Hardly any ‘Pleasure’!

This is the second of the ‘clean-up’ jobs and the guitar was ironically labelled ‘Pleasure’. I was in half a mind to ask the chief minister to get me PPE for this – exactly the type that our Covid-19 warriors don. 

Take a look at what state this was brought to me in.

Why do people buy an instrument or keep a pet if they can’t take care of it? That is the question I asked myself repeatedly as I went about cleaning this guitar.

Admittedly, this is hardly a good or an expensive guitar but that is no reason to leave it standing in the corner of the room even as you have it white-washed!  

I was in half a mind to just dust it with a rag, change the strings and hand it back saying ‘It looks good like this’, but then I decided not to be mean to the guitar and to the owner.

As I looked it over, there were a few problem areas that I could see plainly. 

As you might notice, the tuning machines were missing a couple of screws, and as the tuning machine was wound fixed just to one screw, the one that was attached had really chewed into the wood of the headstock.

The remaining screws on the tuning machines were too loose. The screws on the ‘G’ string tuning machine were not completely seated. Consequently, they had not only chewed into the headstock but had, in fact, managed to crack it!

Enlarged screw holes needed to be filled and re-drilled. These are just toothpicks jammed along with glue and then shaved off level with the headstock. 

If you look closely enough, you will notice that a drop of machine oil has already been fed to each tuning machine so that they function that much smoother.

However, the main problem remained this:

The nut had broken and dropped off from the ‘B’ string at some time during the eventful journey of this guitar. Replacing it with a new one involved shimming it with material from an old credit card, so that it would stand at the same height as the old one. Good old plastic under a plastic nut never hurt anybody!

With that done, and as the glue dried on the new nut, I turned my attention to the fretboard. It required no less than an hour’s elbow grease to get the drops of splattered paint off it. 

After it was cleaned, a healthy coat of boiled linseed oil was put and left there for some 20 minutes. The already dry fretboard, after being put through all that soap-water and toothbrush needed that drink of oil, but ideally to condition rosewood/ebony fretboards just an application of the oil and its immediate removal is recommended.

What remained was the toughest job: cleaning the body of the distemper! For three hours I toiled with the soap water and toothbrush before the thing resembled a guitar again.

And while I was at it, I took off the pickguard. The white area that you see in the photograph on the right is all, pure dust!

So, everything was cleaned screwed back on, strung up and the guitar makes a noise!!!

ADVICE: If you have convinced yourself that learning to play an instrument is not your cup of tea and you have decided to give up your “new hobby”, instead of leaving the guitar standing in a corner, give it to a younger cousin/nephew/niece. Maybe, he/she will be able to apply himself/herself more than you did. 

Learning to play a musical instrument is all about application. It is not as if you were learning to ride a bicycle. That you can learn in a moment: as soon as you learn to balance yourself.

While learning a musical instrument one needs to be dedicated to the thought of learning. If you’re influenced by Brad Paisley or Arjit Singh, remember that they did not learn to play the way they do, overnight. It is after months of dedicated effort that one learns to just change chords without losing beat. But one needn’t put in eight hours a day practising how to play (some people are able to do that too), but 15-20 minutes daily, without fail should be enough.

It will come, later or sooner!

Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me: guitarguyhelp@gmail.com

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