey Decibel FlipOut Lit Cigarette model.

OK. So, you probably know I like weird guitars. Someday I will have profiles up of all of them on another blog. You may have even read about my Dewey Decibel FlipOut before, or have seen the FlipOut before (or even the knock-off Flipped brand). While the Galveston BB Stone certainly started my weird guitar obsession, the FlipOut solidified it. Sadly, I came to it after AiXeLsyD had been done for a while, and I think even after Gasoline Dion. It some incredibly small and ancient circles I will always be known as ERiC AiXeLsyD. I did, get to gig out with the FlipOut, quite a lot, with Ernie and the Berts.

A while back, I had the opportunity to reach out to Jimmie Bruhn about the Indy Custom Flycaster, and way way back I did some research on the BB Stone. (I have to try to recover all the stuff that used to live on SquareGuitar.com, all those links are now dead.)

I thought it would be fun to try and track down Dewey Decibel (a.k.a. Joe Jerardi – or is it Joe Geradri? Stage names are fun.), and get some insight on the inception and production of one of my favorite axes!

After some emails exchanged, here’s the story from the man himself!

Line of FlipOut guitars & BottomOut basses from the Dewey Decibel website.

Hi Eric,

I’m awfully sorry there was a delay on getting back to you.  I honestly have had my hands full this year, and it slipped my mind.  Just for your patience, I can offer the most information I’ve shared about my FlipOut days to this point.  And thanks for asking.

I was performing solo in NY back in the 90s, playing CBGBs and many of the NY clubs. My stage name was Dewey Decibel, and I always performed hooked up to an IV pole.  Just a thing I did – never mentioned it on stage.  Played electric guitar, with synth sequencers for backing, plus voice. 

One day I thought of this backward guitar – Its just wood I thought – so it would play the same, just super unsettling, and deeply rock and roll to my mind.  I found one shop out of all the NY guitar techs who would follow my instruction. It was Rick from Carmine Street Guitars.  I love him because he didn’t even blink, just said “sure, I can do that”.  I went on to form a band called… Dewey Decibel, and kept doing shows, and finished up my third album “Unnecessarily Beautiful” with those guys, great players Jon Howard, and Martin Miller.  We did good work.  I always played the original FlipOut, which started its life as a Fernandes brand Strat.  I always had the IV drip by my side.

Back cover for the Dewey Decibel album Unnecessarily Beautiful | Original FlipOut prototype of a modified Fernandes Strat copy pictured!
Back cover for the Dewey Decibel album Unnecessarily Beautiful | Original FlipOut prototype of a modified Fernandes Strat copy pictured!

We did no real promotion for the album, for any of my albums, so they reside in resplendent obscurity, rarely to surface.

Here is what exists online, though there are 3+ albums and an EP somewhere:

https://deweydecibel.bandcamp.com/

Dewey Decibel | Unnecessarily Beautiful | Pictured: Martin Miller (Drums) ● Dewey Decibel (Guitar & Vocals) ● John Howard (Bass)
Dewey Decibel | Unnecessarily Beautiful | Pictured: Martin Miller (Drums) ● Dewey Decibel (Voice/Guitar/Keys) ● John Howard (Bass)

At shows, my guitar got so much crazy attention I conceived of the nutty plan to use a release of these guitars to bring attention to my band.  In 2003 I went to the NAMM show on the recommendation of a friend, to look for a manufacturer.  There I approached many confused factory reps from Asia, and ended up having luck with a Korean group who were ready to please.  I ordered some prototypes during that year, and tweaked things.  Then at 2004 NAMM I introduced them to the unsuspecting earthlings, took orders, and started shipping out of San Francisco once the container ship arrived.  That first NAMM show was funny funny stupid funny. 

Dewey Decibel - FlipOut & BottomOut
Art from the Dewey Decibel website.

