Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A Week of "Vacation"

I decided to take this week off from giving lessons. That's a hard thing for me to do since I enjoy teaching so much, but I needed the time to relax a little bit more. This is not to say that I have stayed at home ... I haven't. I have been to the shop every day this week. I guess I love it too much to get away from it all completely.

We had our jam session last night. The weather here was rather stormy and I think it hindered the crowd somewhat. Still, we had 20 people here to jam, and we didn't get out of here until almost midnight. What would we do without music and friends? I think my favorite song of the evening was "Tall Pines."

We had a newcomer in the shop today. Wouldn't you know, I've already forgotten her name! She is from Freeburg and she brought in a four string banjo. It had no strings, bridge or nut, and the old skin head was broken, but still it was a cool banjo. We decided it would be best as a wall hanger, so I took some old strings off another banjo that I had in the shop to put on her 4-string banjo. I found a used, warped 5-string bridge that I sanded down and converted to a 4-string bridge. Then I took a small piece of scrap wood and made a nut. It took about 15 minutes to fix up the old 4-string, but it was a fun project!

We sold two banjos over the internet in two days. One went to the East Coast, and the other to the West Coast. Kind of funny...

I decided to put up an informational sign last week about how often to change strings. I didn't realize so many people didn't know how often to change strings. I have talked to people all week who haven't changed strings in more than a year! As a general rule, fretted instruments like guitars, mandolins, and banjos should have the strings changed every 2-3 months. If you play a lot or if you sweat a lot, you may need to change strings more often. If you have high acid content in your hands, you'll probably need Elixer or some other long-lasting string. You'll know because you will be rusting your strings out in a week or less. If you don't change your strings regularly, it won't hurt your instrument, but you won't get optimum sound. You may also start to notice that your instrument doesn't stay in tune, or doesn't sound in tune even when it is. Old strings just sound dead! Classical violin players change strings more often than "fiddle" players, but I generally recommend changing fiddle strings every 6-8 months. They cost more, so you probably don't want to be changing them too frequently unless you notice they aren't sounding good. Since violin strings are flat round (as opposed to round wound like most guitar and banjo strings), they don't pick up as much dead skin and sweat. This is what makes them last longer.

The rest of the week so far has been spent doing internet work, scheduling gigs for The Chris Talley Trio, paying bills (what fun!), ordering instruments and supplies, and doing various repairs in the fiddle shop.

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