The Holidays have come and gone; a cozy Christmas spent in the Bay Area. As I write, I am watching the the snowy Southern Oregon scenery rush past the window as I ride an Amtrak train to Portland, Ore.
While home in Sonoma, I gave the ’56 Chevy wagon some lovin’ in the form of a new starter and a tuneup. I’ve only had the vehicle since May, and it affords the most smiles-per-mile of any car I’ve driven. Suffice it to say, my favorite thing on a warm, sunny mid-winter day is to take a drive in a classic wagon!
The car has been in my girfriend’s family since new, 58 years! I’m the newest caretaker of the car, slowly getting it back into good driving condition. In case you’re wondering, it has a 350 c.i. Chevy V8 backed by the original 3spd manual with electric overdrive. A sweet cruiser, indeed.
While in the Bay Area, I had the opportunity to visit a great repair shop in San Francisco. On the corner of 16th and Potrero in the Mission, SF Guitarworks is a bustling shop. The owner/operator Geoff Luttrell was very gracious, answering a barrage of questions and offering advice for a tech student. Best of all, I was given the chance to witness the wonderful Plek fretwork machine in action.
The Plek is of German origin; essentially a computer-controlled fret mill. The great advantage of the Plek is accuracy and a theory of neck relief that is mathematically tailored to the player’s preferred action and string gauge.
The instrument is placed in a neck jig within the Plek and the neck is read by the computer; graphic analysis of neck and fret condition is dispayed for the the technician. The relief is adjusted by the tech via the truss rod, specifications are given to the computer, and the PLEK goes to town. Once the frets are milled, the neck is read once more, and the frets need only final polishing. Very cool technology.
Geoff runs a tight ship at SF Guitarworks, and I would recommend them without reservation.
Also, some friends and I had our annual post-Christmas skeet shooting expedition. Quite sporting!
My first banjo, made while in college in 2006-7. It’s a walnut neck with a German silver plate to the 7th fret, added after wearing deep grooves during the first year of hard playing. The pot is an 11 inch, 48-bracket Buckbee silverspun beauty. It’s still a great banjo.[/caption]