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estebanana

Posts: 9410
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

Guitar Making Disasters 

Does anyone have any really horrid stories about guitar making gone wrong?

Stories like the Hindenburg disaster of guitar making, or a Titanic guitar making event?

Anything really terrible, like guitar gets run over by Greyhound bus or fat guy sits on guitar while owner looks on helplessly.


I'm so tired of nice stories and genteel talk about precious making ..blah blah blah.........spill a bad nasty story. Something really rude and shocking. Like on the order of jealous wife pounds 1 A Ramirez to death with sledge hammer!

_____________________________

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 16 2015 15:05:43
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 914
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Guitar Making Disaters (in reply to estebanana

I've got a few but this one seems to fit right in.

A customer of mine who had travelled the entire length of the country (10 hour drive) to collect his brand new Brazillian RW spruce guitar, left with a smile as wide as house. He loved it to put it another way.

Staying in a nearby hotel, so he didn't have to drive back right away, he thought he would get some practice in on his brand new guitar. He got the guitar out and put it on a stand ready and popped to the loo.

On the way back he some how managed to knock the guitar off of it's stand and proceed to put his foot through the back!

Luckily I only had to repair the back and refinish it!

_____________________________

Classical and Flamenco Guitars www.EdenGuitars.co.uk
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 16 2015 15:14:24
 
Morante

 

Posts: 2222
Joined: Nov. 21 2010
 

RE: Guitar Making Disaters (in reply to estebanana

One evening about nine pm, I was in the taller with Rafael Lopèz, about to close for the day. Rafa had just completed a beautiful guitar of brazilian rosewood and spruce and it was hanging from the workbench, ready to put away for the night for polishing the next day.

Unexpectally enter Camilo, un intimo amigo, with some friends. de borrachera. He approached Rafael to abrazarle and collided with the workbench.

The guitar fell vertically with a strange hollow sound and split vertically though both aros. The ensuring silence was horrible

At the end of the day, Rafael forgave Camilo, así se vive en Cádiz.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 16 2015 15:46:19
 
Sr. Martins

Posts: 3079
Joined: Apr. 4 2011
 

RE: Guitar Making Disaters (in reply to estebanana

quote:

fat guy sits on guitar while owner looks on helplessly


While far from fat, I think Vicente once sat on his Reyes.

_____________________________

"Ya no me conoce el sol, porque yo duermo de dia"
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 16 2015 19:15:47
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5780
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Guitar Making Disaters (in reply to estebanana

So far in my carreer, I have cut 2 almost finished guitars in pieces and put them in the woodburner.
They didnt give much heat, but they werent good enough and this way I didnt have to think more about that.

A bit like Ferrari that melts down engines that are not good enough. But they do at least end up with raw material. I had nothing else but ashes to look at.

_____________________________

Blog: http://news-from-the-workshop.blogspot.com/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 16 2015 21:27:45
 
Morante

 

Posts: 2222
Joined: Nov. 21 2010
 

RE: Guitar Making Disaters (in reply to Anders Eliasson

A "friend" once showed me an early Reyes which he had bought from another "friend", (when Reyes used a smaller body and narrow mastil). I thought it seemed strange. When I looked inside, it had cleats everywhere, especially on the tapa. Someone had left this guitar on the sofa and someone(else) had sat on top of it.

A great guitar, destroyed, very well repaired and sold at the price of an original.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 16 2015 22:10:17
 
jshelton5040

Posts: 1500
Joined: Jan. 17 2005
 

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to estebanana

A customer dropped by for a reason I don't remember and left his Shelton-Farretta classic in the car. It was stolen within 15 minutes and never recovered (he'd had it for no more than a few months).

I once lost my temper while repairing a POS guitar and threw a "c" clamp at the floor. Naturally it bounced up and put a huge ding in the top of the guitar resulting in a much larger repair than I had planned.

I was adjusting the action on my personal guitar and left it on the bench. Overnight we had a mild earthquake and a pair of dividers fell from the wall and impaled the top.

A friend dropped by just when I was attaching a back to a flamenco guitar and without my permission jumped in to help me tighten the clamps. He didn't understand clamping pressure and caused multiple cracks in the back which had to be replace.

Susan once tried to vacuum the inside of a guitar and the hose was too close to the size of the sound hole. The suction collapsed the guitar top. It was completely destroyed.

