Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Sparklers

Gah! How does time move so quickly?! I honestly thought perhaps I had missed a few weeks to write to you, but not this long...again. I feel like I have a pretty legitimate excuse this time though as I was finishing a 45 style guitar by myself while my dad was away teaching at a music camp. He was around long enough to show me some important steps, but the final steps were on my own. Let me just tell you, if inlaying all of that pearl sounded difficult, then you probably don't even want to know about the rest. But, I'm going to tell you anyway.

So the sparkly part is only a small aspect of what is needed to make a guitar adorned along all the edges of all surfaces of the body with thin strips of abalone shell. Since I went into it in detail in an earlier post I will only remind you that I used real, flat pieces of abalone that I painstakingly ran through a tiny table saw to make little strips and installed them with my tender fingers into the channels left by the removal of Teflon strips. Until now I hadn't fully grasped the difficulty of installing the Teflon.

On each side of the Teflon are three strips of wood veneer of varying thickness. I also wrote about attaching binding in a previous post so if you want to know more about that process, you can read about when I made a 42 style guitar here. The 45 process is a bit more involved since it requires adding the same pattern, well almost, to the edges of the sides and back, not just the top. The new pattern on the back and sides goes, from the edge facing in toward the body to the binding, white-black-Teflon-barely thicker black-white-black-binding. Getting that thicker black line set up is the worst part because it is such a small difference that I put it in absolutely positive that it is correct, then come time to scrape it down and it is flipped. Those are just the worst days.


So my dad showed me how to glue the wood veneer strips to the telfon before adding it to the guitar, since, as he well knows, doing each one separately is extremely difficult and time consuming. The teflon sheet with a small groove cut along its length sure doesn't look very intimidating and as my dad showed me I thought, well this is easy, go away so I can do it, I don't need help with this! Boy was I wrong. "You got your lines flipped." "There isn't enough glue-the lines aren't fully stuck together, that is going to give you a world of hurt when you're putting it on the guitar." "Watch out, that joint needs to be perfect or it is all you'll ever see." The warnings came in alarmingly quick succession after I took over the helm. After a while I wanted to throw that benign looking piece of plastic on the floor with moderate force and walk away. After quite a bit longer than I feel appropriate, I finished installing the Teflon around the lines. Then I had to glue those to the strip of ivoroid binding. Then I had to route a space in the side and, along with the purfling I made for the top and back, glue it to the edges.


Before all of that though, I had to figure out how to mire the joints around the end piece of ivoroid because on my dad's old Martin 0-45 that I was using as a template had angled joints on each side of the piece. How did they do that? I had to inlay the piece with the attached lines and Teflon before I cut the groove for the binding the binding so I couldn't do it all together, which would have made the task easier. After maybe 3 more hours than it typically takes to install an end piece, I finally got the joints mitred how I wanted, and fit the edge of my binding/purfling combo snuggly into them.  Now I fully understand why my dad has a ton of orders for a 45 and they go untouched or, if the customer is pushy, the bodies sit on the highest shelf where they go forgotten, or probably more like ignored.

1922 Martin 0-45. "Make yours look like that."

Joints are the worst






To take a break from the ridiculously tedious work I had been doing we hosted a Fourth of July party at my dad's house. Our friends Marci and Andy, who have stood as pillars of the community of Rugby for several years now, were the instigators of the shindig, and they invited everyone they knew to come watch a fireworks display shot off on the top of the hill across from the house. They surmised that the folks who couldn't get out of their house to attend the party could still see the show from their porch or window. They were probably right as I watched them open their trunk to $1300 worth of Tennessee fireworks. Next to the low riding car our friend Mac was firing up his patented Jimmy Buffet Margarita Machine....



There are a lot of parties at my dad's house, but this one was really special to me. There weren't droves of people I didn't know giving me 'why are you here' looks when I am walking by without an instrument in my hand. The attendees were friends I see separately all the time when I am out running or down at the store. I wave to Sarah as she passes by to carry the mail, and Howard as he mows Evelyn's lawn across the street. I greet my great Uncle Rex as I go pick raspberries at my Granny's house. I haven't seen everyone collectively in years though. It seemed like all of Rugby came out to celebrate with us. It was heartwarming and so exciting to me to see so many folks from my childhood and to see that their lives had progressed happily, so many introducing me to their growing families and grandchildren.


A gaggle of kids ran past me playing a game I didn't recognize. "Do you remember when that was us?" my cousin Lauren asked me. Boy do I. I remember we would gather a big group of kids, seeking out the ones standing bored by their parents sides, and play hide and seek tag, do gymnastics in the grass, one-upping each other until we couldn't. We would sometimes sneak over to the big old barn next door after telling stories of it being haunted. Occasionally, depending on the season and which party, some friends and I would take a sheet out to the hayfield and smush some of the tall grass down so we felt secluded (even though we were still mere feet from people sitting in circles playing music) and just stare up at the stars. "Look! That star is moving!" my friend Taylor said. "Well it's an airplane," I countered. "No, it's a star and it is really moving!" "Oh yeah...hm." "I was just messing with you, we learned in psychology about conforming and because I told you that star is moving you legitimately think it is." "But it is!" I insisted. I am not sure why I remember that conversation so vividly, but many nights when the sky is Rugby so bright I can see the Milky Way I think of that time he said that. And I think I can see a moving star. Fine, psychology, you win. I miss the days of feeling like we were part of an exclusive club, nobody could touch us and we were just in our own bubble of friendship, having more fun than anyone at the real party.

It is interesting to think of time passing, considering everyone there at that party. I went from feeling too young to hang out with the cook kids, to being the cool kids, to being too cool for anything but hiding in my room, to joining the party and hanging out with the adults. Maybe someday I will be able to watch my kids progress the same way. I hope so.


Family
It wouldn't be a Wayne Henderson party without guitars...