our team

Meet the people behind the creative genius of Swan Song Guitars.

"We love building bass guitars that people love to play."

Nelson Joyce
Luthier & Founder

From the age of 14, Nelson had his hands on the workings of today's modern electric guitars. A Danelectro guitar from Sears was the first one he ever owned and he remembers that as soon as he got home, he took it apart to see what made it work. Nelson spent 28 years as a commercial fisherman/carpenter/bass player in an Irish band before getting a formal education in the Art of Guitar Making at Robert-Venn School of Guitar Building in 2004. It was then that Swan Song Guitars was born. Nelson lives in Rimrock, Arizona with his wife. At 3,700 feet above sea level, its a dry, moderate climate perfect for electric guitar building.

Tim Lee
Product Development Associate

Born and raised in the North Lawndale are of Chicago Timothy Lee (he is known by friends as T.Lee) started his music training early. His father loved the blues and that’s all he listened to. “Howlin wolf’s voice was so powerful that it scared me at the age of 6 or 7.” I have an emotional connection to his voice and he is one of my favorites.

T.Lee is the youngest of 7 so he was constantly being forced to listen to the music of his siblings. Rufus, Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, Parliament were played as well as The Beatles, Kiss, The Eagles and Steely Dan. After messing around with toy guitars he finally got a real 6 string at the age of 12. By the time he was a sophomore Chicago’s performing arts Metro High school he was playing in bands and writing songs. After picking up a friend’s bass a few years later, T.Lee fell in love with the instrument and began focusing more on it rather than lead and rhythm guitar. Being self-taught has added to the uniqueness of his sound. “Curtis Mayfield was self-taught and that gave him his own distinct sound because he tuned his guitar differently and now that sound is gone forever.”

After furthering his education at Columbia College he trained in theory and songwriting. He studied under renowned band leader William Russo and Composer Kimo Williams. “Theory is something that has to be used or you lose it. I think I have lost 75% of it” says T.Lee.

Major influences are Curtis, Prince, James brown (of course), George Clinton (and almost anyone associated with P-Funk) and Sly Stone. “Larry Graham James Jamerson and Bootsy Collins are probably the only bass players that matter, but there are some other great ones.” Raphael Saadiq, Mark King, Victor Wooten, Flea and Vail Johnson to name a few. T.Lee and his bass have opened for many local and established acts like Erykah Badu, Nina Sky, Kimo Williams and Bash. He has also performed with hip-hop groups such as Beat Monstas and Phashara. T.Lee has performed on many sessions including Elissa Sophia, Danya Thompson, Kanye West produced artist Russoul and and local Chicago Guitarist Ronny Jordan. T.Lee has jammed with his Bass hero Vail Johnson at NAAM Nashville 2013.

T.Lee and Danya Thompson composed and performed the lead song "Tired" for independent movie “The Grind” directed by revenge of the Nerds star Larry B Scott and starring Yul Spencer. T.Lee leads funk, rock band Babybrutha and performs all over the Midwest. . “I just want to make music and hopefully get a few people to bob their heads to it.”

Brad Wickham
Painter / Mixoligist

Hi, My name is Brad Wickham and I'm the Painter / Mixoligist here at Swan Song. A little history about me, I started playing drums at an early age that led me to a long 40 plus fantastic year carrier. In that time, a major record deal, tour in 1985 with Quiet Riot, shows with Metallica, Foghat, Blue Oyster Cult, Pat Travers, Robin Tower Badlands, King Cobra and a whole lot more. 

So, in between all this, I started working for the Glidden Paint Company, filling orders and learning to custom match paint. This all took place starting around 1979, so this custom matching thing was done by eye! Years went by drumming and working in the paint industry. Now jump to present day, I live in Sedona, Arizona, where working at ACE hardware as their paint manager and custom matching guy, I met Nelson. 

After 2 years of conversation of becoming a part of his business, and here I am. Oh, I forgot to tell you, I also have an auto detail business on the side and have been doing this for many years. 

So, lets add this all up. A drummer (The Music Business), a carrier in the paint industry (Custom Paint Match), an auto detailer (The Desire for Perfection), Nelson saw all this in me and said your the guy I want to help create these fine instruments. There are many ways to create color or finishes here, by the book or the unorthodox way. I feel the need to put my pirate outfit on and raise the skull and cross bones flag, there is NO by the book here. I want to create one of a kind finishes that speak to each player, from crazy to cool to elegant. Dyes, Clears, Base Coat, Clear Coat, Three Stage Finishes, Polys and more. If you have a color you want, we can do that also, or choose from one of our finished guitars here online. I am happy to be here at Swan Song Guitars where Nelson and I, are ready to create your dream guitar, custom built by hand, here in Arizona! Cool in American Style!

Learn More About Swan Song Guitars

We've been handcrafting electric bass guitars since 2004.

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Meet the people behind the creative genius of Swan Song Guitars.