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Paul Languedoc was the soundman for rock group Phish prior to the band's breakup in 2004. As the band's chief sound engineer and house mixer, he recorded their double-CD A Live One, and all 20 volumes of the Live Phish Series. He also built guitars and basses for Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon. A luthier by trade, he built his first guitar when he was 18 years old. He later spent four years working for Alan Stack at Time Guitars in Burlington, Vermont, and by the time he had joined Phish in 1986 at age 28, he had built hundreds of instruments. Since then, he has built only for Anastasio and Gordon, and his original designs have given Phish its own unique instrumental identity. Languedoc has a preference for European hardwoods of the types used for building cellos, specializing in inlay work in mother-of-pearl and abalone. Languedoc first worked with Phish on October 15, 1986, at a concert at Hunt's in Burlington, Vermont. He remained with the band until their 2004-2009 hiatus, when Phish resumed touring and recording in 2009, Paul Languedoc declined to join them, deciding to retire from the road to focus on his luthier duties. In March 2009, Garry Brown took over the task of soundman for Phish.
Gordon says Languedoc's striking instruments are only one aspect of the many talents he brings to the Phish sound. "We're really lucky to have Paul. He gives us the freedom to do our own thing."
Named for its intricate headstock inlay, the Dragon bass (built in 1989) has a five-piece curly-maple neck and a bound ebony fingerboard. The body is solid koa, with a face of curly-maple veneer. The guitar bridge and machine heads were made by Schaller. Mike Gordon custom-ordered the instrument's active, 18-volt Mørch pickups from Denmark; they came with myriad knobs and switches Gordon didn't really want. "I have trouble making decisions," he says. "I probably change my instrument settings only every two years." The three larger knobs on the bass control volume (one per pickup) and pickup blend; the four micro-switches and three smaller knobs are for various midrange contours and high and low boosts. (Languedoc comments, "Even I don't know what they all do!")
Gordon and Languedoc both call the Fish — also named for its inlays — "a bit of an experiment." The bass, which was built about two years ago, has a two-piece curly-maple body with an interior chamber, a koa face with an f-hole and multiple-layered binding, and only one knob, which blends between the two EMG ASB-5 pickups. Mike eventually wants to add a piezo bridge transducer to accentuate the highs of the instrument's hollow body.
In 2006, Paul Languedoc started Languedoc Guitars, selling handmade instruments through his web site. The guitars for sale are near replicas of the hollow-body guitar Trey Anastasio of Phish currently plays. The G2 model guitar sells for $10,000 and the G4 model sells for $7500. The G2 features two "F" holes and a pair of Seymour Duncan '59 Model humbuckers; and the G4 has a single "F" hole and a Duncan Custom 5 in the bridge position and a '59 in the neck. As recently as September 6, 2013, Languedoc has zero inventory of new guitars for sale, and his wait-list for future new builds remains listed on his website as "full" and "closed" to accepting new names.