(newest entries as of August 2007 shown in red.)
Denise Thomas Pressnall
(Denise is the daughter of Harvey Thomas)
My daughters are thrilled that some one remembers their grandpa in such great ways. We have shared your article with Wes Thomas (Harvey's son), and Sandy Thomas (Floyd's daughter; Harvey's niece). THANK YOU for keeping my dad's spirit alive!! I and my kids will always be grateful! I am also looking for stories to put in a scrap book (for them ) from other people who have known Harvey.
Just to let you know, my mom (Mary Thomas ) passed last week at St. Joe's hospital. She will be missed. But now she and Harvey can dance the nights away! I told her I spoke to you and about the web page, she seemed to love the idea.
Yes I do have a few copies of the record (in fact I thought I had them all ;) I played it about 2 weeks ago for my 7 year old. I really think Harvey is in her . She has the talent and the love of all music ! My 14 year old thought it was cool , but as a teen was indifferent!
I was at the antique guitar show last month in Kent. Ran into a lot of people I had known.
Thomas seems to be the name right now. Deke Dickerson and I met up about 2 weeks a go, he wants to write a book with a music cd of the the makers playing their instruments. Interesting. I have another one emailing me from the UK wanting to write a book. He wrote Mott the Hoople's book.
Check out my "Myspace " for Harvey:
My oldest daughter is helping me get it together..check out some of the pictures!
Also, my husband is cancer free and we are doing good!
Denise Thomas Pressnall
Kari Scott, 2006
Check out www.cdbaby.com/cd/kariscott1
same for kariscott2 or click on to other cd's by kari scott.
Deke Dickerson, 2001
Just got done reading your story on Harvey Thomas again on the web. I had read it years ago in the Girl Trouble magazine but was happy to see it on the web with new pictures.
Just a few days ago at Golden Oldies in Tacoma I finally scored a Kari Scott record (45 rpm) that proudly annouces "KARI-CRAFT RECORDS--Unique instrumental done at ONE time by ONE man, HARVEY THOMAS and his INFERNAL MUSIC MACHINE." Yes!! Score! Do you know how many of these records were done? Was there ever a whole album???
Part of what is motivating me at the moment is that I just met a guy in Sacramento who owns a Harvey Thomas tripleneck guitar! (not the one with "Thomas Custom Guitars" inlaid on the neck though, where IS that guitar???) I haven't got pictures of it yet, and he doesn't want to sell it, but at any rate, I'm excited to hear that one of these exists, in the flesh.
Thanks again for getting back to me, and also thanks one more time for turning so many people on to the brilliance of Harvey Thomas. Your story is the greatest. I only wish I could have known him the way you did.
I'm now the proud owner of a Thomas! After all these years of searching I finally found one. Maybe not the ultimate example, but I'm pleased to have one just the same. It's a Maltease Surfer model (without the hook headstock) and it has some really neat "smoked" finish details. Sounds great too!
You might have seen this one. A guy in the chicago area had it on ebay about four times for a $1400 minimum bid. Every time the auction ended without any bids, I would e-mail him and tell him I'd give him $900 for it. well, after four times he finally relented and I got it for 900.
Still collecting photos, stories etc. for my West Coast Custom Guitars book--but I've been so busy touring this year it looks like another year gone by without a final product.
Bob Eveslage, 2006
Back in the late '60s I lived in West Seattle. I was part owner of a recording studio there and also played bass and keys in a local band. I needed a bass, so I asked around and was given Harvey Thomas' name. I called and he invited me out to his home. I remember seeing all his fine work. He had a bass that really caught my eye, and he sold it to me for $75. What a deal! He was the nicest gentleman. I really admired his work and dedication to the trade.
I've been back in my home state of Minnesota now since 1970 and am presently touring with my bandmates from the '60s in a group called The Unbelievable Uglies. We were the first band inducted into the Midwest Rock Hall of Fame in Minneapolis. I still have the bass and I still use it at times with the band.
I only spent a few years in Seattle, but I met lots of fine musicians. One of them was Harvey!
