If you have read all of the pages on this website then you know that I provide lutherie services. In other words, I fix guitars. Like learning anything I am amazed at what I don't know and how I learn to know what I know. Ya' know?
The services I list on the guitar repair page are those that I feel comfortable doing and believe that I can offer my clients excellent results. I continue to stretch my abilities by working and practicing on inexpensive instruments. The hope is that I will be in a position to offer more services at some point in time but for now it is an apprentice stage. Careful study and understanding, even more careful actions and very careful belief that, until proven otherwise, that I have pulled it off. Along the way I am realizing that I am learning the more basic points of life at the age of 53 and with a more open mind and hunger for education then at any other time in my life.
I have made it a point to not turn this blog into some weepy introspection or point it into any of my personal past, present or future. Instead it is all about the guitar with the hope that any reader, whether a student or not, can gain an understanding of my thought process, teaching concepts and find useful information about the instrument I love, the guitar. Occasionally it is a line that becomes just a little blurred as the topics come to me as I think about what I have learned about the guitar over the years or what I am learning on a day to day basis.
What I am learning, working with this particular acoustic guitar on my bench, is the truth that every guitar is a product of all of it's components and how they are all combined together and that the mixture can be changed by even the smallest of things. Yes, it comes right out of the "Guitar Cliche Handbook" (page 239, paragraph 4) to say that 'every part of a guitar is important to it's final tonal possibility' but how have you found out that there is any truth to this statement? You don't have to perform major surgery on a guitar to be qualified to answer this question.
One of the changes I am making is to replace the cheap flimsy plastic bridge pins with Ebony pins. I am custom fitting them myself so that each pin will be set to work with each hole. The pins are oversized, I like that, it allows me to fit each pin to the bridge and soundboard for maximum contact to provide the best surface possible for string to guitar resonance. Some folks would drill out the hole to fit the pin. Bad idea. Every time you feel the need to drill the pin holes a little bigger the sooner it will end up needing a new bridge and bridge plate and that is a much larger task. The same applies to slotting each pin to match each string width so I know that the ball end of the string sits nice and tight against the bridgeplate under the bridge. Has it made a difference? Yes, it has in a noticeable increase in resonance and therefore sustain. I am not done yet making all of the decisions of how this guitar will end up but the end is getting very close. It started as an almost free guitar but now has many, many hours of repair work and upgrades so the end result will, as it is with any guitar when many things have changed, be a surprise.
We can hope or use our experience to predict how a part here or a change there will affect the guitars playing ability or tonal qualities but until you change it and use your hands and ears the complete package is still awaiting your evaluation. Critical listening is essential to every guitar player. Put that on a dinner plate and hang it around your neck so you can see it everyday. How can you evaluate guitar tone if you don't really listen to your guitar? Then if a change is made to your guitar, that you just paid $1845.09 to have done, you better have honed your critical listening skills to know if you just got sold hype or tone. The other end is true. Sometimes you can make a change that doesn't cost a cent and find something wonderful has happened.
So listen, experiment and learn. If you play the guitar it will pay off in the end. Trust me. I'm a teacher.
by Robert Gundry