Have A Plan

The odds are very, very good that I will never be a master luthier. If I ever build a truly magnificent instrument, it will likely be a function of luck and repetition. But that has nothing to do with my quest.

I don’t want to buy the perfect guitar. I do want to have it. I want to play it. I want to know that it’s mine for a while. But buying it seems like a cop out. Building and playing shouldn’t be related in any way, because they aren’t, but that’s the quest. I believe that we create our own challenges – if we didn’t, what else would we do?

I look at my workbench every day when I pass through the garage and I think about the things that I could do on it. I think about the half finished guitar in my studio closet. I run my fingers over the plane on the bench and consider spending an hour or two on finishing up that OM. Then the sweat begins to collect on my spine and I remember that it is 100F outside and probably warmer in the garage. I abandon the thought, or try to, and go inside.

Recently, a chunk of my time was spent looking at guitars. Flipping through the portfolios of great builders and digging through the catalogs of different companies. The price points are painful. All of the instruments that I identified as being in my range were serious compromises. For example, I don’t want any plastic on my guitar. That’s a tough one. A lot of bindings on instruments under $2000 are plastic. And no composite necks. One piece of wood, not fragments, please. For a quarter of the price of an instrument that barely meets my specs I can have the makings of one that has no compromises in material – but I have to build it myself. That is to say, I get the enjoyment of building it. That’s still only half of the quest.

I can picture very clearly tuning up the guitar that I’ve built myself. I can feel the strings. I imagine the action of the instrument. The way the neck feels as my thumb slides over its length. It is perfect for me in every way. The most important detail is the flare on the headstock. The indicator that it is my instrument. Made with and played by my own hands. That’s the quest. It’s important.

Why is it important? Because it’s the sum of all the traits and desires that make me who I am. There are thousands of reasons not to do it, but ignoring the urge won’t make it go away. I like to think that everyone has that itch somewhere and that we all take a swipe at scratching it. I shouldn’t be so optimistic, maybe, but as long as we’re alive there’s a chance.

So I have a quest. It’s now a plan. I’ll start my next instrument in September. By then I will have all of the bits and pieces necessary for the project. The important thing is to remember that this is The Plan. No more catalogs or reviews. No more day dreaming about a custom Collings guitar. There’s only me, some wood, the tools, and the time. That’s The Plan.

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