Well, the past few days have seen the coming together of the body of my guitar, with just a couple small hiccups, one in the form of a bomblike explosion of one side of the guitar, sending shards of Koa all over the shop...
I was not present during this fiasco, though, so I cannot fully describe it to you. A few nights ago, I glued the back onto my guiar, and then placed it on a table rigged to clamp pressure down on the back and sides. The proper way to do this is to tighten each clamp a little at a time, so as not to have too much pressure on a single area at once. The same goes for loosening the apparatus as well....and that will come into play later.
Around 5, my dad left to play music with his longtime buddy Herb and his 'Geezer Band' as my dad endearingly calls them. Before they left though, Herb graciously braved potentially soiling his stage-signature black leather vest to help me tighten the clamps in place. I then went home to enjoy a screening Home Alone that happened to be on one of the movie channels. (But it was a tad pathetic as I caught myself quoting parts out loud to Harper...who was the only one in the room and I am pretty sure she didn't appreciate it as much as, say, my awesome cousin Lauren would have.)
Anyway, back to the explosion story, I noticed several cars had arrived in the driveway around midnight, so I called over to the shop to make sure my dad had gotten home safely and that he had a good show. I had considered walking the 45 steps over to the shop but...eh. He sounded a little strange on the phone, and didn't seem to be in the chatty mood, but I just assumed he was tired as it was pretty late.
The next morning as I was preparing to head to the grocery store, uncharacteristically early for him, my dad popped his head out of his room and said, "You might want to go look at your guitar. The side exploded last night." After my dizziness subsided from a mini rush of adrenaline, I headed to the shop to take a look at my broken guitar. But when I got over there nothing seemed amiss. I thought, perhaps he was joking, like that guy Hunter who once told me on the phone that my third guitar had shattered due to a humidity problem.
What happened was this: my dad did not carefully observe the rule of removing the pressure of the clamps little by little, and because I had clamped the guitar down so tightly, the pressure was significant when he got to the last clamp. He said it sounded like a bomb went off in the shop, and several pieces of the side found new homes among dustpiles. For 3 hours, my dad reconstructed the side, replaced kerfing (the small strips of mahogany that line the side to add support for the top and back), and reinforced the affected area. He truly is an incredible craftsman to be able to perform such a feat, and at 3am at that. In his 40some years of doing this, he has never had such an issue arise, so to fix it so flawlessly takes the work of a true genius and I am honored to watch and learn from someone like that.
- I began this blog in order to share my experiences learning instrument building from my dad, but along with those stories I look forward to sharing my memories of growing up with two busy, musically inclined parents as well as my current experiences stepping out on my own as a female luthier promoting environmental sustainability in her instruments while working to alter gender stereotypes in a male dominated field. If you'd like to use quotes from this blog for interviews or in your own work, please contact me first! (email is firstname.lastname@example.org)