For a number of years I did booking and management for Bands in Memphis, TN. I handled all Hard Rock Café for a few years as well as booking in the New Daisy and a number of other clubs up and down Beale Street. After many years of managing and booking I stopped and have never looked back… Well not completely. I still love working with bands and have helped a few bands with some label and booking contacts I still have ties with, but for the most part that is my past.
I started The LowEnd in late 1994. It was a hobby I started on my parents computer after I came back from UT Knoxville my freshman year. I was 20. I graduated from University of Memphis with a Marketing degree years later. I never really thought much of it at the time but met a lot of guys all over the country and did a little trading. Many times it was an even swap or a few bucks here and there, but I never really thought much of it more then getting a chance to check out high-end basses. Like most, there wasn’t much to check out locally, so it was always cool to try something new. Harmony-Central was really the only place for music gear classifieds. No stores had sites at that time and there sure wasn’t any eBay, TalkBass or anything else of that nature. Heck, up until around 97 or so the only guys that even had any type of business websites was me #2 (LowEnd), Dan Lenard #1 of Luthier’s AccessGroup, Steve Barr #3 of the Dudepit. Its was a small world then and scams weren’t even thought much of at that time. Heck, businesses were just starting to get websites, and eBay was something small. Funny times to look back and how far things have come.
Here is some more information about some of the people I currently work with, or have in the past.
Brian Barrett’s Guide to Woods
John East (J-retro and U-retro)
Alfonzo Iturra, D’Alegria
Acacia Instruments In the late 90’s, I worked with Matt Friedman from Acacia Instruments. Matt was an amazing bass builder and taught me a great deal about basses, woods, construction, etc. I help in design and R&D work with different construction idea’s from multi wood fingerboards to neck profiling on thumb ridge ideas. I started working with active on-board preamp and pickups in the Acacias. I introduced Matt to Larry at Aero pickups which were used a bit, in the end with Lanepoor pickups going out of business. I also Introduced Matt to the J-retro and U-retro/East preamp.
InCase In summer of 2003, I hooked up with Tony of Incase after Summer NAMM in pursuit of the ultimate case for Benavente Guitars. Incase was a new company just coming out with some amazing looking bags. After receiving the first bag I was blown away by the cases, but unfortunately they would not hold most basses because they had been designed with Tad’s (Blues Traveler) Modulus in mind. Tony, turned me to Bobby at Incase who does designing, and Bobby and I worked on the new Slim and DUB Incases for about 3 months (these would fit almost all basses as well as the Benavente Case’s which differs slightly). Incase is an amazing company with some of the nicest guys in the business!
LEJ Basses This was the first venture for Benavente Guitars to build outside of the box. After the LEJ’s took off Benavente guitars Started Divinity Guitar Works as a total custom side to Benavente Guitars. This has also lead to other custom builders requesting that we build their necks and bodies. You never know what your playing under that brand name =) Chris and I try to keep an open mind on how we can always help the player in design idea’s and function… no matter what the headstock name.
SIT Strings Summer NAMM 2002, while showing instruments in the SIT booth I talked with Eddie and Tim about making me a 165 low F# string (which they had not done). Eddie said to give him some time on coming up with a plan because he would need Piano wire to hold a string that thick, and a standard core would not be as efficient for a gauge that large. This was the build up to the first SIT 165 for Winter NAMM 2003. This string was on a 6 string Benavente SC. This was also the first for what became a true niche market SIT fell into, with ERB player’s and going beyond the 165.
Alfonso Iturra and D’Alegria Basses In 2004 I started working with Alfonso Iturra Basses and D’Alegria basses as a distributor. I was responsible for setting up the Instruments physically for the US Market; as well as, arranging the pricing and marketing for the product to be marketed and sold in the US. Alfonso Started Building his Instruments with Benavente Pickups and Benavente preamps. This was the first time we took our In house Built Benavente preamp to the open market; as well as our Benavente Pickups. Now, they can be found in many other brand instruments
John East Preamps John East, who first made the J-retro preamp, was a jazz plate drop-in preamp introduced to me by Steve Barr. I liked the preamp so much I started hounding John to build the preamp with flexible cables and no Jazz plate. This is how the U-retro came about. I gave the name “East Preamp” due to disliking U-retro. I felt that a preamp of this quality needed a name verse a generic term. Many people today still refer to the U-retro as the East preamp. Later, I started installing the U-retro in aluminum boxes as an outboard box. I contact John a number of times to create this box, but he kept denying building an outboard boxes. After many request for the external box, I built a few which I sold to customer and became an unfortunate breakup in relationship between John East and myself. Years later John did come out with an external preamp box. It’s a great unit and selling wonderfully, as does the U-retro and J-retro thanks to Steve Barr and his time and money spent in promoting the product.
Schroeder “Superior Sound” Cabinets In the first half of 2004, I worked with Jorg Schroeder designer of Schroeder cabinets in marketing and pricing idea concept for the product with some basic R&D work on final product. I helped Jorg in distribution of the cabinets as well as marketing them direct to the consumer. I also showed the Schroeder cabs for the first time to the public in 2004 at Summer NAMM. Jorg and I had been friends for years and was honored when he contacted me with his proto-types. Jorg, being a busy LA Bassist knew he had something that would rock the world… and he did! Then, with the Introduction of the Schroeder Lights a year and a half later, he blew the bass community away again.
