Remember this guitar? It just got a slight facelift.
It’s been more than a year since Gord dumped it on me in a near-unplayable state like a pet he didn’t want anymore. He’s never asked for it back, though if he knew I put some work into bringing it back to life I imagine he’d be glad to take it off my hands.
That’s not happening. I consider it my guitar now. If nothing else, I look at it as partial compensation for all the times I had to pay for album-related things without any help from him.
After cleaning it up and making it as comfortable to play as possible, there was one thing still bugging me. It was that pickguard. It looked tacky, and even a generous helping of Gorilla Tape wouldn’t get it to stay put. It kept sticking its goofy face out no matter how many times I pushed it back into place.
Johnny Smith suggested scrubbing off the ugly residue the old pickguard’s glue left behind with sandpaper and putting a new ‘guard on. I asked a luthier about making me a custom pickguard. He quoted me a price of $200.
$200 for a strip of material that’s worth about as much as a bag of chips and ten minutes of work to cut and glue it. I don’t think so.
I found a nice sheet of tortoiseshell online for less than a tenth of that price. It was a glorified sticker, but to the eyes and fingers it would look and feel the same as any other pickguard. When even the coarsest sandpaper was having trouble with the stubborn glue residue and starting to take some of the finish off, we decided to go ahead with cutting the tortoiseshell adhesive to shape. Easier to cover up the mess if it was that reluctant to leave.
First we traced the shape of the tacky old pickguard onto a thin piece of cardboard that came with a calendar. I don’t know why I was hanging onto it, but it sure came in handy here. After cutting it, we used the cardboard stand-in as a guide for how to cut the new pickguard. The full sheet was a little bit too small for this Hummingbird-style design, so the very top doesn’t quite touch the side of the fretboard the way it’s supposed to. You only notice if you take a close look, and it doesn’t bother me. It gives a guitar that was already imperfect more character.
This isn’t the best picture. It was tough finding good light at this time of night. But I think you’ll agree this funky axe is a lot prettier now. The old pickguard looked like something someone designed while they were high on Windex. It didn’t fit. This one makes a lot more aesthetic sense, playing off of the sunburst finish in a nice way. And it sits flat! Oh joy of joys!
Unrelated but worth a mention — the other day there was a nice little capsule review over on the Ride the Tempo blog for Jess’s song “This Body” (off of QUIET BEASTS). The guy who wrote it has written flattering words about almost every single thing I’ve recorded and produced for other artists over the last few years, and yet he seems determined to ignore my own music until the end of time.
I once sent him a Facebook message thanking him (he complimented my lap steel playing on “Howler”, after all) and offering to send him some CDs in the mail. It wasn’t about trying to drum up any attention for myself or hoping he might write something about me. My only agenda was thinking he might have some interest in hearing the solo work of the person who recorded all those albums he seemed to be a fan of. It was an attempt at expressing gratitude through sharing some music he otherwise never would have known existed. I asked for his address and included links to a handful of songs so he’d have something to listen to in the meantime.
He sent a terse reply saying he’d listen and write a proper response soon. That was in May of 2016. I think it’s safe to say “soon” is never going to come.
I’m not miffed about this. I think it’s a fun little running joke. I expect him to write something about Ron’s album when it hits Bandcamp while continuing to disregard me as a musical force in my own right. Gotta keep the streak going.