Stringed Instrument Repair

About Lovelace & White Luthiers

Wait! Don't give up on that instrument!

1968 Silvertone Model U-1

When I was 12 or 13 years old I had decided that I was ready for a "real" guitar. I had been playing my Silvertone pretty much non stop since I bought Santana's first album; or was it Cream's Goodbye? I can't remember which one came first or was a bigger influence. Anyway, when I wasn't repainting the Silvertone (which was just about weekly: Stars and Stripes, Polka Dots, Zebra Stripes, whatever), I was playing. Now I thought I was ready. My mother matched my savings and I was off to Leo's in Oakland.

1962 Gibson ES-335 (dot neck)

I can't tell you why, but the guitar that grabbed my attention, probably with the help of the salesperson, was a 62' Gibson ES-335 (dot neck) with a walnut finish. I was in heaven. I finally had a real guitar! I rushed home and for the next two weeks scarcely left my room as I played and played, but there was a problem. No matter what I did, I couldn't get the guitar to stay in tune and it was surprisingly difficult to play. I soldiered on, but not knowing any better I finally decided that the guitar was broken, so I took it back and traded it for a "beautiful" Blonde Guild Acoustic. Now, I am sure that the Guild was a good guitar, but I can't remember playing it or even whether I sold it, traded it or gave it away. I simply have no recollection of it outside of the ES-335 trade.

Where am I going with this? Well, there aren't many days that I don't regret trading away that 335. Had I been a little older or known someone a bit wiser about guitars I would have realized that there was nothing wrong with the 355, it was just poorly set up. I gain some consolation in the hope that the 335 ended up with someone who still plays it every day and has made it their own.

Since those days I have acquired many guitars, most of which I still have. After studying the art of musical instrument repair I developed my undying conviction that there is something beautiful in every instrument, be it in mint condition or in need of desperate repair - whether it is a '58 Les Paul or a $100 acoustic. I don't judge instruments by their value - only by their ability to bring joy to their players. And the more playable an instrument is, the more likely it is to be played.

So, don't give up on that instrument. If there is some reason why you do not pick it up, then perhaps that can be fixed or altered. If after you have tried those things and it still does not speak to you, then you can trade it away knowing that you won't regret it later.

Brooks White, luthier