I think it might be helpful to explain how I
became involved with guitar repairing. My dad,
Harold, is a brilliant person, and very adept at
all things mechanical. Even though he and my
mother were not musically inclined, nor is my
older brother Jonathan, I found an interest in
the guitar at age 7. This must have been from
watching Chet Atkins and Roy Clark on TV, but
I don't specifically remember.
Where my musical abilities came from is still a
mystery to me, however I'm quite sure that any
mechanical skills I have must have been inherited
from my dad. Growing up I always enjoyed helping
him fix the lawnmower, the car, the washing machine
restoring the old house; whatever he was working on,
I found it interesting. Tools became nearly as
fascinating as musical instruments.
I suppose it was a natural evolution for me as I
was trying to eek out a career as a full time bluegrass
musician based in Massachusetts, that my second
profession would be in repair. I tried working in sales and
management (in music stores of course) however I did
not do well in retail. Eventually I decided to start doing
really basic fixes (replacing tuners, restringing, adjusting
truss rods, and the like) and this evolved over a few years
into performing more advanced work. Back in the late
1980's there were not as many sources for repair techniques
as there are today, but I did benefit from Don Teeter's
dated, but fine guitar repair manuals, as well as other
sources I could find.
Many clients were very patient, and understanding with
me in those early years as I more or less learned the trade
doing a lot of repairs by improvisation and feel. At times
is was pretty much like walking around blindfolded; just
reacting to whatever I bumped into. Sometimes it's still
like that, but I was always guided by my musician's sense,
and the mechanical abilities my dad taught me.
Experience can be a good teacher if you pay attention
and always look at yourself as a work-in-progress.
I find it personally inspiring to always look at tasks,
even the simple ones, as techniques I'm still trying to
improve upon. I believe the learning never ends.
It's also noteworthy that there are now a lot of great
repair websites, books, and videos readily available.
These can be extremely helpful, however I believe
strongly that you must jump right in and develop your own
personal senses to do any avocation to your potential.
My next post will discuss more specifics on how I decided
to structure my repair shop. There are some general
principles with which the business is guided and I'll
share them with you in my next contribution to the blog.