Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why Hide?

So what's the big deal about hide glue?  Why is it so important in instrument repair?  It's an old glue.  Isn't super glue or gorilla glue or epoxy stronger and/or better?  These are really important questions, and they deserve a good answer.

First of all, what is hide glue?  Hide glue is an animal glue.  It is actually made from the hide of an animal.  There are two different forms that one can buy it in.  It comes in a liquid form in a bottle, and it comes in granules that can be mixed in a pot with water and heated.  Is there a difference?  Yes!  A BIG difference! 

The bottled hide glue seems so convenient and is easier to find.  The problem with it is that the ingredient that keeps it in a liquid form also weakens the bond, so this type of glue is not good for most instrument repairs.  It simply isn't strong enough. 

When it comes to the granulized hide glue, there are also several different types you can get.  International Violin sells to the general public at very good prices, and they have several different types available with descriptions of them.  For instance, you can get fast tack, slow tack, and even rabbit hide glue, which is actually the strongest of the hide glues they offer.  It is excellent for violin neck repairs because of its high strength.

What about epoxy, super glue, gorilla glue, wood carpenter's glue, or any other of the super strong glues out there?  What's wrong with using them?  When it comes to instrument repair, especially violins, these instruments are made to come apart so that repairs can be made to the inside of the instrument.  Usually, hide glue is actually stronger and holds better than these other glues.  The main reason why is that it does not shrink or expand as it dries.  Even better than that is if you heat it, you can break the bond.  That is really important because it allows the luthier to take the instrument apart to make repairs to it without harming the instrument itself.  So if you do get that epoxy or other strong glue to hold tight, and a repair is needed that requires the instrument or part of the instrument to be disassembled, it's really a problem!  Damage to the instrument is possible because the instrument ends up being weaker than the glue bond.  With hide glue, the opposite is true when it is heated. 

This is also why you don't want to leave your instrument in a hot car.  Imagine what could happen to a violin when it is stored in the trunk or back seat of a hot car, or in a hot attic for years!  The good news?  It CAN be put back together again.  So don't throw away that old violin that's been in your attic for years and is now in pieces.   And if you decide to put it back together again yourself, imagine how everyone will look up to you when you tell them why you used hide glue!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What I'm Thankful For

In just less than an hour, it will officially be Thanksgiving Day.  I've spent some time this past week thinking about all the things I'm thankful for here at The Bluegrass Shack.

I'm thankful that it's been almost 5 years since we opened our doors here in New Athens and that each year has been a better year for us.  We've made so many friends, and I feel like many of our customers are family.

I'm thankful that we have such good teachers here.  Teachers that really care about how their students do.  Teachers that are honest, hardworking and super talented musicians themselves.

I'm thankful that we are in such a small community where we can make a difference in the lives of the people here in this community. 

I'm thankful that we have volunteers that give their time here to help us out in so many different ways:  shovelling snow (we still don't know who does this for us early in the morning); changing light bulbs; repairs and maintenance; cleaning; answering the phones; helping us load and unload equipment for various events; helping us at vendor events and contests; and so much more I'll never remember it all!

I'm thankful for the food and various goodies that students bring here for us and for others!  Yum yum!

I'm thankful for the people who come and jam with us every week, either in our beginning jams or our open public jam session every other week.

I'm thankful for our 24' banjo sign, made by student and New Athens resident Terry Hill.

Special thanks go out to our teachers:  Emily, Charlie, Katarina, Jennine, John, and especially Chelsea.  Chelsea has been with us the entire time we have been here.  She helps us out at all our vendor and special events, and volunteers her time for anything else we need.

Special thanks to our weekly volunteer, Dennis, who comes without fail five days a week to help repair instruments, answer the phone, dust & vacuum, gofer, pack instruments, and just about anything else we need around here!

Earl and I want to wish you all a very heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A New Banjo for Lucas

If you know the Lord, you know He works in mysterious and wonderful ways...and in His own timing.  What an interesting weekend this has turned out to be.  But I'm getting ahead of myself!

First of all, we have a scholarship fund here at The Bluegrass Shack.  We are very careful about who receives anything from our scholarship fund because we want to be good stewards, especially of what is not ours!  For some time now, I have been needing a good banjo for student Lucas.  Lucas didn't know it, but his dad and mom knew that I was waiting for the right banjo for him.  We had actually discussed this several times in the past several months, and my last word to them was just to wait a little bit longer.

Earlier this week, a funeral was held for a man who has 10 children, nine of whom are still living at home.  This was a local man, and several of the families that take lessons here knew the family.  It was sudden and unexpected, and even for those of us who didn't know the family, it feels devastating just thinking about 10 children and their mother without Daddy around anymore.  It would have been very normal for the funeral to be held today (Saturday), but none of the funeral homes were available, so the burial was yesterday.

Why did that matter?  Because three of the bands that performed today in St. Charles would not have been able to attend, including Lucas' family band The Worthing10s.

As it turned out, all the scheduled bands played in St. Charles today, and everything was done in the Lord's timing.  The Worthing10s were the first band to play today.  While they were playing, Mom Worthington (Susan) was standing in the back watching and listening.  After a while, a woman came up to Susan and asked her if she was the mother.  This woman told Susan about how she had a banjo from her son who had passed away.  She then proceeded to tell Susan that she felt like God was telling her to give this banjo to Lucas.  She got in her car, drove back home, and then returned to the Convention Center with the banjo and gave it to Lucas!  Lucas then played the banjo for her and she recognized tunes that her son had played.  How special is that?

If you want to hear Lucas playing the banjo for the lady at the convention center today, go to the Worthing10s Facebook page.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Closed Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Bluegrass Shack will be closed on Saturday, November 13, 2010.  We will be setup in the vendor's room (Guitar Show) in Springfield, IL at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for the Greater Downstate Illinois Bluegrass Festival.  We hope you'll come and visit us there!  Click here for a .pdf flyer.