Miscellaneous Rumbles

Thoughts from behind the counter; or A day in the life of a guitar …

1

I wrote this to post on my music store's page, but when finished I"m not sure if that's the right place for it. I thought y'all would appreciate it.

Musicians are a strange breed. I think we can all admit that openly. It’s part of what makes our lives interesting. Finding a way to express your creativity in a way that appeals to an audience. Some put more stock in that than others. Some of us just make music for ourselves, and if others like it, that’s just icing on the proverbial cake.

We also tend to be somewhat adept at business, or at least how it relates to our music/bands. It’s a slightly different world. Navigating schedules of venues, bandmates, other bands or performances in the area, and the financial end of how all that comes together. Not to mention the time spent practicing, learning your instrument, finding like minded individuals who match your personality and creativity. Then wrapping that up in a nice neat package that can be shown to the world in small doses. What the audience sees is a product of a massive investment of time, money, and energy. Striking that balance of business and art is a difficult thing, and something that tends to discourage many musicians, sometimes to the point of losing the passion they once had for the art.

Our tools are another story entirely. Regardless of which instrument you choose to play, there is a personal connection with it for most of us. There are certainly some musicians that see their instruments as tools and no more, but the majority of us feel something for them. Like an old friend, or sleeping in your own bed after a vacation. A familiar instrument can make the difference between working and stressing through a performance, or letting loose and having fun with it. Sometimes it’s hard to find “The One”, and some of us get that feeling from a variety of instruments.

Here’s where this gets personal for me. I have quite a few instruments that make me feel something, we have a connection, and even though they are just wood, metal, and wires, they can evoke a lot of memories and feelings. I’m very picky about my instruments, and once we have a bond, I don’t let go of them easily.

I also take a lot of pride in “saving” an instrument. Whether that is from neglect, abuse, or simply taking a mediocre piece and making it great. Helping it achieve it’s full potential. I’ve rescued 60+ year old guitars that were otherwise bound for a trash can, and made them playable instruments. Given them a second chance as it were. I’ve also rescued a few new instruments that were just never given the attention needed to make them into what they were meant to be. The latter is something that happened again recently. In fact, what inspired me to write this.

Someone purchased a new guitar, from a large, well known manufacturer, and felt that it didn’t meet expectations. It took a lot of work, and time, as well as more parts than I would ever expect to replace on a brand new instrument that was built to sell for more than $1000. In the end I felt pretty confident that the guitar in question had finally been finished.

Where the factory left it, was not in my opinion, in a finished state. To me, they were simply trying to get it out the door, not thinking about the end user beyond their purchase. Not thinking about what made them an industry giant to begin with, which was making superior instruments at reasonable prices. Failing to realize that if it weren’t for someone with a passion for releasing the potential of an instrument, this one would wind up with a string of owners who neglected to connect with it, eventually dooming it (and the brands image and reputation along with it) to a life of hanging on pawn shop walls, or worse, destruction.

But I was there. I made a difference to that instrument, and to the owner who trusted me to revive it. For that I’m thankful.

I got a message a few hours after this customer picked up this instrument. Everyone is excited when they pick the instruments up, but sometimes that wears off after spending some time with it at home. He took the time to reach out hours later, and let me know how happy he was with the work I had done. Now I’m not writing this as a “look what I can do” pat on the back, or to try and sell anyone on my services. But instead I wanted to share a small moment, that made a genuine difference in a few people’s lives. Mine included. As long as that musician plays, he will remember picking up that guitar, and finally getting what he wanted out of it. That is something special, that I am proud to be a part of.

So tonight, after leaving my job in a music store, where I get to be a part of many musician’s journeys. I will go out and play my instrument with a little extra vigor. And who knows, maybe someone will see that and realize they want a part of it too. If I can inspire one person to pick up an instrument and become a musician, I feel like in some way I’ve made a difference in the world. After all, without art, what’s the point?

3

Well done Sir. You should be proud.

7

I Love this!

I'm NOT a guitar tech; I'm a hairstylist. But I am good with my hands, have good attention to detail, and spent many years as a professional cabinetmaker, so I have some skills. I've had lots of guitars pass through my hands, and usually what attracted me to a particular guitar was something interesting or somewhat unique about it. Since I'm a terrible cheapskate, I only buy guitars that are under-priced, which more often than not means they have some unresolved issues.

As much as I love playing guitar, I also love taking an instrument that has the essence of something terrific and putting it's problems in order. It's amazing how often I come across a guitar decades old that seem like it was never properly set up. Often a little attention to the small details (which are so often neglected by the factories these days) can make a huge difference. I like to think that every guitar I've ended up selling went back into the world better than when I got it. I think a good guitar deserves at least that much love.

8

Well said Ripley. Congrats on your commitment to getting it right for the customer.

9

Good for You!

I consider Guitar Techs and Luthiers something a kind to Surgeons.

I can pick a splinter out, fix an ingrown toenail, etc.

I know when I need a Check-up, and someone else looking at what I am looking at...

10

Very nice piece, Ripley! It always feels good to read or hear about someone making a genuine effort to do good things and do right by other people. Hats off to you!

11

I can relate.

But how about saving a guitar but reluctantly giving it back to the owner because he's an idiot? I have had a guy come in with a guitar with a buzz and crackle issue and the guy had tried to fix it with an angle grinder...