I'll think of more stories later I'm sure but my life as a guitar maker has been an endless series of disasters punctuated with some enormous successes.

_____________________________

John Shelton - www.sheltonfarrettaguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 16 2015 23:13:26
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 3028
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to jshelton5040

quote:

Susan once tried to vacuum the inside of a guitar and the hose was too close to the size of the sound hole. The suction collapsed the guitar top. It was completely destroyed.


Something like that almost happened to me... I saw the top suck in and I immediately pulled the hose away, no harm done but very scary.

I'm feeling queasy reading this thread. You KNOW things like this are going to happen during your career, it's just a matter of "when".

I've had mostly minor mishaps so far...this one was probably the dumbest:

The night my wife went into labor with our son, a customer was supposed to make a 3 hour drive to come and pick up a new guitar the following day.

So I threw the guitar in the trunk, in the cool of the night, as we went to the hospital, thinking he might still want to come and pick it up from the me there.

Well of course I forgot all about the guitar after the customer informed me he would just pick it up the following week, and the fresh French polish completely melted and bubbled up in the trunk as it sat there baking on a hot July day.

So just a bit of refinishing, but my heart sank when I opened the case. Of course, I did have more important things to think about...

_____________________________

Andy Culpepper, luthier
http://www.andyculpepper.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 17 2015 0:30:12
 
Dudnote

Posts: 1805
Joined: Nov. 13 2007
 

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to estebanana

At the risk of being off topic...

Shortly after I got my first flamenco guitar - a second hand A. Morales blanca - I started doing dance class accompaniment at my 2nd dance school. Unlike the first school I was now the only guitarist, so no one to hide behind. Despite being massively nervous all was going OK - a fandangos class, a siguiriyas class, a little solea to finish - until it was time to go home. With girls changing at the back of the room I figured I'd pick up my case and walk confidently past to go get some fresh air outside. Too bad I'd forgot to do the latches - the guitar crashed to the floor and gained a nasty crack in the side that you can still see today.

_____________________________

Ay compañerita de mi alma
tú ahora no me conoces.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 17 2015 2:06:55
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3436
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to estebanana

Does the threat of disaster qualify?

For years I ordered guitars for friends from the famous Mexico City luthier Juan Pimentel. I would pick them up on one of our frequent trips to Mexico. Everything always turned out pefectly, except for the matter of the delivery date.

One of my friends in California kept pestering me about when his guitar would be ready. I sent him a reply on a post card with a picture of the Aztec calendar stone.

Pimentel would predict when the guitars would be finished, sometimes a few months in the future. A month before the planned pickup date i would phone him.

"Maestro, will the guitars be ready on the date we discussed."

"Sí, como no, Don Ricardo. No habrá problema.¨

"You remember our talking about this gringo company I work for. They want to know when I will leave on vacation, and when I will come back, the exact dates..."

"Séa tranquilo, mi amigo. Las guitarras serán bien terminadas, dias en anticipacion."

"I am sure that they will be. I have perfect confidence in you. But you remember last time---I was a day late getting back to work."

"Well, that was unfortunate, but circumstances..."

"I'm sure the instruments will be ready this time, when we come to pick them up."

"Of course. Don't worry, my friend."

I called before we left Austin. Pimentel assured me the guitars would be ready when we arrived. We drove to Mexico City in our big red Pontiac--my blonde and blue-eyed (now ex-) wife, who speaks fluent Spanish, our 4-year old son and 5-year old daughter. We arrived in Mexico City on the predicted delivery date, with a week to spare before we needed to start back. I went by Pimentel's shop. He greeted me at his workbench and said there were only a few finishing touches to the finish on the guitars. They would be ready in two days.

Pimentel had an extensive professional clientele in the Capital, who not only bought instruments, but also brought them in for repair, setup adjustment, etc. The best I could figure out was that he allocated his time to whomever was present, and to whomever he judged had the most urgent need. The squeaky wheel got the grease.

I showed up two days later, still no guitars. I was beginning to get worried. I was also beginning to be annoyed, though I was careful to conceal it as much as I could. I was very well aware of cultural differences with respect to time, and made allowances for it when in Mexico, but I thought Pimentel could reasonably be expected to reciprocate somewhat, at least for a good customer.

"Maestro, we have to start back on Friday, to arrive at home in time for work. Friday is the last possible day."

"No problem. The guitars will be ready by then."

