elloree (elloree) wrote,


People bring stringed instruments to my shop that are in need of repairs. And I don’t mean needing new strings and bridge pins. Lots of instruments have come into my shop in a trashcan liner. The owner gathered up the pieces and parts, stuffed them in a plastic bag and brought them to me. I got an old Martin that a man found laying on a boat dock. The owner told the man that the guitar had been there for about a year and he was welcome to it if the wanted it. More than a few have been found in barns, and brought in for repairs. I’ve lost count of the guitars and mandolins I’ve opened up and found full of wasp and dirt dobber nests. Often there are pieces either missing or beyond repair. And most recently I completed a common restoration. A man brought in his guitar that was in complete dilapidation. Even new, it didn’t cost much, but it was his first guitar.

I did with this man what I do with everybody who comes in with a guitar that is in need of a total restoration. We look at it and talk about it. We talk about how long, how much, what will have to be done, and what a person can expect once I’m done. Nearly always the owner will ask if I think his instrument is worth it. That’s a question I don’t answer. I let the owner tell me if he thinks the guitar, or mandolin, or violin, or whatever, is worth it. And I always tell a person the same thing. I tell them that Jesus resurrects the dead body, and I resurrect the dead stringed instrument. And then they usually laugh when I tell them, “You just need to decide how much resurrection you can afford.” And a guitar is like an automobile. You can spend any amount of money on it that you want. You can always get that thing washed, and it always seems to need new wiper blades.

So this most recent man and I talked about it and worked out a plan. His guitar was not even playable in its present shape. The top and back were coming off, and there was a broken place in the sides. The neck was loose, the bridge was coming off, the bracing was split up, and the head and tail block were cracked. It actually could have used a refinish job, but the repairs were going to cost so much that he decided not to get it refinished. In the words of 007, “Later perhaps!” And we didn’t spend money on new machine heads. There were some gears and buttons missing, but I keep a lot of old pieces and parts and I was able to repair them, and for the most part, the machine heads are original. He probably spent 5 times as much on the restoration as what the guitar actually cost new, but it was worth it to him to have his first guitar fully functional again.

I think that most people never do their best. I know I don’t. I could always do better. What I tell people is that I do the best I can with the tools I have to work with. I could do better work with better tools, but alas! I cannot afford better tools. I do the best I can with these eyes that are growing dim and these hands that hurt worse all the time. I do the best I can with the time and money I’m allowed to get the job done. When a person gives me one day, and doesn’t want to spend more than $30.00, there’s just so much I can do.

I think most of us have and desire to do better, and we would if we could. If we had the time and place, and weren’t being pushed by a deadline, we would do better. When I was young I worked as a mechanic at a GM dealership. This German guy, who was a great mechanic, told me I took too long on automobiles. He said I was trying to hard to drive at perfection, when what I needed to do was make the repair, get that car out of the way, and get on to the next one. I hated what he told me; but I know he’s right. Those folks could not have afforded to pay me to spend all day on one automobile that might not even bring in much money.

I’m on my fourth complete reading of the Bible and I am starting into the book of II Samuel. Even if I had never read the book of Genesis, I can still look around myself and see that when the Almighty created everything, He didn’t hold anything back. And I am always amazed at how great His creation still is despite the fact that our first parents screwed up something that was perfect. You know, if He had made just one kind of bird, I would be in awe of something that can fly. Just one kind of fish would make me stand in amazement and try to figure out how that fish keeps from drowning. As long as we have lived on this earth, we keep finding more birds and fish that we didn’t know existed. And they come in so many colors and shapes and sizes. He is one artist who knew what He wanted to do, and did it. We hear His voice in the thunder and as water runs over rocks. We can feel his breath on us when the wind blows, and we can see His hand when the clouds cast a shadow. I think the only thing we actually lack is seeing His face.

Since we are made in His image, we have in us the desire to create. We’ll never do as good as the master Artist, but I know that given the right circumstance, we can do better than we do. If we could just find that day when we don’t have to hold anything back.

Makin’ sawdust & Diggin’ the music
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