Friday, May 03, 2013

Here's How it Happens...

Here's how it happens, sometimes.

I'm noodling around on my mandola, and notice (again) that the fret edges are kind of rough.  Not an uncommon problem, especially in climates like this where you have very dry, heated air in the house many months of the year.

Also notice a little rattle on the low C string, though I can't tell where it's coming from, exactly. And, come to think of it, there are some broken brads on the tailpiece, and I'm missing a string.  Poor thing could use a little  TLC, couldn't it?

Now, if I get all those things fixed--a new set of strings, a new tailpiece, a fret job--that's going to cost...well, I'm not entirely sure.  Somewhere between one and two hundred dollars, I'm guessing.  If I don't do them, though, I'm much less likely to play the instrument.

In fact, if I put a little more into the instrument, adding a pickup, I might even play it more, since I could do the rhythm parts for the klezmer band on it.

But wouldn't I rather spend that money on something else, like some vocal lessons?  In fact, I've thought a lot, over the years, about selling this mandola, not least in order to help finance (and justify) buying something else.  And I don't enjoy playing it quite as much as the mandolin.  Never have.

But would it sell if I don't put some work / money into it?  

So I can spend one to two hundred on it, or try to get roughly the same amount out of it.  Which is the better plan?

10, maybe 15, 20 minutes gone!


I'm listening to The XX on my computer, and Rhapsody, the service I'm using, flashes a little description of the band on screen.  It mentions that you can hear echoes of this or that artist in The XX, one of whom is Chris Isaak.

Instantly, I think of Chris Isaak playing a big hollow-body guitar, and the thought comes to me: "what kind of guitar was that?"

A moment later, as I open a web browser to look up Chris Isaak's guitar--I think it's some kind of Gretsch--I'm picturing myself playing that sort of instrument, wondering whether I'd ever use the Bigsby vibrato on it, and recalling a guitarist I saw once, my sophomore year at college, playing a hollow-body guitar.  Was that a Gretsch, too?  What did he play? (It was for a production of some Garcia Llorca play, I remember.)

This triggers another round of associations.  One of my colleagues has a Gretsch, at work, I think.  Billy Zoom played a Gretsch, but not a hollow-body.  Wasn't there a signature model?  Click and check:  yes there was, but it's hideously expensive.  And would I want to play something that flashy?

Picturing myself with it, playing with the Alte Rockers, reminds me that I don't play on all that many songs, because I'm not really all that good on the instrument.  But it would be fun!

That's five, maybe ten minutes I could have spent practicing the lovely instrument behind me.  I have a piece I'm trying to memorize, and every five minutes helps.



Laura Vivanco said...

Yes, that's how time passes sometimes, and if you didn't think things through before taking actions wouldn't you at some point have regrets about not having spent a bit of time doing that?

In any case, it seems to me that all work and no daydreaming might make for a dull (albeit super-efficient) Eric.

E. M. Selinger said...

Thanks, Laura! You encourage me to think of my instrument window-shopping less as a distraction and more as the kind of perusal (and refusal) that Thoreau talks about in Walden:

"My imagination carried me so far that I even had the refusal of several farms — the refusal was all I wanted — but I never got my fingers burned by actual possession."

More soon!

Laura Vivanco said...

I suppose some people might see that (and, indeed, the reading of fiction and poetry) as a negative, "escapist" experience but I think there may be impulses and emotions which it's good to acknowledge and indulge to some extent, but not follow up on. Repressing them completely might lead to frustration and regret, so thinking them through and working out why the impulse is not one wishes to pursue is a much better way to proceed.