New Ulm, MN
Rod Hart, 2005
I remember the first time I ever saw a Thomas guitar was at the National Auto Parts store in Midway. I was eleven or twelve and I saw these incredibly wierd guitars on the wall for sale. One was a Iron Cross, one was completely clear,and the one that really caught my eye was the one made out of a toilet seat. My dad said that the guy that made them must be a kook, and the owner of the store under his breath said "or a genius." I agreed with the store owner.
I later befriended a not-very-well-liked kid named Wes. We hit it off great because I wasn't very well liked either. We became friends right away. I remember once I brought my guitar over to play with Wes and Harvey heard us and came in to see what we were doing. Well, he fell in love with the beautiful sunburst Framus that my dad had bought for me and offered me any guitar on the wall I wanted in exchange for the Framus! But my dad would not let me do the trade. (I was just a little bit more than mad!)
I did, however, get a Thomas guitar though not your usual Thomas. I have one of the first guitars that simply said "Thomas" on the head and has the most unusual backwards sun burst on the body and neck. It has some wild '50s pick-ups, and some features I'm really not sure of the functions. But the guitar I've been told is one of the slickest playing and smoothest actions they have ever seen or played on. Harvey gave me the guitar before I moved to Auburn as a gift. I will never sell or part with it as long as I live, although many have tryed.
Ron Adee, 2007
Thanks for the web site tribute to Thomas Guitars. I enjoyed the trip down memory lane.
Wes Thomas (Harvey’s son) was a classmate of mine at Woodmont elementary school. Wes invited me to his house once and I had the pleasure of seeing Harvey’s custom guitar collection in their home. The one that stands out in my mind was a pink fur covered guitar. I’m sure I saw one just like it in one of the old ‘Beach Blanket’ surfer movies in the sixties.
The house had other amusements too. There was a model railroad track that ran throughout the house at the top of the walls and through the walls to an attic. Wes took me up there and there was a whole room devoted to switching cars as in a railroad yard. We also went to the "lake" (or pond) (or swamp) at the back of the property and rode a paddlewheel boat powered by foot. We also rode around on mini-bikes in a kind of rock quarry near the lake. It was a fun day.
Afterward, Wes’ mom made hot dogs for us. Wes’ mom was a very quiet and hospitable person and it always seemed unusual to me that she and Harvey were man and wife. I guess she kind of balanced out Harvey’s personality. I didn’t see Harvey except when he would pass through the house to get something. I asked Wes about the guitar manufacturing building and he said that was off limits.
I think the business fell on hard times in the late sixties during the Boeing slowdown and Harvey took to doing live performances with his one man band about that time. I would often see his name on the reader board of a local tavern or see one of his hearses parked in front of the old Dairy Mart at the intersection of 260th and highway 99.
I had a friend named Bruce Carson who also grew up in our neighborhood who was a guitarist and I saw him playing at a tavern in Enumclaw about 1975. I talked to him after the show and he said he was playing a Thomas Guitorgan 12 string. He said that some of the organ keys didn’t work anymore but the guitar had a very nice sound to it. Apparently the 12 string was a very rare model. I haven’t seen Bruce in many years so I don’t know if he still has the guitar.
Tom Dietz, 2006
In 1997 I managed the Guitar Dept. of Sherman Clay Music on 1st Ave South in Burien. One day a customer brought in all the parts of a Fender Precision Bass except for the body. He wanted to sell the parts. Fender bodies we not listed in the factory price list so, I assumed they could not be bought as a replacement part. On behalf of the store I bought the parts from the guy for $50.
I had heard about Harvey Thomas, got his phone number and called him up. I hoped that I could convince him to make a copy of a true Fender Precision Bass. He agreed to hand carve a body if I would provide a body for him to copy. I met him at his shop with the P Bass parts and a new P Bass for him to copy. I ordered the new body in a black gloss finish. The cost for the reassembled bass with the new body would be $150. This was roughly the cost of new Fender P Bass. I ordered it anyway because if I sold the instrument for my cost it would be a fair price and my store would not lose any money on the overall transaction.
Harvey called me at work and told me to come pick up the finished black bass. He was proud of the final product by I was a little disappointed.
Even though the instrument looked OK and played well it wasn't a true copy of the Fender body contours. The contour on the front was not smooth but had a concave roll instead of the convex roll. I took it to the store and eventually sold it. My memory of who bought it is gone but, I bet that "Thomas" bodied precision bass is floating around somewhere in the Seattle area.
