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1. You'll always be out of stock of whatever nut material your customer asks for.
2. You'll always blow the nut on a night before the repair is due back, with no more stock of that type of nut material.
3. The customer will always want the action at the nut the opposite of what you believe it should be. IE, you think it should be higher, they'll want lower and vice-versa.
4. You're best fret work will always be on a customer who won't notice the difference. Conversely, your worst fret work will be for someone who wants a super low action, no buzz, and can hear buzz that no one else can hear.
5. You'll always run out of a particular type of fret wire only right at the end of the job, and when the refret is due back the next day. Oh, and the customer will always want fret material that no one else uses, so you won't commonly stock it.
6. There will always be some type of finish contaminant when you're looking to meet a deadline.
7. You will always drop your spray gun and smash the tip just when you need to have the job complete and don't have time to order another one.
8. You'll always break a string right in the middle of a setup, feel bad about it, and eat the cost of the string instead of passing it along to your customer. (OK, maybe that one is just me)
9. Hot solder will always splatter on a nitro finish guitar and leave a blemish. If you completely cover the surface of the guitar, you'll notice it never splatters. It's like the solder actually knows when you are covering it. And, you'll cover and solder 20 guitars with no splatter, and it will lull you in to a sense of false security, so you'll slip up and solder with out covering the guitar. Then it will splatter and cause a finish blemish.
10. Hide glue will always stink worse when people in the house are already complaining about some smell from your shop. OK, if you don't have your shop in your house, this may not be the case.
11. Your best work will always be for someone who doesn't know the difference and is willing to pay double. Your worst work will always be for the pickiest customer you have, who'd like to set up a 360 month payment plan.
12. You'll always find a customer who sends the guitar back asking for more or less relief, and after months of work for free, you'll finally find out that the customer doesn't really know what relief means.
13. You can always count on Frank Ford and Dan Erlewine to make you feel like an amateur, no matter how many repairs you do.

At least, these have been my experiences....

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What about a Frank's and Dan's picture in your workshop, under which say a prayer from time to time? May help!
Things I know:

Gibson truss rod cover screws which are impossible to get, anywhere, ever, will always disappear if dropped on the floor - even on the cleanest floor....."if a screw falls in the workshop does anybody hear it hit the ground"....somewhere, in some dark corner of my workshop is a mouse with a stash of stuff I will never see again. The circlips that hold modern tunamatics together are number two on the list of dissolving matter.

Lacquer burn-throughs only happen within an hour of the customer coming to pick up "my best nitro finish ever" and always as a result of "I'll just give it one more lick of the wheel to make it look absolutely great".

No two bridge pin dots or colors (with the exception of sets) are alike anywhere in the known universe.

Pre-shaped Nut widths are calibrated to be 20 thou narrower than any non standard guitar neck you can name.

Pamela Anderson never walks into my shop and says "I'm short of money, can I trade something for the cost of the repair"............

Rusty.
Yeah, yeah, Rusty. And when she starts to unbutton the front of her blouse, you exclaim loudly,

"Holy cow, don't tell me you have a set of golf clubs in there?".

Cheers,
Bob
The screws dropping really hits home! I bought an old watch makers bench. One cool thing is the 'catch drawer'. It's a frame that slides out with a contoured front for your belly. The center is filled with light loose cloth. It is for catching tiny parts! Ingenious and simple. Unfortunately, it's not on my main bench, but I look at it every time I'm on the floor with a magnet, flashlight, and vocals! I been thinking maybe a shop apron with some magnets to connect to the bench would work as well while doing the tiny stuff?
I use a bath towel, folded up, for this. Not a threadbare, worn out towel but not too new either. (Both of those bounce too much.) I don't usually drop screws, I tend to knock them around and the towel acts as both a safety net and a "tray" until I'm finished. It can also work to protect whatever you are working on from hard surfaces.

I actually started doing this when taking apart laptop computers and just continued doing it with all my "fine" work.

Ned
Bob needs more customers........that was just one.
I use one of those waffle phloem bed pad for under my guitars that I am working on. I cut it the size or the work bench with the points up and I drop all the pins screws and the like on it. If the guitar lies over a screw it wont scratch and the small parts will be in one of the holes.

Ron
I forgot this one.

14. Whichever wire you pick for your hot lead on a humbucker when trying to wire up an auto coil tap on, say, a 5 way switch, it'll always be the other wire that you want. And, whatever diagram from whatever pickup manufacturer will always be wrong.

And this one.

15. Whenever you promise some one a quick repair, it'll always turn out to be a really tricky repair that takes way more time than it should and eat in to your profit margin. Plus, the customer will always doubt whether you new what you were doing when you gave him the initial time/cost estimate.
- You'll learn about a new sandpaper or polishing product, buy them, and then just can't bear the thought of using up the supply of the older stuff you still have.
- The "finishing room" often ends up with a mess in it that doesn't have anything to do with finish work.
- What your customer describes as a "good straight neck" actually has .025" relief that won't adjust more straight.
- You're constantly thinking " as soon as I build a jig to make that job go faster, I'll be making more than minimum wage".
Another thing, but not from customers. If you build a new bench, it will soon be covered in parts, tools, and other stuff. This will embolden you to build another bench, and it too will soon be covered. This will repeat as long as you continue to build new benches. The only way to overcome this is to draw a line in the sand and finally stop at the bench you have the least cluttered and only work there.

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