An Interview With the Mad Mastermind Behind the Indy Custom FlyCaster


The Indy Custom FlyCaster

My Indy Custom FlyCaster

If you’re a regular reader, you know I recently posted all my guitars.  You would then also know that I like weird guitars.  You may have even seen me in a guitar-related Facebook group defending this beauty of an axe.  What is not to love?  The thing is fantastic.  It is a sight to behold.  It probably shouldn’t even exist, but it does an I needed to have it.

Mine is serial number 059.  I have even connected with a few other owners out there via a Facebook Fan Page.  I had expected to swap out pickups and drop in some rails… but, man this thing sounds beautiful.  The neck feels great.  It hangs well when standing.  It is just a great damn guitar.

I would say it is probably in my trifecta of ire along with the Dewey Decibel FlipOut and the Galveston B.B. Stone.  I have had people at shows come up just to tell me that they hate them!  Ha ha.  It amazes me that a music genre predicated on the idea of just pissing off the previous generation has so many purists who must adhere to some sort of imaginary rules of guitar design. and tired traditions.  It would be a fascinating sociological study to see exactly how that can be.  It’s OK to enjoy the classics and get a little wild sometimes.

Of course, many people get the joke and love them too.

In with posting All My Axes (did you see parts 1 & 2?), I really got to wanting to dive deep into the story behind each of these if I could.  The creator of the FLyCaster, Jimmie Bruhn was easy to find online, and seems like a great guy.  I would even say he found me in an “ugly guitars” group or two.  Check out my questions for him and his fantastic answers below my embedded Instagram Post of the FlyCaster.  The interview was conducted via the highly professional Facebook Messenger.

 

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AiXeLsyD13: Who is Indiana Custom Guitars?

Jimmie Bruhn: There was no Indiana Custom Guitars. Indy Custom was that particular brand. Its actually a much bigger thing… SHS International was the parent company. It was an international music wholesale company that distributed products to music stores. Its where music stores nationwide (and globally) got a lot of their stuff. We designed, imported and sold products. Here are some of the following brands of SHS International (this is not the full list but the highlights)

Morgan Monroe Bluegrass Instruments
Eddy Finn Ukulele Company
Indiana Guitar Company
Indy Custom Guitars
ModTone Guitar Effects
Bean Blossom Instruments
Tune Tech Tuners
SHS Audio
Devlin Guitars
College Guitar Company
Sundown Amplifiers

I worked as a media producer for the company for close to 30 years and my fingerprints were on most everything from every brand. I wore many many different hats and guitar design was a tiny part of it. Fun but it wasn’t the bulk of what I did. That’s a whole other story. Suffice to say, anything you saw from any of those brands, I had a major role in bringing to life.

In addition I’ve played professionally for a long long time. I’m a writer, singer and I play a lot of different instruments. Guitar is one part of it but probably the biggest part as I am a lifelong collector and nerd. The collection is out of hand but I simply can’t help myself. I still have my first guitar. I never get rid of anything! You can hear and see my work on YouTube. Oh…one other thing…if you ever see Indy Custom Relic guitars, that was me. A one man side business I started where I produced over 400 hand relic’ed guitars. In that time I still played all the time, traveled and played all over.

Ⓐ⑬: Do they have a website?

JB: Not any more.

Ⓐ⑬: Do you have a website you’d like me to link to?

JB: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC36We-7C4ghOW5tlsG0G-tQ (Jimmie Bruhn’s Jam TV!) This is a place for my various artistic ideas. A little of this, a little of that…you never know what you’re going to get.

Ⓐ⑬: How did you come to be a guitar designer? Have you designed any other guitars?

JB: I’ve been collecting guitars for over 40 years. It was natural that my need to build and tinker with stuff would spill over into my professional day gig.
Yes, I designed many guitars and would then send my renderings to the factory for prototypes and then on to a bigger run of them. When I say “designed” I in no way want to make it seem that I am some schooled luthier or anything of the sort. I just came up with designs and through trial and error, we would arrive at something unique but I wasn’t in a workshop running a saw!

Ⓐ⑬: How was the Indy Custom label to be different?

JB: By trying to get the best things we all liked about particular models into an affordable recreation that was a Big Bang for the buck. There were some really cool models that came out. I can’t say exactly how many but there were lots of designs over the life of that line.

Ⓐ⑬: I know you were in part inspired by the Zakk Wylde guitars with an SG top & a V bottom… did anything else go into it?

JB: Yes, comedy. It just made me laugh. Another thing that REALLY inspired it were people around the company who were genuinely disgusted by it. That made me want to get them produced even more. Yes, it was stupid, yes it was hideous but I knew it could get a lot of attention for the rest of the line. The powers that be couldn’t see the value in that but here we are all these years later still talking about it. ZERO advertising dollars spent. I wasn’t wrong!

