Paddling On

February finds your host proceeding at a modest pace toward adulthood.  With the recent influx of many, many items form the home of my in-laws, who are moving house after 42 years, it feels a bit like navigating on a landfill with a broken paddle.  Beside feeling paralitically overwhelmed by shtuff, I’m inspired to to “de-crappify” my spaces in order to get some clarity on where I am, what I’m doing and even who I am.  Unbelievable.

The good news is that this seems for the first time in my life an achievable task.  I always dreamed of a pristine shop with a place for everything and everything in its place, but chose instead to work in a hovel piled with dusty knick-knacks of variable importance, tools, materials and there in the middle, the work-piece.  I know this can function, but it’s depressing and risky since a 48″ clamp may fall on your ukelele at any time.  More often, some junk gets in the finish, or you drop what you doing and make a ding in what would have been a clean piece of carpentry.

Well, I’m giving up going for B+s.  From now on it will be A+s, at least to the extent that I can control things.  Feels good.

AWB in a Shirt
AWB in a Shirt

Rough Water

Well, it is a new year.  It has started with a few setbacks for me personally and also for Beth at work.  I am grateful for our health and relative stability at home, but unsettled by news and the apparent wrong-headedness of so many people who have power over others.  It reminds me of my days as a free-lance bass player.  There were many willing and able players with a good attitude and willing to work hard, but a few less-skilled, shadowy types that oozed their way into positions of booking them.  The higher the pay, the more stressful were the people and circumstances.  It wasn’t bad for a young person, but I am so glad I’m not in that business now.  By the same token, I’m not sure what awaits in the next phase of my career.

The freezing weather last week made work in the shop all but impossible, and school closures made me on the one hand glad for my flexible schedule and fretful that I couldn’t get anything done while taking care of my little baby third-grader.  I have got to get those projects out the door, but the timeline conflicts with one’s commitment to quality, at times, anyway.  Please just let me keep at it until it’s done right!

Launching my Canoe

This is a new year.  2017 was eventful: Beth, Katie and I moved house, I finished my second double bass and attended the 2017 ISB in Ithaca, NY, and I resigned my job at the German School, Washington, DC in June.

The new career revolves around making things, primarily stringed music instruments.  My three archtop guitars, two double basses, mandolin and numerous ukeleles have demanded time and attention, not to mention financial investment and commitment.  I thankfully have enjoyed the support of fellow makers, my local community and most of all, my wife’s.

I currently have three basses to repair, restore and sell, and am planning to follow up a very successful enlarged copy of my 1878 Italian bass with two more.  There is plentiful room for improvement of all my work, as I am learning that great sound and playability need to be complimented by flawless “fit and finish.”  I have until now considered slight variations in details of craftsmanship to be signs of life- setting the work apart from countless others that look great but have less tone.  But in the words of Joe at the excellent, “You can philosophize about tone all day long, but visible flaws in the workmanship can be seen by anyone.”  And though the plane marks on my old Milanese bass made me drool, I intend to make the next instruments look flawless, just to prove that I can do it.

So here’s to 2018 and getting some good work done! Thanks for visiting!