Stay in Tune vol#105
By Luthier Patrick Podpadec
Well I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Holiday. Eating too much, seeing some relatives you almost forgot you had. I think the sad thing is now, that the one Holiday that has been set aside for over two hundred years to give thanks to the world for all of the blessings we share through the year is starting to be overshadowed by the greedy Shopping profiteers to start making profits on Thursday instead of Black Friday. What's the point in disrupting a traditional family reunion for the sake of a few dollar profits. A couple of years ago it started at 6:00 in the morning on Friday. Then it was midnight on Thursday , now it's 6:00 on Thursday. The thing is that the people who really need to save the money on these deals have to split there time up with enjoying their families company so that the can afford to give their children and grand children a decent Christmas holiday. Remember that it's only the one day a year that we are all supposed to give reverence to our blessings in life , our families . our successes, our many God given gifts. Were not supposed to eat fast so that we can get to the store before 6:00 to stand in line for a good deal.
I wonder what it would be like if we all gave Thanks 364 days a year and had one day set aside so that we could all complain about how are lives aren't the way we want them to be. Maybe then you'd want to go shopping at 6:00
I apologize for my little rant on the black Friday , but I truly hope that everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!
Getting back to what's been happening in the shop lately. I have more to do than I have time to schedule, but that is how I like it. I've been able to finish a couple of the mandolins that I was telling you about in the last article and continue to repair the remainders. I have one bowl back mandolin that has a very bad top crack in it which is giving me a challenge on how to repair it properly. It is one that also has the "bent top" which has cracked right at the seam where the bridge sits. This is the spot where all of the string tension bears down at and has to be rebuilt with a patch to reinforce the top to be able to take the string pressure. I struggle with the thought of making the reinforcement too large because it can alter or deadoned the sound if it's too large . On the other hand if it doesn't support the tension of the strings enough I risk the problem of the top just cracking again as soon as I put the strings up to tension. Nothing is more frustrating than spending an hour or two to figure out the gluing process and make the proper cleat to fit the underside just to have it blow up in your face with one turn of the tuning machine. With a little luck and my years of experience, I will be able to come to a successful medium.
I also have a couple of acoustic guitars , one that is in to have the neck repaired at the heel near the body and few of the back braces have come loose too. The other one seems to have the top caving in because all of the main X-bracing is completely loose from the top. Believe it or not the braces on the top of the guitar are much easier to reglue back into place because you can reach the proper clamps in place with a mirror and a small light. It is much harder to get the braces on the back to glue down in the proper places because you have to use some sort of wedge off of the top and make sure that the brace doesn't "creep" or wander off of it's location when you apply the pressure from the wedge. It's also hard to clean up the excess glue without disturbing the wedge. There just never seems to be enough room inside the guitar for my tools, clamps and hands all at the same time.
Another fun thing that is going on in my shop is that a few friends have decided to give lutherie a try too. This has spawned them to bring in their projects and I am doing my best to guide them through the process. One of the guitars is a full neck thru body design with a three piece laminated neck. The main body, the "wings" that are glue to the neck block are also laminated with ash, walnut and cherry to produce a beautiful looking guitar. Along with a rosewood fingerboard and great electronics this guitar will be a beauty. I'm letting the owners do all of the work to there own guitars so that they can get the full experience of building the instruments.
I also just had the opportunity to give a talk at the Kent State Vocational Campus in Ashtabula a couple of weeks ago to a few students who are involved with a very neat program called The Science Olympiad. Students from all over the country compete in a competition while studying different subjects and are required to create projects to better understand their chosen subjects. One of the subjects is the physics of sound. The students, ages 14 to 18 work in teams of two and are required to build two instruments that have a full two octave range and to play a song together. These students are incredible . They build these instruments completely from scratch and the only thing that they are allowed to use that is commercially made is the strings. All other moving parts such as tuning machines or any levers must be made of there own design. It was a pleasure to be involved with this . I think I could learn as much from their inventions as I could ever teach them about guitar or string instrument construction . I need to get back to work so that I can stay one foot ahead of all these teenagers' with bigger brains than I got. Til next time , please Stay in Tune!
Patrick from Liam Guitars/ Wood-n-Strings