On Friday afternoon we packed our bags, loaded up the car and checked out of the hotel, then drove to Pimentel's shop. As I expected, the guitars "weren't quite ready." Only a little rubbing out of the lacquer remained to be done. We had discussed my revenge in advance.

The car was parked where Pimentel could see it from the window at his workbench that opened onto the sidewalk.

"As you can see, we are on our way out of town. Shall we wait here for the guitars?"

Pimentel was visibly chagrined, but the only polite response open to him was, "But of course, my friend."

My wife and kids got out of the guitar and trooped uninvited into the shop. There was no room for customers. He dealt with the majority of clients through the window at his workbench while the customer stood on the sidewalk. He generally invited me in, since I bought five or six guitars per year. In the rare event that Pimentel invited you in there was one chair where you could sit, probably playing a guitar he would get into your hands to assess your playing style.

Pimentel's chagrin turned to shock. The shop was full of power and hand tools, all dangerous. There were guitars in various stages of construction or repair. At the time there were a Santos Hernandez and a Domingo Esteso on workbenches in for repairs.

Despite his horrification, there was only one thing for him to do. Orange crates were found for the children to sit on, the chair was given to my wife, and another was found in the maze of small rooms further back in the shop. It looked pretty bad, but it supported me. A boy was dispatched to the corner store for sodas and bottled water. The guitars were brought out. Assistants got to work rubbing out the lacquer with rubbing compound.

Pimentel went back to work, but looked over his shoulder every few seconds, clearly expecting to see a maimed child or guitar. The assistants worked up a sweat rubbing at top speed.

The kids sat perfectly still on their orange crates for about half an hour, hardly moving a muscle, but taking in the shop and all that was going on in it. I take no credit for their exemplary behavior. They learned it in Montessori school, but I had observed it for enough years by then to be sure how they would act.

The guitars were finished, tested, and put in their cases. I paid Pimentel, and he wrote out the receipt. As I shook hands and said goodbye, the kids still sat quietly on their orange crates.

"Say goodbye to the Maestro, kids." They did, gravely shaking his hand and thanking him again for the sodas. Pimentel wore an expression of mixed relief and admiration, as he complimented the kids on their manners.

He said he looked forward to seeing me again-- but he didn't include the kids.

Due to our late start, we only made it to Queretaro that night. We checked into an unfamiliar, old but respectable hotel on the town square. The next morning was New Year's Eve. We saw men setting up fireworks in the square and decided to stay that night to see what developed.

We were rewarded with the double-damnedest blinding and earth shaking fireworks display we had ever seen. When it was over the people filed into the cathedral for midnight mass. My daughter and I were still standing on the balcony. She turned to me and said, "They're just going home to eat supper. They'll be back in a little while for more fireworks."

My wife had held my son on the balcony for a while, then he asked to be put down, and went into the room. After the fireworks were over we couldn't find him. After a somewhat concerned search, he was found under a bed, where he had taken shelter from the bombardment, then fallen asleep.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 17 2015 5:03:15
 
estebanana

Posts: 9410
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to jshelton5040

quote:

Susan once tried to vacuum the inside of a guitar and the hose was too close to the size of the sound hole. The suction collapsed the guitar top. It was completely destroyed.


This is awesome, I mean I'm sorry happened to you guys, but I can imagine it was funny from a certain perspective.....say from behind the rim of a few glasses of wine!

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https://www.stephenfaulkguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 17 2015 7:14:36
 
Jeff Highland

 

Posts: 401
Joined: Mar. 5 2010
From: Caves Beach Australia

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to estebanana

A regular client of mine brought me a new Maton Steel string acoustic last year for setup, I gave it back to him when I found it had 6mm high action with no scope to lower it to spec. With the letter I gave him he was able to obtain a replacement under warranty and I set that one up for him. This week he brought me another, he had got drunk and fallen on the previous one.
Ah, alcohol and guitars, a boon for builders and repairers.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 17 2015 11:30:49
 
Sr. Martins

Posts: 3079
Joined: Apr. 4 2011
 

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

My wife and kids got out of the guitar




_____________________________

"Ya no me conoce el sol, porque yo duermo de dia"
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 17 2015 14:50:39
 
Mark2

Posts: 1908
Joined: Jul. 12 2004
From: San Francisco

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to estebanana

I got hired to play at the Fillmore for a party for Bill Graham and his employees. I was late and quickly grabbed the guitar out of the back seat and the guitar fell out of the case right onto Fillmore st. Dinged it pretty good. It's a cheaper conde-still have it. Another time my Ramirez 1a blanca was propped on a chair at a restaurant gig. A waitress tripped on a guy's coat, which was hung over his chair. She fell right into the Ramirez and split the back open. I saw the whole ugly incident and it looked like it went down in slow motion. The restaurant paid for the repair. Still have that guitar too.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 17 2015 17:29:13
 
Leñador

Posts: 5237
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to estebanana

Best thread in ages. Cringing all the way through.

