I have been doing guitar repair and an increasing amount of acoustic guitar building for the last twenty years. It has always been fun and exciting, never becoming "just a job" for me. Recently it hit me like a freight train: the nature of guitar repair is a losing proposition; the best repairs are invisible, therefore the only advertising that can possibly result would happen by a unique constellation of 1. a person who needs repair 2. must ask 3. a satisfied client who will produce a recommendation.

By contrast, builders are creating more advertisment with each instrument they put into a player's hands. I have maybe 25 productive years ahead of me, and each day contains only 20 working hours (I am self- employed, after all). Suddenly, all those forlorn guitar cases waiting to be opened like presents seem like more a distraction than a pursuit. I have a small shop and the possibility of having a helper to tend to smaller jobs is remote. I have tried that once and it went fine until something bad happened, which I had to clean up.

Do all luthiers pass by this way? Have you been here? Until now I wasn't aware that the road would fork, but some of the guitars that I have built seem to produce the same reaction everywhere they go. Do you want to sell that, and how much? So now, my bench seems to be saying "enough with these old guitars! Make curls! Make curls!"

I have enough wood stashed to build for the next seven years without needing anything. Maybe it is time to listen to my bench for a while and produce beautiful boxes with elegant long necks. Of course when the phone rings and it's a repair, my immediate inclination will be to say "bring it over and I'll have a look at it."

This feels like a process, an evolution, just like it was learning the ropes at repair.

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Tags: guitarmaking, luthiery, repair, small-shop

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