Guitar repairs. I love this. It means bringing an instrument back to its best for playability in order to make music, which is really what this is all about. When you make music you are expressing yourself, always a great thing for all of us. Instrument repairs might mean correcting the effects of time and usage (It sure has been played!), or it might be correcting the result of long storage or neglect (!), or wires that came loose, or anything up to and including disaster (It got dropped!). It is so gratifying to hand people back their instruments, see the look of joy on their faces when they’ve got their much-loved guitar back, and it's whole again! Or even better than whole! I was the kind of four-year-old kid who took apart the alarm clock, put it back together and it worked, always been thrilled with making stuff work right. With the added good fortune of a family musical background, this translated right on up to my repairing banjos and guitars as a teenager and on to opening my store in 1969, where I also was the chief repair person for about the next 10-15 years.
And we're still at it here, doing repairs and restorations just as they’ve been done all over the world for centuries. Of course there have been some improvements made along the way but they’ve mostly been in the areas of specialized tools for specialized procedures, and jigs and fixtures and the like. What cannot be gotten anywhere else is what’s gained from the experience of having done this kind of work for a very long time. Knowing your woods and their predilections, knowing your techniques, and especially having a keen innate sense of the organic physical relationship of components to each other and how things move, or not. Most of our hand tools have been here for fifty years and more. The drill press and bench grinder I got in 1967 are still in use and can't be beat. A few hammers and screwdrivers I've had since forever I'd never give up; using them is like having a perfect extension of one's own arm and hand.
We’ve seen a heck of a lot of wildly different repair situations come in over the fifty-plus years we’ve been at this. Everything from simple worn-out frets (“Why won't it play right?”) to gorgeous vintage acoustic guitars seriously traumatized by fits of passion. Yep, we got ‘em all back to beautiful 100%. This is where having acquired factory parts over the years that are no longer available can give a huge advantage. Having saved sections of otherwise useless smashed older guitars from years ago can also be a great source for segments of wood to use in restoring vintage guitars. We did that very thing on a 1903 Martin recently which had losted a piece of its top in someone's fit of pique. Then there’s also dealing with misguided "custom" wiring jobs (Why won’t it work?), just love making that stuff go again. Ain't no substitute for time and experience.