Slippery Roads

Lot’s of icy road stories. Here’s a couple more. I was about 17 and Cliff Matson and I were deer hunting. He was driving his 55 Chevy and we were just cruising the country roads looking for likely spots to find a deer. We hit a patch of black ice and started to spin. We hit the ditch on the far side of the road going backwards now. Of course the car had no seat belts, so I turned around and grabbed the back of the seat in an effort to not get tossed around. A telephone pole shot by. We hit the bank of a cross road and flew over it coming to a stop on the other side. There was two feet of dirt jammed up the exhaust pipe and when we went back and looked at our tracks we saw that we missed the pole by about an inch. I must not have been so bow legged then cause my knees were making a chattering sound. Recently one of the young women that works in my department was entering the freeway on her way to work. She spun out as she merged, went into the ditch in the median and ended up coming to a stop in a gap in the crawling traffic on the opposite side. Pointed the right way and ready to go. Very lucky girl.

Buzz Off! Yesterday was a day of ass chafing interaction with American commerce. Some of you may remember that I bought a guitar back in January. It’s a beautiful Gretsch acoustic that plays great and sounds great. Until recently. It suddenly started developing more buzzes than a beekeeper’s backyard. At first I thought that the frets were just too high, so I asked the office guitar expert if I should just isolate the offending fret and file that sucker down. He gave me one of those horrified looks usually reserved for small children carrying automatic weapons and suggested the better thing to do was to take it to the local guitar shop and have it set up by the master. Now I didn’t buy it from the master, but I trusted him and was willing to pay to get it back in shape. He looked it over and came to the conclusion that a brace had come unglued inside. He said he could fix it but it would be about a hundred bucks and he couldn’t get to it for a week. His advice was to take it back to the store where I got it, but I should go that day because they were closing on Wednesday. Road trip. Norhwest suburb to southwest suburb. The two young men at that store immediately noticed the buzzing, which seemed to be getting worse by the second, but the said repeatedly, “I don’t know what to tell you because we’re closing on Wednesday.” Finally they recommended I take it to their uptown store. Road trip. Southwest suburb into the city. Uptown. I have mixed feelings about Uptown. Definitely go there if you’re visiting Mpls. , It’s the coolest part of town, with the lakes and all, but I’m also repelled by the traffic and the high concentration of the tragically hip. The get to the store and whip out the guitar to show them the buzz that has been obvious to the folks in the first two stores. And nothing. The guy takes me back where it’s quieter and rips through some scales, can’t hear anything. I try again. Nothing. Now, we are playing it with his pick, a very thin one. (not his prick, his pick) and I play with a thick stiff one (rache, et al, resist temptation) so it tends to shake up the instrument more. He tells me that the weather plays havoc with guitar necks and tactfully, but still condesendingly, implies that the problem is in my technique. He sells me a humidifier for the guitar. I’m surprised that people who saw me walking back to my car didn’t stop and ask me if I was OK and should they call the suicide intervention team. Road trip. Back to the northwest burbs and the master. I decided I’d rather pay him to fix it and get it fixed right than get run around anymore. As he’s checking it out again, people in the next room are commenting on how bad it sounds. He puts it on the bench, takes off the strings and discovers that a wire for the electronic pickup has come loose and is rattling around. He fixes that, but there’s still a slight buzz. He sticks a felt bass pick under the pick guard to dampen it and bingo, sweet as sin. Total charges, a buck for the felt and thee dollars for emergency field repair. Four dollars, three hours and I’m back in business. That’s not counting gas money.

Follow up: There’s been some suggestion that I should have torn the Master a new one for sending on this wild buzz chase when the problem was so easily fixed. Let me explain. 1. One does not want to alienate one’s guitar guru. 2. At the time of my first visit the store was crowded and most folks wanted to talk to him, not any of his minions. Plus his initial diagnosis, the broken brace, was cooberatied by the guys in the second store, and that would have taken time and money to repair. 3. He might have been baiting me for not buying from him. (get it, Master Baiting!) bwahahah, as they say.

6 thoughts on “Slippery Roads

  1. so, you play with a thick stiff one and think nobody’s going to make that your new nickname?  okay, pal.  you tell yourself that.

    and also?  you fail to mention whether or not you tried to leap over the counter and skin the master alive for the four-dollar felt fix, which he didn’t do three hours earlier, the first time you talked to him, and before he started you on the big run-around. 

    or maybe you were hoping to just block that part from your consciousness and i should just shut up.

    have a good day, mr.TSO.

  2. I hate the wild goose chase.  I, too, wondered why the master was able to fix it so quickly when he quoted you a week’s wait…

    Uh oh, you’re in for it now.  Rache has you nailed and you’re Mr. TSO from now on.  I imagine bribary is the only thing to fix this one!

  3. Well, speaking from a not-so TSO point of view, I don’t think the Master did you a disservice. If you’d left it with him I bet he’d have looked at it when he had the chance and fixed it for 4 bucks anyways, he was just busy as you said and there could have been a hint of “you bought it from the other guys, take it to them” but not too much, he still helped ya.

  4. i hear a little store-owner protectivism in fleen’s voice.  hey mark, shut up and bring me a potato salad, hm?

  5. I had a very similar thing happen with my Fender Strat a few weeks after I got it.  To me, it sure sounded like a buzz, man.  To the store owner, it was I can’t find anything wrong with the thing.  Never did get to the bottom of that one. 

  6. I have been playing classical guitar for about 30 years (on and off). It is not your technique. It is the guitar. It should not buzz however hard you hit it. There can be several reasons why the guitar buzzes, but it has to be fixed. If it is a cheap guitar for beginners, you may just accept it. But if it is a relatively expensive one, you should definitely exchange with other one. One of the reason why guitar buzzes (esp. guitar for beginners) is alignment of string and neck. After you press a string on a fret, the string is so close to the next higher fret that it makes buzz. It should NOT buzz however hard you hit string. If the buzz comes from inside the body of the guitar (very often for some specific tone when it is resonant), it may have a serious problem. An instrument is just like your spouse in your musical life. If it has a problem and if you don’t like it, your musical life with the instrument won’t go any further. So, I strongly suggest you to replace it.

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