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Do you ever let the instrument build itself?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jordan_frerichs, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    What I mean by the thread title is, do you ever get so into working on the instrument, that your hands start working on doing something, on pure impulse, as if your hands are doing it before your mind can think to do it? Things that you never thought of putting into the original design in your head, to transform the direction that the build is headed, and thus, the final instrument itself? After you finish the instrument, you think of how you imagined it would look when you started, and then you look at the unbelievably different, but very awsome result?
    I have realized that the bass is in control of how it will become, and the hands are just more or less puppets, mindlessly obeying. I have decided to get a rough idea of my builds, and "let the bass decide" the rest of its outcome. I have many examples of this, but i Would love to hear your thoughts, and see some examples on everyone elses work, before i talk.
  2. I agree Jordan, this seems to be what's happening with my progress at the moment too :)
  3. I've tried this many times. But always - when I go back into the shop after a few days, the pile of wood hasn't even moved.
  4. I don't know about building, but I have felt that way about playing on occasion. I think that's what they mean about a "Zen-like" state.
  5. Phil Mailloux

    Phil Mailloux

    Mar 25, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Builder: Mailloux Basses
    I did that when I started carving my first top. It ended up looking like sht and I had to work twice as much to fix it. It pays to plan things first.
  6. I think I agree with that...
  7. meandi


    Aug 5, 2007
    If I have sharp clear, well thought out pictures in my mind as to what the final outcome is to be, I feel it's not so much working without thought as it is the subconscious mind directing the work vs working from the conscious mind.
    I tend to visualize every step I want to take before I begin a work session...but once I'm into it, I can plan my evenings activities while accomplishing my stated objectives for the day, so to speak.
    If things bog down, it's a matter of clicking the "play button" in my head, seeing the pictures again & it's back at it.
  8. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004
    Instruments are inanimate objects. They do not build themselves. No matter what you may think is happening, it's still your ideas going into the construction. Somehow.
  9. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    yea. Everyone has that image in there head when they start, but mine goes through somany wild changes with no warning, and i love it!
  10. meandi


    Aug 5, 2007
    Agreed, happens to me too...I just change the picture & proceed as before.
  11. eleonn


    Aug 24, 2006
    Lima - PerĂº
    One of the things I read from Wilser and think he is 10000% right is to have a plan and stick to it.
  12. vbasscustom


    Sep 8, 2008
    before i start, i always write down a list of things i have to do. its often like 4 pages long but i write out the entire build process
  13. scottyd

    scottyd Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2006
    Waco Tx
    Builder/owner Redeemer Basses
    I agree with this 100%

    The beauty of hand built instruments is that no 2 should be exactly alike, that's where the excitement of owning one comes from, knowing that you own an instrument created specifically for yourself or specifically from a craftsmans heart and hands and that there's not another one in this world exactly like it.

    To get these results a plan must be in the background and your soul, gut, spirit, free will, customer concern and input, whatever you'd like to call it should be in the forefront. I agree that you should stick to a plan and that without one structure of the build would be near impossible but don't let the plan run the show.

    I consider these builds (all of yours and mine) art, I'm no artist by any other means but I know a few and I can assure you that an artist seldom sticks to a strict plan. Each bass I build gets special treatment different from the rest, they'll get a little trim here or there even if it's the same body style. Tummy cuts, transitions, neck profile, carves and roundovers are never the same if not by my doing then it's by customer preference. There's really no plan for that.

    All people are different and I'm not saying that my way is any better than anyone elses but when it's all said and done and I look back on all the guitars I've built I'd rather say wow I really put a lot of heart and soul into those, not wow I really stuck to the plan.:)
  14. meandi


    Aug 5, 2007
    That's the beauty of being a hobby shopper.
    Building only for my own enjoyment, if I have a moment of conceptual inspiration, the only person I have to convince of the validity of a design change is myself.
    Were I building for clients, as are many of you here, it would be an entirely different situation.

    I'm in the early stages of building another archtop & had reached the point where I had the neck blank glued up, fingerboard cut, etc & a couple of weeks ago I became inspired to build this one with a pedestal mounted neck rather than hanging the neck on the front of the body as is the traditional method.
    In a moments time the concept for the guitar changed, several parts went on the shelf for a later time...to me, this is the "sirens song" of art...the freedom to freely follow my inspiration reguardless of where it leads.
  15. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    From past experience if i was building something like a bass and let my hands work faster than my head, i would finish with less fingers than i started.
  16. I have built an instrument just going by the flow. It's definitely not a great idea. Problems generally come from a sudden change in plan...
    On the other hand, it's kind of impossible to plan your first bass out completely, not knowing what to expect when things finally go into process. More experienced builders like Wilser or someone like that know exactly how to plan out a bass, exact measurements, and what problems to compensate for.

  17. kudos to you, you made me laugh pretty hard for 2 minutes straight ahahah:)

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