State of the Shop: November 2020

Yeah, folks, what a year, huh? It's been a mixed-bag or torture for all of us. Up here it's been relatively normal, though, with all of our "elbow room" via the wide expanse of nature and a sparse population. Still, the isolated feel is very strange and the not going anywhere makes it hard for the brain to remain happily tucked-away in the skull.

Usually I'm at least hanging-out and playing music with folks every other week. This year, our jams dried-up in March and since then we've only had four much-reduced little ones to our names before lock-down is once-again in effect. I've otherwise only played music on my lonesome or in ones and twos during the work-day. 

I have been working on some local "Radio Show" episodes with the Valley Players, though. Check out this first one from Erica Robinson (click for link) -- I did the music and recording on it -- and I'll be sure to link to the next two that are coming-up as well.

I've got to admit that I've pushed through the abnormality of this year by being fully-inundated by work. This sounds funny to all of you still waiting on repairs since forever, but it's true... I've been up late nights for I don't know how long, trying to get everything done. I can't remember who exactly said it, but someone told me via email, "I judge your mental state by how many photos you're sharing," or something to that effect. Yes, you've nailed it. When was the last "local flavor" shot? Since then it's snowed and rained and snowed and turned 70F and turned back and I've hand-loaded ten tons of pellets into our barn. Winter's here.

It also seems that while peoples' summers in other locales were perhaps pretty relaxed and ghost-quiet, up here we had insane amounts of tourists passing-through. I've never seen a spring-summer-fall like this before. I saw far more out of state plates on the road than VT plates whenever I was dropping packages off in town. I'm not going to argue with prosperity, mind you, but it meant that I had to relegate a lot of my work to after-hours repair sessions and so despite being busier than ever and with a lot of sales (thank you), I've been slowed-down more than ever as well.

You (excellent) customers are intriguing, too! People have been home more and so they're going through their collections like nuts. Instruments have been arriving by the dozen here at the shop either out of the back of cars and SUVs or off of UPS and FedEx trucks. There have been multiple times when mixed piles of black cases were scattered around the actual shop like rifle tripods in an old Civil War photograph. I'm surprised squatters weren't sitting around them, warming themselves, and playing guitar into the night, harmonicas strapped to their chins on rusty wire. I'm not sure what the antique shoppers thought when coming across such a desolation of beautiful excess.

So, what's going on, now? The last two weeks have been silent. Thank you for giving me a little space, local folks! Everyone's held their breath since the election and the weather's turned somewhat bitter so I think people are turned-inward. I've actually been getting into the vast backlog of repairs that have been lost along the way, though. I try to do things in batches of like-types, so it's heartening (for me) to see all of the tiples that have been languishing here pushed-out and done.

Next come ukes and mandolins and banjos, and then back into the guitar fray. I have a number of brace conversion jobs I've started, too, though I think only one or two will be done before the holidays. When I do things in a series like that, I can get the work done faster and cheaper because the jobs are all similar.

I still need to slightly expand this business. This is a long-term goal of mine -- to secure a larger workshop space so I can bring more hands into the mix. I have ideas about training someone to do the lighter-weight work (setups, adjustments, pickup swaps, etc.) so that I have more time to deal with long-term, structural repairs. The current situation won't allow for it, though, so dreams continue to be dreams until they aren't.

If I have any time over winter, I want to begin to dig-into my huge amount of old blog posts and start updating erroneous ones. But... that's likely to be a pipe dream. Me? Time?! My first priority if I have free time is to actually get back to recording my own music. It's been so long... and sometimes I worry my music-brain will atrophy if all I do is use my chisel-brain.


 Here are the colors that first sunset picture bled-into 5 minutes later. We've had gorgeous evenings lately.

Comments

Brandon McCoy said…
Keep on truckin, brother!
Ken said…
Thanks for this post!
Unknown said…
I can't help with repairs, but if you need someone to sit around the shop playing guitar ...
McComber said…
air do shlĂ inte, to you and your good family.
Unknown said…
Can’t wait for my repair! ...I mean...
Jake Wildwood said…
McComber: RIGHT BACK! Can't wait to get that Vega on the bench. Real soon!
Rob Gardner said…
Glad you are busy, Jake, and that is true about all the out of state plates. A lot of new people moved into town too, so maybe they will be bringing their stringed instruments in to keep you from getting bored. It was 14 degrees in town here the other night, wood stove doing overtime. Keep cranking...
Warren said…
Thanks for the post Jake! I’d definitely apply for that job if I lived anywhere nearby!