Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Rooster

Say Hello to "Rooster!"... uh-hem... Rooster, the guitar, that is!

Your pard', Whit here!  I have been pickin' and a grinnin' a guitar since I was 14 years old.  I grew up listening and watching my father do the same.  He was a part of a band called "The Troubadours" in Lubbock, TX back in the 60's that cut a record where he played guitar and sang.  It's really a very good record.  But of all the wonderful songs I've heard my father play and sing over the years and those that I've played and sang with him, there is one song that always brings smiles to the faces of those who hear it.  It's called, "The Rooster Song."  It is a wonderful song to sing with children because they get so involved with the song.  To those of you who know me and my family, you most likely have heard and witnessed us sing this silly song, because we all love it!

Because I enjoy pickin' and a grinnin' on a guitar, I have had the wonderful opportunities to play throughout the years with some very near and dear friends and family members.  It is always a joy to play with others.  I also have obtained some guitars throughout the years.  Currently, I have six!  I guess one for each child to inherit someday!  Ha Ha!  But, this is the story of my old guitar whom I have  named "Rooster."  Many guitars have names.  Probably the most famous guitar is well-known by the name, "Trigger." It was made famous by none other than Willie Nelson himself.  The value of "Trigger" when Willie Nelson passes away will undoubtedly be in the millions of dollars.  Sort of ironic for an old worn-out Classical Martin N20 that currently has 2 holes in him.  But oh what sound he makes under the master's hands!  

So, here is the story of my guitar, "Rooster."  In 1998 while attending ACU, my future mother-in-law, trash-to-treasure queen, a.k.a Linda Englert, told me she got this old guitar from someone who was about to throw it away.  She informed me that her son Justin was interested in learning to play an electric guitar but was wondering if I could fix this old broken one and let him try it.  That way they could be sure he wanted to play before they shelled out a bunch of money on an electric only to find out he didn't like it.  Being a bit of a shade-tree luthier/guitar repairman I agreed to look at the guitar.  She gave it to me and I knew right away that the dumpster was probably the best place for it because it had endured some serious blunt-force trauma.  But, I am a softy to things that have been abused and knew that with some TLC I could make it better.  So, with just a few tools and a kitchen table for a work-shop I began repairing this classical guitar.  The back, the sides, and the top of the guitar all around where the neck joins the body were all separated.  So, using some epoxy, some clamps, and some screws I put it all back together to the best of my ability.  It wasn't pretty but it was structurally sound.  Another thing that I did, which I still think is ingenious, was to remove the bridge & saddle and invert it 180 degrees where the bridge had been rendered useless but the string height on the finger board was manageable.  I moved the bridge and saddle back a little over an inch and re-drilled it into a rib because originally it was just fastened to the top sound-board which is actually pretty thin. Because of where it originally was fastened the whole bridge/saddle was peeling up and the top was failing due to the tremendous tension generated on it when the strings are tightened and tuned.  This matter was now solved.
Down the back of the neck showing the old original repairs I made in 1998

So, after all of the epoxy dried I restrung it with new classical strings and played it a while myself to ensure that it was good to play.  I was surprised at how well it played and even more amazed at how beautiful it sounded.  In many ways it reminded me of the very first guitar I used to learn how to play, which was also a beat-up, old classical style.  This repaired guitar wasn't the prettiest to look at but if the lights went out I was fairly confident that one would be hard-pressed to differentiate it with a high-dollar one.  I gave it back to Linda and Justin did learn to play on it.  While he had it he and his buddies gave it a black mark.... I'll let you figure out on your own how that happened.  He then got a nice electric guitar and somehow I got the old guitar back.  I played it many times for over ten years, just how I gave it to him.  But in the back of my mind I always wanted to completely take it down and redo it.  I mainly wanted to do this because I didn't like the paint job that was ever so slowly chipping on it.
How it looked before - Top

Original bottom-side view

Original back view

Back of the head

The guitar's top showing the old worn rosette where I hold my right ring finger while I finger-pick

Another view of the guitar's top showing the inverted Bridge/Saddle and the black mark

It stayed in this shape for over 10 years until the luthier in me was awakened by the following event:

My folks came down to visit this year in the latter part of June and the first part of July and my father's sister, my dear Aunt Wanda, and her husband Russ came over to visit.  Upon arrival she gave me a wonderful gift that I had only hoped and dreamed of receiving.  The gift was the 6 string guitar that once belonged to their sister Eva Leta, whom Aunt Wanda has always called "Skeet."  Tragically, she passed away of cancer in June of 1997.  I have very fond memories of my Aunt Eva pickin' and a grinnin' on a guitar.  I have a very special memory of the last time she played her guitar for me in 1995 just 2 years before she died.  Wanda got the old guitar after Eva's death and had it for many years.  However, when I received the guitar it was not in good shape because of an unfortunate breakdown in understanding/communication that had occurred.  My Aunt Wanda had thought the guitar had been placed in a closed-in storage unit when her house addition was built.  However, it was not in the closed-in storage unit.  She discovered it recently in a boarded and tarped-up trailer and realized it had endured weather extremes and water damage for years.  This really didn't matter to my sentimental self and surprisingly after some time at cleaning it up and fixing on it, I restrung it and was thrilled with how well it played and sounded.  It really was wonderful!  I was even able to save and recondition the guitar strap my Aunt Eva had used.  I was also able to find out through some online research that the old guitar, a Picador, was built in Japan using the Martin patterns and was sold in the 70's and 80's for around $300.00.  It is an absolutely wonderful full-bodied dreadnought guitar that is truly a treasure to me!  

