Stay in Tune
By Luthier Patrick Podpadec
I recently played out last wed at the “Old Mill” winery at my dear friend, Susan Hagan's open mic. I always have a good time listening to her and watching her host a show. She makes everyone feel so welcome. I have a great time when I go there. It always reminds me that I have to go home and practice more. I don't always have the chance to play much while doing all of the other stuff I do.
Well here we go again. Another 2 weeks have gone by so quickly I almost forgot what I have done. I've been trying to mix in a little bit of construction work along with all of the guitar repairs and find that sometimes it is difficult to focus on one when I just get home from doing another. Never the less I have been doing some good repairs and the work does not seem to be slowing down any.
I am currently doing an interesting inlay on a guitar headstock for a customer. It is a picture of the man's dog, which is a very cool looking beagle with sunglasses on his head. This is the first time that I have attempted doing a picture of something instead of your usual pearl inlay with some etching, o r lettering or script. I had to figure out the different colors or textures in a more “marquetry” style inlay. To be able to distinguish the dog from any other dog it is important to try to get the coloring correct in the picture. To do this I had to use different pieces of wood and other materials to get the proper texture that it needed. The direction and grain patterns of the small wood pieces plays a big part in the overall look of the inlay. I chose a piece of black fiber board about .020 thick to overlay onto the existing headstock. This gives me a nice background to set the inlay into. I had to build the inlay up with a backer so that I could get the thickness that I needed to be able to mount and level the inlay once it had been placed into the routed out cavity. I am very happy with the way it is turning out so far. I first saw this style of inlays a few years back from a luthier named Grit Laskin from Canada. He is one of the premier inlay artists in the world along with Larry Robinson, H.G. Leach, and Wendy Larrivee. These inlay artists take the art to a whole new level. It is simply amazing the detail and subject matter that they are able to produce.
I also had an interesting older mandolin come in to the shop last week. This is about the 4th one like it that I have seen . It is a “bowl “back neopolitean style from the 1900's .The strange thing about it is the fact that it has 12 strings on it. Instead of 8 strings, ( four strings of two each) it has got four pairs of three strings each.. It is a little difficult to play, but as a unique sound . I'm not sure of it origin 'but I believe it is Italian or possibly Greek. If anyone out there has come across such an instrument and has more info about I would be greatly appreciate of finding out more about it.
I have mentioned in past articles about starting some instructional classes in luthierie for anyone that might be interested in doing some of their own repairs. I have been asked by a few of the readers of my articles about the possibility of me setting up some classes that would cater to specific repairs that may be done by the average player. There are quite a few things that can be done with a little guidance ( and a lot of practice) that can keep your guitar playing in top condition. Procedures such as replacing saddles, making a new bone nut and adjusting truss rods correctly can usually be taught in just a few short sessions. I would be willing to teach individual classes so that the student would have the ability to get my full attention . Classes can be adjusted to the ability of each student. Other classes such as building guitars from kits may also be something that could be put on the agenda. The idea of these specific classescomes from the notion that you can cater your learning experiences to the type of repairs that you would be most interested in. Refinishing touch ups, refretiing and custom designs are all subjects that can be studied. For more information about how to learn more about the wonderful world of repair and building strings instruments , please contact me at 440-474-2141
Don't forget to change those strings!, till next time....
Patrick from Wood-n-Strings/Liam Guitars