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\m/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 17 2015 18:29:57
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3436
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to estebanana

Ok, how about an intentional guitar making disaster? Does such a thing as an intentional disaster even exist? You be the judge.

This one involves Juan Pimentel as well.

During the 1960s I was acquainted with a young woman in Austin. It's not her name, but I will call her Penelope. Penelope was very suspicious and had a bad temper. I avoided her when possible.

I was at my friend Pat's house when Penelope arrived. Pat had a beautiful peghead blanca by Pimentel. Penelope asked about it. Pat and I told some Pimentel stories. Penelope decided she wanted a Pimentel guitar. Pat's top of the line instrument cost more than Penelope was willing to pay, but Pat told her Pimentel made at least two cheaper models, one for about $250 in 1967. Pat said I could order one and pick it up for her between Christmas and New Year when my wife and I always went to Mexico.

I responded tepidly. I was glad when Penelope didn't ask me to do it. I wanted as little to do with her as possible. Besides, she insinuated I was out to make some money off the deal. I never did. It didn't cost me anything to bring back a guitar, and I enjoyed spending time with Pimentel.

Penelope noted down Pimentel's address from the label in Pat's guitar.

Several months later I ran into her again at Pat's house. She was bitching at great length about Pimentel. She had been to Mexico City and ordered a guitar from Pimentel, putting down a 10% deposit. When she returned a few months later to pick up the instrument, it wasn't ready. She went off into a screaming rage, calling Pimentel a thief, and I forget what else. She regarded it as a triumph when she got her guitar a week later.

Then she started bitching about the guitar. The action was uncomfortably high. It turned out she had the instrument in her car. Pat asked to have a look at it. The action was very high at the 12th fret, and there wasn't enough bridge saddle to bring it down. I sighted along the fretboard, and asked Pat for his 2-foot (60cm) machinist's ruler. There was a sizable bend in the fretboard, with the biggest gap at the 12th fret. Curious about how that could happen I looked over the guitar and finally asked Pat for his mirror to look inside.

Between the Spanish foot at the near end of the neck and the back of the guitar there was a gap of about 1/4-inch (6.4mm). The sides of the foot looked like the bottom of it, ordinarily glued to the back, had been hacked off with a chisel, intentionally leaving a gap. The only thing keeping the neck from bending up even more sharply was the stiffness of the sides at the neck joint and the stiffness of the fingerboard. As revenge for her insults, Pimentel had built and sold her a ticking time bomb.

It showed a side of the Maestro I had never experienced. Pimentel was taciturn, soft spoken, and unfailingly polite. He was utterly honest and totally reliable in all my dealings with him. Even the inevitably late delivery time just conformed to established Mexican expectations. His demeanor always seemed almost humble.

But apparently it was a bad idea to insult him.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 17 2015 20:46:12
 
Edzard

 

Posts: 20
Joined: Oct. 11 2010
From: Eindhoven - The Netherlands

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to estebanana

Too much wood.

2 guitars, almost finished, under it...



Images are resized automatically to a maximum width of 800px

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 18 2015 8:00:44
 
estebanana

Posts: 9410
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to estebanana

OUch!

Ok I have disaster stories too, not holding out on you, but I have to work up to these confessions.

_____________________________

https://www.stephenfaulkguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 18 2015 14:48:23
 
Morante

 

Posts: 2222
Joined: Nov. 21 2010
 

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

It showed a side of the Maestro I had never experienced. Pimentel was taciturn, soft spoken, and unfailingly polite. He was utterly honest and totally reliable in all my dealings with him. Even the inevitably late delivery time just conformed to established Mexican expectations. His demeanor always seemed almost humble.

But apparently it was a bad idea to insult him


Seems to me a total lack of professionalism: the woman might have been insulting, but there are many ways to avoid problems: invent a 5 year waiting list, for example.

