Seemingly simple and primitive, the art on The Journey Bass is profoundly symbolic of an artist’s travels and trials, juxtaposed with that of the man.
The desire to refinish a beloved instrument, revealing the beautiful layers of wood that gives us it’s tone and resonance- without losing, discarding the wear ‘n tear, scars, memories, and lessons of the past…
And the desire to grow, reinvent, rediscover one’s self as a man who is an artist, through an introspective process like peeling back the layers of an onion, and nurturing, cultivating the tender new shoots within~ without losing one’s roots, history, family, fans in the winds of change…
Gene Evaro Jr, of Gene Jr & The Family, wrote “Life Is A Journey” around this same time. The art created here represents his whole journey- so the journey bass is inspired by his rich past and his bright clean future, which is ever unfolding before our very eyes… Love ‘n Light, MT
Before & After- Look at the transformation from “seen better days” to Art Guitar!
The Journey Bass Before
The Journey Bass Front
The Journey Bass Headstock
Sometimes, the best art is just the way a light staining brings out the natural wood grain.
After making music with me for more than ten years, this beautiful blue Compass series Yamaha acoustic guitar I call Resurrection, was heading for the ancient burial grounds of musical instruments. After years of being dropped by inebriated band mates including myself, the dry desert air, and abuse had made cracks and holes all over the top this sweet Yamaha! She had seen better days.
Talking to a luthier I quickly realized I could not afford a new top so instead of tossing the guitar in the trash, I thought why not get creative with this guitar, customize it, stain it and make it a piece of art. Then pray it still makes music. A little meeting of the minds with my nuts and bolts partner in crime Steve Shrader, and we were off!
I painted the edges of the holes to look “peeled back” but the holes are real
Cutting holes, shoring up the cracks with popsicle sticks and making sure we had a steady guitar top to make some guitar art magic. I said “Let’s make it look like a grenade was dropped inside a metal guitar.” Steve laughed at me, smiled and said “Yea!!” After days of work, staining, inking and layers of Tru-Oil for a glossy finish, we achieved our goal… “Resurrection” The real miracle is that she plays and sounds sweeter than ever! Love and Light… Mt
After seeing my guitar artwork on her uncle Mark’s guitar and her Dad’s bass, my God -daughter Starlin asked me to make her half-size child’s guitar pretty so I decided to paint Stars Guitar. It doesn’t play well but she thought it would look good on display in her room.
My business just started with family and friends wanting their guitars refinished and painted. This gave me many chances to learn and grow without the stress of a client to please on a commissioned guitar.
I thought an underwater scene in my style with a starfish would be cool. I let the stain and denatured alcohol do most of the work on this one. The magic seemed to happen by itself, and Star was thrilled. Her smile when I was finished was priceless.
Ever since I can remember a rusty old shipwreck and the mystique of the buccaneer and the rebel pirates have fascinated me. I have always viewed the musicians, poets, writers, painters, and scientists as a different kind of pirate. Questioning the status quo, fighting to be free and believing in the treasure chest filled with art and answers.
This Yamaha is my go to guitar I play all the time. So I thought why not reflect my sentiment for the pirate, the artisans and the thinkers with this guitar. The scene is dark, under the water, the flag is torn…success historically has had a way of eluding many great minds. So…it’s a pirates life for me baby and how about you? MT
This really old nylon I bought for my friend L Shrader at Schafer and Sons more than 30 years ago. It still plays like a dream. Sweet tone, great action, just one of those magic little guitars.
I was honored to do something special, artistically on this garden guitar for my oldest dear friend Linda, who is an amazing artist herself. You can see her work at www.largerthanlifemurals.com.
Getting Started On The Garden Guitar
Knowing Linda’s love for her garden, I decided to paint a garden guitar for her. I had an idea for a floral effect so I used torn tape to make my shapes. The guitar I sanded down smooth as glass which is unusual for acoustic tops. Using a very limited color palette I laid down the stain, and removed the tape. Actually it was my easiest project to date. As it was one of my early projects I was amazed at how the guitar stains had blended and mixed in the voids. Art making itself I call it.
I use denatured alcohol to really make the guitar stains move around. A drop here, a drop there, and magic happens. I finished it with ten coats of Tru-Oil and a few years later it still looks shiny and beautiful. Thank you Linda, this guitar is still one of my favorites:-)
My second attempt at staining and refinishing was for my jungle bass player Steve Shrader. He willingly handed over his Ibanez SDGR bass guitar. With little experience and much to learn, I was grateful for the opportunity. I had no clue as to what he wanted so I thought about him always being there for me as a friend and a band mate. Like a warrior he always rose to any challenge so I thought I would paint him a Jungle war bass. Animal colors and stripes, a little blood for the battle, and black.
Maybe I learned too much about power sanders on this one! You have to very patient and gentle when using any power tool. I ended up making more work for myself by being impatient, so the word is relax… and let the machine do the work.
After some tender loving care and hand sanding at the end, I was pleased with the feel of the wood. I stained the bass with red, green and yellow, applied my animal stripes with torn painters tape, stained the entire bass black, removed the tape and voilà! It still looks and plays fantastic, and it’s had some real hard gig time. Tru-Oil does hold up if you are reasonable when you handle your guitar.
I am honored and blessed to have been a part of this great mans life, and he be a part of mine. Here’s to the great music and the good times we’ve had with his Jungle Bass! Love and Music…MT
The birth of MT Robison Art Guitars was unintentional and organic, although perhaps a bit random and definitely risky. When MT Robison was asked by his former lead-guitar player and MD for MT Robison & The Messengers, Mark Shrader, to refinish his factory red Les Paul and add a big “22,” neither MT nor Mark knew what had just happened. But it was big.
And who knows what possessed Shrader, typically logical and cautious, to ask MT to do that in the first place? Insanity or inspiration? It wasn’t a case of mistaken career identity. Shrader knew MT had never refinished a guitar in his life, and yet, he handed over a brand new Gibson Les Paul to an eager but inexperienced MT, and went home and slept like a baby. It may forever remain one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the 21st century, baffling psychiatrists and late night talk show hosts the world over.
Now, the story of a man pursuing his dreams and his original music for over 40 years without reasonable financial validation is for another post, but let’s just say it’s been a very long journey… one that can leave a man finding himself tired, uninspired, and a bit lost in the woods.
Few people knew what other artistic talents MT possessed besides singing, song writing, and playing a mean slide-guitar. MT himself had almost forgot how much he loved creating visual arts.
His father, E.W. Robison was a Ret. Army Major, and a civil engineer by trade, but he was also a life-long artist, doing everything from hand-drawn portraits of movie-stars for old movie theater marquees, to block printing, painting, quilt making, and so on. Visual art is in MT’s blood as much as his Kentucky roots and music from his mother’s side of the family.
When MT’s hands got to working on the wood of that first guitar, he felt a stir of familiarity… and watched with wonder, as his hands sanded away the factory paint and the beautiful wood grain was revealed. (Look, he’s actually smiling.)
Shrader was so happy with the results of “22,” that he then asked MT to refinish his Takamine with any artwork MT wanted. MT created a rich, colorful, water-color style, layered effect with quality wood stains and a Tru-oil finish that really brought out the gorgeous wood grain.
And somewhere in the rich soil of the artistic process, seeds were planted that grew like wildfire beneath a cold and crusty earth, and a cold and crusty heart. Tender shoots of child-like excitement sprang up inside MT, sparking his imagination, awakening something he hadn’t felt for a long time.
And he couldn’t wait to get his hands on another guitar…