Making stupid mistakes is a good way to learn. What are your worst?

I once had a high-end mint condition classical guitar that I spent a lot of time trying to sell. Eventually, I found a buyer, and I had arranged to meet him to seal the deal. Just before I left my house, I figured I'd change the strings to give a good impression. I was in a hurry, so in order to save some time, I firmly grabbed all the strings with my left hand and a pair of scissors with my right hand. I figured nothing bad could happen if I secured the strings with my left hand while cutting them as close to the bridge as possible. There was a loud snap, and three nice chunks of finish suddenly disappeared from the bridge area of the top. Of course, the buyer changed his mind because of the damage to the finish.

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Well, let's see. I've caught an old guitar's binding on fire. I'm sure my wife can remember others . . .
Ben there! my guitar was a white falkin gibson. I fixed it tho

My worst I think was a friend came over with a new violin that was worth $30,000 and a $4,000 bow and I sat down on my piano bench and promptly fell over back words but I held on to the violin in one hand and the bow in the other! I was flat on my back! I had knocked from a stand a Martin 0 ,1948!

Nothing was heart but my pride! I got up from the floor and he handed back the violin and bow

I sure was surprised !!

Must responses be confined to just luthery? I got a whole bunch when it comes to other subjects. You know, money, women, used cars, etc.


P.S I got a little too aggressive with a Wagner SafeT planer and watched 10" of the end of a cocoblo side pop off and go flying accross the shop. A couple of other dumb moves also that were shop accidents too gruesome to retell, much less provide the forum with entertainment.
've had my share of near misses, bruises and cuts, but I can at least still see what I'm up to, and count to ten in the morning.

But my worst accident - oh yeah, that one's easy to remember -

A fellow came into the shop with his pal's fancy Santa Cruz guitar. It was a 12-fret model made of figured Hawaiian koa for the back, sides and top. AND, it had abalone bordering around the top with delicate wood purfling. There was a tiny, nearly insignificant crack near the soundhole.

“My friend lives in Finland and he's staying with me for a week, and wondered if he could get this crack fixed while he was here. He bought the guitar from you and he figured you'd be the one he should bring it to, but he's VERY worried about its safety.”

I told him it would be no problem and that I'd have it ready in a few days. In fact, it was a very simple repair, and I reinforced the inside after I glued it up. On the day it was to be ready, I walked with the guitar over to the buffer where I'd finish up the repair by giving it a nice shine. I'll never know what happened, but before I got there, the dang instrument slipped right out of my hands and hit the concrete floor - HARD!

About a six-inch section of the purfling and abalone inlay around the top blasted out, never to be seen again. Three cracks, six to eight inches long in the top ran from the point of impact, near the end block, one of which took a right angle at a curl in the grain. What a mess! The owner was due in the shop within the hour.

I grabbed the phone and called him immediately. Got the answering machine and pleaded my case, explaining that when his baby was in the hospital, I delivered it a grievous injury, and that he should come in so we could discuss the situation.

About a half hour later, the original friend came into pick up the guitar. I said, “I'm glad you got my phone message.” He said, of course, “What phone message? I've been driving over here after doing some errands.” I had to go through the entire description of my accident again, after which he said, “Well, I'd better tell my friend so he can come over to see his guitar.”

Around an hour later, the actual owner of the guitar came to the shop and said, “My friend says I should talk to you about my guitar.” He had no clue what was up, so I had to go through that same painful revelation a third time!

Now, this guy was far from unreasonable. He was simply stunned. We talked for some while about how to resolve the situation. I told him it was our policy to take full responsibility for our work (and, of course, mistakes) and that we'd do our best to make him happy. I offered to order him a replacement instrument. I suggested he take his time to look over what we had in the shop to find one he liked as well. And, I offered to restore the damaged instrument.

After an hour or two of thinking, looking and sampling, he decided that fixing his old one would be the best alternative. I told him it would take a couple of months but that we'd do it gratis, of course, and ship it to him in Finland. He seemed satisfied with the prospect, and I asked him if there was anything else we could do for him. He said, “Well, that leaves me with nothing to play when until it arrives.” I handed him one of our rental instruments, and said he could use it in the meantime. “But, when the other one arrives, what should I do with this guitar? How will I send it back from Finland?” I told him just to keep it or give it to a friend.

At that point, he said, “You guys are the BEST, I really feel taken care of.” That was what I was waiting for, to say the least. As it turned out, I did a bunch of finish work, reset the neck and refretted the guitar while it was in the shop, so he got five or six hundred bucks of long term maintenance as an extra bonus.
Stupid mistakes ? Yeah, I've made some ! The worst, from where I was standing, was on the neck of my first guitar, a 12 string dreadnought, long scale. I was working with the David Russell Young book, as well as the Sloan Steel String Guitar book. That's what was available in 1978... So any way, I'd ripped a channel for a 1/4 inch wide by 1/2 inch deep solid steel bar ( a la Young) in the neck- and then decided to go with an adjustable double action truss rod. Can you see where this is going? The guitar sounded great! Slim neck, low action, big sound.... but as I was playng it in the vanishing days before I handed it over to my buddy ( who had asked me to build it for him) I felt a ridge on the back of the neck. Huh?? Turn it over to see that the neck was parting as the pressure of the double action truss had it's way with a slim neck that was not expecting force just below the nut. You know the feeling when your hair sweats and your scalp goes cold? Yeah... that's it. Fortunately, the neck joint was mortise and tenon secured by dowels.... Nah, that wasn't helpful either. I never did that again. After i sawed the neck off, and made a replacement, life began to look good again. But that was a black day, and it took a while to bounce back from it. Hey, it's 30 years later- I'm practically over it!
Frank - what a great ending to your story.

By the way, the set-up you did on my old LG1 is fantastic. Plays better than it ever did before.
I should sue - this lill' can of worms has just reopened a litany of 'what the!' moments and I'm having flashbacks.........I'm not even going to talk about this apart from the one golden rule - if I feel confident, relaxed and lack anxiety I'm about to make a mistake. R.
Yep, Rusty, there truly is a place for constructive tension in our lives. As builders, we work very hard to devise methods, procedures, and jigs to make operations as fool proof as possible and, yet, there is always room for those mental walkabouts.

Luckily this one was for myself- in fact, Ive had two major disasters and both were on instruments for myself. I guess thats good? I am up to almost 90 builds now so I guess 2/90 aint bad? My 'clever' old system for hanging the instrument body while spraying was not as clever as I thought. Even with some tape on the bolt that was supposed double ensure it wouldnt let go- it loosened off & bang- fell 5' to the floor, hitting the top of a lacquer thinner can on the way. 17" long crack from the heel of the guitar right round to the waist. I almost immediately Pete Townsend'd the thing, but gained my composure before I did. I had already set it up and played it 'in the white' and it sounded so good it seemed a shame to not finish it up. I dont know what got over me but not a single swear word came out- I think i was in too much shock and wiping the cold sweat from forehead. Anyway, devised a repair method essentially putting the thing in traction and the repair turned out pretty good for a guy who does not do repairs. I still play it & am glad I did not abandon it. So learned a lot about repair and made a new hanging system for spraying as a result.
I've had a few, but the funniest "almost" mistake was when I just about glued myself to a guitar with thin CA. I was doing fret work, didn't notice the run of glue down the opposite side of the neck where my hand was perched to steady it. I had to peel my finger off carefully. I was 30 seconds away from a trip to the ER.
A nice new #11 exacto blade mounted in a round handle rolling down a sloped drafting board/worksurface....
reflexes being what they are, it's only natural to try to catch it as it falls off the edge. Still makes me wince.


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