Joe Brignone, 2000
Hi Tim: I came across your web article on Harvey Thomas while searching for info on Guitorgans. I knew Harvey back in the late '60s and '70s when I was playing in country bands around the Tacoma area. Your article really brought back memories especially your first trip to his place. My first trip was almost identical even to having to wait in his house for him to appear. I had him do some work on a Gibson SG standard and spent many hours listening to his stories. One which he told me, I don't know if it was true but knowing Harvey it might have been, was when the Sasquatch sightings were happening on the Washington coast. He said he used to wear large heavy shoes and a fur outfit and step out of the woods onto the beach just far enough away from people that they couldn't get a good look at him. When they began to come closer he would run back into the woods then watch the paper the next day to see if they reported it.
I bought my Guitorgan in 1977 and still have it. It was a great instrument to play and people used to come up to the bandstand and wonder if I had recorded organ music playing during my songs. Today's synths are great but one thing they can't do is hold a sustained chord while playing single notes which the Guitorgan can do. I played it through a Leslie 860 and it sounded just like a Hammond B3.
Two of the people who worked in Harvey's shop during the time I went there were "Big" Bill Garner a great guitar with the lightest touch of anyone around. I really liked his jazzy fingerstyle of playing. He was playing at the Riverside Inn in Tukwilla at that time. I don't know what ever happened to him. The other guitar player that worked at Harvey's was Chet Hastings also a good guitar player. He played a Thomas double neck and still might be playing off and on around the area to this day. I played music professionally for about 30 years all over the Northwest and got out of the business about 10 years ago. I taught myself how to play guitar in 1950 using the chord diagrams from old Hillbilly song books. I never did learn how to read notes. I don't think there is or was a country club or tavern in the Tacoma area that I haven't played in, some of which are long gone now.
(I questioned Joe about some places and people that I remember from those days, and he replied with this fascinating information. The Brandin' Iron lounge that he mentions was just a few blocks from my house, and I used to attend broadcasts of the Country Jamboree show back when Channel 13 was a real Mom&Pop operation.)
Yes, I did play on the "Country Jamboree" when Grover Jackson had the show after steel player Chubby Howard left. I was playing lead guitar for "Lorraine and the Country Gentlemen" at the Brandin Iron on 84th and Pacific and just as CH 13 was starting to convert to color we began backing up Grover on the show. Lorraine sang and played bass, her husband "Skip" VanSickle played rhythm guitar and Terry Hildreth son of "Shotgun Red Hildreth" who owned the Cloud Nine at the time played drums. I worked with Lorraine for about 3 years from Aug of 1971 to Aug of 1974 when I formed my own band and went on the road for the next 15 years. For about 8 of those years I did a duo with a great steel guitar player named Paula Wolfe who used to work with Pat Roberts and the Evergreen Drifters. After Paula got out of the music business I began doing a "single" up until I quit music in 1990 and went to work for the Sheriff's Dept.
When Lorraine's band began backing Grover at CH 13 they were doing the show "live" and things sometimes got pretty messed up like having the wrong mike keyed when the camera was on someone else. We finally convinced them to start taping the show and it got better. They used to tape the song list on the floor in front of Grover so on what ever song we were doing they could key the mikes and cameras. Grover being Grover would say, "Well, I see here we are supposed to play (song name), but grandma so and so called in and wants to hear (song) so we're going to do it for her" By this time the floor boss was madly waving his arms to let Grover know that the station wasn't set up for a change of songs but Grover just said "Hit it boys" and away we would go. Sometimes the only mike that would be on was the harmony mike and the camera wouldn't even be on the right person. Our fans from the Brandin Iron began calling in to complain because they knew all of our arrangements and knew things weren't right. That's when we finally got the station to begin taping the show. I have audio tapes of some of the shows but no video tapes, (no VCRs yet). One of the main sponsors was "Grover's New Magic Rug Cleaner". I can't remember why our band quit the show but I think it was because we all had day jobs and it just got to be too much to handle.
I think it would be a great idea to get a "Harvey spot" in the Paul Allen museum. He sure deserves it. He was a great innovator and inventor. If I remember right, after he invented the concept of the Guitorgan he never got a patent and someone else began building them so he lost out.
