Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Gotta Learn Me Sumpin!

I've been having a great time for the past couple years creating very playable guitars from cigar boxes and other found objects -- wood planks, cookie tins, and silver bowls, just to mention a few.

It's not difficult to find something that can be used for the body of an instrument, but the tough part is in determining how it can be put to creative use.  Once the idea comes from noodling it around in my mind for a while, things just seem to fall into place.  But, this whole process can take from a few minutes to a few days, especially for me, because I don't ever want to mass produce something that can be thrown together in  a short time.  Where's the fun, adventure, and skill in that?

Recently, I've been reading where a couple builders have been turning out buku numbers of guitars, at near supersonic speed, to sell at swap meets and country fairs.  One fella claims he built a six-string in three hours.  Another guy claims to have turned out more than thirty guitars over a weekend. And, these guys claim to be selling these 'Macgits' as fast as they can flip them off the bench, and for big bucks, too.

When I read these stories, I scratch my noggin and ask myself, "What in hell am I doing wrong?"  Sure, I've sold some of my creations for a tidy sum, but none of them have been slapped together like I was boiling minute rice.  And, none look the same or have the 'rustic' appeal of being unfinished.

Hold on now pardner, before you get your knickers all twisted in a bunch.  I'm not knocking 'rustic', 'cause I think that is cool.  I just don't get the time frame, that's all.  And, I sure don't understand how these guys get big bucks for a 'rustic' bucket.

Depending on the design and the materials used to build one of my guitars, it can take me from two or three days to as long as a couple of weeks to finish a guitar. Granted, I don't work 24/7, but I doubt others do either.

So, the difference must be in the recipe.

My necks all have scarf joints and are are hand shaped for playing comfort. Headstocks are usually a specific design, which requires gluing and shaping. Fingerboards are glued to each neck, and the neck is glued to a box with custom design elements to include sound holes, bridges, pickups, switches and jacks where required. Frets are seated by hand into the fingerboard. Nuts and saddles are hand formed from various materials. And, all of my guitars receive at least three coats of hand-sanded finish, before they are polished.  And, finally hardware is installed and the instrument is tuned and test driven.

Hell, it takes longer than three hours for the glue to dry for me.  So, I guess I gotta learn me sumpin!

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