Monday, November 24, 2008

Totem Pole Politics

One of the most obvious benefits of working for yourself is eliminating the stress of a superior breathing down your neck. I'm not quite sure what rank in the shop Django holds, but it's pretty clear he's aiming for the top spot...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fresh Peanut Butter

I love opening new jars of peanut butter. Some normally dormant region in the depths of my psyche jumps for joy whenever I am lucky enough to behold the pristine and untainted surface that only a fresh jar of peanut butter can provide. Even though I know the perfection will be lost the instant I break the surface with a knife, that ever so brief moment before is pure bliss. Whatever psychological quirk I posses that leads to such a love reached hitherto unimaginable heights last Friday night when we opened a big jar. Instead of peanut butter though, it was a workshop. That's right, our blogging delinquency can be fully explained by the fact that the shop is done(ish)! Despite a few minor details still to be worked out, we are essentially up and running and back in the business of building guitars! To celebrate this momentous occasion (and because we like throwing killer parties) we held our first shop concert a little over a week ago with great success.

With a variety of guitars being made in the shop, we thought it would be appropriate to have the music reflect that diversity. To start the night, classical guitarist Oscar Salazar Varela performed a great set playing on one of Jeremy's guitars. Despite having cut his thumb earlier in the day, Oscar did an incredible job and clearly impressed the crowd.

It's always a little bit of a thrill to see a great guitar player play an instrument you've made, but when the next performer Mike O'Brien started playing Doc Watson and Leo Kottke tunes on my guitar, I was in seventh heaven. He had a great line in the middle of his set when he switched to one of Jeremy's instruments for a few songs. After he picked up and strummed the guitar a few times he said, "Wow -- I feel like I just sat down on an $8,000 couch."

All in all the night was a resounding success. Our current plan is to hold a similar concert on the first Friday of every month and next time I won't leave my camera charging in the dust room for the entire night...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Introducing Django

Despite our seemingly easy going nature and openness toward adding new members to the workshop, we actually have quite severe requirements and a strict set of guidelines that must be met in order to earn a space at our bench. A strong work ethic, knowledge of various tools and machines, and a burning desire to build the highest quality guitars are all a must. Somehow, our newest shop member managed to successfully navigate through several rounds of intense interviews and background checks while possessing none of these qualities. How he managed to slip through and score such prime benchspace is still a mystery...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Six impossible things before breakfast...

Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said: 'one can't believe impossible things.'

'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast...
- Lewis Carroll

Over the weekend a remarkably atypical series of events occurred in the shop which has only led me to one conclusion --guitarmaking is good for your health. Depending on whose clinical trials you believe, a repeated daily intake of coffee (organic, fair trade, and roasted at home (as if there was any other way)): may protect against Parkinson's disease, seems to protect and fight against the development of Alzheimer's, may lower the risk of Diabetes, as well as all sorts of various other claims. Here is what I can tell you for sure about coffee --it's DELICIOUS. In fact we like coffee so much that we, without a doubt, see our reflections more in our mugs than we do in our mirrors. 

Just like clockwork at some magical point in the afternoon my brain decides it wants coffee. Maybe a more correct way of explaining this is that my brain decides it needs coffee. The kind of need that if ignored causes the brain to send signals to various vital bodily functions imploring them to initiate extortive maneuvers. 

"All right buddy don't be a hero, give me the coffee or the lymphatic system gets it." Naturally, cowering in fear a coffee must be consumed. I guess you could say we like coffee a lot. Which makes the happenings of Satuday afternoon just a little bit more than startling. 

Saturday morning Dave, Mike, and I started our new part time job. It's not exactly ideal that I need a part time job to sustain the early stages of my guitarmaking career but you have to do what you have to do. Our faithful readers can find a quantum of solace in the fact that we are not bussing tables, slinging drinks, or spending our cold winter nights lonely manning the till at some mom and pop depanneur... we are building electric guitars. There is something ironic about the fact that the first instrument coming out of our shop is not a classical guitar, it's not even  a steel string guitar, it's an electric guitar. Admittedly we are using a gorgeous pice of curly black walnut to cap an old growth Spanish cedar body and I haven't even begun to talk about how magnificently curly the maple neck is. It suffices to to say that it's quite curled.

The best part about working on this new project together is the collective energy. The synergy of a group of fellow guitarmakers and friends working together to build a musical instrument is really really great. So great in fact that we entirely missed our afternoon coffee and the really scary part (cue the theme to the 'Twilight Zone') was that we didn't even notice. Guitarmaking - one.   Chemical dependency - zero. We were all so electrified about finally starting to build an instrument (a well deserved diversion from building our shop) that our sheer enthusiasm overcame the sharp pangs of caffeine withdrawal. 

All kidding aside, it's great to be back building instruments (regardless of whether or not you have to plug them in) and we really want this project to be a collaborative affair. On Saturday afternoon we were excited to find out that Corin de Jonge was coming down for a visit. Corin is a fine juggler well on his way to star 'jester'dom' and a fantastic guitar builder in his own right. So what do a bunch of guitarmakers consider 'hanging out'? Would you be surprised if I said 'working in the shop'? 

On Sunday morning Corin lent a hand refining the curves of our new body shape as well as doing a bang up job making a template.
Corin working in front of one of our exceptionally long windows (mmm natural light)

Watch the blog for updates on the progression of the instrument and as to when this unique and first-class project will be available.