Another old performer from the NW who made his mark was "Sheriff Texas Jim Lewis" and his "Hootenanny" from the old KING-TV afternoon kids show "Junction Jamboree". He also used to play at the Golden Apple in Seattle. I played guitar for him for a couple of weekends back in the early "60's". He use to drink a lot and that finally got him let go from KING. When I was playing down on Pacific Ave. in Tacoma at the Club 1306 with Red Reeves and the Cajun Sounds in 1968, Sheriff Tex was tending bar at the old "Britannia" later called "Ezmireldas". His "Hootenanny", (a washboard with all kinds of whistles bells and horns on it), was displayed in the window. I don't know what happened to it but that would be a great find for a display. Back in the "60's" there was a national TV show called "Hootenanny" which featured the acts touring the colleges like the Kingston Trio etc. Sheriff Tex sued them for "stealing his Hootenanny name but I don't think he won.
Well, there I go rambling on again. It goes with old age I think. You are certainly
welcome to use any "excerpts' from my letters for your web site. If I can
be of any more help, just let me know. I love talking about this old stuff.
I have photos and tapes of all the bands I used to work with clear back to 1960.
There are a lot of those musicians who unfortunately are not here anymore. Some
were great "pickers and singers".
Marc Gottlieb, 2000
I have a Thomas guitar that I picked up a few years ago at a garage sale. I thought it was the coolest guitar, although it had no strings or bridge on it... so I hung onto it for a while until I was able to get it to my regular guitar guy to fix it up for me. He did a good job on manufacturing a bridge for it, but there is no intonation setting... so the instrument never really is in tune well enough to play and the action is very high so I dont get a buzz on like the first fret. I also am using extremely heavy gauge strings to counter the buzz. But its pretty much unplayable, but still looks cool with the curved headstock.
I was thinking about selling it until I read your article. I was planning on going to a local guitar shop and gettting it appraised, but they probably never heard of Harvey Thomas. I was also wondering why my guitar repair guy never heard of him. I was checking inside the electronics area one time and I believe the truss rod was originally set by Harvey Thomas because it had his initials and a date back in 1967 in pencil on the inside on some masking tape. But I was curious as to the location of the company as it says like Pennsylvania or something like that. Maybe I just got confused. But I never imagined in Midway of all places... jeez I used to live right near there. I actually sold some of my used stuff at the Midway Swap Meet.
Sandra Lee Thomas, 1999
Thank you for remembering my uncle Harvey and seeing the humor in his character.
I'm glad he didn't scare you away and he was able to leave fossils in your brain
about being creative and a one a kind attitude. This site is very much appreciated
by the family. My dad (Floyd Thomas) thanks you for the compliment on his looks.
He is handsome and really is starting to look like Harvey's twin... oooo wouldn't
that be scarey.
Always pray for peace and it will be with you.
Eric Cale, 2003
Enjoyed your piece on Harvey Thomas. He's right up there with Paul Bigsby! I have a Thomas Bass S#18, dated 5/15/65. It's the extreme strat shape in red & black sunburst w/ sparkle lucite pickguard and white bubble pick-up. Is there more information available about Thomas and his instruments? Is there a Thomas Owners Club?!
Eric Cale, Wichita, KS
Michael Holley, 2003
What an unreal experience reading your site! Harvey Lived just off 260th place, and it was given a Kent address but it was as you say an unincorported stretch of no mans land. I grew up at the south end of 260th, just across highway 99. I was just like you, young, chubby and an electric guitar nut. One of my friends told me about this Harvey Thomas guy, that his mom had seen him perform and that he had an "electric dummy".
One day we got up the nerve to go see him. His driveway was exactly as you described. I can still picture that house with all it's "Trimmings" as you will. Knocking on his door, here was this "old" guy but with super cool sideburns that to us meant he was "with-it". However his demeanor was that of a cranky old cuss that didnt have much need for a couple of neighborhood kids wanting nothing more than to snoop around his compound, drag mud into his house and waste his time. Relunctantly he let us in and I being raised a strict catholic, even going to catholic school in Des Moines, could not even imagine that any adult could live in such a glorious manor. Double necks, triple necks, guitars with fur, naked ladies, white plastic fret boards, glitter pickguards! He let us play some guitars and after about 30 minutes told us he had business to attend to, so get out. He was scary and at the same time fascinating.
