Colin's Text Journal in England
For a photo-based journal, click here.
1/22/05, 8:34 PM
After making a good joint and gluing the top, planing the wood today caused my first big mistake. Because the pieces were warped, which isn't too big of a deal, the edge would slope up, causing the planer to cut more off the edge. So, one side is now .5mm below where it's supposed to be and I haven't even flattened yet. Hopefully I can save it and all.
Yesterday was John's birthday, so I got to see all of the things he got tonight. We had a dinner of things he liked, a beef sort of pastry thing and rice pudding. For lunch today I went with Billy and Clay to the Knightsbridge Inn to have a hamburger... it was gigantic and very tasty. Last night I went out to see some live music at Willow, the local vegetarian place, it was a man and a woman singing together on guitar. I left a large tip for my good organic dessert, only to find out today during lunch that in England you never tip at all! Oh well.

1/20/05, 6:37 PM
The last few days have been mostly drawing out and routing out my control cavities on the body while waiting for the ash top. The top finally came today, but it ended up being figured, meaning it had a sort of "flame" shiny pattern to it, if you know what I mean. The reason I didn't want ash in the first place was so that it was a nice colored wood with obvious grains that was unfigured... so in the end we decided to go back to the original piece, which I will need to glue pieces onto the side to compensate for the fact that it is too narrow. So, with my body almost completely ready for the face to be glued on (just need to make the control cavities black), I started working on the top today. Hopefully by Monday it will all be glued together and I can do the finishing touches on it.
Out of the shop things have been going completely fine. Every day I get surprised by something different about England, though, such as how their meat sauce for spaghetti contains very very little tomato and tons of meat. They also don't have kool-aid sorts of things here, most of it is ready-made concentrate, and it is very common to have this. Tonight John has gone to the "chip shop", which will be a cultural experience for sure.

1/17/05, 7:37 PM
Today it was "back to the drawing board". First, I drew out an F-hole template and decided where to place them. Then, I figured out how I was going to space my potentiometers (knobs) and switches. Then, I drew out the pickguard and cavities and traced the cavities onto my future body. Finally I perfected the headstock, which is basically a Coronado copy. It was actually refreshing to get away from planing and to finally see what my guitar would eventually look like. A lot of what I'm doing is fairly unconventional, so Phil and I had to spend a lot of time figuring out how to work things out quite right... for example, since my body is going to be flattop rather than the more common arched top for hollowbodies, we have to compensate the neck angle with a small piece of wood which is done fairly rarely. It was also hard to fit as many knobs as I wanted so I had to decide which to cut... Lots of little details you wouldn't think would clash into eachother, but now I have it all sorted out pretty well. Things at the house are a bit on end because Dominique has a lot of homework and Megan has a headache... but I am doing quite well.

1/16/05, 7:00 PM
My face is covered with saw dust and I am now either used to being sore or not so sore anymore :) However, my pinky is still numb after 2 full days.
The weekend has mostly been getting up late, meandering over to the shop, and making the body the right width and all. Most of the family has been gone out doing this and that during the night, so I have been eating dinner alone and reading a lot (I just finished Cather in the Rye). A few of the guys went today to a pub to get an early dinner, but I didn't go because Dave had said they wouldn't let me in... afterwards, Adrian told me it would have been no big deal, so next time I will go and act tall and old.

1/14/05, 6:37 PM
I don't think I've been this physically tired in a long time, and I think that's a good thing. The last two days I've been dealing with the guitar's main body because the ash front hasn't arrived yet. The body consists of two joined pieces of mahogany. First, I had to make an edge off of each piece perfectly flat so that they would glue together flawlessly, and today I had to take the glued together piece and make one side (the bottom of the guitar) completely flat so that it would finish well. This took a day of hard work such that my pinky is numb... But this weekend I should have plenty of time to rest and even finish up the smoothing out of the body. Things otherwise are pretty good, I have found a new love in tea biscuits even though I can't find any protein bars for the life of me (the low carb craze hasn't hit here). It's just a bit rainy now but it hasn't been too bad for the last two days. Tonight I think I'm going to go to bed right after dinner to get a lot of rest.

1/12/05, 6:07 PM
Today I got up a bit early to get some calling cards and to make it to the shop a bit before it opened. About half of today was spent refining my design... it was tedious work, and everyone but one or two others finished before me. During the day we were introduced to woods... I will likely have a mahogany body and neck and a ash top/veneer, but the only ash piece they had was too small so they're going to see if they can get a bigger one... if not ash, an odd wood called purduke (pardon the misspelling). I managed to get my temple done as well, which gives me a good idea what the guitar will look like (looks like a stratocaster with a fat bottom without the Fholes and pickguard). Tomorrow will be lots of sanding and refining wood so I can begin shaping the body. Dinner smells quite good...

1/11/05, 10:17 PM
I got a glimpse of the internet last night, the Dudley's let me use their home computer which has a 56k modem. John said they were getting cable, mostly because Dominique was nagging about it. This morning I got up on time and had a shower. It was raining pretty hard today, my coat's waterproofing sort of worked. I brought with me, today, my camera and my laptop (see the photo page). I was hoping to be able to connect to the internet in the Library, but they wouldn't let me... looks like I will only be able to use their computers and the computer here at the Dudley's. Luckily I can get web pages on the internet via my camera's storage. For lunch I had an odd sort of chicken pastry, but the woman at the shop wouldn't let me sit down at their tables so I had to eat it out in the rain.
At the shop, we drew up the shapes of our guitar's bodies and necks to make wooden templates. Because my guitar is asymmetrical, it's a bit harder for me than for most of the rest, who are doing normal old acoustics. By the end of the day, though, I had come up with a guitar shaped sort of like a Starcaster but less italic-looking. Now it's my own design. I had tea twice today, and am now acclimated to the custom. Dominique just came in and gave me some donuts, which they seem to eat here more than in America... or, at least, all sorts of people eat them. Time for bed again.

