Saturday, March 29, 2008

so nice do it twice

Some of our loose knit family travel far afield with their instruments, spending loads of their lives working far from home. They can become "porous with travel fever" (as Joni Mitchell said) and tend to become obsessive about certain things. Here Derek holds up a brace of Vox Starstreams. He's about to leave for six months or so, working as a roving karaoke singer on cruise ships. He's a happy guy. Happiness gets the best service.

Friday, March 28, 2008

impact adjustment

Recently a well-known guitar manufacturer released yet another version of one of their classic models, this time with circuitry and servo-motors installed that enable the instrument to tune itself. Since we are a warranty station it's not surprising that several of these guitars have passed through the shop. Today one particular instrument has defied all of our careful ministrations, requiring us to call the engineers who designed and built it. One of them suggested hitting it with a hammer (though not in the precise location shown in the picture).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

sometimes it gets really busy

and we motivate ourselves by calling up the likes of old Aerosmith, AC-DC, Zodiac Mindwarp etc. Youtube videos to counter the insanity. Many of our clients are preparing for warm weather northern hemisphere tours and currently it's raining instruments. This doesn't mean that non-touring musicians get pushed aside. It means that we come in earlier and leave a little later than usual. And listen lots of trashy rock.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

you're a busy musician

and you're coming in to pick up your completed instrument and maybe we decide to take a little extra time to fine tune it. And maybe you're traveling around with your kid...and maybe your kid wants to learn something about guitar repair. One of our long-time technicians, Leo, can help. He likes children and is a natural teacher. Here Lucy takes advantage of one of Leo's core competencies.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The customer is always right

Sometimes we might do a modification that goes against the grain, that doesn't exactly feel right. But we do it anyway because, well, maybe the owner of the guitar may be envisioning something conceptually that we can only guess at. Besides, it's impossible to judge relationships from the outside. Maybe the guitar had it coming.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

more than the sum of your parts

It goes without saying that every guitar is different. What might be overlooked is that every player approaches their instrument differently. Here Gary is conferring with Tony about his brand new Gibson CS 336. We installed a new bone nut (an improvement upon the original) and, based on the way he plays, some adjustments are in order. To find out what those adjustments are requires some quality time talking about how the player plays. Gary is a good listener.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Is it a complement when

someone takes the time to email you a photograph from Paris because something they saw reminded them of you? Is it more of a complement if they take the time to photograph the thing that reminded them of you and send that photo along as an attachment in an email? And does it become so very much more a complement when that imagery is at once beautiful and chaotic?

Which is which?

Friday, March 14, 2008

It must have been cold (for San Francisco) that day

This building is old so we turn on tube amps for warmth. Gary is talking to Jack and David about Jack's Larrivee acoustic guitar. In the background an unidentified person looks up at guitars, slack-mouthed and astonished.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Extreme Gibson Neck Break

This guitar was broken and repaired (by whom we do not know) before arriving at our shop for a second break along the exact same fracture. Since the joint could not be expected to hold if glued again a laminate is required. Here you can observe the progress. Tim removes about an eighth of an inch of wood (see the glued fracture in the 1st picture) from the back of the headstock and neck (to under the first fret), bends a piece of mahogany, glues the mahogany laminate to the guitar, completes the shaping and then matches the finish to the existing woodwork before reassembling. Ordinarily Tim would end the laminate just below the serial number. This guitar's number, however, had already been compromised.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Safety First

If you're going to use power tools, you've got to protect yourself. Here Gary is avoiding breathing spruce dust kicked up by his Dremel tool as he squares out the hole to fit the RMC Poly-Drive 1 into the the cavity of this Parker nylon string Fly electric guitar. These Parker/RMC installations are one of Gary's specialties.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

does the external landscape reflect the internal?

So your spice rack is alphabetized and your t-shirts arranged by color...does that mean you tend to quantize your beat files? Or do you constantly wonder where everything is but have you looked at the area of the floor around your bed? Do you have a bowl of cereal in the kitchen and leave the milk, its opening gaping like a baby bird, sitting on the counter for the rest of day as bowls pile up at various locations around the apartment, the remains of your meal calcifying in the dry air and reflected sunlight? Does that mean you're in a jam band?

What does your patchbay tell us about you?

Friday, March 7, 2008

on the street where we live...

Used to be there was parking on either side of our little hovel but condos sprang up like weeds and our customers were forced to light black candles, slaughter chickens and offer various arcane sacrificial totems to ensure the appeasement of the parking gods. Luckily the Civic Center BART station is within walking distance...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

no, really girls...

"uh and then she said..."
"you'd think Fender would know better..."
"what's for lunch?"
"I need a 1/16th" socket"
"where are the pot nuts?"
"I like this guitar"

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

the noisome exhalation of decay*

This 1968 Gibson Birdland suffers from an outgassing pickguard. As the plastic mocktortoise-shell material oxidizes and crumbles, the gasses corrode the nearby metal of the pickup covers causing the lovely discoloration of decay visible in the photograph. The unsalvageable pickguard can be replaced and the pickup covers can be stripped, prepared and re-plated in 14k gold.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rules are made to be broken,

especially if you made them yourself. Here Stephen Pride, an accomplished player, tests out his early Twentieth century Vega banjo, after having it refretted by Tim. We swore we would stick to guitars but....well....

Listening to: Marvin Gaye compilation

Saturday, March 1, 2008

is it live or...?

Sometimes you might like a particular guitarist's playing, music or lifestyle. You might like it enough to play the kind of guitar your favorite guitar player uses. That particular guitar might be commonly available or it may be rare, complex and unique to the point of elaborate intricacy. We can help along an entry-level guitar bought off the rack at a music supply super store or a one of a kind reproduction of a one of a kind hand-built custom instrument. And everything in between. After all this time, we still like guitars.