Ormsby, custom made 8-String Bass, 2009 – Kelly Garni


Custom made 8-String Randy Rhodes tribute Bass built for Kelly Garni
The Story Behind

Multi award winning luthier, Perry Ormsby, has been manufacturing his custom hand-made instruments in Perth, Australia for over seven years. All instruments are custom made from a variety of exotic and Australian timbers, with own hand wound pickups, and top shelf hardware.

The majority of instruments are handmade to order, to suit a variety of different music tastes and styles, and include standard scale length, baritone and Multiscale guitars or basses. 

This bass guitar a custom made 8-String Bass was built as a Randy Rhodes tribute for Kelly Garni. Kelly Garni has probably the most amazing bass made as a tribute to Randy Rhodes, guitarist par excellence, who died to early in 1982. And here is why...Randy’s thumbnail was imbedded in clear resin and housed inside a plectrum-shaped hole in the headstock. Furthermore, the fretboard displays the notes to Hey Joe, the first song Kelly and Randy played together. A secret chamber in the guitar collects all the songs played by Randy on microfilm. A laser engraved tribute to Randy is on the back of the guitar.

The original drawings to build the guitar are preserved and show how Perry Ormsby worked to build this master piece.

Here is an excerpt of the article published in a Guitar World article, March 2010, entitled Thumb Up!

"Kelly Garni’s music career came crashing to a halt one drunken evening in 1978. That was the night the bassist had a terrible fight with his best friend Randy Rhoads. Garni came perilously close to shooting the legendary guitarist to death during the brawl, and ripped from Rhoads’ thumb the long fingernail that he’d spent a long time growing”either as a glam rock affectation or for use as a cocaine shovel, depending on who’s telling the tale.

Rhoads and Garni made up their quarrel the very next day, but the fight marked Garni’s departure from Quiet Riot, the band that he and Randy had started while still in their teens. Rhoads himself quit Quiet Riot shortly after Garni and, of course, attained heavy metal immortality with Ozzy Osbourne in the early Eighties. But for Garni, leaving Quiet Riot meant leaving rock and roll. He sold his bass guitar and laid aside all thoughts of a career in music. His connection with both Randy Rhoads and rock music, however, would prove more enduring.

It was Garni’s girlfriend who found the severed thumbnail the day after the fight, on a carpet in Kelly’s house, where the altercation had occurred. Garni has carried the nail with him throughout his post Quiet Riot life, which has included stints as a paramedic, a process server and a photographer specializing in, among other things, call girl photos for Las Vegas street newspapers and brochures for Nevada’s legal brothels.

For him, the nail is a treasured memento of Rhoads, who died in a plane crash in 1982. And for the devoted cult of Randy fans, it has become a holy relic on roughly the same order as the Shroud of Turin or a fragment of the True Cross.

“It’s not the sort of thing you’d throw away,” Garni says. “It always meant a lot to me. It’s a piece of my friend.”

When he recently decided to return to music, following an appearance at a Rhoads tribute concert in Vegas, Garni needed to get a new bass guitar, and he decided that Randy’s thumbnail somehow needed to be part of the instrument. “I’m a big believer in mojo,” he says. So Garni enlisted the aid of Australian luthier Perry Ormsby to help him realize his vision.

“I heard about Perry on one of the Randy Rhoads tribute web sites,” Garni says. “I contacted him, and he turned out to be a great guy. He really has the same kind of inner beauty, peace, wisdom and talent that Randy had. So I asked Perry, “Is there any way we can use Randy’s fingernail as an inlay or somehow incorporate it into the bass?” And Perry came up with the brilliant idea of having the nail in acrylic in the shape of a plectrum mounted inside the headstock.”

The eight-string bass is loosely based on a Rickenbacker that Garni once owned. A quilted maple veneer, stained a lustrous shade of blue, rests on an inner core of Tasmanian black wood. The rosewood fingerboard is adorned with Chinese turquoise, Afghan azurite and exotic wood inlays that spell out the musical notation for “Hey Joe”. “That was the first song that Randy ever taught me,” Garni explains."

The full story can be seen and heard in the attached video.

Really stunning!

But all these features put the instrument in the background. This is unfair as this is a superbly crafted instruments with an incredible sound.

If you have any questions, please contact us