Ⓐ⑬: Was it a hard sell getting in into production? (Convincing everyone else at the company/factory to go with it?)

JB: Some understood. Some did not. The ones that didn’t inspired me to push that much harder. The point was, good or bad…it was getting a major reaction. The only bad press is no press.

Ⓐ⑬: Where was it manufactured?

JB: These were all manufactured in China once final prototypes were approved.

Ⓐ⑬: Were there any issues with manufacturing? (Seems like a big body to be on a manufacturing line.)

JB: There are always issues in manufacturing especially trying to do it from thousands of miles away. Visiting the factories can keep quality control in check but ultimately once production starts things can go wrong. Not always, but that potential is there. Overall, there were no problems in the Flycaster. Even my Chinese contact remarked that the guys on the factory floor thought it was “a weird guitar” which meant even a cultural and language barrier cannot deny that The Flycaster is globally offensive!

Ⓐ⑬: Why “FlyCaster?” Everyone who sees it calls it a TV or a Tele-V. Ha ha. Was that by design?

JB: Because it needed a name, an identity. Plus it had some weird fishing connection so…

Ⓐ⑬: Why 100? Why not 200 or 50? Were they all sold?

JB: The idea was that we would only do limited runs of guitars for the Indy Custom line which we did on other models besides The Flycaster. I think they may have even commissioned a second small batch to fill an order. The dealers that understood the value liked them and they helped bring attention to the other models. Limiting them to 100 kept it fresh and helped if a particular model completely tanked. That way you aren’t stuck with so many. If it’s a hit? Make more! Yes, they were all sold.

Ⓐ⑬: I love mine. I love that it just seems to enrage purists, and it just “outs” so many people as not having any sense of humor or whimsy. Was any if this in your original intent?

JB: This was absolutely the intent from the beginning. I love music, I love comedy and this thing was both. It was just so incredibly stupid that one has to laugh or at least, I did! The ones that were truly offended because they had such a death grip on tradition well, as previously stated, that just fueled my fire!

Ⓐ⑬: Why are so many guitarists stuck in traditional designs and setups, when rock n’ roll at its core is about rebellion?

JB: Because they are either afraid or don’t have the slightest concept of being original. They are too worried what other people think.

Double FlyCasters!

Image Provided by Jimmie Bruhn, from his digital book.

Ⓐ⑬: I know one burst prototype exists. Do you ever play it?

JB: I play it occasionally but I see it every day as its hanging on the wall of my studio.

Ⓐ⑬: Did you ever have any other color schemes in mind? I would love one with an antigua finish!

JB: I wanted it to get to that point but those in control saw otherwise.

Ⓐ⑬: Do you have a guitar collection? What are your non-FlyCaster favorites?

JB: Yes. I have a pretty big collection. It’s fairly insane. I have everything from top shelf vintage stuff to weird a wacky. Lots of stuff I built in the shop, some wonderful mutts and some serious collector stuff too. As I said, I never get rid of anything. I come from a musical family.

Ⓐ⑬: Have you seen any other weird guitars out there & thought “I wish I came up with that!”?

JB: All the time! That’s the great thing for me about the world of guitars, its constantly evolving. There are some absolutely great things being produced and it seems people aren’t so brand conscious as they used to be.

Ⓐ⑬: Anything else you would like to add?

JB: Just a thank you for taking the time to even ask me this stuff. It was an honor!

Ⓐ⑬: Thank you for your time and information!

JB: Of course!

 

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This is a pretty great article/review too:  Premier Guitar | 2011 Indy Fly-Caster in TV Yellow

 

Check out Jimmie Bruhn’s Jam TV YouTube Channel here.  Here’s a video, too:

 

Here’s my creepy basement demo:

Here’s a random one that I found by Googling:

 

I still have a guitar problem.


I have posted lists before.  Some, I have acquired.  Some I still yearn for.  These three keep popping up lately, and I have no viable reason to purchase another guitar and it saddens me.

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That’s…

All fit my criteria of sub-$500 axes, all well under.  Usually I don’t go over $300.  I like them weird, and I like the cheap.  If I could monetize some weird guitar videos on YouTube, I could maybe buy more.  Watch my videos!  Share the link!

 

 

They would go well with my collection:

Sadly, that collage is not even up to date with all of the stringed instruments in the house. I should do another group photo.  I even need to grab back a project axe off of a friend!

Guitars & Virtual Window Shopping 🎸


Is there a word for the internet version of window-shopping?  I certainly have enough guitars.  I really dig my oddball collection.  But, I’m always looking.  I made a wishlist before, so I thought I’d update it.  Of course, this list is subject to change by the minute, and like a rodent with shiny objects I can be easily distracted.

