Today's an achy day. *sigh* Fortunately I was feeling well enough yesterday to pick up a few essentials at the drug store (yow, when I have to buy my OTC meds, including Prilosec, things add up in a right hurry -- quite a hit to the bank account), so I don't desperately need to hike anywhere tonight or tomorrow. I did manage to get in a couple hours of practice for a gig at Pennsic and get ahold of my mother by phone to hear how her trip to China with my sister had gone (I now have a newly-adopted niece).
Last night I fit a temporary nut in the electric mandolin (to replace
the one that broke
Friday. I figured I might get away with wood since there's a
"zeroth fret", but the narrow spacing between the paired strings of
each course makes for awfully fragile fingers of wood separating
the strings of each pair. Sure enough, despite trying to avoid
imposing any lateral stresses while installing it, I knocked off
the bit of wood between the A strings. So those two strings are
currently being held apart by a folded-up piece of cardboard. If
it holds until I can get the bone nut blank cut in half and shaped
(most likely after Pennsic, though if I can get it cut to the right
size before Pennsic, shaping it and cutting the grooves will be a
I did tune up one of the other mandolins, a round-back, but the neck started tilting forward and opened a gap where it attaches to the body ... I think I can get enough glue into the gap, but I haven't yet figured out how to clamp or weight the thing while the glue sets. If I can solve that problem before the end of tomorrow, I can leave it to set and cure and dry very thoroughly while I'm off at Baitcon. I'm hoping that this style can be repaired effectively at that spot, since it was a similar failure that did in the mandolin that I really liked (it was much easier to play than the electric). Of course, then I get to worry whether the dry, cracked soundboard on the round-back will hold up.
Hmm. I wonder whether the instrument that appears to be a triple-strung mandolin is actually built strong enough to withstand the tension of twelve strings ... and whether there's enough room on that fingerboard to play it that way. I should've picked up extra strings last week when I was out in Catonsville. (It looks like a late-19th/early-20th Century style round-back mandolin body (I don't think this specific instrument is that old), with an elongated head and six-on-a-side tuners like a 12-string guitar, and a very shallow wooden nut with twelve faint grooves in four sets of three. At the moment it has six ancient strings on it and the broken ends of two more.
I still want a mandola and a solid-body electric mandolin someday (I've seen a Fender solid-body but it only had four strings rather than eight), but at the moment I'll settle for getting one of the ordinary mandolins into proper condition. (The electric with the nut problem is a regular modern teardrop arched-top-and-back design with f-holes -- i.e. not a bowl-back but not a Flatiron or a Flatiron-clone -- with a coil pickup and a couple of knobs, and an extra-thick soundboard (to reduce feedback, I presume) which makes it difficult to get much volume out of when it's not plugged in. I'm counting it as an "ordinary mandolin" because it's basically a modified modern acoustic mandolin, and that's what it sounds like plugged in or unplugged.)
While I'm thinking of instrument repairs and instruments-needing-repair, I should go downstairs and take the oud out of the winter coat that serves as its case, and check whether the repairs that I made just before Conterpoint are still holding up.
And while I'm thinking about broken-things, I'll take a moment to natter about the frustration of having broken my box-cutter today[*]. It's on my fretting hand, so it won't affect my playing (I also refer to it as my "spare nail"), but I always forget, until I've had to cut it off, just how often I use it without thinking. I just tried to check something on my PDA, which was lying next to my left hand, and rather than bothering to take out the stylus for a mere couple of taps, I automatically tried to use my thumbnail. The thumb-tip doesn't work as well as the thumb-nail, not precise enough. Feh. But the guitar-picks are all intact, and that matters a whole lot more.
I'm still thinking about what I didn't like about the doctor I saw last week and what I should try to make clear to the doctor who will become my regular physician when I see her for the first time just after Pennsic.
This weekend, Baitcon; then a short week to get everything lined up to be ready for Pennsic.
While I was finishing this up, I heard an Arabber go by, up Fulton Ave. I'm not used to seeing them right around here (usually farther north or east) but this makes three times in the last month and a half that I've noticed. This time he was singing. If one has made my intersection part of his route home, I'll have to start keeping an eye out, especially while I'm without a car. (I didn't get a good look at what he had. I saw bananas and maybe canteloupes, no watermelons this time, and I'm not sure what else. I would've gone and bought a canteloupe, but I would've had to pause to throw on clothes -- hey, it was a hot day and I gotta maximize the effect of the electric fans blowing across my skin, don't I? -- and he was on his way someplace (presumably the stable), not stopping to set up and sell. But he must have a selling-spot not too terribly far from here in the afternoons.)
[*] Well, not just a box-cutter, obviously. I recall the time I startled my boss by using it to cut drywall[**] -- it was her own suggestion, but she'd meant it as a joke; I looked at my hands, realized my thumbnail was long enough to be useful, and jabbed it into the drywall and started sawing. Basically, it's the "everything I don't want to risk damaging one of my guitar-picks on" nail. The other nails on my left hand have to be short for fretting.
[**] A slightly unpleasant sensation, yes, but not anything like nails-on-a-chalkboard intense, and I only needed to cut a few inches. And yes, my nails are naturally that strong -- I've got acrylic on the three that take the most wear from strumming and thin spots near the tips of the other two that show why the acrylic is needed; the left thumbnail is the one that shows my natural nail thickness.