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Epilogue - Some reflections

Epilogue: We left Vermont yesterday just before noon, after doing some last minute finish work on our instruments in the morning. I reattached the neck and fitted the slightly higher saddle that I had made the night before, so now I have a couple to choose from (i.e., higher vs. lower string action). The drive home was uneventful, which is good.

I’ve just tallied up the time spent working on my guitar; it’s just under 200 hours, or over 10 hours a day for 19 days (not counting the last minute work on the morning we departed). So if you’ve ever wondered why handmade guitars cost so much, let me tell you that they are a relative bargain given the artistry and work involved.

This course was such an amazing experience. I left Vermont with new skills, confidence, and interests, a bunch of new friends, and a beautiful instrument. Although there is an intense amount of work to do, George manages to keep the project on track and brings everything together so that we all converged with completed instruments on the last day of the class. I am also thankful for George’s patience; he never seemed to get annoyed by my “ask twice, cut once” approach. We worked hard but had fun doing it; it never seemed like labor and I enjoyed every minute of it (even the various screw ups that hit me [and every student in the class] periodically). And Pippa and George were wonderful hosts. The accommodations were very comfortable and the whole atmosphere was incredibly warm.

A couple of tips for future students who may stumble on this page prior to taking the course:

  • Be obsessive about keeping track of your centerline; you’ll be thankful you did when the neck, body, and bridge come together.
  • Take your time and don’t rush through things; your patience will pay off.
  • Be prepared to work really long and hard. But that’s what you’re paying for, and the more time you spend working on your guitar, the more you’ll learn and the happier you’ll be with it. I spent 95% of my last three weeks on four things: working on my guitar, blogging about the experience, eating, or sleeping. Don’t plan on getting much else done during the course.
  • If you come to Vermont in March/April, bring some shoes that are good for mud!

I realize that it’s weird to have an “about this series of blog posts” explanation at the end of the last post, but it’s something that just occurred to me to clarify: these post are not intended to document “how to build a guitar”; most of the pictures are simply of the results of each operation or day, not in progress shots. I was too busy working to be futzing with camera at every step.

I’m sure I’ll be writing more about my guitar in the upcoming days as I get to know it. For now I can say I’m incredibly pleased with the results of the course. I never would have predicted that I’d ever be able to do anything like this. It was an experience of a lifetime, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from George, hang out with my fellow classmates, and spend time with my dad.

Our class (with the workshop in the background): Stefan, yours truly, George, Brendon, Chinh, & Matt (w/ his daughter)

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