My friends mom went back and bought him a phantom 12 string for $125. It sounded incredible to us and I thought is was the most amazing thing in the entire world. My mom went to see about a guitar for me but opted instead to buy a $35 Decca from the Val-U-Mart (Its now a Fred Meyer I think) just up the street.
I made many trips back to Harvey's after that and all my attempts to be-friend him were rejected. All the kids in the hood were scared shitless of him. He must have taken a shining to you for whatever reason. I would have given my left nut to do with him what you were able to do.
Later in life, having moved to my own apartment in West Seattle, after a vist to my parents, I dropped by and there he was, looking about the same with the same vibe. There on the wall was a pale yellow phantom type with a blue glitter pick guard that was still in the place on his wall, as when I was there as a boy. He sold it to me for $200 and I almost cried. He never on any visits acted as if he had ever seen me before in his life. This guitar was later traded to Mick Flynn for who knows what. I would love to have it back.
Some other friends said they snuck on the compound once and spied on Don and the Goodtimes rehearsing in Harvey's little nightclub. I dont know if that is true or not. We always used to fantasize about throwing a big party for our friends in Harvey's club and all the chicks it would bring us! You mentioned that Harvey always came out on top in his deals. One of the kids who claimed to have seen Don and the Good Time's in the night club inherited from his father an old mandolin and a wierd steel guitar that sounded like shit. We assessed them to be completely useless in the quest of attracting females. You have to remember that this was the sixties and no one figured that any thing old could have any monetary value what so ever. He dragged them up to Harvey who prompley paid him $25 each for the two instruments. As you can guess, they were a 50's Gibson mandolin, not sure what model and a tri-cone Dobro. I'll bet he turned them into a couple of ace caddy's as fast as he could!
I have Harvey to thank for my pawnshop, oddball, '60s guitars fetish that can never be fully satisfied. What a privledge it was to have someone like him local considering the times and location. Having long hair in that neighbor hood then was enough ammo to provoke numerous working class rednecks to try and kick your ass, so anything outside the accepted norm was like manna from heaven. Harvey's compoud or the swamp as you refer to it, was manna from the heavens.
I went on to a 10 year career with the Guitar Center in Los Angels where I ran the Hollywood and Sherman Oaks stores and then became the guitar and amp buyer. I left last year to start my own business. Those moments in Harvey's house, with all those guitars everywhere charted a path for my life.
Thanks for your great site, it made my day.
Michael Holley, Los Angeles, CA
Bill Nehl, 2000
I saw your article on Harvey Thomas while doing a search on "double neck guitars". I grew up in Auburn, WA and sometime around '68 or '69 I found myself driving my dads car into the scene you described in your article. I was a fat high school guitar geek looking for a good used guitar and I somehow, don't remember exactly how, looked up the "Thomas Guitar Shop". I vaguely remember a house in the middle of a muddy large lot. I knocked on the door and a pleasant looking young woman let me in witha smile when I asked about used instruments. The array ofguitars on display FLOORED me. As you describe there were other models -- I was quickly drawn to an old steel bodied dobro -- but the authentic Thomases were other-worldly! It only took a couple of minutes for me to get really uncomfotrable -- the realization that I was in someone's home, and not the shop I expected, as well as a couple of looks at price tags way out of my teenage wallet range -- and I said my thanks and goodbye. After reading your article I'm sort of glad I didn't meet Mr. Thomas -- he probably would have thrown me in the mud just for my complete gawky nerdness!!
I am now a double-neck player who occasionally gigs as a one man band. I found your description of his playing methods and equipment incredible!! Man, I wish I had that Infernal Music Machine -- and that TRIPLE NECK!!! AWESOME!!! Someday I want to own a triple neck. I currently play two early 70s Ibanez guitar/bass combos for solo gigs and have a Jerry Jones guitar/sitar and a super fine Gretsch 6120 12/6 that I use for fronting my rockabilly/surf trio. I'd like to know about any other Thomas multi-neck instruments that I might be able to see -- and if anyone is building replicas. Hey -- that might not be a bad idea! Jerry Jones was so successful building replica Danos they brought back the name! Thanks for a great article that I enjoyed very much and that brought back a great memory.