1/10/05, 7:25 PM
For dinner, last night, we had chicken and potatoes and that sort of thing. After dinner I was presented with a cultural lesson: biscuits and cheese... just crackers with butter and cheddar on them. I went to bed at about 8:30 to be awoken at 11:20 by Alison (I'm not sure if that's his name, in fact I could be completely wrong) who told introduced himself and told me that the guitar shop was on the line. I looked at my clock, which read 7:30 or so, then my watch, which read 11:20. I guess the clock reset itself during the night... I got out of bed, dressed, called the guitar shop back and apologized for being an hour and 20 minutes late and rushed there. I hadn't missed much, there was someone else who would not arrive until later in the day, so we had our introductions and I learned the ins and outs of the shop.
There are 5 others, 3 from America. The teacher's name is Phil, who seems very focused on teaching and very knowledgeable but not necessarily ultra enthusiastic. The assistant is Steve, who stayed downstairs in the store the whole time. The main teacher has cancer unfortunately, so Phil is sort of filling in. The whole building, called "Garry Miller's" or "Milton Gary" or something's guitars, is off of a very small side road from the main road in Totnes, across from a Yoga shop. We aren't aloud to make noise at two intervals of 20 minutes throughout the day because it is during their reflection time. We have access to the shop from 7am to 10:45 PM every day.. with an hour and a half break for lunch. Today for lunch I ate at the very cheap bread and sandwich shop, "Loafers".. it was an odd cheese, eggs, and tomatoe sandwich called the "vegetable special". Funny, I was expecting something more green and crunchy, but it was just fine. We spent half of the day discussing the shop, and the other half figuring out some initial dimensions of our guitars and starting up our drawings. Tomorrow we should be able to pretty much finish up the drawings.
Something I didn't quite realize about the shop is how hand-based and not machine-based the process is... there is one hand drill, one power drill, and a heater for the animal glue. The rest is done by hand.
After class I found out that most stores close by 5... so I didn't get to get any calling cards, adapters, or a battery charger, but safeway was open so I got a new clock. The library was also closed... tomorrow it's open later, and I'll have plenty of time for lunch, so I should be able to get my various sundries. Today when I was walking about after eating my sandwich I found a small store called the exchange or something with a few guitars, and because playing a guitar in the shop is going to be harder than I thought, I might buy either a cheap six string or a twelve string I'd probably end up keeping.
Pretty soon I'll get to check my email and eat dinner, and I'll probably go to bed on the early side again tonight.

1/9/05, 7:05 PM
Here I am, on my Dad's laptop, completely disconnected from the rest of the world, typing away in my second story room. A minute ago, Dominic (sp), the youngest of the 3 kids, was playing the beastie boys, but stopped for the phone, and now I'm being soothed by Death Cab for Cutie.
As long as I've traveled, it seemed fairly short and easy. After driving up to the cities and saying farewell to my family, I got some TCBY yogurt just incase there was no food on the plane and found my gate. After an hour or so of writing and listening to the people around me murmer in Icelandic, we departed, and I read and slept my way to Reykyavik (sp). It felt very peaceful in Iceland. The airport was small and full of duty-free shops... one of them had an "Icelandic music section", so I had to check for mm... no dice, but all of the shelves were filled with bjrk. She is an icelandic god, I guess. I wanted to buy some candy or something Icelandic, but the ATM would only give me pounds. What was interesting was how comfortable people were just laying down on the ground and sleeping... while in an American airport, if it was late, you might see a few daring souls sleeping on the airport floor, most of the people in Iceland would just plop themselves down to sleep, so I followed suit. I slept the entire way to England and had no trouble going through customs and getting to the Reading railway station... so little trouble that I could have made the 12:40 train, but I wanted to make some calls first and not be hurried, so I waited for the 1:30. I 1/2 slept all the way to Totnes with music playing loudly in my earphones, so's to hear the conductor say it was my stop. It was pouring rain when I got here, so I dashed into a phone booth and called John, who came quickly and picked me up. The village is very quaint, it's everything I expected... lots of little "rustic" houses, a river running through it, narrow streets and bridges... John took me on a tour shortly after I arrived. The walk to the guitar shop should be quite easy, it goes right along the "main road", Fore Street. At the house, I've met everyone but the oldest sun, whose name I don't know. There are 2 dogs, Indy (for Indiana Jones) and an older one who can't really walk... golden retrievers. John looks like the spitting image of Wallace (if Wallace is the dog, my mistake, he looks like the man). Alice I've only said hello to, and the mom, Catherine, seems quite nice. I spent most of my time here unpacking and getting situated. It is a very nice temperature and there is plenty of room even though the room itself is very small. I've taken pictures of it. Dinner should be fairly soom, afterwards I'm going to go straight to bed to get up at 9ish tomorrow for the first day of Guiar school.