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:

 

Balance ⊖⊘⊖


I used to think I wasn’t picky when it came to my guitar sound or tone.  I thought I wanted a Les Paul through any old amp as long as it was cranked as loud as possible.  I liked a switch to turn the dirt off or on.  Maybe I thought it was cool or “punk rock” to not care about my sound.

Lately, I care about my tone.  It doesn’t have to sound exactly the same all the time… but I have learned to roll the dials in the directions that make me happy.

My Dunlop Cry Baby.

Dunlop Cry Baby. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I actually just sold a Jim Dunlop Cry-Baby on ebay because I didn’t like how it messed with the signal even when it was off.  I may pick up some kind of wah that has a true bypass… but even at that I doubt I’ll use it much.

Any more, I don’t even use a foot-switch for going clean.  I play dirty all the time.  If I need to clean it up, I roll back one of those volume knobs, or use a switch on the guitar.  I generally always play bridge pickup & that’s it.

ERiC AiXeLsyD

I like tube amps.  I have a Crate Power Block that sounds pretty good live, but like razorblades were taken to the speaker cones when recorded or miked in any way.  I wince when I hear bands playing through solid state amps… especially when there are 2 guitars through the same kind of amp.

So, I generally go through this tiny Egnater Tweaker from my friend Dave that sounds huge, or Erin’s Blues Junior which gets incredibly dirty at reasonable volumes.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is to just listen.  If I like the sound, others will too.  What I think I want might not be exactly what I want. I’ve learned to trust my ears.

What’s your balance?  What’s your sound?

The Square Guitar | My Galveston B.B. Stone


The square guitar.  People have gone out of their way to tell me how ugly it is at shows.  People have exclaimed their approval and asked where I got such a crazy instrument.  People have just shaken their heads in wonderment or disapproval, sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which.

Galveston B.B. Stone

ERiC AiXeLsyD's Galveston B.B. Stone

Many years ago now (2000 if the date on the photo below from the day I bought it is accurate), I saw it hanging on the wall in a venue where my old band used to play that also doubled as a music store.  I had to have it.  I don’t know why.  It was just absolutely goofy.  I had certainly never seen another one.  Would I again?  Probably not.  It had to be mine.  I ended up trading in a nice “Cimar by Ibanez” Fat-Strat style guitar that I had recently purchased from Music Go Round in Monroeville just to buy the thing.  I paid $75 for the Fat-Strat, and somehow got $125 off of the price of the square guitar in dealing for it.

Galveston - The day I bought it...

Girl? No, guitar! - 12/23/2000 - The Day I bought the Square guitar.

At first, I didn’t know anything about it other than it was a Galveston and it had a “Made in Korea” sticker on the back.  It took me a while to track down that it was a B.B. Stone model, and that there are only about 8 or 12 of the Galveston brand in the US.  B.B. Stone is apparently a Korean blues artist and guitar-builder, and he designed the guitar with Jerker Antoni of Sweden’s Eagle Instruments.  There are 24 pieces worldwide, the ones around the world are branded with the  groovy Eagle headstock.

I did have to replace the original pickups, as it didn’t quite have enough punch.  My friend and musical gear advisor (most likely to his dismay) Dave suggested & helped install some killer GFS pickups.  Now the sound is a little better, and it gives an aural kick in the ears to match the obvious kick in the eyes.

Dancing E.Sure, there are other square guitars… like Bo Diddley’s iconic square guitar, or the George Barris-designed Dragula by Hallmark.  This one is pretty simple though, and for better or worse, it’s become part of my rock n’ roll identity.

I have come across other owners, almost bought a black one a few years back, but didn’t have any extra cash at the time.  There are a few reviews up at Harmony Central.  I’d love to get a hold of the 23 or so other owners out there and get their thoughts on them.