Wednesday, April 30, 2008

o yes...

(update to a previous post) Not content to merely have a sustainer installed the owner also had Gary heavily rout the body and then install the guts of a tremolo pedal inside this import tele copy. Maybe we could cut the logo off the metal case of the stompbox and attach it to the headstock. It would look cool.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

there are no guitar emergencies

To what lengths will we go when adjusting a guitar? To what lengths will the owner of a guitar go to explain how they want the guitar adjusted? Where is the place in the center where those two intentions meet? A guitar is a a physical thing, subservient to the laws of the physical world. We humans are an entirely different matter. Existing in the physical realm but all too often ruled by incomprehensible emotional resonances, it's not uncommon for the owner to experience a significant portion of their personal emotional validity through their guitar. It's perilous to ignore this aspect of our work.

Friday, April 25, 2008

As we mentioned earlier...

(in the year) we are a warranty station for almost all the big guitar manufacturers and most of the smaller, boutique luthiers as well. Here is something we have found in our experience that may be useful to you, Gentle Reader, if you are planning to acquire a new acoustic guitar and are interested in using that guitar with a pickup. We recommend choosing an acoustic guitar based on how it sounds, looks & feels acoustically. Factory installed pickup systems don't necessarily have to play as important a part in your choice. Besides having a wide choice of after-market technologies & sounds (to say nothing of saving a couple hundred dollars), any warranty issues may involve a frustrating waiting period while the manufacturer replaces a defective part or a less than perfect installation is rectified. We see this a lot.

UPDATE - Several of the manufacturer-specific installations are actually very good including (but not necessarily limited to) Taylor's Expression system, the Takamine pickup systems and various Fishman and B-Band assemblies. It's important to check out the instrument well. If you are going to purchase an acoustic guitar with a pickup system installed remember to plug it in and test the guitar through an amplifier. Pluck the strings individually to make sure that each string resounds at the same volume level. Gently move the output jack cable end while it is plugged in to the guitar to test for a loose connection. While the instrument is plugged in move all the controls or sliders to make sure they work!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The scent of Brazilian...

...rosewood, that is. Tim has been leveling the fretboard of this 1964 Fender Jazz bass and, if one bends down close to the dust accumulating at the end there is a distinct scent arising from it. At once bitter, cool and slightly sweet with only a hint of the arid, acrid loam from which the tree sprang. The scent of rosewood dust transports one to another world.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

big bottoms

these two instruments (one a disconnected body) resting on Tim's bench are in the process of having their bridges reattached, glued and clamped. If they could only talk (maybe they are and we can't hear them).

Saturday, April 19, 2008

"why does it, why does it, why does it huuuuuurt?"

With intense focus, deep gravity and sober judgement the technicians at Gary Brawer Stringed Instrument Repair illuminate the path to righteous clarity through an ascetic, some might even say monastic, cultural gestalt. No one has any fun, either.

Friday, April 18, 2008

getting what you pay for

The owner, ecstatic at the "great deal" he got on this poor beat-up G&L bass, rightly considered new strings, a setup and some repairs to address the strange sounding electronics would be just the thing to bring it up to snuff. A close look at the instrument revealed flaws of a nature deep enough to require major surgery on all fronts. The neck was twisted (requiring heavy planing of the fingerboard and a refret, if not an entirely new neck) and the electronics cavity looked like someone had peed inside it. Crestfallen, the new owner took his great deal home. We didn't charge him anything.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

a cursory glance around the shop...

reveals (from top) Gary's hands installing the guts of a Marshall VT-1 Vibratrem stompbox into Timmy P's faux telecaster, Tim's hands installing foam underneath the EMG pickups of Bruce C's Fender P-Bass and Trevor's hands carefully measuring the slot alignment while cutting a bone nut for James H's dinosaur Flying V. It's 3:24PM PST and we're listening to early Hall & Oates.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


We can do miracles but only if we have all the parts. This is all that made it to us and we don't have our cloning/matter fabrication/chaos engine set up yet. If your wooden instrument should suffer a break, gather up all the pieces, even the small shards. It makes a difference.

Friday, April 11, 2008

street value vs. emotional resonance

This instrument was brought to us by the whole family. The eldest son was moving beyond his first guitar (pictured here) and giving it to his sister. It needed a fair amount of work to make it playable and reliable. The thought crossed our collective consciousness for a brief moment that, based on the projected labor costs of the work involved, it might be more cost effective to simply purchase a new instrument of the same caliber, say a Squire or another Ibanez. But that thought was quickly tossed aside with the realization that it's her brother's first guitar. There's no price on that.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

at work we know him as the

Caffeinated Elf. But to his legions of fans he's a Rock God. He's Fernie Rod and he shreds.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

the girls at work

"where's the shielded coaxial?"
"mogami or belden?"
"gimme the belden..."
"I have the smaller roll."
"how much do you need?"
"it should live over here."
"what's for lunch?"

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Friday, April 4, 2008

Specialized needs call for special talents

Here Gary was presented with a naked Parker Spanish Fly guitar consisting of only the body/neck assembly and nothing else. He fabricated a bridge, installed an RMC pickup system (including routing the electrical cavity as well as the side of the body for output jacks), made a bone nut using the Buzz Feitin tuning system, installed high-end Sperzel tuners (custom made for this guitar), handmade a form-fitting custom backplate and, after assembling all the parts, made the instrument play correctly. This kind of work isn't cheap and doesn't happen overnight.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

It takes a man to play a Peavey.

Every afternoon, right about this time, our mischievous sprite, Chris, will haul out a classic American solid body electric guitar and play a series of notes, runs, riffs, scales and phrases in a particular idiom; one that every retail music store employee eventually comes to know and dread. But this day was different. An anomalous event, an occurrence of such rarity that even it's observation meant a disturbance in the Force. Drawn by an irresistible urge, Chris plugged this orphaned instrument in, cranked the gain to "Terminator Bees," and began to fingertap like Steve Vai in the 1986 Ralph Macchio vehicle Crossroads, furiously chasing the Divine Muse of Death Metal across the foul undead Plain of Hungry Ghosts. Everything in the shop came to a halt. Techs looked up from the bowels of solid-body electrical guitar cavities, luthiers stopped luthering, administrative tasks were forgotten in a psychic wash of full-spectrum ambient ganglion white noise. But as soon as he'd begun, Chris realized what he was doing and stopped, gazing down at his fingers, appalled. We looked away, the pain of observing his embarrassment more then we could stomach. Life went on. Chris eventually moved, with his family, to Modoc, where he manages a small Community Center, catering to teens and veterans. We never heard surf music again.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Maybe the market value of the guitar...

doesn't equal the labor fee required to bring it back to playability. Guitars are beautiful, too.