Last week I finished setting up and stringing my guitar for the first time. I have to be honest, as I was loading tension onto those first few strings I held my breath, but when I brought everything up to pitch I was delighted at the first sounds I heard.
No. More than delighted. It’s hard to describe. My heart was in my throat, but in a good way.
It was late at night and there was still some fine tuning required to dial in the action and intonation, but I pulled up a rocking chair outside my garage, opened a beer and played it until the fingers on my left hand hurt. I intend to compensate the saddle just a bit and finish polishing the nut, but I haven’t been able to talk myself into taking the strings off long enough to do it.
That moment was a long time coming, but I feel like it all happened at the right time. Building this guitar was one of those things I always wanted to do and my dad’s death two years ago encouraged me to just go ahead and do it. It was one of those “carpe diem” decisions and I wonder if I haven’t been dragging my feet in some ways because I’m just now finding closure in that realm. When something is finished you feel like you have to let go and I guess I’m finally ready for that. At least I have a peace about it.
But it’s not really an end is it? I didn’t think about this before but the wonderful thing about a musical instrument is that the end of construction is just the beginning of everything else. It takes months and years for a guitar to open up and realize it’s full sonic potential. The sound will become deeper and richer over time and every time I change the strings or adjust the action It will be right back on my bench. The circle, unbroken. Birth, life and rebirth. Atoms, waves and air.
It’s not perfect and anyone trained in lutherie would be able to pick this guitar up and immediately point to it’s imperfections, but here’s the thing; It looks good, it plays beautifully and it sounds like heaven. That’s good enough for me.