elloree (elloree) wrote,


I don’t mean to confuse people, but I do. There’s a difference between a production guitar and one that’s handmade. With a production model, you try out what is offered and see if it’s right for you. If you like it, then you’re in business. If you don’t like it, you move on and try something else. When it comes to handmade, there are so many choices to be had. There’s a choice on nearly everything; and you ought to see my work order form once the details have been worked out for whomever I’m building for. There’s the wood choice, body shape, string length, wired or not, headstock shape, fret board radius, neck radius, neck width, and bridge type. A person can have a thin body or deep; a full body or a cutaway; a rounded cutaway or a pointed. The instrument can be clear coated or painted; gloss or semi gloss. The folks I build for make a long list of choices – and there are other choices I’m not bothering to enumerate.

As a person makes the choices, I sort of act like a traffic director. Part of my job is to make sure people don’t make choices that would create an ugly, unstable, or unplayable instrument. Another part of my job is to let people know what their choices will cost them. And I’m not necessarily speaking about a monetary cost. With stringed instruments, you can’t have anything for free. Everything is a tradeoff. For everything you get, there’s something you have to give in exchange. So folks have to decide what they want and what they are willing to give up in exchange.

And here’s how it works. People love the idea of a thin body guitar. It lays real close to us and it’s not so hard to reach around. But the Almighty set up some laws of physics, and try as we may, we can’t get around them. The more cubic inches of airspace in the body of an instrument, the bigger and better the tone and volume. So, which good thing would you rather have? The same goes for a cutaway. On a full body guitar, we can only get about fourteen frets of us. The frets across the top and up to the sound hole may look nice, but they never see any action. But if you have a cutaway, you can get to all those frets. When you have a cutaway, you take away cubic inches of airspace and you end up with the same downside as you would on a thin body. So which do you need more? Do you need a bigger sound? You can’t have both. You have to trade one for the other.

When it comes to strings, we keep wishing for a miracle. We’d love to have strings the size of thread so they wouldn’t hurt our fingers, and we want them to boom like thunder. Well, the bigger the string, the better sound. That’s just the way it is. The smaller the string, the easier it is to play, but those small strings have less tension, and just won’t shake the wood as much. So what kind of trade would you like to make? You only get to have it one way and it’s going to cost you something.

This little give and take thing is not strange or unique to guitars. This is the way of life. There is nothing for free, and we can’t have it all. There’s always one more person trying to prove they can have it all, but nobody ever does. Reba had this song back in the 80’s called “Little Rock”. She told about how she married a rich man and got all the good things money could buy. But, then she went on to say she was going to find some poor boy and cheat on her husband because her husband was always chasing business deals. Even as a guy who was young and not too smart, I could still see what a dumb ass song that was. She married him because he was rich. She knew he wasn’t sitting around waiting on a welfare check. He got rich by working hard. To think we can work an angle and get it all is just mythical. Sooner or later it all comes crashing down and we end up with nothing. We have to choose. And after we’ve made our choices, we have to live with what our choices cost us. Some of us make bad choices and see they cost too much, and some of us don’t mind what we missed out on because we’re glad for what we got.

I guess the biggest trade off of all time is the one Jesus speaks about in Matthew 16:26. He asks what a person would give in exchange for his soul. That’s a good question to ask. We all have to ask ourselves that question. If I’m to lose my soul and go to hell, how much would I have to get for it to be a good trade? And Jesus sets the trade real high. He wants to know if getting to rule the world would be a good enough trade. If I could own the world, if I could get anything I want, and as much as I want, would I lose my soul to hell and count it as a fair deal?

I don’t think anybody will ever get to lay claim to the whole world and swap their soul for it. I have seen people who traded it all away for much less. I know a man who wanted alcohol more than anything else in this world. He traded everything for that one thing. I knew a man who wanted sex more than anything and he gave himself completely to that one pursuit. He’s not in this world anymore. If I could talk to him now and ask if it was a good trade, I know what his answer would be.

I am always making choices and giving up one thing to get another. And I’m trying to keep in mind that Jesus said I need to count the cost of what I choose. I hope not to be a fool and lose those things that are eternal for those things that are passing.

Makin’ sawdust & Diggin’ the music
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