To sabotage one of your one guitars is an act of stupidity. I would not accept a guitar for free from such a luthier
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 18 2015 15:06:10
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3436
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to Morante

quote:

ORIGINAL: Morante

Seems to me a total lack of professionalism: the woman might have been insulting, but there are many ways to avoid problems: invent a 5 year waiting list, for example.

To sabotage one of your one guitars is an act of stupidity. I would not accept a guitar for free from such a luthier



...nor would he have offered you one for free....

How was it stupid? The woman knew nothing about guitars. She lived very far away, and almost certainly had no acquaintance among Pimentel's potential clientele, except possibly for me. The next time I saw Pimentel, he asked me if I knew her. I said, "Yes, but she is not a friend of mine." Pimentel nodded as though his assessment had been confirmed, and the subject was dropped.

As I suggested by the previous wording, his actions were a surprise to me. I agree that there were other solutions. Pimentel could have refunded her deposit and refused to deal with her further. But apparently he was unwilling to let a vicious insult go unanswered, so he swindled her out of $250, made a profit and risked no significant repercussion to himself.

By the standards of many cultures, mine included, Pimentel was dishonest. By the standards of other cultures the woman got what she deserved, and should have expected some form of retribution. She would have been seen as foolish to give Pimentel any more money, for any reason whatsoever, after insulting him so viciously.

If she had just walked away, she would have only been out $25, her deposit. But she felt like she was in a position to dictate Pimentel's future behavior. Pimentel disagreed.

In Mexico in the 1960s there were various subcultures. The rule of retribution prevailed in a significant part of the population. It hadn't occurred to me before this incident that Pimentel subscribed to the rule. But I saw his reaction as a widely prevalent cultural one, not seen by his culture as a deviant "criminal" act.

So instead of putting it under the heading of "guitar making disasters", perhaps I should have said "a cross-cultural disaster that happened to involve guitar making."

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 18 2015 22:43:05
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 3462
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

But apparently he was unwilling to let a vicious insult go unanswered


Going on your description of the incident, and having had experience in Mexico and Latin America off and on over a lifetime, the incident suggests to me that Pimentel was exhibiting two aspects of male culture, in Mexico in particular and in Latin America in general, neither of which is admirable: The inability to let a perceived insult go unanswered, and the added gravity of the insult provided by the fact that it came from a woman.

I would have to agree with Morante that Pimentel demonstrated a lack of professionalism and a childish revenge in sabotaging the woman's guitar. Even in a macho culture such as Mexico's, there are men who would have acted more professionally and just told the woman to get lost. I have known both kinds, and while the Pimentels may be in the majority, there are quite a few who would exhibit a more adult attitude. Culture can change, albeit slowly, sometimes for the better.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 19 2015 0:35:29
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3436
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to BarkellWH

Bill-

What struck me about the incident is how someone like Pimentel, whom I genuinely liked and whom I found not just well mannered, professional and honest, but perfectly admirable in all my dealings with him, reacted to a situation in a way that I definitely would not have. Nor would anyone else whom I considered a friend.

Pimentel began working as a guitar repair person at age 12. My impression was that he left school no later than that age. He told me that the job also entailed sweeping the floor and running errands. Through study and hard work he established a very high reputation as a luthier and a very successful business, employing a number of assistants, most, if not all of whom were his relatives.

Pimentel had three sons. Two of them earned university degrees, one in law, the other in electrical engineering. The third followed his father as a luthier, and still runs the shop in the Colonia de Los Doctores. The shop has been spruced up a good deal in the years since Juan Pimentel Ramirez passed away.

I haven't spent much time in Mexico since the mid-1980s. Up until then you encountered the culture of retribution at every economic and class level, from the poorest campesino to the wealthy and prestigious who claimed pure Spanish descent.

(I met one rich old lady who said she was a descendant of Nuño de Guzman, one of Cortez's bloodiest captains. She said all her ancestors were pure Spanish. Guzman was married to a Spanish woman, and he had children, but all were by his Aztec mistress. The mistress was, however a member of the Aztec nobility, so I suppose that counts as an extenuating circumstance. I was careful not to give offense by bringing up any of this.)

You also encountered at every level of Mexican society people whose ethics were the equal of any American's--as we would see it--and whose manners and tact were superior to most of my fellow countrymen.