first pictures of the head and body before I fixed this guitar up

all fixed up, safe in its new case
After I completed the work on the guitar that used to be my aunt's I decided now was the time to completely take-down and redo the old classical that I originally fixed up for Justin.  I had many ideas and goals for the old guitar but one of my primary goals was stemmed from something I learned as a trumpet player my freshman year of high-school.  Our band had a female guest one day who was a professional French Horn player.  She removed her horn from her case and instead of seeing a typical beautiful, shiny horn, hers was dull and drab and really kind-of ugly.  All of us in the band sort of raised one eye-brow as we critically thought,  "She is a professional French Horn player and she plays with that?!!!"  But she went on to explain that her French Horn was custom built (WOW!! Who knows what that cost??) and that hers did not have the traditional finish on it because traditional finishes have been proven to dampen sound-waves! Wow!  Who knew?  I thought about sanding down my old trumpet that night but thank-goodness for my dear mother's sake, I never did.  However, the idea stuck with me, and was one of my main motivations to begin stripping this guitar down.  I knew that if I didn't have some sort of catastrophic failure while disassembling it, sanding it down and fixing the chips and holes that I would have an opportunity to finish it (actually to condition it) in a product that I have used for a long time.  I haven't ever used this product on wood, even though it advertises for wood-conditioning.  The product is called Skidmore's Leather Cream or Skidmore's Wood Restoration Cream which is actually the same thing.
You can check out their wonderful products at www.skidmores.com  
Another reason I wanted to use a conditioner instead of a hard finish is because the guitar has what I call a broken left rib.  This has caused the top to have a con-caved indention on the top of the guitar below the failed wood-rib.  I intend to fix this but need the top to be flexible to accomplish this plan. A hard top that is not flexible will cause the top to crack or even completely fail when I attempt to jack up the failed wood-rib and attach it back to it's original location.  I most likely won't be able to accomplish this for quite some time as the conditioner must penetrate slowly, over time, all the way through the wood on the top.  But even if I never fix the broken wood-rib the guitar is still wonderful!    

Sanding down the 3 coats of paint


My first-ever inlay of what Isaac called "Jesus' Star"using Victor Englert's engraving tools.

The first coat of Skidmores to the neck/head

The finger-board side of the neck's first coat

There's a wall-hanger! Shelly called it a "deer-ring."

The repaired back of guitar veneer failures, holes, and chips using epoxy mixed with guitar's sawdust 

First application of Skidmores cream to guitar top.  

First coat of Skidmores to the beautifully grained sides which is a different wood than the top

Skidmores sure smells good too!

Just hangin' out to dry

Me with  "Rooster" after the 2nd coat and with brand new strings
Check out the beautiful natural color which doesn't come close to the beautiful natural sound it makes! 
Once the new rosette came in the mail, I unstrung the guitar and removed the bridge/saddle to apply it.

Blessings to you all! I'm gonna go pick & grin some MORE!
Love from your pard', Whit, husband of.......

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Some Encouragement

Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 101:2
I will walk with integrity of heart within my house

Lord, may my mouth bring edification to others (my little ones) that results in glorification of Your Name...


Monday, July 8, 2013

Spring/Summer Baseball & TaeKwonDo

Abigail and Isaac had a belt test recently and it went very well!

Korean Terminology Test

Mr. Gafford handing her the new yellow belt!

Mr. Billingsly, the newest black belt at the school, handing Isaac his green belt.
Wish you could see Isaac in the picture!

Getting on the new belt

Isaac with his new green belt.  His favorite color!

Yellow looks good!
So proud of both of them!!

They also got to ride on the float at the parade for the 4th of July and then participated in a demonstration.  Green belts get to start breaking boards, and this was Isaac's FIRST time!  

Front-Snap Kick Break while Master Gafford held the board


Andrew played "coach-pitch" this year:

It was really fun watching him start understanding the game better this year.  He enjoyed going to games and loved it when he had a big crowd of family there.  He felt good when Isaac & Abigail cheered loudly for him!  -Even if sometimes they were slightly distracting!  HAHA!  He also loved spending special time with his dad at practice or games.  His O'pa took him to practices and games that we couldn't all attend too.  After one of the games O'pa took him to McDonald's.  He really loved that and I appreciated his help so very much!

Andrew makes friends really quickly

Warmin' up


Andrew is so funny, and can often have a very dry humor too.   He will totally be teasing about something and you might not even realize that he is.  He stuck his hat on like this just while he was sitting and
pretended to not even notice.  Cracked us up!

This post was kind of long in coming because right before Andrew had his last two games and closing ceremonies, his foot got injured pretty bad.  I had this post all ready to go, but was waiting for a closing ceremony picture!  When that didn't happen, I forgot that I didn't finish it all up!  He was told to not go outside for a couple of days, so we didn't end up attending those events.  He was SO sad about it too that it broke my heart!   

Here is a picture of his foot today, all healed up.  Spared you of the gory one!

Sweet, sweet boy! So proud of him too!

Love from our family to you and yours,