storytime with gary
gary shares the stories behind some of his favorite pieces
And Now For a Song: The Story of Howard’s Guitar Stand(s)
I’m the son of a world-famous 7-String Jazz guitar player, Howard Morgen. One thing I grew up with is great respect for musical instruments and the need for good looking, solid, and stable stands.
When my dad wanted a new stand for one of his hand-made guitars, I set out to design a clean, simple, and functional unit. Unlike many modern stands today, my father did not want to hang his guitars by their necks. He wanted a cradle mechanism and wanted to make sure nothing could knock them over (he occasionally banged into things). He was not focused on saving space (as many guitar owners are), but rather having a single-guitar design that he could put around his studio.
The trick to this stand is the center of gravity of the guitar. The guitar is suspended between three leather-covered stirrups: Two at the base of the body, and one cradling the neck below the headstock. This keeps the balance point of the guitar well within the beefy legs. There is no way to knock this stand over – and no way to knock the guitar out of the stand.
I ended up making four of these stands, uniquely designed for four of his guitars. The woods were chosen to match the guitar’s colors, and the stirrups were all custom-sized to the dimensions of the bodies and neck.
Sadly, my dad’s no longer with us, but his guitars were given to his children and grandchildren – and each of them still sits in their custom stands.
Uncle Gary, Tell Us About The Birth of the Audio Sideboard
A customer called looking for a storage solution for the components of a new audio/visual system they had installed in their bedroom. The bedroom already had one of my pieces in it — “Jackie’s Bench”. This beautiful, graceful piece, made of solid curly “Tiger” maple, commanded a prominent spot at the foot of their bed.
The room is light and airy with sheer white curtains and whisper grey wall coloring. The request was for a cabinet to hide away the cable box, DVD Player, Amplifier, and Audio System. But it had to mesh with their décor and blend with the rest of the furniture, yet still be a focal point for the room.
There were (of course) a few challenges:
- There was no free space on the wall other than directly below the screen, where the surround sound wires terminated and a power outlet was provided – so the location of the piece would be fixed beneath the 55″ screen.
- To provide a proper viewing angle from the bed, the flat screen was mounted on the wall such that its lowest point was 33″ off the floor. That’s pretty low for any cabinet beneath it. We didn’t want a short credenza-styled cabinet, as that didn’t reflect the rest of the style of the room and would make the client bend over to use it, so we needed to scale a piece appropriately.
- The client disliked the look of glass doors and really wanted the equipment out of sight, but still wanted to be able to control all of the components from the bed.
We decided to create a piece out of the same style wood as “Jackie’s Bench.” Like the bench, I wanted the cabinet to be solid wood, no veneers, because I like the heft and feel of a solid piece, and well, that’s what I do! To accommodate the relatively low height of the screen the piece needed to be scaled to avoid looking “squat”. I decided to splay the legs with an outward curve in order to give the piece more airiness and created large doors along a graceful arch to help it feel lifted in the room despite its height.
The large doors provided ample room to gain access inside. Since electronics are particularly sensitive to heat, I put several ventilation holes along the top back and floor of the case along with a grommet in the middle-bottom that lined up to the plate in the wall where the speaker and HDMI connections came out. This minimized the rat’s-nest of wires that so often plague A/V cabinets.
Lastly, to address the client’s desire to avoid glass doors, I installed a small Xantech Peephole Infrared Repeater on the right front of the unit. This device accepts your remote control output and pipes it inside the cabinet where it can control the equipment while they remain behind closed doors. Problem solved!
The piece is both functional and beautiful in its new home. The pattern on the wood fits perfectly with the rest of the décor. It complements “Jackie’s Bench” and unifies the feeling around the master bed. Happy clients…happy Gary!