Benavente Guitars In 2000 I started working with Chris Benavente and helping out with redesigning the instruments which is where the 219B came from out of his 219. Chris being a self taught builder and never working under or with any other builder didn’t have the guidance many young builders have starting out. So his learning curve in building can be seen over the years from just prior to he and I hooking up til today from Chris’s amazing craftsmanship today to neck-profiling and small detailed features to the Pickups and preamps we have worked very hard to create. In 2000, later that year I pushed for a SC designed which is where Chris came up with the SC A design and then early 2002 after winter NAMM I had him build a 219 design in a SC style which is where the first and only 219SC was built. From there Chris tweaked the lower horn and it was names the SC B design. Also during this 2000 period I came up with the B-type Neck design, which creates one of the strongest wood neck’s possible and is a copyrighted design! Its been used on a number of Benavente’s now and is something that has been considered as a feature on all Benavente signature neck’s however because of labor and time it is still just an option. Through this time I helped with neck profiling and focused on the pickup and preamp setup for the instruments. A lot of different combination’s where built in instruments during this period. 2002 Winter NAMM was a killer show for us. The neck profiles were still rounder which some find comfortable, but it was the first time the instruments looked together and Benavente Guitars as a real custom shop high-end builder. Oh and we decked the booth with buckeye tops on about everything :). Buckeye was a real hit at this time and hard to find, but we where loaded down with it. 2002 was when I started pressuring Chris real hard for thinner neck profile and fast feel, because previous to this time Chris was using a thick neck profile which was a result to the thick truss-rod he used. Late 2001 the truss-rod change was made and in early 2002 after Winter NAMM the Benavente’s really began to take shape and everything started to come together. This time period is when Chris and My relationship really started to become a partner ship. We had been together now 2 good years and really felt comfortable with each other and seemed to get along ….. for the most part :). The Instruments them selves had also been completely redesigned with new models. Summer NAMM 2002 Really was the first generation of the New Benavente instruments. We had the new SC B body style which had never been seen at a NAMM and the thinner neck profile’s as well as the Demeter preamp loaded with Aero dual coils. We had with us the 219SC #1 as well as the first true SC B in Red. Late 2001 I had started working with the guys from SIT and we where using there string’s for all Benavente instruments exclusively. Summer NAMM we had the chance to show two instruments’s in the SIT booth since we were too poor for a Booth and SIT was wonderful and extremely helpful. Jim Bergantino was extremely nice even though he shared a booth with Citron at this time to offer his cab’s for people interested in the Benavente’s because we had no cab’s and SIT’s booth was loaded down with people checking them out. It was a great show even though we weren’t there really as a manufacture with a Booth….. this was all to change and Benavente was about to take off! Bass Player asked Chris at Summer NAMM 2002 if he would send an instrument in for review. We where so excited and had also just picked up our first Japanese Distributor Hajime of Sleekelite. We were building his bass when Bass Player called for an instrument, with nothing to give them on short notice Hajime offered up his Buckeye 5 as an option which we took him up on. The bass player ad was to run for Winter NAMM 2003 which we where stoked. A review in the NAMM Bass Player release issue, what more could we ask for! 2003 Winter NAMM was also the first time Jim Bergantino and Benavente Guitar’s shared a Booth. Jim Bergantino had his new 322 cab being reviewed in Bass Player in the NAMM edition, what more could we ask for……. well. Someone I guess figured out that our booth was getting major advertising for Winter NAMM 2003 and we got the call that the Benavente review was being bumped to the following month. That was cool, we tried to look at it in a positive way. Namm 2003 to us was our biggest yet NAMM show with about 20 instruments. This was also the first time Benavente Guitars had its own preamp, labeled the Benavente/Suhr preamp and we used Primarily Aero’s and Dimarzio custom dual coils and Ultra Jazz pickups. The Show was a Blast, the marriage between Benavente Guitars and Bergantino (which was really when Jim was getting popular and more noticed) went wonderful! What was to follow NAMM no one could prepare for, Bass Player review of the Benavente SC. Well its seemed this issue also was another companies Birthday issue, which obviously neither knew about and the storm Anthony Jackson was to start for the following issue’s was more advertisement then Benavente Guitars could ever pay for. It was a real questionable time for us in would Anthony Jackson’s remarks hurt us or help us. In the End it was just that, free advertising. People that would have never paid attention to the instruments after the review found them selves reading Anthony Jackson’s column as wall as many other’s writing in in-response to Anthony Jackson’s in the following months of this issue. Things where really good and our best NAMM “again” 🙂 was just around the corner to follow this review and excitement Anthony Jackson’s had created, Summer NAMM 2003! From here on our mission to keep pushing forward was followed with a wonderful show for winter 2004 and summer 2004 NAMM introduced the Benavente Preamp, which was built in house with also the introduction of the Benavente Slim and Wide pickups. We really had the whole package and we feel the best product we can offer today…
LowEnd “True-Voice” Preamp I started working with Les Plopa (Kern preamp engineer) in 2003. Les and I worked on the unit for a year before I pulled the unit and began the venture with Paul Sanchez. Paul has been a great help with the basic engineering side of the True-Voice. Today, the True-Voice preamp consist of the small desk top unit, the rack mount version and plans for a Studio Tube head. It has taken a lot or learning on my part on audiophile technology, and how many different ways I can rewire a preamp section to sound totally different. It’s been a great learning process for me and I think I am building one of the most amazing preamps for those looking for true tube tone and EQ!