Ken Wagner, 2001
I'm proud to say that I am the recent owner of a Thomas triple neck. I've looked all over for any information I could find on these guitars and found very little. So when I came by an article you wrote I was very pleased not only to have found some information on Harvey Thomas, but someone who knew him personally. I am (was) a luthier, as I worked for Warmoth Guitar Products here in Puyallup Washington and still fool with making a guitar or two.
As I said I have a triple neck that I recently aquired that's in damn good shape. I'm curious though. the artical I read stated that the triple necks had a whammy on the six string bass and mine does not. Was that an option of some sort? Do you have any idea how many were made? Mine says "Thomas 65" in what looks like black marker under the pick-guard and you can still see the penciled in lay-out for the wiring.
I grew up with Wes and Melody Thomas. My father Walt and I worked for Harvey
for a while. We worked with the cars he had, and the old army duck that had
a boom on it. My father also helped Harvey set up his equipment when he played
places. I remember the Boots tavern in Black Diamond the most. We also worked
with George Bennedetti from Monte Vista Guitars, in Tacoma. I have a few semi
hollow body maltese guitars that I recieved from Harvey as a gift.
Marc Connelly, 2001
Growing up on Mercer Island and falling in love with everything guitar just at the British Invasion, I prowled the haunts looking, learning, and generally beating up lacquer wherever I possible could. From Joos Music to Tafoyas, I was a fixture along with my buddy (and front man) David Baroh. We haunted everywhere. And this is the problem. Dave and I ran into some place that had some Thomas guitars on the rack. I remember the maltese look and the glitter clearly. Outrageous.
Being Brit invasion types with no sense of retro cool (a non existant term in those days) these maltese jobs with the tacky glitter did not hold any appeal to us at all. Still, whever we were when we saw these, the shop owner asked us what we thought of them. "Great if you are in band named Auschwitz" Dave replied. A funny little man with apple cheeks and a cigar who was standing over there somewhere busted out laughing. I mean, this really got him going. The owner said: "He makes them." We felt sheepish and beat a hasty retreat.
Now, I would slay to have one, of course. Even more to the point, I'd slay to spend an afternoon soaking up some of his ambience. They are so anti-design, so damn cool! You have a fortunate memory there, Tim. And as I re-read it, I just crack up all over again. Thanks for sharing.
John Daniel, 2001
When I was in high school, in the mid-late '60s, my friends and I had a band. Our rythym player was a little younger. He had a Thomas iron cross guitar. The neck wasn't bad, the electronics were weak and we thought it was the goofiest looking thing we had ever seen. We teased him about it until he stopped using it. Then he got a Harmony Rocket, which was totally acceptable. He later sold his Thomas. I have, in recent, years talked with him about the guitar and tried to track it down without any luck. Do you know approximatley how many guitars Harvey Thomas made? I always hope to find one at garage sales or swap meets but I've had no success so far. As you can tell, in later years I've come to appreciate these instruments.
Joe Levack, 2003
I grew up 2 miles from Harveys' on Military road. I used to go there and he had his guitar tree with guitars way up high. Other times I just roamed around the shop. He was the first guy I saw use an oscilloscope as a tuner. I'm 50 now and have been playing professionaly since I was 11 and Harvey holds a strong part in my heart. Many years later I went out to see him and he offered the whole thing for 10,000 dollars but at the time I had no use for it all. Wonderful memories for me.
My husband, Randy, accidentally found your web page about Harvey Thomas. Randy and Harvey were buddies in the early 80's. Randy actually lived on Harvey's property for a couple of years. I never personally met Harvey, but I felt as though I knew him through the many stories that my husband has shared with me over the past six years. Just reading your web page made me laugh several times and cry as well. I would have loved to have met him. I'm sure I would have loved the man and his silly and sick sense of humor. Randy has lots of stories that he would be happy to share with you. By the way, he gave me permission to tell you that it wasn't beer in that beer can that got poured into that carburetor. It was gasoline. Looks like Harvey gotcha on that one!
