Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Guitar Rescue! A Story of Duct Tape and Chicken Wire

   Duct tape and chicken wire. It means doing what you can with what you got...  even if it's not "Perfect" or "Up to code" or "Entirely safe for human use". After all, what is such minutae for in the grand scheme of things? Yes..  duct tape and chicken wire is becoming my new motto.

    And for good reason! Gather 'round children, and let me tell you a tale.

    Once upon a time, I had a guitar. It was a cute little First Act guitar that I got for Christmas when I was ten. I named it Melody. Hey. Shut up. A lot of musicians name their guitars.

   Yeah, it's child-sized, the frets are worn down to the raw wood, and the strings have had to be replaced a couple times..  but hey, it was mine. Oh yeah, it also had a crack in the bottom about as long as my hand. But it would hold! As long as it didn't get knocked around too much....

   I also had other guitars. Bigger ones that got played more, and that I didn't have to be careful of the crack with. So, after a while, Melody was put in storage to make some room.
   One day, at storage, I spied part of the bottom of my guitar peeking through the bottom of a bag. GRAB! I snagged it from the bag, and resolved to take it home. Unfortunately, the crack as long as my hand had since become a huge gap that ran from the left-hand side of the sound-hole to the bottom of the guitar.

   It was about to be doomed to the trash heap. "Naaah, I can fix it," I protested, "All I need is some wood glue and some clamps!" And so it was safe, for now, and taken home. Yet, all the while, I think everybody knew that I did NOT have wood glue and clamps kicking around in my backpack at home....

   I didn't care, personally. I would fix that guitar if I had to Frankenstein it together with whatever I could find, until it had had more body parts replaced than the Tin Man on The Wizard of Oz.

   When I got home, I immediately started rummaging through craft drawers and hidey holes for "I don't know, some kind of really, really strong glue", and eventually was able to borrow a hot glue gun. I dug through my purse, and pulled out my pocket knife. (Lots of girls keep survival knives in their purses. Don't judge.) I also scrounged up a broken emery board from inamongst the nail-making-purdy-things. I had everything I needed.
   I turned the guitar upside-down, and squirted the hot glue into the smallest part of the cracks, working inward. I had to work fast- the glue would dry quickly. Between my hands, I squeeeeeeeeeezed the face on the guitar toward the body to close the gap until the glue dried. Hot glue oozed out the side as the two pieces fuzed together. I had made an inch or two of progress. Check bond. Catch breath. Repeat. When it got to the bottom, where the gap was almost a half an inch wide, I had to throw almost my whole weight on it to squeeze it together. Eventually, the entire gap was sealed, with a huge, ugly bulge of glue bubbling out the seam.

   I grabbed my pocket knife, and took out the filing tool. Goodness knows how long I sat there filing down the glue until it was beaded up into a grey, half-gooey roughness plastered all over the seam. I put away the file, and pulled out the knife, and proceeded to scraaaape the remaining glue off the edge, taking a good layer of varnish with me in places. Finally, I smoothed the whole thing over with the emery board, and sealed it with clear nail polish.

   To the right, you can see the result of my work. Sure it looks sealed up, even if it looked a little banged up. ....but how does it sound?

That...  is a story for another time. Stay tuned for part two of the duct tape and chicken wire saga--  my "Recording studio". The tale of a sweet preamp hooked up to a 5+ year old computer, an mp3-player portable speaker, and a Sing-Star microphone. Yes. Like the videogame.

See you later.............

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