 

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Traveler Guitar TravelcasterTraveler Guitar Travelcaster – It’s no secret that I dig weird guitars.  This is pretty neat.  I love the idea, even if ESP had it first.  Supposedly, the ESP ones were only made & sold in Japan.  The Traveler  Travelcasters look pretty snazzy, and Traveler makes some other really cool stuff.  I bet it really would be useful in a travel capacity, & provide some fun on stage.  I see these ads constantly.

BOHOBohemian Guitars Oil Can Guitar – Who doesn’t want one?  It’s like a cigar box guitar cranked up to 11.  They look like a ton of fun, and they’re not really all that expensive.  These Boho axes are real attention grabbers.  I also see these ads constantly.  The reviews appear to be fanrastic.

Millennium Falcon GuitarA Millennium Falcon Guitar – There have been various builders to create this to varying degrees of success.  I’d love to get my scruffy nerf-herding paws on one.  I even blogged about it before (check the comments).  You know I have an appreciation of weird guitars and of Star Wars, so this is a natural.  Bonus if it includes lights and sounds!

Peavey T-60Peavey T-60 – These Peaveys seem like a sort of underground or unspoken holy grail, especially if you get the amp in a case.  The T-30 and T-15 look cool to, but I dig humbuckers. so 60 may be the way to go.  Hell, a Peavey Mantis would kick some butt too.

Gibson Reverse Flying VGibson Reverse Flying V – I mean, I already have a Dewey Decibel FlipOut, so why not continue the trend?  This one will probably never happen unless I win the lottery.  I like my guitars cheap, and this one is not cheap.  Epiphone, how about a limited run here?  The hate for it online alone drives my want for it.

Archer Flying Cheese WedgeArcher Flying Cheese Wedge – This thing is absolutely ridiculous.  I love it.  If I ever found a cheap one, I would pounce.  I mean, CHEESE.  Who doesn’t like cheese (besides the lactose intolerant)?  I think it has something to do with Wisconsin sportsball.  I just like cheese.  A lot.

Hello Kitty Squier StratocasterHello Kitty Squier Stratocaster – This is another gem sought after by a bunch of weirdos. The quality is the stuff of legend if you can snag it for the right price.  They were cheap for a bit until someone let out the secret they they’re no joke.

Dean ML Acoustic, Kramer Imperial aXAcoustic ExplorerKramer made one, Dean sort of makes one.  They are so ridiculous.  I may settle for a Flying V one. Ha ha.  Even the little ukes may satisfy this yearning.

Esteban Midnight LegacyEsteban Midnight Legacy Electric Guitar – These were going for $75-ish online for a bit, then they jumped up.  Strat pickup configuration on a Les Paul shape?  All black?  “E” shaped headstock?  Sign me up!

Gianni Doubleneck SG/Telecaster HybridGianni SG/Tele-style doubleneck – As with Bigfoot, some people refuse to believe that these even exist.  The cries of “fake” and “photoshopped” abound with this type of axe online.  It is ridiculous.  Really, I don’t have a double-neck.  I need one, right?  I do have a 12 string… so a 6/12 would be boring.  I would love to get one of these and make one neck a baritone or Bass VI scale.  I mean, this is cool too if we’re getting really weird.

Wylde Audio Warhammer, Dean Split Tail, Gibson ZVOne of those goofy Zakk Wylde guitars – Any of the trifecta of insanity will do.  The Gibson ZV, the Dean Split Tail, and the Wylde Audio Warhammer are all sort of the same shape.  I don’t know the story behind the jumps from manufacturers, and I don’t really care.  They are so metal, it hurts.  I play so poorly for metal, it hurts.  So, it’s a natural fit of pain.  Right?  Right?  This may have trumped my old longing for a Transparent Green Lucite BC Rich.

Xaviere 550SCE_BKXaviere RTS_550SCE_BK Dreadnaught – This is all cosmetic.  I just really dig the look.  Plus, I really dig Guitar Fetish.  I might even sell the 12-string to get this.  Maybe?  Anyone heard anything about the quality?  I really like the look and sort of want to jump before they’re gone.  I mean, if I sell the 12-string… that opens up my double-neck options.  Right?

 

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What’ on your list?  Gimme something awesome in the comments, bonus points for sub-$300-ish.  What haven’t I heard of yet?  What am I forgetting?  What need to I need to meet or gap do I need to fill?  What is your holy grail guitar?  Post some photo or links too!

 

Messing around with some of my guitars 🎸


Guitars Demoed this time around

Guitars Demoed this time around

The other night I broke out some of my toys for some fun.  Some cats demo their stuff online, so I decided to make a video of my jam…

Here are the guitars used:

Here was my setup:

Ran it into a Planet Waves tuner pedal, out to a Y-splitter cable. One end went into an Ernie Ball wah pedal then into a Fender Blues Jr. The other end went straight into an Orange Micro Terror rockin’ a Laney 2×12 cab.