It sounds to me as if Harvey helped shape your life as much as he did my husband's,
only in different ways. He taught my husband the art of buying and selling and
got him interested in busses. 20 years later, my husband is still very involved
in both. Some of Harvey's sense of humor even rubbed off too.
Thank you so much for putting up that web page about Harvey. We very much enjoyed it and it provoked my husband into sharing even more stories with me. I laughed and cried some more this morning.
It saddens our hearts that Harvey has passed on from Cancer. Randy drove me out to the property a few years ago and told me about the pond with the legs sticking out of it and told me about the house and shop, etc. Oh how I wish I could have seen it in it's glory and met the man himself. His memory certainly lives on and will continue to do so.
Doni Healy, 2001
My husband and I just finished reading what you had written about Harvey and
laughed and chortled til we were sick. We first met Harvey in 61 or 62. What
a character he was! My husband bought his first guitorgan from Harvey and Harvey
showed him how it should be played. With gusto,and gentleness and tenderness
and yes you're right with as little hand and movement as possible. My husband
was and is a very accomplished guitar player and one of the few around who was
really proficient on the guitorgan. He still has 3 of them.
Dan DePrez, 2003
Thank God for the Internet! After owning a Thomas electric for ten years (needs minor repairs, so I've never heard it plugged in), I FINALLY can learn what the hell it is that I own. Your extremely well-written memoir confirms what I always expected; that this weird guitar and its weird inventor were custom-made for a wierdo like me! It looks like a hollow-body Stratocaster with f-holes, two pickups (single-coil) and knobs off a Telecaster. Certainly a work as unique and eccentric as a Thomas guitar has inspired a network (or should I say cabal?) of afficianados around. Thanks
Chris Evans, 2002
I'm a guitarist with a 1960s Liverpool band, the Undertakers, although there are only two of the original members, Jeff Nugent and Brian "Saxophone" Jones, Jackie Lomax and Chris Houston now residing on your side of the water. I am not an original member but I did play in various other groups from the 1960s onwards who you probably haven't heard of ( Farons Flamingos, Earl Preston and the T.T.'s etc). We ( the Undertakers) now play mainly around the Merseyside area with occasional gigs on the Continent (mainly Germany).
I came across your site while looking for some information on Harrvey Thomas. I possess a white cross guitar made by Harvey, similar to the one made (in)famous by Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople. I obtained this guitar around 1976 and have been trying to get some information on it since. In the UK Harvey's name is virtually unknown and your web page has certainly helped me on his background. The guitar was made in Seattle, do you know if Harvey ever met Jimi Hendrix (the master)? If you can let me know any details about the cross guitar I would be grateful (pickups look like Framus but I can't identify most of the hardware).
I have known of Thomas guitars since roughly 1966 when I came across an ad in a Musicians Union newspaper(my dad belonged to local 47 as a french horn player) showing the Maltese Falcon model. I immediately sent to Thomas for information on his guitars and shortly recieved a small catalog in a standard business sized envelope. The cover letter, which I still have somewhere, was a photocopy. It detailed the location of the factory in Kent, WA. and explained how the guitars were constructed and the registration of ownership process. In the letter,Thomas agreed to send the guitar with 1/2 down with balance to be paid upon arrival. The catalog was great, with,on the back a picture of a chimp playing an axe shaped guitar with the caption, "Why go ape? Play the finest!" I later sent for an additonal catalog which featured a plethora of new models: The Riot KIng,The Mod, The Deleitar,Multi-necks etc. I never did purchase one, but much later, ran across a large simi-acoustic electric in green sunburst that I really wish I had bought! I still think that I will locate and buy one these,but they are really scarce in my travels. I certainly enjoyed your article! It's nice to know more about the man and his life. Thanks!!
Benjamin & Mindy Thompson, 2002
My wife and I enjoyed reading your article about Harvey Thomas very much. We became aware of Harvey through my father-in-law, who had a "garage band" back in the sixties. Apparently these two had developed a friendship over the years - not unlike you had. We currently have two Thomas guitars in our possession - a relatively non descript bass and a one-off model that Harvey called "The Bird". The Bird is well used (we even have a picture of my wife's dad posing with it around '70 or '71!) and complete with case and a sales brochure from 1967.
