Sunday, April 08, 2007

Got Guitar?

My left-handed guitar was built for me, to my own specifications, by Jay Pawar back in 1994.   That was the year before he helped found Pawar Guitars and it was a sweet sounding monster-axe from day one.   I never owned a guitar that played so nicely or sounded so good and it'll do country twang, hard rock, heavy metal or smooth jazz with a combination of technique and electronics so I like to think that my guitar may have played a part, however modest, in the creation of the guitars he's building today.   This year, my Pawar is thirteen years old and its frets are all but worn out.   With a Strat or Tele style instrument it would be relatively simple to replace the bolt-on neck but my Pawer has a bonded neck so its frets must be replaced and while that's not a great deal more expensive, a skilled luthier is required to do a proper job of it, this is my baby we're talking about, this is the only electric guitar I own (why would I need anything else?) and I have gigs every week.   Fortunately I've had most of the parts needed to assemble a left-handed strat-copy buried in a box out in the shed since 1997 when someone gave me one that was in pretty sad shape and, because the parts needed to fix it weren't expensive, I ordered them.   In the back of my mind I was thinking about becoming one of those fellows who has two guitars on stage and swaps between them every so often but somehow it was just never the right time to put that guitar together until now.   I gotta have something to play while my baby's in the hospital so the strat copy is finally all assembled and only needs a little bit more fine tuning of it's action and intonation to be ready to boogie.   I should finish it up tomorrow but honestly, I don't have my heart in it.   I'm going to miss my Pawar and therein lies another interesting story.

Dan Erlewine is perhaps the most well known luthier in the world and, because I'm not about to let just anybody touch my baby I began my research on a refretting job with two emails; one to Dan and one to Jay Pawar c/o the website's dealer service email address (the only address I could find on the site).   Dan was real nice about it but the plain truth is that I can't afford his work so I contacted Dan's cousin Mark at Erlewine Guitars in Austin (TX) who's rates were pretty much the same as Dan's.   A little more research turned up Jeff Rice of Intown Guitar Repair in Greenville, South Carolina.   Jeff used to live in Austin, Texas where he still has a reputation as an excellent luthier.   In fact, there are still musicians in Austin who're willing to send their instruments to South Carolina to have Jeff work on them.   Jeff's rates, which are posted on his website, are substantially more affordable than those I was quoted by Dan or Mark so I was all set to send him my Pawar when I finally got a reply from Jay.   My email lost some time in being forwarded and Jay, who's a busy fellow, didn't get back to me right away.   Jay's a successful businessman these days and to tell the truth I didn't really expect him to respond to my email so I was surprised by his response.   Because he built my awesome axe in the first place, all thoughts of having anyone else work on it faded from my mind as soon as I got his email.   Jay explained that he doesn't really do much of this sort of work any more but he'd be happy to refret my Pawar.   That's just about the best news I've had in weeks and tomorrow I'm going to finish tweaking the strat copy and start building a packing crate for my Pawar so I can ship it to Ohio.

There are perhaps tens of thousands of guitarists in the world who are better musicians than I am, this is a given, but I'll wager there are no more than a handful who're happier than I am.   Life is good stuff you betcha, lemme told you.

Don Crowder