As I progress in this strange and fulfilling hobby, I find that my experience fluctuates between two extremes. On the one hand there is the joy of creating simple, honest instruments that make good music. There is the excitement of free-flowing creativity, of overcoming design challenges, of starting with a plan, however loose, and bringing it together into a functioning instrument... and there is the quiet pride of hearing those instruments make good music. On the other hand... the darker side of the equation... is the feeling of never doing quite good enough, of always falling more or less short of my own standards. Part of this is the number of mistakes I seem to make on most every instrument. I tell myself it's part of the learning process, and I'm sure it is. I try to be more patient, more attentive to detail... to measure twice, three times, before cutting. But still they happen. Stupid stuff. Cutting your headstock scarf joint the wrong way, and then having to flip your neck over. Taking a chunk out of your neck when drilling soundholes on a neck-through design - or even hitting your pickup wire and wrapping it around the bit, ripping the wires off of the pickup mount jack. Or how about filing a big gouge into your nice laminated headstock when trying to slightly enlarge a nut slot. slipping with a screwdriver and putting a nice big gouge in your beautiful paper-covered Partagas lid. Drilling by eye and gut, instead of measurement, and blasting the drill bit out the side of your neck heel, or through the front of your headstock. The list goes on. And after ever screw-up, the exclamation (be it muttered or shouted): What the #!@$ is wrong with me? Why can't I pay more attention? But then, in all but the most extreme mess-ups, something neat happens. The dark and dirty side of the joy that is CBG making opens up and the question is asked: Ok, how can I fix this and make it look good. Make it look like this was all part of the design. And that is where, I have found, some of the best magic happens. In almost every case (except a couple where I really REALLY messed up), the end result has been better than it would have been if I had not made the mistake. And I come out of it with a new technique or two, a new idea for decoration or design, that I wouldn't have had. The old adage is "learn from your mistakes", and I think that is at the heart of my CBG technique. Maybe some day I will get to the point where I start with a clear, set plan, follow it to the T, and end up with exactly what I intended to. But I doubt it. I think that if I do reach that point, I will have lost something very special, something at the very heart of why I got into this in the first place. For me, making CBGs and other homemade instruments should never devolve into an assembly line. Every one should be unique, with its own special add-ons, embellishments and personal touches -- be they intended, or made in response to mistakes made along the way. So in the end, as much as it annoys me when I screw up and make a mistake, I have to remember that each mistake (aside from the real whoppers), is really an opportunity to end up with something better than a "perfect" build would have created. I know that sounds cliche, but I think it's true. I won't go so far as to welcome mistakes... but at least maybe I can keep from cussing at myself quite so much when they happen.
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