jim fink

we received this picture and charming 'letter of introduction' from a man named jim fink via e-mail recently. these ones with the accompanying notes are my favorites:
Mimi and gang,

Here is my oldie photo! I remember this jam session very well, it was right before we formed a bar band that did Allmand Bros and Yes covers. It was taken in Walnut Creek CA in someone's backyard the summer of 1972. I had already been playing four years and was in some demand at parties. Well, its not because I was hot or anything, more because not many people played bass back then, they all wanted to play the glory instruments and saw the bass as, well a chore that someone had to do - often a rhythm guitarist that couldn¹t play lead guitar very well. Tough time on those young egos. I migrated to bass after two years on drums.

Some fun details:
The bass is a mid-1960s German Klira violin-shaped bass. It was originally owned by Bruce Barthol of 'Country Joe and the Fish' fame. He actually carved his name in the headstock. Bruce decided he needed to move up in the world with his new found fame and bought a real Fender bass (drool!) from Webb's Music in Antioch CA. I bought the Klira because it could be easily flipped to left-handed. I was a very happy teenager in 1968! Notice the tear-drop "F" holes. It was originally sunburst but I stripped it an stained it walnut. Can you say knobs? Being in the Bay Area we were immersed in Alembic culture! By the time this shot was taken, I replaced the Klira bridge pickup with a Gibson humbucking and added a huge Gibson humbucking pickup near the neck. Because we cut through the internal 'bass bar' (as found on uprights) we had to stick a huge foam block under the humbucker so it wouldn't fall further into the body. The original Klira 'staple type' pickup is still in place. To switch between pickups, I had a Radio Shack five-way knob installed up near my thumb. There is also a bank of micro switches directly below the big pickups that I can't recall what they did, but looked cool. The array of six knobs controlled the primitive 'active' tone controls and volumes for the pickups. An amateur electronics nerd friend did the wiring for me and kept correcting it when he learned more how to do this sort of stuff. After a while he got pretty good at it. Oh by the way, it was actually wired stereo! When I could borrow a second amp from someone, I could get a cool stereo sound. I wasn't aware of "Ric-O-Sound" yet or even knew about Rickenbacker gear.

The amp is an old Kay 50w head. I made the folded horn cabinets from stolen plywood from a building site behind our home and they rattled accordingly. The plastic James Bond attaché case in front of me held all my cords (I removed the 'knives' and 'explosives' years before, he he!).

"Dig the clothes, man?" We played all over Berkeley, San Francisco, some gigs in Oakland and of course the Œburbs of the east bay.

Where is the Klira today? About three years after this shot was taken, it was stolen! That actually was a good thing because by then I could just afford a real bass, a Fender Precision--which I naturally went about fiddling with and installed a J-bass bridge pickup on it! Just can't leave well enough alone I guess.

Today I own a Strunel 3/4 upright, A Ken Smith six string, a Mike Lull Modern 5 fretless and my wonderful, totally stock Fender Jazz (that I modified by putting in Custom Shop 60s pickups!).

Thanks for your time and enjoy this flash from the past!

Jim Fink
San Francisco/Seattle

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