Stay in Tune vol#93
By Luthier Patrick Podpadec
So it's officially summer now. I can say that because my son is out of school now and the grass needs cutting every week and I can have coffee out on my deck most every morning. It still seems a little cooler than I might like it , but I'm not complaining.
As I have said before , with good weather comes all of the music festivals with it. This year is no exception. I have already been to three of them and I haven't even tried . It's becoming harder and harder for me to go to many of these events because of the increasing amount of work that has been coming into the shop every week. I am a very lucky man to be blessed with such good fortune. Through the many years of writing this article, it has given me the opportunity to reach a wide range of musicians and many of them have taken advantage of my services. I want to Thank! all of you who have come to the shop and all of you who just read the articles .It is always a pleasure to hear someone say they like to read the “Voice”.
I have been finding out lately how important it is to make sure that you make templates of everything that you make. The hard part is marking and keeping all of the templates so that you remember where or what they are for. I have recently started building things in quantity and have realized the importance of being able to repeat a procedure with a very high rate of accuracy to be able to reduce waste and time. When you have a product that has a set market price and you must reach that target in a specific time frame, it's important you maximize every step that is taken to be able to make any profit on the product. In the past I never approached business in this matter. I always did one thing at a time and tried to extend all of my energy on that one project so that I could produce the best product that I could. That is all well and good except it is not very cost effective.
Knowing that “time is money” , I seem to be taking another look at the way I produce things in my shop. For instance, now when I'm going to cut a brace for a guitar, or what ever instrument I might be making, I will try to cut out enough for at least 6 guitars and then assemble three of them at a time and then I have some stock left over for another three guitars later. It doesn't sound like much , but when you add up all of the parts and pieces that it takes to produce one guitar. You find that you have saved a boat load of time by “mass producing all of the parts. At the same time while you are assembling the instruments in quantities you get more proficient at each procedure by repeating it over and over. This often results in a higher standard of craftsmanship because “Repetition is the Mother of Perfection” . You also have to be careful of doing to many at a time because we all know that repetition is also the “Father of Boredom” ( I actually have never heard that before, I just made it up), but I think it is true. Of course when you are bored with what you are doing the quality of craftsmanship tends to decrease also.
Trying to schedule all of the different things to do in one day so that it is motivating, creative, productive, and fun all at the same time is no easy task! I'm sure that many people would like to tell their bosses that .
Well all of this talk about production brings me back to what I have been doing in the shop. After spending time on all of my repairs through the day I have been building a few ukelele's and a beautiful harp guitar for clients that have ordered instruments. I only have one uke sold, but as I have said I'm going to try to build at least three bodies and have three different neck configurations to use as new customers come by. As for the harp guitar, it is going to be one of the most interesting pieces that I have built to date. My customer seems to add a new feature to his “wish list” every month or so. I don't mind as long as it doesn't interfere with the process of the build that I'm currently at. I actually like a good challenge and this instrument is proving to be that! Some of the cool features so far include 1) having harp style sharping levers (6) installed on the bass section of the harp guitar 2) violin fine tuners installed into the treble side of the bridge to be able to have consistent control over the “super treble” strings ( there will be 8 of those). 3) a unique access hole located at the bottom bout of the guitar to be able to access the electronics or change any issues that needs to be addressed . 4) A unique new design for the guitar headstock that incorporates a “crossbreed” of a slotted headstock for the low E,A,&D side of the guitar and a standard flat headstock for the treble side. This will give the player access to the tuner knobs on the bass side because the bass section of the harp guitar headstock is located very close to the tuners of the guitar. It's hard to visualize, but trust me it will look very cool!. 5) the latest addition has been talk of adding two additional strings to the high e & b strings of the guitar to be tuned in unison like a 12 string does. That will be interesting, I will have to adjust the headstock design a little bit to accommodate the extra tuners, but it should be doable.
There are a few other issues that need to be ironed out , but so far the project is going very well. I'm sure when it is finished it will be one of those guitars that you can't take your eyes off of and the sound will be as equally impressive.
Well till next time please have a great day! And don't forget to “Stay in Tune!
Patrick from Wood-n-Strings/Liam Guitars