Stay in Tune vol#18
By luthier Patrick Podpadec
Well here we are. 2010. Wow! How did the time fly by so fast? It seems like I just graduated from high school a
couple of years ago. That was 1973. I just hope that some experience has attached itself to my psyche. Like the guy
in the commercial says “My hair speaks experience” Or maybe the lack of it
I do know enough now to tell you that it takes a certain amount of organization to get ahead in any venture that
you decide to encounter. I have had my share of “road blocks” that seem to always return to the fact that I need to
stay focused on the proper procedures to end up with the satisfactory results. I mean, that it is never worth it to try to
cut corners to get something done faster or cheaper. Whenever I try to skip a grade of sandpaper to get done faster,
it always seems that I end up having to do it over because I can see some scratches in the finish that I didn’t get out
because I skipped to 600 paper after using 220 instead of using 400 in between. It doesn’t sound like much until you
find yourself doing the whole sanding and buffing process twice to get it right when all you had to do is follow the
proper procedure that I know works, the first time. I know it sounds like I’m yelling at myself, because I am
As I get more and more into a daily routine of repairing instruments, I find that it is extremely important to stay
organized so that I can accomplish the tasks at hand in a efficient and timely manner. After each job I clean up my
bench and replace all the tools I used back to their proper location. (I don’t know why I have to use every tool I got
and some I don’t on every job, but I do) Some times this feels a bit redundant, but I assure you that it is much faster
than if I spend ten minutes looking for the small phillips head screwdriver on my messy bench “I know it’s here
somewhere., I just used the #%$$* thing!" So of course all of this frustration has led me to start a new clean up and
organizing campaign for the new year.
I have vowed to take the stack of sticky notes that are stuck everywhere and all the other stuff that I “doodle”
down and put it in some sort of a data base so that I can access it on the fly. I just spent about 5 hrs cleaning my desk
out an off to put my son’s old computer out in my shop so I can try to catch up with the 21st century. It’s funny to me that I’m telling you that it is my son’s old computer. He’s only ten yrs old and I’m getting his old computer. What’s wrong with that picture? Maybe if I’m lucky he will show me how to use it. Anything past email and writing these articles for the Voice , I’m pretty much lost..
I hope I don’t sound too gloomy because I’m actually totally pumped up about all that is starting to unfold in the
workshop of “Liam Guitars”. It has been very invigorating to me to start these new guitars that I’m putting together
for the Newport Guitar Festival in Miami Fla. this coming April. My original goal was to start three guitars but I
think I will have to cut it back to only two because I still want to have time to accommodate my repair customers.
Speaking of that, I want to thank everyone for responding so well to my last article about the Christmas special. I
am still running it through Jan. I must say though if your still interested in taking advantage of the $35.00 setup you
must contact me soon so that I can have your repair jobs on the schedule before the end of the month or you will
miss out on this great opportunity.
I always like to talk a little about the types of repairs that came through the shop since the last time I talked to you,
so here goes…. I fixed a output jack in a electric bass that kept breaking the solder joints because the jack was
not seated properly in it’s hole. I removed all of the poor attempts of soldering from the previous repairperson and
installed two new “lock” washers on either side of the hole so that when I tightened the jack it would stay there. I
backed it up with a second nut and a little dab of super glue on the threads for added protection. Worked like charm.
I installed some side dot inlays on the fretboard of a Gretch guitar. It seems funny that this wasn’t done at the
factory but it wasn’t, so I did it.
I replaced a cracked bridge off of a Johnson guitar. It had mysteriously cracked along the line where the bridge
pin holes were drilled I’ve seen this many times on less expensive guitars. I believe that it can be related to the fact
of not taking the time to use the proper piece of wood for the bridge. It is important that the grain of the wood is
clear and running in the right direction to offset the massive strain that it has to endure because of the string tension
constantly pulling on it.
I also got in a guitar that was once owned by an old friend of mine from about 35yrs ago. I remember when my
friend bought it new. Another friend of mine owns it now and brought it in for 100,000 mile tuneup. It still is a
great guitar , a Guild D-55. Unfortunately it has succumbed to the demise of extreme fret wear and will be needing
a fret job, along with replacing a warped ebony bridge. You wouldn’t think that would happen , but this actually is my third ebony bridge I’ve replaced on older Guilds. That certainly does not make them a bad choice for a guitar.
I think that Guilds are way underestimated for their quality These things can happen to any guitar ,regardless of
make or model Well’ I need to be getting back to my building project so that I have some fodder for you for the next
article. So till next time, please Stay in Tune
Patrick from Wood-n-Strings