When you part with someone you care about, it’s “May we see each other again.” When I close the case on a new instrument in its last hours here at the Wingfeather Workshop, it’s “May I never see you again.” That sounds negative, but really it’s the highest respect & blessing I can give to one. I build them to – and wish for them to – perform flawlessly for a lifetime. So if I see it again it has stumbled in the field of duty, and this is very rare. With somewhere around 800 out and counting over the past 12 years, I maybe see one or two a year come back for warranty related work after some time out there exposed to the unpredictable. It is wood but we weed out the majority of its quirks by design, selection, and in the week long initial setup process. We use proven parts we can trust and put it all together to be, underneath the carving and craft, rugged and simple. So unless traded in or coming through for spruce-up and once-over on the way from one party to another, I should never see it again and it makes me happy because it does not belong here anymore – it’s where it belongs, in your hands, in your worlds, serving your good work.
YOU are who matters once I have given my all and done my best and taped the label on the box, and you matter to the instrument – it is your tool, your voice, your Excalibur. But it is not mine; it was never mine. I have been given my position on the field of filling the world with music and good vibrations and those are the ripples I serve with my tools and hands and the materials I am gifted to do MY good work with. If I ever DO see one again I want it looking like it has spent itself in its service; I have no attachment to how one is enjoyed one it leaves, so long as it brings something good to your world. Some hang in glass cases, others are leaned up against amps in bars with their finish aged by smoke and their scars worn with pride. Looking at the big picture, all lives have chapters and instruments’ lives do as well. Twenty years from now, their roles may reverse in different hands. Or it could be next week. Life is that way. They are on journeys that parallel ours but one who serves goes where one is needed. One bass that has been serving its caretaker is Cortobass #116 from 2008.
Back at the nest for some neck mods (the client wanted one a little less thick than what was on there and a maple fingerboard), it has been a joy to have this old friend here. The greatest part of being established is that the early instruments have been out there for 8, 10, 12 years now moving people with music and being used to where they have patina. Real, genuine, earned relicry. Low mileage? Driven only on Sundays? Not this bass. The worn gold plating, buckle rash in back, all the textural changes of surfaces touched and rubbed in certain places... what a beauty.
The old-school pointy horns now slightly rounded on the new ones, the old 3-point control plate, and the varitone – still working. The old hand woodburned deluxe “Supremo” headstock now recreated on its new maple neck, dressed with a new body-matching maple truss rod cover. Truly a trip back in time as I don’t see most of them ever again once they fly the nest. I’ve always had a soft spot for old tools, used books and old cars with their age showing. I think a few wrinkles on a woman is a beautiful thing and some silver in the hair is a badge of honor. Life is a journey and that means time spent and miles under the wheels. To BE spent along the way is all I hope for this body, these hands, and anything that comes out of my workshop. I'm so happy to make this a really cool guy's dream bass all over again!
Here is some more random joy from the woods – yes, it's Maggie the Heeler rolling around in the driveway!
Wishing you good times this weekend and good work to do in your garden of the coming week - may it shower your life with metaphorical peppers. Thank you for your service, YOU are appreciated!
Listening to: Jerry Garcia acoustic at the Oregon State Penitentiary; a batch of old Hearts Of Space radio broadcasts I burned onto CDs; Aerosmith’s first album and Zen Guerilla Trance States In Tongues.