Stay in Tune vol #116
By luthier Patrick Podpadec
I have been trying for years to build guitars but I find it a bit difficult to find the time when guitars keep breaking and they keep coming into my shop to get fixed. I'm not complaining, but it's hard to set aside the time to focus on a certain building project. I'm the type of person that when I start a new project, I go head over heels on it and try to put 150% into it. That leaves little or no time to think about anything else. It's just one of those quirky things about my personality. I have to learn to control or space out my time better for all of the different projects that may be going on at one time. It's hard sometimes to be into a project or a repair for an hour or two and then suddenly put it down to start working on something different . It's not always the case, but sometimes that is the way the work must be done. I might have to put something down for an hour or so to let the glue dry so I will find another guitar that needs something done to it so that I can keep on moving forward to fill in the gaps of time. I don't want to start on anything too major that will take up the whole rest of the day because I still want to get back to the first repair and finish it. Sometimes a may have to glue more than one brace or add more than one cleat to a crack. This may take several times where I have to set the guitar aside and find another repair to work on. I find myself jumping back and forth on several instruments at a time trying to finish them.
Another thing that has been happening to me lately is where I find myself having to make decisions on a repair to fit the needs of the customer's budget. (more importantly, the lack of one). Sometimes the request will go something like this, "I only paid 100.00 for it 25 yrs ago and I just want to fix it up good enough to give to my daughter to go off to college with and I really can't justify putting 250.00 into the needed repairs, but it is a family heirloom and I really want to pass it down to my child. Isn't there something you could do that wouldn't cost as much, but still play o.k.?". I want to and should just say No!, but I'm such a sucker for the "family heirloom" and " pass it on to my kids" thing that I usually try some repair that isn't the type that I would like to do to be able to guarantee my work. Or maybe not to do something that I feel the instrument badly needs to correct the problem. At this point I have to explain to the customer the problems that may occur if I don't perform a certain procedure and by fixing it up for about 100.00 isn't the "proper" way to fix it . " Oh", But are you sure you can't make it play a little better than it does now"?. I say "Maybe , but again , It is the the way we should go about it", and then the customer say's, "Well let's just try to do the 100.00 dollar repair and see how it works out, I have faith in you that you can make it better. I've heard that you are really good and you can fix anything"
Well what the %$&*# am I suppose to say to that? I find myself trying to figure out a way that I can make this guitar play better without doing the needed repairs. Unfortunately, guitar repair is not a "magic" trick. There are times that I have put a screw into the heel of the neck to hold the neck on to the body of a very inexpensive instrument.( never to a instrument of value). Or taking a fret out where it was buzzing bad, or some other repair that I'm not very proud of. After all, this a "Professional Repair Shop", but I always have to tell the customer that there is no guarantee! . I have always and always will, stand behind my work . That is the why I have a difficult time in making these decisions . It's not because I'm not making as much money for the repair, believe me, most of the time the instruments that I find myself making these kind of decisions on are hardly worth fixing in the first place. If it were not for the "family heirloom" or "my kid" thing, I would try to talk the customer out of doing the repair. Just by a new guitar! (and give me the old one for parts)
After saying all that, I still like to satisfy my customers and they still seem to be genuinely happy when they get there instrument back. I also would like to add that if anyone has any old instruments in any condition (even beyond repair) that they would like to donate to Liam Guitars for parts. I'm trying to start an "Instrument Junk Yard ".( instead of filling up the landfill, please give me a call at 440-474-2141. I will even be glad to arrange to pick the instrument up from you) I would greatly appreciate the gesture. This can allow customers to come in and browse through and find a screw or a nut or a part that they haven't been able to purchase or find at any other music store so they can fix up some project that there doing. It can also help me fix up those inexpensive child guitars that my customers keep bringing to me to fix. When I don't have expenses in the parts, I can pass that savings on to my clients. This could be you someday. Please remember that any instrument in any condition or even parts to instruments are welcome. If the instruments or parts have some legitimate value I would be willing to exchange a gift certificate for repair of a determined value so that it may be used in the future.
Thanks again for your time and it is time for me to bid you all a farewell and get back to doing what I do best. So please "Stay in Tune" for the next article in your favorite North Coast Voice magazine!
Patrick from Liam Guitars/Wood-n-Strings