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Anyone else have sudden realizations or epiphanies while building guitars or pedals?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Ragged Tweed, Sep 22, 2020.

  1. Ragged Tweed

    Ragged Tweed TDPRI Member

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    I’m on my second telecaster build. This weekend I sprayed nitro for the first time. I researched techniques and safety for about 5 months and became really hesitant to take action, but I also knew that the weather is changing and I wouldn’t have many more weekend days with ideal temperature and relative humidity.

    It might sound cheesy, but I suddenly realized that I had to take a risk. I was so afraid of making a mistake that I was nearly paralyzed. I like to do things well, but I had to accept that this guitar (or any guitar) won’t be perfect and it will get dinged up over time anyway if I actually use it.

    It was a good reminder that the point of doing this was to have fun and that I shouldn’t get too attached to the object anyway.

    I wonder what other people have learned while building guitars?

    Little bits of wisdom?
    Big life lessons?
    Moments of truth?
     
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  2. SKEsq

    SKEsq TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    I learned I need to make more money or be more patient. This hobby isn't cheap if you wanted something yesterday.
    I too also realized you just need to rip the band-aid off and go for it. I've built several amps now and a small fleet of guitars.
     
  3. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    heck, that happened as I was trying to help my daughter learn to ride a bike...:rolleyes:
     
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  4. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I built some pedals in the past 5 years.
    a) My eyes are going and none of the glasses I have focus close enough
    b) I can't keep my hands still enough to solder well
    c) This was more fun when I was 7 years old
     
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  5. Kloun

    Kloun Tele-Meister

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    The epiphany I had is that building is FUN!!! And when I say that I mean while I was building or painting, I was focusing on that. I let go of my other worries while building. I mean it's great for forgetting your problems. I can go in my own little world.

    And yeah, you have to take the bandaid off. You can't really "learn" just by reading about building or painting nitro. You have to do. I was also worried about painting Nitro too. I thought "I can't do that...it would look like crap". But then I did it. And I screwed up. But then I realized that the screw ups were only a bottle of Acetone or paint thinner away. And when you screw it up, you clean it up and do it again. And when you do it a couple of times, you figure out how to do it. And it turned out pretty good.
     
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  6. McGlamRock

    McGlamRock Poster Extraordinaire

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    I started fitting my partscaster with a 3 saddle bridge today. The new bridge required a couple extra screw holes to be drilled, not too tough. After that I realized I needed to route the bridge pocket a bit more. I don't own a router so I improvised with Grandpa's old drill. Went to put the pickguard on and realized the new bridge was in the way of the pickguard. It was a comedy of errors.

    The epiphany I had was that I need to be patient, think my ideas out, and act carefully rather than impulsively.

    IMG_1935.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2020
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  7. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    When I first started out building guitars many years ago I was almost paralyzed like you were.

    A big part of it is the same thing a painter faces when looking at a blank canvas: what color do I dip the brush in? Where do I splat it on the canvas? Think about it too much and you'll never get started.

    The other thing that contributes to the issue is fear of making mistakes. You're going to make mistakes. I cannot remember who said it, but there's a quote that goes something like, "if you're committing a crime there are 100 things that can go wrong. If you can think of 50 of them, you're a genius." The same thing applies to bulding stuff; there are plenty of things that can go wrong, and they usually do.

    The more you do it, the more experience you gain and the fewer mistakes you'll make because you can anticipate the pitfalls.

    And you're making stuff. Anyone that criticizes your work and belittles it or you is probably a person that has never attempted to make anything useful in their entire life.

    It sure is a lot of fun. You're making playable/functional art!
     
  8. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I learned from reading all the nitro tales around here that ...

    I never want to mess with doing that finish.. EVER....:twisted::lol:
     
  9. epizootics

    epizootics Tele-Meister

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    I'll second Peegoo here. My personal philosophy is derived from maybe reading too much Samuel Beckett: a human life is a collection of screw-ups (and no word expresses that better than the French word 'foirade'), so one might as well get on with it and embrace that wide array of situations that go from benign mistakes to full-blown catastrophes, and get them out of the way (that's where good Samuel and I part ways - he is fine with the foirades as an end to themselves).

    The more you do, the more you screw up, and the more you learn. But it takes the 'doing'.

    Guitar building is fun because it poses a combination of mechanical and aesthetical problems. I like both. It's really hard to get bored once you get into that frame of mind. Even with a limited set of constraints - anywhere between 1 and x strings, playable for a biological creature that has two hands and a torso, must have a means of amplification, etc. - you're never done with the problem solving. And that's just the mechanics side of things.

    One thing I noticed is that a body outline is just that - an outline. I like to redraw existing instruments in a CAD software to see how they came together aesthetically, and most of the time I realize that the outline by itself has some unpleasing curves here and there or an unbalanced feel to it. And then what goes inside that outline balances is out. That never ceases to amaze me, even on designs we take for granted like a Jazzmaster or a Mustang. I try to keep that in mind when I draw my own instruments.