The stupid part was that Fender lawyers sent me a letter on the opening day of my NAMM  launch that I was in breach of their trademarks.  This is a much longer story but I ended up licensing with Fender later, which was great for name dropping and demonstrating to folks that it was a quality guitar.

I was living in a warehouse with boxes of these guitars and my drum set.  It was a time of odd existence, taking orders, shipping, doing R&D, and lining up reviews with the big guitar magazines.  The FlipOut got strong thumbs up reviews in Guitar Player as well as Guitar One.  I did care about the feel of the neck and the pickups.  It’s self evident I think when you handle one.

I was moving forward on the BottomOut bass, having received a few prototypes which worked nicely.  Even took orders.  The problem was that the whole business had me working in too many directions, and exhausted.  I’d gone to Europe, and did a bunch of sales, there and in Australia too.  I was overworking, and getting wiped out.  This was all on my own, and I’d been living with some fantasy that these cool guitars would elevate the music, and demonstrate my sovereign rock and roll whimsy.   But alas, the FlipOut project ended at around 500 guitars because I was exhausted, the R&D was too slow, and I couldn’t parlay the thing into working for another manufacturer.  I was too much of a lone wolf for them.  So I went back to graphic design and animation.  I’m an animator today living in incredible San Antonio. I also continue writing and recording a new album, to be released secretly into thrift store bins.

The guitar colors were just my favorites at the time, the names were inspired by memories. Barry Leventhal was I think a kid I played in little league with.  Austin really had cabs colored like the guitar.

I’ve seen the FlipOut rip-offs coming from Europe/China, and they look ridiculous, all backward and stuff.  Just joking – I guess it was inevitable someone would cash in.

Hey thanks for your interest.  Hoping it fills in some detail. 

Thanks

joe

For the Raging Guitar Houdini in you!

(ddB)™

What led Dewey Decibel, Brooklyn's recording enigma, to do what he did to his guitar that night? Frustration. His friends had snubbed him, his car had been totaled, but worst of all, his reading comprehension was way down, and he could feel the stares when he entered a room. That fateful night, Dewey did grab for his guitar, slamming his bedroom door, not to emerge for countless weeks (though he did leave once to go to a class on "Appalachian Fingertip Dancing"). It was during these weeks, through a period of painstaking research, made even more difficult by an ill-fitting lab coat, Dewey did travel to the edge of insanity. But once there, decided he'd rather be at the brink of madness, so he quickly switched when no one was looking. And when at last he did emerge, witnesses reported he held in his hand something resembling a guitar on muscle relaxant. Dewey Decibel's FlipOut™ was in their midst. And now, it is in yours.

www.flipoutguitar.com Write to us at flipout@deweydecibel.com

The guitar design configuration of Dewey Decbel's Flip Out™ is a trademark owned by Joe Gerardi of Dewey Decibel Inc. Any replication of this trademark is prohibited by law.

Dewey Decibel
Until now, this is pretty much all that was out there on the FlipOut!
Dewy Decibel FlipOut models | Invisible, Lit Cigarette, Barry Levelthal, Austin City Cab, Scandalicious, Shameless.
FlipOut models & colors

How cool is that? The entire story from the man himself! I urge you to go check out the music of Dewey Decibel.

The only mods I had done to mine is the inimitable Aaron Hutzel drop in some GFS Lil Killer rails. This was not a kock at all to the original sound, but the humbuckers are more my thing.

Check out the Facebook fan page if you’re a fan, would like to share photos of yours or you with it in action, have one for sale, or are looking for one: Facebook | Dewey Decibel FlipOut

I would also, of course, love to hear from you in the comments!

If you want to see me and my FlipOut in action, check out the stuff below this list of links.

Also, check out these links if you’re looking for more:

Ernie and the Berts “Toybox”:

Ernie and the Berts – “Everybody Poops”:

Ernie and the Berts – “Kate Winslett” (A poor cover of The Silver Brazilians):

Ernie and the Berts – “Ikea”:

Me just rocking this one in the basement in 2016:

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