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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Confessions of a guitar hack

hushnel
Contributing Member
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North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
Oct 12th, 2017 01:04 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

My biggest problem in life has been that I think I can do anything. All of my failures and successes have come from this one simple personal fault.

My first instrument project was attempted back in 1964, I was 11. We had just moved to Germany and I wanted to continue my musical education but their was no string orchestra, I had played violin, a few weeks on cello and over a year on upright. I loved the upright, no other instrument was as cool or as important as the bass. I know, never said I wasn’t goofy. The director of the marching band offered me the Tuba. I declined.

We lived off base in a new home with ongoing construction in the neighborhood. So I started gathering junk boards, pieces of plywood and built an acoustic bass guitar, in my defense I’ll say it absolutely looked like an acoustic bass guitar. At 11 years of age I hadn’t quite figured out that the forces involved demanded internal bracing, it imploded when I strung it up with electric bass strings. I was discouraged and unstrung the strings, took off some of the reusable hardware, tossed all the pieces of boards and plywood and set about gathering materials again. Dad stopped me, he told me I’d be getting a bass for Christmas, a few months away.
15 or so years latter I started buying broken, ugly and cheap acoustic guitars at flea markets, garage sales, usually one at a time. I’d fix them up, restring them, learned how to make them play reasonably well. Then once a year the motorcycle guys I rode with would have a Christmas run at the Sheriffs Boys Ranch and I wrapped up the one or two instruments and they got put into the hands of young want to be musicians.

Some time around 2000 I found the FDP and got the bug to build and set up instruments. The members here, some still, others that moved on really brought my skills up to par. I still have the I can do anything problem but now I know how to research the variety of opinions on nearly every aspect of instrument building. I’ve always been caution of screwing up a beautiful piece of wood, and practice a new technique on scrap material before touching a project that was progressing nicely.

I think the main difference between me an the general population is I have no fear of failure, it’s going to happen, it always does, it’s inevitable and a powerful learning tool. I’ve gotten so used to this process that my reaction to a failure is, I thought that would work, then I figure out why it didn’t, if it isn’t obvious, often it is and in retrospect I should have seen it coming.

When I consider my family of my mothers generation I’m just like them, but somehow much of this didn’t get passed on to the post WWII generation and even less to our children. Most of the people I meet today seem almost proud that they can’t do anything. I get a lot of Oh, I could never do that, I don’t have the time, patience, skill or any of a hundred other excuses. I know that their are plenty of skilled craftsman and women but as population increased the proportion is diminished.

Maybe we need a kind of gang sign to recognize each other “o) Or is that covered by the Masons.

Hammond101
Contributing Member
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So. Cal. USA

Oct 12th, 2017 02:24 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"Maybe we need a kind of gang sign to recognize each other “o) Or is that covered by the Masons."

Just grunt like Tim Allen!

I look at it this way, It's already broken right? What harm could I do? I've sent a few project to the dumpster in my days.

I also subscribe to: You will never stub your toe unless you take a step forward.



vomer
Contributing Member
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Broke Down

in the Brassicas
Oct 12th, 2017 02:45 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

" "Maybe we need a kind of gang sign to recognize each other “o)"

Maybe a soldering iron burn?

BlondeStrat
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Las Vegas NV

Can't complain but sometimes I still do
Oct 12th, 2017 09:21 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Short *true* story:

As most folks here on the FDP know I work on and build a lot of different stuff, classic cars, guitars, drum kits, home remodel, yada, yada, yada.

Several years ago my Grandson Antonio came to Grandma Queenie and asked, "How come Grampa Larry is so smart? He does all this stuff?"

As soon as Queenie told me what he had said I went and took him aside.

I had to break the news to Antonio that I don't do all this stuff because I am smart, I do it because I'm not afraid to try.

I'm with you ... a bit of belief in one's self and some fearless nature can go a long ways. Sometimes to a great end and sometimes not so much ... but I always seem learn something.

I couldn't tell you how many times I have made a mistake that I turned into nothing more than a revision or modification to the plan.

