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:

 

Go to Best Buy and set all the alarms to go off, right now.


Did you read the email that I sent to them?

I see this email reply as an (incredibly boring) invitation to go in to your local Best Buy & monkey around with everything.  Especially the alarm clocks.  Does Best Buy even sell alarm clocks any more?  If they do, do set them all to go off at weird intervals after hours… or even 10 or 15 minutes before they close.  If they’re clock radios, put them on the classical station or talk radio.  Do it on the demo cell phones if you can too.

This was their only [yawn] reply:

From: online.communities <online.communities@bestbuy.com>
Date: Fri, Jun 8, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Subject: RE: A Formal Apology
To: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>

Hello,

We always encourage you, our customer, to come in and look around or even test out our products, so you know what you like or don’t like about them. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us and I’ll be sure to pass this along to our Leadership Team.

Respectfully,
Justin|Community Connector
Corporate Campus
Online.Communities@BestBuy.com

I guess they didn’t “get” it, or find it amusing.  Of course setting all the alarm clocks is an innocuous thing to do at best, but I was acting like it was a big deal.  That’s why (I thought) it was funny.  Wow.  Best Buy popped my funny balloon.

What a boring dud.

English: Vintage clock radio

English: Vintage clock radio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

<shameless plug> Oh yeah, while you’re at it… set all the browsers to http://www.ErnieAndTheBerts.com, too. </shameless plug>

Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Beeps, & Buzzers ⌨


Well, I sent what I thought were going to be two rather fun emails, but they have both gone unanswered.  Wow.  What a giant dud.  As my wife constantly reminds me, I certainly find myself amusing.  So, in that spirit I thought I’d share these emails anyway.  Perhaps you’ll chuckle too.

The first was to Best Buy via their form online and to the Twelpforce email address:

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, May 31, 2012
Subject: A Formal Apology
To: twelpforce@bestbuy.com

Greetings Best Buy Associates,

I write to you today to offer a formal apology.  I have lived with guilt for many years, and I would like to be able to clear my conscience.  Sadly, you literally asked for what you got, but you certainly didn’t deserve it my friends.  I beg you in advance to not unleash the wrath of the Twelpforce or Geek Squad upon my humble self.

Do you remember the commercials from about ten or so years ago that begged one to come in & play with all of the electronics in the store?  Well, I said you asked for it.  You did.  I simply complied.

I went into one of your stores, and tried my best to restrain my maniacal laughter as I set all of the alarm clocks & clock radios to go off at different intervals after the store closed.  Some were 5 minutes, some where 10 or even 20.  It was incredibly hard to stifle my giggles and pretend like I was incredibly interested in these timepieces.  I don’t know how no one noticed.  Now I can’t get 10 feet into a Best Buy door without a blue-shirted hawk swooping in to ask if I need help, and I’ll get asked every 3 feet after that if I turn it down.  Perhaps shenanigans like mine are why?

At one time, I wished that I could have been around to see the chaos.  Okay, maybe I still do.  Perhaps a master switch would have cut the power to all of them after the first one went off.  I won’t pretend to know the internal machinations of such a colossal retail empire.  Perhaps I made a memory for that team and brought them together through adversity in the name of silencing alarm clocks.  Perhaps it is a good story to tell trainees, or it may have even been forgotten over time.  I was much younger & more brash then.  I thought I knew everything.  I thought the world was my playground. To be blunt, I was an arrogant young miscreant.  I don’t remember if it was planned, or spur of the moment.

I’m sure that when the internet was still “new”, I set more than a few of your browsers to my old band’s web page & walked away.  I did this in every store though, not just Best Buy.  I won’t apologize for that.  A pimp’s got to pimp, right?

I would like to offer an apology to Best Buy as a corporation, the Best Buy employees startled and/or annoyed that day (and their families), and to all of the Best Buy associates that have joined the team since that day (somewhere between 2000 and 2002).  I believe this was at the Greensburg PA location across from Westmoreland Mall.  Please pass this along to them, if there are any left that may have been working that day.  I have seen the err of my ways, and I can live with the guilt no longer!

Thank you for your time, I hope you find it within you to pass along forgiveness for this egregious behavior.

Regretfully,
-Waldo Lunar

The next one was to Bed Bath & Beyond via their webform:

Do you remember those Best Buy commercials from 10 or so years ago where they asked you to come in & try the stuff out?

I did.  I went in one night & set all of their alarm clocks to go off about 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes after closing.  I bet it was hilarious.  I only wish I had been there to see it.  I bet that happened often.

I noticed that you have a lot of kitchen timers and egg timers.  What time do you close?

Thanks,
-Waldo

I thought it was funny.  Apparently Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond did not.  I did get the standard “we got your message, someone will write back with in 3 days” replies, over a week ago.  I really thought Best Buy would come out with a witty intelligent retort.  You’d think an electronics company would be helmed by geeks who found humor in such ridiculousness.  Bed Bath & Beyond apparently do not go too far into the beyond part.  Oh well.

Best Buy

Best Buy (Photo credit: Ron Dauphin)

English: A Bed Bath and Beyond store in a shop...

Bed Bath and Beyond (Photo credit: Wikipedia)