Stay in Tune vol#109
By Luthier Patrick Podpadec
Will this winter ever end? The cold, the snow. I'm really getting quite tired of it as I'm sure most everyone else is too. I guess it will just make the Spring that much more enjoyable when it finally gets here. It's funny how you never hear people complaining about how long of a Spring it's been. It's hard to get sick of all those flowers budding, with all the birds chirping and all the little animals having babies and such. It's like the earth has a rebirth. It has to be my favorite season of the year.
Anyway, I hope that you all have been keeping warm and trying to keep some sort of humidity control on your instruments. This time of the year when the extreme cold weather dries out the air and the humidity levels drop into the teens it can be very damaging to wooden instruments that are under a lot of string tension. Wood will shrink when it looses it's water content because the wood cells shrivel up and sometimes can create a crack down a grain line. Many other times the tops will tend to flatten out or tighten up and will result in the action becoming very low. Sometimes to the point of the strings just about laying on the fingerboard. This of course will have all or most of your strings buzzing and making the instrument unplayable. It seems to help a little bit if you can keep your instrument in it's case instead of leaving it out on a stand near a heat duct, but it can still happen with the dry air.
I have mention this before a couple of years ago in an article about having two different size saddles built, one for the winter and the other for the summer. I have many customers that I have built an extra saddle so they can keep it in their guitar case ready to go when the action takes a dive on them so they can change it themselves.
After talking about cold weather and dry air ,I can only think about how nice it will be to see the spring come. Not only for the weather , but for all of the music festivals that are gonna be coming our way. This is the time of the year that I'm planning my schedule for the different music festivals that I will be attending for either showing my wares, or doing workshops or just plain out having some good clean fun listening to some good homemade music.
Last week I talked about meeting new musicians. Well this week, It happened again. I have to tell you how a few years back my good friend Bob Yocum would invite some of his musician friends over on a Sunday afternoon to play some tunes. This went on for years before I got up years courage to join in. when I finally did it was like I found by new best thing to do on the weekends. The music that was played and heard gave me a lift in my phycie that its hard to explain. It gave me a whole new concept of playing and having fun with music. This went on for a year or two and for what ever reason I stopped going Well, a lot of time have passed and I just was invited to visit another one of Bob's "jams". I only went this time to listen and get back in the feel of things. I was lucky to meet two new guitar players, (interesting enough they were both named "Al") There was Northeast Ohio's best musicians there as usual, Mr, Dave Pethal on banjo, Mr. Paul Hammond on bass, Mr. Bob Yocum on fiddle and guitar and Mr. Al Moses and Mr. Al Bonnis on guitar. I felt like I should of paid money to be listening to these guys play their instruments. Again, I Thank! the powers to be that I'm fortunate enough to be in the circle of friends that I'm in. When I hear good music being performed by dedicated musicians it gives me an added sense of dedication to my profession as well. I want to be able to service their instruments (or possibly build them some new ones in the future) so they can continue giving me and all of the other people who are lucky enough to hear them, the joy that only music can do to the soul! Thank You! again to all of you that make that happen.
As I have said before, music is the international language that overcomes all other barriers of mis-communication. In any language, a bad note is just a bad note. It usually never gets "misunderstood" as anything other than what it is. A good note on the other hand is everything it was meant to be! And when you put all the good notes together it can create a sense of euphoria that can ascend space and possibly even time. It's a wonder why we spend any time talking to each other .
O.K. I'm probably getting carried away here so I think that I should ground myself by going back out to the shop and make some more instruments play better so all of the musicians can get back to making all of their listeners happy!
I thank all of you that have been faithfully reading my muses and for all of the kind remarks and emails that I have received for my articles. It could not be done without the patience from the great staff of the Voice Magazine! Please Stay in Tune until the next time, and don't be afraid to "Thank" the next musician that "communicates" something to you in a way that only they can do.
Patrick from Liam Guitars