(This message was last edited by BlondeStrat at 11:24 PM, Oct 12th, 2017)

SonicBlue

Sunbury-on-Thames

Oct 13th, 2017 04:14 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I had to break the news to Antonio that I don't do all this stuff because I am smart, I do it because I'm not afraid to try."

This all day long.

There are far too many in all walks of life who won't try in case they fail. I find I can learn as much or even more from an 'unplanned outcome' (no such word as fail) as from a successful hack.

wrnchbndr
Contributing Member
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New Jersey

I'm back with the otters again
Oct 13th, 2017 10:14 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

But its almost a curse. Spending so much of your life doing the things that you could hire a professional to do in less than half the time. ...how hard could it be to replace the roof on your house or repair the power window in your car. And holy poo -- now we have youtube to give us encouragement. ...no concept of limitations and I have considered methods of doing my own dental work but I'd need a willing assistant.

But "Hack"? You're only a hack if you're irresponsible and misrepresent your ability to others. I've never done dental work. But if I needed to, I'd watch a lot of youtube first, buy a few tools and do some reading before I tried.

Guitar Fool
Contributing Member
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Sunshine State

Just a pawn in someone else's game
Oct 13th, 2017 10:21 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I had to break the news to Antonio that I don't do all this stuff because I am smart, I do it because I'm not afraid to try"

+1....

Thomas Edison's quest for a functioning light bulb took him forever

hushnel
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North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
Oct 13th, 2017 10:32 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

BlondeStrat, I get that all time, your so smart, or your so talented. I try to explain that it's not so. Kids I can get to try stuff and spend time showing them simple projects, knots for Boy Scouts, the forge and anvil to the 4H kids. They have no fear of success, failure, and do rather well.

I may be gifted in ways that are not recognized now a days but it certainly isn't with abundance of intelligence. There is a kind of mechanical or material logic that I've acquired over the years. Like white glue ain't for welding steel or welding rods and a torch won't work on wood "o) I do use white glue for machine sewing double knit fabric “o)

Often I can run down a problem by following whats working to the point its not working and assuming that's the general location of the problem. I did this at the age of 5 on my Aunt Donna's grandfather clock that didn't work. She gave me permission to attempt the repair, she told me when I graduated from high school that the clock worked another 5 years after my simple repair.

I totally screwed up everything in my early life, on my own. Dropping out of the university, Playing in bands, working in restaurants, construction jobs. Broke my back and the result of Workman's compensation got a job that lasted 30 years as a Bio-Med Tech 1, from the hospital WC sent me to for testing. No degree, no certificate for electronics, nada.

It's like no matter how much I screwed up it seems I still wound up where I was supposed to be. I made mistakes here too but none ever made it to the floor. Never was one of my ventilators or anesthesia machines, in 30 years, responsible for a patient injury or death.

I even did some custom work for Neonate research lab. The Doc was a genius, he'd have the schematics all drawn out and left the mechanical configuration and case up to me. His understanding of electronics was way beyond mine, I was a hack compared to him, still of 26 guys in the shop he brought the projects to me.

If it wasn't for all the shop classes I took in public school I wonder where I'd be today. It's a major failure of our school system that kids are only taught how to pass the next series of tests. I'll tell ya, taking violin and in an orchestra at the age of 7 or 8 was huge in my early education. It wired my mind in ways text books and boring classes never could.

Hack, yeah, I know, a lame attempt at humility. A true hack does his lame work on other peoples stuff where as I always do the learning work on my stuff or better yet scrap practice material first.

(This message was last edited by hushnel at 12:39 PM, Oct 13th, 2017)

Peegoo
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Enjoying

the downtime
Oct 13th, 2017 10:46 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"Hi. My name is Peegoo, and I have a problem."


Great topic!

For me, I think it is fearlessness of failure, coupled with the satisfaction of problem solving. Every project I do (whether building or repairing a guitar, assembling a home-brew amp, fixing a leaky valve, replacing a burnt light switch, rebuilding a carburetor, etc.) begins with a course of action based on a mental picture of the final result.