Now you have the narcotraficantes and their sicarios who embody an even greater intensity of machismo, and who are admired as folk heroes by many "honest" citizens. You have a plague of corrupt politicians who are despised by the narcos and ordinary citizens alike. You also have heroic law enforcement people and journalists who risk their lives trying to counter the ill effects of America's wealth and taste for narcotics, our Manichean attitude toward the drugs, and the universal human talent for gangsterism.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 19 2015 3:32:55
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 3462
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Richard,

I think cultural factors that lead to retribution, such as Pimentel's, on the personal level and, historically, the inability to sustain a modern, mature political and economic system at the macro-level in Mexico, Latin America, and much of what used to be called the "Third World" have been the lack of what is known as "social capital" and the inability to take responsibility for the consequences of one's choices and actions. Individuals perceive that they owe their allegiance to the family or clan, and the idea of working toward the common good of society as a whole is an abstraction that has little meaning. Life in such a culture is seen as a zero-sum game.

Additionally, people generally lack what we in Western culture would describe as the ability to learn from our mistakes by taking responsibility for our mistakes in the first place. If we in the West experience failure, our first question is generally, "what did I do wrong?" In Latin America and the more traditional cultures, when they experience failure their first question is generally, "Who did this to me?" Historically, the lack of social capital and the inability to take responsibility for the consequences of one's choices and actions go a long way toward explaining much of Latin American and Third World social ills and lack of development.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Spanish language itself reflects this lack of the individual being the agent of his own failure. In English, if I say, "I dropped the glass," it suggests that I am the agent, I dropped the glass. In Spanish the phrase, "Se me cayo' el vaso," suggests that the glass "dropped" or "fell" from me, i.e., the glass is the agent of its falling to the floor, not me. Language reflects culture.

I have always believed that culture can change, albeit slowly. In my lifetime I have seen some positive changes in Latin America, but much of the old lack of social capital and inability to take responsibility for one's choices and actions remain. That's not to say that we in the United States and Canada have a lock on perfection. We do not. But if one compares the pattern of political, economic, and social development between North America, settled by English and Northern European settlers, and Latin America, settled by the Spanish, I think some conclusions regarding reasons for the disparate levels of development, as well as individual reactions to perceived insults like Pimentel's, become apparent.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 19 2015 4:52:26
 
Miguel de Maria

Posts: 3532
Joined: Oct. 20 2003
From: Phoenix, AZ

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to estebanana

I decided around 2003 that being a musician was too unstable of a life, so I would learn to make fine flamenco and classical guitars. Not a bad plan, I guess, except I had never made so much as a birdhouse in my life. Nor did I own any tools except a set of cheap screwdrivers and whatnot that came in a pink plastic case. There is also the problem that I am not very detail-oriented or patient and am not too good at measuring. Clearly it was still a good idea, so I charged ahead.

Asked for a loan from my Dad, but he wasn't having any of it. Anyway, I got some tools; a jigsaw, a mini-router, some hand planes, some chisels, ordered wood and some other things from LMI, got some Purpleheart locally since my girlfriend liked the way it looked. I used William Cumpiano's book as my guide. Quickly, I found that Purpleheart ate through my tools like a knife through hot manteca, and also that it was poisonous. Oops. So onto the mahogany. Bending the sides wasn't too hard, except that I didn't have a plantilla and the two sets didn't match up. I also managed to burn my forearm, creating a mark that lasted 10 years. Oh, I also gouged my thumb and took my only visit to the hospital in the last 15 years. Since the sides didn't match up, I had to be creative about cutting out the top. I enjoyed making the bridge and the neck. However, as I said, I'm not good at measuring. Not really good at cutting or sawing either. The specs I can hold to are about the same as would be appropriate for a particularly rustic birdhouse. I pushed through, however, eager to finish the first instrument. That I did. When I had finished the general outline and showed it to my girlfriend, she was silent. I later found out that she realized at this time, that I would not be a professional luthier. The truth is, the guitar was lopsided and looked as if the only tool available to me had been a hatchet. It was more Picasso than Torres. Needless to say, when I tried to string it up, it didn't sound--something was off with the neck angle.

By this time, my tiny store of patience had been exhausted, and I put away the GSO with the aim of adjusting it to become a playable instrument later. However, that never occurred. I left the garage partly open and someone came and stole the pink toolcase, our vacuum cleaner, and my first and only guitar.

