The Side Projects, Revisited

Back in March I wrote about The Side Projects, the stuff you do that brings joy and happiness, the things that you are passionate about. Since then, the projects have been collecting, building into a feverish frenzy, burning on wait while I, uh,…. OK, time to fess up: I’m too busy to work on any of the side stuff.

I picked up a pair of ’70’s-era Takamine acoustic guitars that need some minor repairs. These guitars are dead ringers for vintage Martin D-18’s and D-35’s. My D-35 copy is even made with Brazilian rosewood (though it’s probably not solid; it’s likely just laminated), and both guitars have a script logo that looks just like “C F Martin” from about 5 feet away. I’ve been reviewing some Stew-Mac instructional videos to learn how to adjust and setup my own guitars. The D-35 copy is just a bit dried out; a lack of humidity caused the wood to begin shrinking, allowing the action to get low and sloppy. That’s an easy fix: moisten up the humidifier, slip it into the sound hole after wiping it off, and close the case and wait a week; done. However, the nut and the saddle are both set very low, so even when the humidity in the guitar is at the correct level the guitar borders on a buzz. The D-18 has a bigger issue: the bridge has begun to pull up. I began a repair on it, but it looks as though those efficient Takamine craftsmen used some sort of epoxy to mount the bridge, so if I’m not careful I’ll end up gouging the wood, potentially ruining the spruce top. The D-18 is going to the shop; it’s not worth the risk to ruin it.

I bought a gently-used Fender Deluxe Reverb reissue amp back in the fall and just love it. It has the look of a vintage ’65 Fender DR, though the sound isn’t quite there yet. I sort of toyed with the idea of gutting it and rebuilding it as a hand-wired tube amp, but again, I just don’t have the time. However, there are a number of online resources detailing how to improve this amp with just a few key components, most of which don’t even require soldering. I’ve bought a replacement speaker that is closer to Fender’s original spec 1965 speaker along with some tubes that should help improve the sound, and they are neatly stacked right next to the two Takamine copies…. Sadly, no time for the amp yet, either. However, this looks to be more an hour long project, not a week or two, so I’ve got a shot at knocking the amp upgrade out in the morning. I’m hoping the tubes and speaker will get me pretty close to the vintage sound, but if not, there are about half dozen resistors and capacitors to swap that should get me the rest of the way there.

The project that is making me feel most guilty, though, is the pair of fly reels with no line loaded on them. I bought my sons each an eight and a half foot graphite fly rod and reel, fly line, and backing, and the package of line has been staring me in the face for months. Dads take their kids fishing, and this dad is behind on his fatherly duties. That means before I touch another guitar or amp I need to get those fly reels loaded so the twins and I can get outside and practice the fly cast, then schedule a day at the river. Shame on me!

I’ve got lots of other little side projects that I’m meaning to get around to. Other amps to repair, more gardening to do, yard projects I want to start, and other work that I enjoy doing but have to put aside because of other priorities. The way work has been lately, it’s time to make some time for the side projects. Hopefully I can update here with good news about those projects in the next week!


About johnmcgeeblog

Husband, father, IT manager, traveler, guitarist, hackintosher, writer...? Blogging can be a coping mechanism, a mentoring tool... what is it to you?
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