    My wife always says you have to chose between background and foreground. Not every shape or color on the guitar be the main focus. I know I have a tendency to overdo it. Over the years I learned to keep folders with ideas that would have been too much on one guitar but might be the focal point for the next.

    On top of that, you end up fighting materials. Every wood choice is a trade-off of sorts. Weight vs. texture vs. looks vs. workability. Same things with plastics and metals. The same cut might be an easy job on ash but impossible to make with douglas fir. Splinters, tear-outs, cracks, knots, sap pockets, etc. are all fun to work around. Same thing with finishing techniques applied to one particular piece of wood. Products compatibility, pore-filling, spraying conditions, and all the ways you can fix a sag, a drip and a mosquito stuck between your color and clear coat...OK, I must say that this is my least favorite part of the process, but I try to embrace it all the same.


    Sorry for that somewhat long and rambling reply. I guess all of the above is part of what I tell people when they ask me why I like to build guitars. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2020
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  10. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Nearly all of the guitars/basses I've made in the last 10 years have been from old DF rafters from recycle yards,,,what a learning experience for someone who had been a metal worker/welder most of the time...

    routing, sanding hard/soft grain structures, use of stains finishes that work. etc etc...

    other woods are a dream to work with when I try them now...:D

    I think I have a good grounding for making slab bodies now, know where the pitfalls could be... starting with DF...
     
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  11. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I’ve built 20.

    I’ve learned that the saddles and nut cuts are really important. And the neck heel and pocket contact is best when it is unfinished wood contact.
     
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  12. El Marin

    El Marin Tele-Afflicted

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    What I learned... Wanna apply nitro? apply LESS. Go the thinner you can. I had a Thinline tele I built from scratch with a gorgeous rosewood top. It sounded amazing. I used a couple of years, I recorded a record with that guitar

    BUT I wanted finish to crack, to check... but my finish was too thin.... so I aply more and more layers, frozen the body, heat the body. Got a nice checkered body. I got the guitar together again. She was DEAD. Tone was gone, dull, I killed her

    So there ir she in the basement waiting for a day to scrap all the thick finish and get her again to life
     
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  13. Ragged Tweed

    Ragged Tweed TDPRI Member

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    It was such a joy to read all these posts this morning. Thanks all!
     
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  14. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    I’m relatively to the wood working and finishing side to this. I make a lot of mistakes. Like you, I read a LOT in advance and did lots of research, but that does not give you experience. It’s good and it helps, but you have to realize you won’t get it perfect the first time and that, unless you make lots of mistake, you never will get close to perfect.

    However, I’ve never really been paralyzed by fear of making mistakes. My philosophy is that there is nothing I can break that I (or someone else) can’t fix, although it might take time to fix and some $$$. That philosophy only broke down on me once that I can recall.
     
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  15. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Also I learned it’s hard to go wrong with a Tele.


    Like pasta sauce, the recipe is actually simple but it just needs good ingredients put together with care and attention to detail.
     
  16. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I guess the biggest epiphany/realisation was.... If I knew I could build guitars that play this well out of "cheap" bits...

    ...I never would have collected all these expensive Fenders....:lol:
     
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  17. 1bad914

    1bad914 Tele-Holic

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    I used to restore antique Porsches for a hobby. This included every aspect of the restoration to include paint and body. The first paint job I did solo was so nerve racking it made me sick. I was so afraid of messing it up. It came out just fine, but I hated the color, I sanded it all off and a week later painted it a different color. What this taught me is that any finish mistake is okay, you can sand it back and do it again. It took the pressure off of doing that job. I have taken that philosophy into guitar making. I will admit that some mistakes in guitar building you cannot recover from, tough to add wood sometimes, but you can build it again. One of my paint jobs.
    80A41C58-E57F-4C4D-BF21-403A20F27700.jpeg
     
  18. Tomasi

    Tomasi Tele-Meister

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    Mine has been that patience is truly a magic power. It enables you to make less mistakes and fix all those you inevitably make ending up with results you never believed you are capable of. Naturally this is in the context of a hobbyist, I would never make a living with my pace of doing these things. But then again it's a perfect counterbalance for my deadline ridden job. A true bliss really.

    I do agree with others here. You just need to take a leap and do things to learn despite the fear of failure. That's also something I've also tried to teach my daughter. That courage is the way one turns into creator from being just a consumer, be it visual arts, building something or making music.
     
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  19. joealso

    joealso Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    There's just something about playing an instrument that you've created. You've invested so much energy into that piece of wood that just holding it is enough to inspire you.
     
  20. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    I'm on the worship team at my church and when there a Tel, Strat and P bass up there that I built I give myself a little pat on the back. Doesn't matter how much I criticize myself, the others are very happy and that makes it all worth it.

    When it comes to nitro, earlier this year one of the guys on the above team wanted his MIJ Strat stripped of the pink finish someone else put on it and redone with nitro. I was hesitant because I've been a water based guy since the beginning. What a difference. The big thing I found was it's very hard to get a run with Mohawk's instrument lacquer no matter how much I thin it. I tried Watco because I can get it locally and it'll run in a blink of an eye. As bad as it is I love it.
     
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