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Arizona Wedding Music Guitar
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 19 2015 22:53:06
 
Miguel de Maria

Posts: 3532
Joined: Oct. 20 2003
From: Phoenix, AZ

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to estebanana

The foro influencing life:

At my gig this morning at the TPC (fancy golfcourse clubhouse), a group of about 20 Mexican guys came in after playing. Considering the price of a round is about $150, and these guys were subsequently getting fine rum, I guessed they might be upper-class. I thought about some of Richard's stories about upper class Mexicans.

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Connect with me on Facebook, all the cool kids are doing it.
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Arizona Wedding Music Guitar
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 19 2015 23:00:24
 
Sr. Martins

Posts: 3079
Joined: Apr. 4 2011
 

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to Miguel de Maria

quote:

I left the garage partly open and someone came and stole the pink toolcase, our vacuum cleaner, and my first and only guitar.


Look on the brightside. Maybe that guitar is now a birdhouse somewhere.

_____________________________

"Ya no me conoce el sol, porque yo duermo de dia"
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 19 2015 23:03:00
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 3462
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to Miguel de Maria

quote:

When I had finished the general outline and showed it to my girlfriend, she was silent. I later found out that she realized at this time, that I would not be a professional luthier. The truth is, the guitar was lopsided and looked as if the only tool available to me had been a hatchet. It was more Picasso than Torres.


Great story, Miguel! Of all those so far posted, yours wins the prize. By the way, I hope you married your then-girl friend. She sounds like a prize, and a good navigator to run an azimuth check to keep you on course when the desire to strike out in unknown directions hits.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 19 2015 23:52:04
 
Sr. Martins

Posts: 3079
Joined: Apr. 4 2011
 

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to BarkellWH

quote:

By the way, I hope you married your then-girl friend. She sounds like a prize, and a good navigator to run an azimuth check to keep you on course when the desire to strike out in unknown directions hits.


Even if he didn't, that's not a problem at all. He is a guitar player and he plays flamenco.. maybe he could not see how bad the guitar was but eventually he would play it and go "Hmm.. I can fit a cigar under the strings, pretty sure the measurement was a cigarette.. time to hang this outside for the birds"

_____________________________

"Ya no me conoce el sol, porque yo duermo de dia"
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 20 2015 0:49:47
 
estebanana

Posts: 9410
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

..nor would he have offered you one for free....

How was it stupid? The woman knew nothing about guitars. She lived very far away, and almost certainly had no acquaintance among Pimentel's potential clientele, except possibly for me. The next time I saw Pimentel, he asked me if I knew her. I said, "Yes, but she is not a friend of mine." Pimentel nodded as though his assessment had been confirmed, and the subject was dropped.

As I suggested by the previous wording, his actions were a surprise to me. I agree that there were other solutions. Pimentel could have refunded her deposit and refused to deal with her further. But apparently he was unwilling to let a vicious insult go unanswered, so he swindled her out of $250, made a profit and risked no significant repercussion to himself.

By the standards of many cultures, mine included, Pimentel was dishonest. By the standards of other cultures the woman got what she deserved, and should have expected some form of retribution. She would have been seen as foolish to give Pimentel any more money, for any reason whatsoever, after insulting him so viciously.

If she had just walked away, she would have only been out $25, her deposit. But she felt like she was in a position to dictate Pimentel's future behavior. Pimentel disagreed.

In Mexico in the 1960s there were various subcultures. The rule of retribution prevailed in a significant part of the population. It hadn't occurred to me before this incident that Pimentel subscribed to the rule. But I saw his reaction as a widely prevalent cultural one, not seen by his culture as a deviant "criminal" act.

So instead of putting it under the heading of "guitar making disasters", perhaps I should have said "a cross-cultural disaster that happened to involve guitar making."

RNJ



When a white lady from Texas calls a DF guitar maker a dumb Mexican, which is what I imagine she did, I think culturally Pimentel may have had a point in his favor to sabotage the guitar. She got what she really deserved.

Ethically as a guitar maker he did not have a right to do that.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 20 2015 1:05:58
 
estebanana

Posts: 9410
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Guitar Making Disasters (in reply to Miguel de Maria

quote:

Oh, I also gouged my thumb and took my only visit to the hospital in the last 15 years.


It sounds like you earned the Purple Heart for fighting and being wounded in the guitar making wars.

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https://www.stephenfaulkguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 20 2015 1:09:58
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