Stay in Tune
By Luthier Patrick Podpadec
As I write this article the weather is changing rapidly. It's in the lower 30's and the hint of winter is right around the corner. I'm not a big winter fan but I do like the changes of the seasons. It makes me put all of my stuff into storage for winter.
This year I took it to a new level. I went and bought a portable garage 13x 20x 12 ft high . Both ends open up so you could drive a car ,boat , camper, or small motor home through it.
Your probably wondering what this has to do with guitar repair? Well of course after I set it up, (it took about a day) I started to realize the potential that it had to become another work space or better yet, “A Shop” . I have always needed a space where I could cut, sand or rout large projects .All of these procedures usually create a lot of sawdust ,which in not good for my repair shop.
So here I go. I bought this unit on sale at Tractor Supply for 400.00 and then put a wood floor in it for about 100.00. Insulated the sides and ceiling with ½” rigid foam board for 225.00. I built 6 ft. tall side walls from 1/2” osb plywood .( had a lot of scrap 2x4s that an old friend had got for me) and built a bench along one side and all of my larger tools ,planer, band saw, table saw, etc. goes along the other side. All of this with some basic wiring with 30 amp service with a 220 line was built for under $1000,00 I have a propane heater for winter and only use it when I need it I have plenty of room for wood storage . It is so cool! I always had put off the idea of building a permanent structure because of the cost, permits and all of the work. This portable “garage” gives me the opportunity to do what I need to do and still be able to move it (if I ever have to)in about a two day dis assembly time. This is where I will be able to cut all of my pieces and parts for my instruments so that I can assemble them in my “clean shop”.
It's time to get back to guitar fixing. This week I had got a violin in that was owned by an older gentleman (92, God bless him) It came in just to get some strings on it , but I noticed it had a broken neck near the body joint, It was repaired once a long time ago (on the inside there was a tag that said “rebuilt “ 1947 in Cleveland) Well the repair had come loose some time ago and I didn't want to charge the man much because I was more interested in having him play it one more time before he couldn't anymore. The instrument was in my opinion , a good student level violin so I felt the type of repair that I chose was to be quick, effective and cheap. I glued it back together so that the angle was correct and then inserted a hardwood dowel through the neck heel. This is not the normal procedure that I would perform on a violin, but because of the circumstances surrounding the repair , I thought it was o.k.. As I started to put it back together, I started noticing other problems. The small ebony bridge under the tailpiece need to be glued (no big deal) then the tuning pegs were so worn out that they couldn't be salvaged . I replaced and fitted them with new ebony pegs and when I went to string it up, I noticed that the back needed to be glued on both sides of the lower bout . This was not visible until I had put on the strings and brought it up to tension. The string pressure revealed the loose body. After all of this, I finally got to play it and was pleasantly surprised at the tone and good playability of the violin. It also made me happy to know I fixed all of the problems for just $60.00. The new strings cost me 25.00.(so the repairs only came to $35.00) I just hope the gentleman can get a few more songs out of it . This repair could and should of cost much more , but I was happy to do it for that price.
My point is that it is more important to me to have a customer that can play their instruments than the cost, I sacrifice cost when I can and feel that it is appropriate. Especially for young children just starting out and the elderly that are on fixed incomes. Please don't be hesitant to have an instrument evaluated for a repair. You might be “pleasantly surprised”
I would like to remind everyone to take a look at my website(wood-n-strings.net) and look at some of my other repairs. I have recently updated some of the content and am adding new informative material all the time. You can also sign up for my newsletter and join the community listed under the home page tab. This allows you to interact with your facebook friends to let them know about cool guitar stuff, musical events, and share pictures too. Hope to see you there!
Patrick form Wood-n-Strings and Liam Guitars