About Chiselhead Bass Guitars

I've been a woodworker all my life. Building bass guitars is the culmination of all those woodworking experiences. I started out building lamps, tables, and various boodileehinks as a boy in my father's basement shop. In high school and throughout my college years at the State University of New York at Albany I worked insulating houses and doing other light carpentry work. 

After college and a few unfulfilling corporate jobs I began a construction company focusing on remodeling work. Three years into that my partners and I went our separate ways. Before leaving though, I found what was to become my career for the next 20 years. 

We had taken a job completing a timber framed house, after the first day on the job I was hooked on building timber frames. Joining large timbers to the tolerance of 1/32 of an inch requires a high degree of careful layout and much hand work with hand saws, chisels, and planes. For 20 years now I've been building timber frames with traditional mortise and tenon joinery pegged together with hard wood pegs. I continue to do that to this day, taking on some custom cabinet work in the winter time where the tolerances are moved up to the 1/64 of an inch. 

In the winter of 2008 I was in the market for a new bass guitar. I'd only been playing since 2003 and it was time to upgrade my starter bass. It was during this process that I came to the realization that I could build my own bass. With 40 years of woodworking experience and a fully equipped shop I tightened up my tolerances to the 1/1000 of an inch and started building a bass guitar. As I built my first bass guitar I realized I'd found my next woodworking career, where the tolerances are tighter yet the pieces are lighter. 

Taking advantage of my skill set and access to the wood I'd acquired from the sawmill that was part of my timber framing arsenal of tools, I'm able to build unique guitars from a variety of non-traditional woods, some of the woods used to date are Ash, Oak, Black Walnut, Chestnut, Butternut, Cherry, Maple, Mahogany, Beech, and Port OrfordCedar. The blending of different woods has led to a wide variety of tones from a punchy bright sound to a warm organic woody tone. As I transition from one ancient craft to the next I still marvel at the beauty that can be extracted from a tree as I revel in the tasks associated with that transformation. From felling a tree to plugging in a newly finished bass for the first time, there is a joy to each and every step in the process.  - Brett Pulliam

 

About the Name

 
While one might think that the Chiselhead name comes from the uniquely crafted headstock design, it is actually quite the opposite. Early in my guitar building career I was at the point where I had to shape a headstock and I had been using the Chiselhead moniker for sometime at that point. I was first called Chiselhead by my recently departed best friend Brian Sweeney. When Brian used to call the shop he'd always start the conversation with "Hey________ (fill in the blank) what's going on?" Sometimes it was "Hey Chiselhead" or "Hey Swizzlestick" or "Hey Muzzleloader." Anyway it was ever changing yet always the same. So Chiselhead is the one I decided to latch onto even though my head doesn't appear to have a sharpened edge to it. And through that came my unique headstock approach.

 

About the Shop

 

Nestled in the Heldeberg Mountains, just west of Albany, NY is "The Shop". Sometimes a Timber Frame Shop, sometimes a Cabinet Shop and sometimes a Guitar Shop, its constant flow of projects makes it a prime example of Order vs Disorder. Nevertheless, the smell of fresh cut wood lets one know that they have entered a true working shop. At nearly 2000 square feet one would think that there would be enough room to accommodate this working shop, yet there is a constant shuffling of benches, equipment and materials. This despite two additions over the last 12 years. Let's hope there remains enough room to continue to put out fine bass guitars for the forseeable future. In other words, I'd rather be building guitars than putting on yet another addition to the shop.