Volume 20 - Preparing to Build

Written by Patrick Podpadec on . Posted in Northcoast Voice


Stay in Tune               vol#20

                                                   By  Luthier Patrick Podpadec

Where does the time go? It’s been non stop on the computer for me. Of course I’m much slower
than most people on this thing. Ya know they didn’t have these things when I grew up, and you
know how hard it is to teach an old dog new tricks. But I must admit I am having a lot of fun
learning all (more like a few) of the things that it takes to organize all the files, change the size of
the pics, download them faster ,etc.,etc. Well I know if I keep pluggin away at it ,someday I’ll be
able to have someone else do it for me . Cause even though I’m having fun, I pretty much suck at
I have been very busy building my new guitar , which brings me to my new discussion on the
importance of being consistent in the area of design. Meaning how when you design a new jig or
form, for what ever reason, whether it be to speed up the process or possibly use the form again
for accurate repeatability. It is crucial that your accuracy of making thes tools are at it’s highest
level. If you choose the road of depending on the jig for it’s accuracy in reproducing the product
it better be a good jig. Cause if it is wrong all of the parts that touch the jig will be wrong too! So
before I “claim” a form or jig I often find myself tweaking it over and over till I’m completely
satisfied with the results. Sometimes this has even led to scrapping a jig that I have already got
hours into building and designing. The light at the end of the tunnel is sometimes very alluding.
At least there is light! And I am constantly looking for it!
   One question that almost everyone asks is “How long does it take you to build a guitar”? That is
a very good question. I have not yet added up the hours that I have into it but I’m sure that most
of the time is spent on design, jig making and all the other crazy things that might pop up along
the way. I, at times have even been building a form for a certain project that led me into another
part of the form, that I decided I could use for another part or process on the guitar and then I find
myself off building something else. “Stay focused!”. I say as I get back to work on the original
There are always the times that you spend just planning your next move, so you don’t back
yourself into a corner that you can’t get out of. (a trick I learned after being a painter for about
30yrs.) Am I supposed to add that time in also? There are always the time that is spent on going
to get the few materials that you might need to insure yourself that”, I’m sure that I can make this
work only if I had this particular thing.” If I told you the amount of time that I spend on arguing
with myself about the best and most effective way to produce an instrument of impeccable tone
and master style craftsmanship and then added that to the price of my guitar well, it would be
easier to give it to loved one than to try to sell it! So, I guess my answer to the question is I don’t
really know right now. Let me build about 100 more guitars and then I will average out the time
spent on each guitar to a number that we all can relate to and that will be the answer. Then all I
have to do is decide is, “how much do I really need to charge per hour just to pay all of my bills”?
(I call that debt) And how much should I add in for a little profit (define profit, everyone has a
different answer for that one) and , “OH MY GOD!”, “ how can I charge that much”?
This whole process of building something that you may have never had the opportunity of trying
before is totally exhilarating to me. I am having the greatest time of my life. I’m having a hard
time conceiving the reality of thinking of the art of lutherie as a business that is soley there for
me to “pay the bills” or “to make a profit”.
I am in this art because of the other perks that it reveals. The smile of satisfaction on a
customers face, or maybe the tone that the instrument produces. A memory that you will never
forget., ( I think everyone has that one beautiful note that we have all heard at least once before)
or the occasional “Wow”, or any other feelings of accomplishment that might pop up. This is
why I have chosen to build guitars You could say, “it’s in my blood”. (not figuratively) just in

my blood!.
I have a great time sharing my experiences of things that I am passionate about (my guitars
and repairs) and will be glad to let you know ( the good and the bad) as it unfolds through the
following months, years and to infinity and beyond…… Please stay in your lane and “Stay in
Tune” till next time!

Thanks Again!

Patrick From Wood-n-Strings