Saturday, April 29, 2006

"If you know I was there, I did a shitty job"

Some years ago, I played bass on a blues project led by a guitar player and songwriter named Jamie. As Jamie and I were both complete guitar junkies, we became friends right off jump street. We don't see one another or play together nearly as much as we would like, but we stay in touch and consider each other brother-in-arms. Now brother Jamie is a bad motherfucker in a lot of ways, which is to say that he is a multi-talented, multi-faceted individual.

Jamie Plays with more pure heart than anyone I've ever personally witnessed. He'll strap on that red 355 (the one that played the single note tremolo part on " For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield) and get up on his hind legs and just let you HAVE it right between the eyes with that one note that pokes you dead center in your third eye. But that's how Jamie does everything, all heart man, all heart.

One thing that Jamie does the absolute shit out of is fix guitars, I mean, the man can make or fix nearly anything, but guitars...forget about it. He's pulled my nuts from the anvil plenty of times with just a phone call. I'll get him on the phone and start stressing out about some '54 Strat with a noisy whammy bar or a neck that just won't sit right and in that Yosemite Sam voice of his he'll laugh and tell me what kind of chewing gum or rubber band to use and he's always got the cure.

I saw a neck repair of his once that was IN-Friggin-VISIBLE! It was a mahogany neck Les Paul that had been stepped on or fell out of a car or something, and the headstock off. It was a nasty, ragged break too. Well, Jamie, smart bastard that he is, took his ass to the library and studied up on orthapaedic surgury. He went to a machine shop and milled himself some stainless steel splints and chiseled extremely precise channels in the area to be spliced.The killer though was the way he comouflaged the repair. First he matched and mated every wood fiber possible on that ragged break. With the steel splints in place, he glued and clamped the pieces together. There were still little mahogany fibers sticking out everywhere so there was going to be some woodwork to do. After sanding the glue joint and cleaning up the area, Jamie carved slivers of mahogany to do the fill-ins, carefully lining up the tiny wood grains. After color matching the stain and before shooting a final coat of lacquer, Jamie put a piece of wax paper on some mahogany and heated it with a hair dryer which transferred the grain to the paper. Then, using the paper as a pattern, he used a cat whisker as a brush and painted each grain marking on to the neck repair. It was amazing! absolutely seamless, invisible and structurally sound.

Now I know this might be a boring blog entry for some of you, but this kind of stuff really blows up my dress. Sometime I'll have to write about what happened when Jamie took David Lindley's lap steel pick-up out and it disintegrated. It was insane but that's for another time. But now you know why Jamie's motto is "If you know I was there, then I did a shitty job."

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