There’s an elephant in the room, and it’s shaped like a guitar case.
For more than 20 years, I’ve owned some form of electric guitar — from the pawn-shop special my dad bought with the sketchy neck and the buzzy frets to the arch-top Epiphone Sheraton that replaced it. And for those same 20 years, I basically have learned the following things on this guitar:
- The chords E-minor, D, G and C. Of these, E-minor is my favorite, because it requires pressing just two frets with your strongest fingers and because it sounds “alternative.”
- The intro arpeggios to U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” Which is really just a tiny modification of the D chord, but shut up.
- Nothing else.
When we built the bar room in the house, I decided to get serious about learning the instrument. I picked up “Rocksmith” for the Playstation 4, an interactive guitar tutor that people rave about. It comes with a special cable that’s 1/4-inch guitar patch on one end and USB plug on the other. How cool is that?
And since that Sheraton is so pretty, I decided to keep it out of the case, to both pretty up the room and to remind me to pick it up and play it more.
“Rocksmith” has proved a bit problematic, as I’m battling a well-documented lag between playing the guitar and hearing the guitar. I can combat this by using the Playstation’s optical output, but then I need a device to convert that output to analog to plug it into the amp. Which, at about $20, is no big deal, except for this year’s whole budget-challenge thing. I’ll stash away a few bucks a month and get there soon enough.
In the meantime, I turned my attention to DIY’ing a guitar stand out of — can anyone guess? — pallet wood!
I started by Googling to see if anyone else was ahead of me. Not surprisingly, I found lots of guitar stand plans. But these were mostly overly ornate or required a router. Most had some sort of long piece of wood traveling up the back to create a brace for the guitar’s neck, which is all well and good if you’re making a pretty, ornate stand. But I wanted to draw as little attention to my stained and sullied scrap wood as possible, and the Sheraton’s body is heavy and wide. It seemed to me that I could just let gravity do all the work of keeping the guitar resting in the stand without a neck brace.
With a chop-saw and seven small pieces of wood, I was able to do the job, building a cradle that’s less than 9 inches tall from the ground and about 10 inches wide.
It took a little noodling to figure the angles to make the cradle just a bit deeper than the guitar’s depth (I didn’t want a tight fit, at the risk of damaging the guitar’s finish. And I wanted a little room for felt pads at the contact points). In truth it was a fair amount of trial and error. But the job took only about two hours total to formulate a design, cut, sand and assemble.
I guess this proves I’m still a better shopsmith than rocksmith. But before this project, the guitar was neither seen nor heard. Being seen is a good first step.
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