If I'm building something that's a one-off, I rarely draw up a plan because I've already worked out the dimensions, and I proceed based on that.

As I understand the chemical process of the brain, it's related to the reasons why mysteries and riddles are popular with us human beasts: solving a mystery (problem) causes a release of endorphins into the brain, and that is like legal heroin. It's what drives me to create. I guess I'm an addict :o)



BlondeStrat
Contributing Member
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Las Vegas NV

Can't complain but sometimes I still do
Oct 13th, 2017 11:17 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I rarely draw up a plan because I've already worked out the dimensions, and I proceed based on that."

I'm with you there.

I know what I want the thing (if it's a thing) to accomplish and I know where it needs to operate.

I'll admit I can work on a project and come face to face with something where I don't quite know how I want to proceed, but usually have several fuzzy ideas.

I'll just walk away (usually directly) to another project I've had time to figure out.

I'll go back to the first project once I've had time to clear the fuzz and become a clear image in my head.

I've always been a guy with far too much going on.

hushnel
Contributing Member
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North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
Oct 13th, 2017 11:54 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

If I gotta cut two the same I may jot that down someplace, never the less their is always a pencil stuck behind one of my ears. I do make templates for the router and sketch patterns for cutting out bodies just so the proportions don't get too far off.

"I'll just walk away (usually directly) to another project I've had time to figure out. I'll go back to the first project once I've had time to clear the fuzz and become a clear image in my head."

I am exactly like that, all the time. I was fretting a gourd ukulele once and snapped the gourd in half, the top was OK the bracing was all OK but the gourd was not. I learned more about setting frets than all the books I own, in that instant. I was a little upset, I set the instrument down and walked away. It occured to me with in a few short minutes that it was the challange of the project not the end result that mattered. So I went back and made the repair. That was the first time I snapped this instrument in half, I've repaired it twice now for the same problem, it still sounds great. I sat on it once and laughed this time I broke it.

First impression from those that see my workshop is I'm an absent minded totally unorganized person, which is a valid conclusion. I have over 80 liner feet of workbench and piled high with projects. Their is nothing I won't attempt. I'll go down to the workshop to build a box or something and at the end of the day have a new hat.

Solutions to strange or one off projects often come from a totally un associated craft, technique or skill. It all starts to blur sometimes but even that makes cross over skills more available.

Peegoo
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Enjoying

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Oct 13th, 2017 12:35 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I'll go down to the workshop to build a box or something and at the end of the day have a new hat."

There is something weird and beautiful about being a nutty-professor-type person.

Don't go changin'!

Stratmanx
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Memphis, TN

Oct 18th, 2017 10:53 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I started doing all this simply because my family / me couldn't afford it.

had to make due with what we had and if something was broken, see if I could make it work.

These days I have the money, but there's still that guy in there that says "Give it a go" !



Peegoo
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Enjoying

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Oct 18th, 2017 11:07 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

My dad grew up on a farm in SE Kansas.

As a kid, he learned from his dad how to do just about everything necessary to keep the farm working: agriculture, animal care, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, framing, masonry, painting...the list is a long one.

He retained this mindset all through his AF career and into retirement, and was able to make or repair just about anything. I can remember a steady stream of neighbors asking for advice/help from my dad because he had the tools and the know-how.

My mom was my influence for creativity, artistic skills, and wacky nut-job sense of humor.

That's where I got it all. I miss them both.

wrnchbndr
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New Jersey

I'm back with the otters again
Oct 18th, 2017 11:41 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Baling wire repairs get a bad wrap.

hushnel
Contributing Member
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North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
Oct 18th, 2017 12:39 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Man, a few yards of bailing wire and spool of duct tape is all you really need, the Swiss Army knife of structural engineering. "o)

Peegoo
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Enjoying

the downtime
Oct 18th, 2017 01:14 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Don't forget the "punka-punka" oil can:

1. If it moves and it's not supposed to, use bailing wire and/or duct tape.

2. If it does not move and it's supposed to, oil it.

Ya just can't lose!

FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Confessions of a guitar hack




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