Here are some photos if you’re into that kind of stuff:

I’d be interested to know what you think, if you own a guitar like one of these, or if you have something even wackier to share.  Please, comment up.

Everything Changes but Guitars? I disagree.


I saw this graphic online through Guitar Fail the other day, & again through Guitar Squid:

Stratocaster Evolution / Everything Changes but Guitars (I wish I knew the original source.)

Stratocaster Evolution / Everything Changes but Guitars (I wish I knew the original source.)

At first, it made me laugh and think “humph, yeah…” in agreement.  The more I thought about it though… it’s wrong. How is it wrong?

Well as far as concept cars go, it’s a whole different world from everyday-use practical cars.  Nothing has gone all that far from 4 wheels, 2 headlights, gasoline powered.  (Yes, there are hybrids and flex-fuel all over the market… but arguably people don’t like them unless they look like “normal” cars.)  But, this blog isn’t about cars.  I’m sure you knew I was going to talk guitars, because that’s what I do.

There are a ridiculous amounts of varying styles of guitars & guitar innovations out there.  Some of them may not be “reinventing the wheel” exactly, but there is always some great stuff happening, and there has been since the inception of the stringed instrument.  How do you think we got so many varieties?

Krank Amplification | Evolution Of The Electric Guitar

Krank Amplification | Evolution Of The Electric Guitar

I agree that too many axe-slingers fall into the Stratocaster or Les Paul shape trap.  For years I held a disdain for both shapes… but I come back to them.  Why?  Perhaps they’re good designs.  Perhaps they’re iconic.  Perhaps they sound incredible.  Perhaps they work.  There are many other options out there.  If you find yourself chuckling to and agreeing with this graphic, I challenge you to help me to add to my list of innovative guitars.

Any fans of the Guitarz Blog, Tone Fiend, Guitar WTF?, or gUitarREN should be into this.  (Any cool guitar blogs I’m missing?)

Let’s talk about how the guitar is ever-evolving… Shape, materials, string count, innovation, & general insanity.

Indy Custom - Flycaster (Tele-V) Telecaster Flying V Hybrid

Indy Custom Flycaster (or Tele-V?)

There are lots of shapes out there past the Stratocaster or Les Paul, whether it’s somewhat normal or custom insanity.  There’s the SG, the Telecaster, V’s (Flying, Jackson & more), hollowbodies like the Artcore or Gretsch models, the Explorer, the Ravelle, all the crazy B.C. Rich shapes, the Airline, even the Flycaster.  Are there really not enough guitar design shapes out there to satisfy you?  The Stratocaster doesn’t need to change shape, because there are plenty of other options out there!  I’m barely hitting the tip of the iceberg here.  I didn’t even touch on my B.B. Stone, FlipOut, or Batman axes.  How many distinct guitar shapes can you name in the comments?  (Actual produced shapes, not one-offs!)  Bonus for posting or linking to photos.

There’s also material.  Certainly guitars are mostly made of all types of wood, but there’s also plastic, graphite, Res-O-Glass (fiberglass), the Lucite / plexiglass / acrylic transparent guitars, aluminum necks, and so much more.

Once we get past the plethora of guitar makes, models, & shapes available… there are so many other innovations.  Some are great, some not-so great.  Just off the top of my head I can think of:  Synthesizer & MIDI Guitars, Fretlights, 7/8/12 strings, double neck guitars, the chord buddy, the Coral Sitar, built-in-wireless, the robot guitar, 3D printed guitars, Evertune… but none of them have really busted the mold (yet).  They’re all niche stuff.  This doesn’t even get into the many styles of bridges, tuners, tremolos, locks, and other parts that have been refined… or wiring.  You can get CRAZY with wiring.

World's Largest Playable Guitar being set up at the Carnegie Science Center (Pittsburgh, PA)

World’s Largest Playable Guitar being set up at the Carnegie Science Center – Pittsburgh, PA (Photo Credit: Kara / @ohidontthinkso)

The traveling guitar exhibit is at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh right now.  I can’t wait to check it out.  It’s got the world’s largest playable guitar.  I was lucky enough to get a preview the other day via Twitter.  Tell me that’s not an innovation?  It will no doubt inspire many to pick up the guitar, or dust off the one they already have.  The entire exhibit displays guitars, how they work, their history, & all kinds of fun interaction.

So, next time you think that the guitar has become stagnant, I ask you to go get your hands one one of the many non Strat options above… or even a non-standard Strat option… like a Fat Strat, hot-rodded wiring, or a backwards one.  There are plenty of different, innovative, and goofy guitars out there.  Rock out on something original!