Miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep
Throughout the first half of my life, I was a musician forcing myself to do things that were less natural for me; things that felt more difficult not by degree, but by their very nature. Many of us grow up believing that the more we have to force ourselves in a direction, the more noble that direction is. It took me 40 years to realize that “Do what you love” is not allegory, It is a hard kernel of life-wisdom and it is absolutely and completely literal. Do you want to be really good at something? Then do something you love so much that you can’t put it down. Sure, your degree of success will depend on your resources, your level of commitment, your intelligence, and your environment. But the truth is that there are many paths to success, and they are all amazing, rewarding and difficult in their own ways. So the really important question is: what do you want? (And don’t just say “luthiery!” I assure you that luthiery as a profession is not as romantic as it appears). So again I ask: “What do YOU want?” Go for a walk, and really think about it. I finally found my inspiration and now I make European inspired jazz guitars because it would absolutely kill me not to. It’s that simple. So go find YOUR life’s passion. Or if you have, and if that passion is music, then welcome to my website ;-)
As I progressed in building, a theme kept coming back. “Do what you say.” That might sound obvious, but it isn’t quite so. There had to be some truth in this endeavor. I mean, it’s not something a person does to get rich, so it must be about something else. Yet everywhere you turn for Gypsy guitars you see words like: “An exact copy of Django Rainhard’s model 503 Selmer Maccaferri guitar!” It should come as no surprise that if they can’t spell Django’s name and don’t know that 503 was a serial number and not a model, then how close of a copy can it be? And while this is a ridiculous example (though an actual example, that text was cut & pasted directly from Ebay) the fact is that Django could count – on his left hand – the number of modern builders who can build a Selmer style guitar that might fool an experienced blindfolded player. So, whatever I do in luthiery, I say it and then do it. Period. If I can’t do it, I don’t talk about it. You’ll also note that I don’t have a bunch of different models. Why is that? I believe that the only thing that should differentiate guitars is how they sound and play; what capabilities and characteristics they have. This means I don’t play the “features and upgrades” game. If you buy a guitar of mine, it will have *exactly* what I thought would make it work best. It doesn’t need upgrading, and I liked it enough to put my name on the headstock. At this point in my life, that means something. I don’t sell guitars I wouldn’t own; I rebuild them if possible or destroy them if I wouldn’t. The Boyers wrote the song “Bob’s Way” when they learned this. The song gains momentum but then leads to a pensive section followed by the 12 discordant notes… which represent a guitar meeting its fate over my bench vise. But don’t worry, the song ends on a positive note.
DaVinci said: “He who goes to the fountain does not go to the water jar.” Seminal instruments and great players are the fountains that keep me from becoming discouraged, complacent or overly confident when failure, indecision or success occurs. Whether I’m trying to recreate some measurable aspect of a vintage instrument or talking with an artist about what did or didn’t work on stage last night, there is no better mentor than brutal objective truth. It keeps you on the path of growth even when it challenges you by seeming to be steep, or tricks you by seeming to be easy.
So whether tomorrow brings challenge or triumph, I will do as I did today and yesterday. I’ll let my wife know how much I love her, I’ll try to live in the moment, and I’ll go out to the shop and try to learn something.
So who is this Bobolo guy, anyway?