Amanda "Mandy" Thomas Pressnall, 2003
I first want to thank Pat. For it's been a long time since I heard the name Walt. Though my Grandfather is Harvey, I have more memories of Walter then I do Harvey. For Harvey left my life at a young age. Walt in my mind took over the Grandfather role when Harvey passed away. I remember back to Elementary every time I got an A, I'd get a coin from him. And every time I hugged the man I'd smell of oil for a week on end. I haven't seen Walt since Elementary, since then I've had a young daughter, so in away he's a great-grandfather.
Now on to Harvey, I have little memory of my grandfather for he died when I was about 2. The memories I do posses are of him wasting away those last few years. He was a brilliant man, no matter who I run into in my life he will be held above them all. I wish at times my daughter knew this Great-Grandfather. But through all the stories about him, I can see that she is her Great-Grandfather.
I don't have the memories that all of you do, the only memories I have are of Mary Lou and the day the house I grew up in disappeared from my life. My grandmother Mary Lou was a big part in my life. Watching her do her crosswords, that I've recently picked up doing myself. Her pottery, which I still hold, bottom in a beautiful handwriting, To. "Mandy" From Nanny. I hold a lot of her in my heart. But I hold mainly, that house. Waking up those few years I lived there, I remember mainly those hardwood floors freezing the hell out of me. The fireplace, where Mary Lou and I use to roast marshmallows and hot dogs and the guitars through out the house. The day that house went, was the same day my heart burned.
I'm glad that all of you have these memories of this man, I wish I had the same memories, or at least memories of this man that weren't just told to me. I wish I had something that one day could be passed down to my daughter, that way no matter what Harvey Thomas will never be lost. I have numerous things done by Mary Lou to pass on. But nothing by Harvey. All I know is by looking at his pictures, she is her Great-Grandfather.
Thank you all for bringing these memories and these emotions to me. I maybe crying but I can laugh through them.
Amanda "Mandy" Thomas Pressnall
Chris Ruggles, 2003
I'm Denise's oldest son and ergo Harvey's only Grandson (that I know of.) While my mom has most of the pictures and stuff, I have some knowledge that may be helpful to you.
My mother, Denise, has one of two unique guitars Harvey built. I always called them the Twin Axes, built for my mother and her sister Melody, they guitars were simliar in design and made with a slightly wider edge on one side, so you could tell which was which. My aunt's guitars was sold to a pawn shop some time ago and hasn't been traced yet. My uncle, Wes, is Harvey's eldest son and recently sufferered a heart attack. He lives in Colville, Wa and, last I checked, has most of the Infernal Music Machine, including at least one guitorgan. Also, one of Harvey's bass guitar hangs on the Northwest Passage, in the EMP. It was played by the Kingsmen.
I haven't really told a lot of what I remember of Harv. I'll make my applogies up front: a lot of my memories are damaged from a childhood drug addiction so I lose pieces and parts from time to time.
The first I remember, the old back shop had been more or less let go and used for storage. The roof was starting to collapse. The pond had two makeshift wooden bridges, basically planks dropped over the narrow point. Harvey played the one man band every day. I remember watching him play with a fasination. I knew I'd never be able to play that well, as I'm partly deaf. He, however, would have nothing of it and tried to teach me to play. I think after six lessions, he gave up. I'm ambidexterious, and I'd switch hands when one got tired. That would drive him nuts.
Most of the more famous guitars still hung on the walls; the Naked Lady, the Toilet Bowl, a couple of triple necks, a cross or two. The one man band had a guitorian and a triple neck with it, along with the amp that served as a seat. He liked to start his day off right, with fried liver and raw bacon (unless he could get someone else to cook it).
Reading some of the letters above, I remember Randy. Harvey loved and hated that guy. Many a time they'd go hunting and Harvey would come back empty handed. He made way to much noise when he moved. But Randy could sneak up behind the deer and slap 'em, and did just to irk Harv. Harv would get revenge though. I remember more than one time when Harv would ask Randy to go check the "Racoon Traps." In the ten years or so of my life that Harvey was alive, I don't think he EVER caught a racoon, but lots and lots of skunks. He once convinced Randy it was a racoon and got him to open the trap. Randy stunk for days and Harv never stopped laughing.