It just needed a new switch.

13

I'd say go ahead and post that on your site, as well. Nicely written.

15

Thanks for sharing that, Ripley.

16

That was a great post and sentiment concerning instruments and how some feel about them. I feel that way about mine.

17

I'm a mechanic. I used to do it for a "living" and didn't care for it. Then I did it for myself and learned to HATE it. Mostly because I've always been pretty poor and the bulk of my mechanical work was dedicated to keeping our POS old cars on the road so we could get to work. Lots of being cold and filthy lying under a car. I sold the majority of my serious tools (motor rebuilding stuff, etc), so I'd never be tempted to try to do it for a living again. I kept the basic hand tools for, reluctantly, maintaining my own stuff. Then, I moved to what I can best describe as a farming commune. There are about 115 of us who live in about 12 houses. I fix all the farm machinery...tractors, skid steers, bailers, wrappers, mowers, manure spreaders...even some lawnmowers, irrigation pumps, string trimmers....and I LOVE it. Not getting paid for what I do makes all the difference. All I get is the love. There was nobody here for years who could do what I can do and everything had to be farmed out...it was EXPENSIVE. Now, I work for "THANK YOU SO MUCH!" and "I can't believe you fixed it already...that's so awesome!" and "I'm so glad you're here...it's so amazing that you can do all this stuff!" It's amazing how great it is without all the money and the whole constellation of weirdness that brings with it. So...to the OP...YEAH! The joy of not only a job well done, but an appreciative recipient. PRICELESS!

18

I wrote this to post on my music store's page, but when finished I"m not sure if that's the right place for it. I thought y'all would appreciate it.

Musicians are a strange breed. I think we can all admit that openly. It’s part of what makes our lives interesting. Finding a way to express your creativity in a way that appeals to an audience. Some put more stock in that than others. Some of us just make music for ourselves, and if others like it, that’s just icing on the proverbial cake.

We also tend to be somewhat adept at business, or at least how it relates to our music/bands. It’s a slightly different world. Navigating schedules of venues, bandmates, other bands or performances in the area, and the financial end of how all that comes together. Not to mention the time spent practicing, learning your instrument, finding like minded individuals who match your personality and creativity. Then wrapping that up in a nice neat package that can be shown to the world in small doses. What the audience sees is a product of a massive investment of time, money, and energy. Striking that balance of business and art is a difficult thing, and something that tends to discourage many musicians, sometimes to the point of losing the passion they once had for the art.

Our tools are another story entirely. Regardless of which instrument you choose to play, there is a personal connection with it for most of us. There are certainly some musicians that see their instruments as tools and no more, but the majority of us feel something for them. Like an old friend, or sleeping in your own bed after a vacation. A familiar instrument can make the difference between working and stressing through a performance, or letting loose and having fun with it. Sometimes it’s hard to find “The One”, and some of us get that feeling from a variety of instruments.

Here’s where this gets personal for me. I have quite a few instruments that make me feel something, we have a connection, and even though they are just wood, metal, and wires, they can evoke a lot of memories and feelings. I’m very picky about my instruments, and once we have a bond, I don’t let go of them easily.

I also take a lot of pride in “saving” an instrument. Whether that is from neglect, abuse, or simply taking a mediocre piece and making it great. Helping it achieve it’s full potential. I’ve rescued 60+ year old guitars that were otherwise bound for a trash can, and made them playable instruments. Given them a second chance as it were. I’ve also rescued a few new instruments that were just never given the attention needed to make them into what they were meant to be. The latter is something that happened again recently. In fact, what inspired me to write this.

Someone purchased a new guitar, from a large, well known manufacturer, and felt that it didn’t meet expectations. It took a lot of work, and time, as well as more parts than I would ever expect to replace on a brand new instrument that was built to sell for more than $1000. In the end I felt pretty confident that the guitar in question had finally been finished.

Where the factory left it, was not in my opinion, in a finished state. To me, they were simply trying to get it out the door, not thinking about the end user beyond their purchase. Not thinking about what made them an industry giant to begin with, which was making superior instruments at reasonable prices. Failing to realize that if it weren’t for someone with a passion for releasing the potential of an instrument, this one would wind up with a string of owners who neglected to connect with it, eventually dooming it (and the brands image and reputation along with it) to a life of hanging on pawn shop walls, or worse, destruction.

But I was there. I made a difference to that instrument, and to the owner who trusted me to revive it. For that I’m thankful.

I got a message a few hours after this customer picked up this instrument. Everyone is excited when they pick the instruments up, but sometimes that wears off after spending some time with it at home. He took the time to reach out hours later, and let me know how happy he was with the work I had done. Now I’m not writing this as a “look what I can do” pat on the back, or to try and sell anyone on my services. But instead I wanted to share a small moment, that made a genuine difference in a few people’s lives. Mine included. As long as that musician plays, he will remember picking up that guitar, and finally getting what he wanted out of it. That is something special, that I am proud to be a part of.

So tonight, after leaving my job in a music store, where I get to be a part of many musician’s journeys. I will go out and play my instrument with a little extra vigor. And who knows, maybe someone will see that and realize they want a part of it too. If I can inspire one person to pick up an instrument and become a musician, I feel like in some way I’ve made a difference in the world. After all, without art, what’s the point?

– Ripley1046

Are you talking about an Electromatic? Asking for a friend.


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