Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Gift of Patience

The pliers slipped off the tuning peg post and clamped closed with a piece of my thumb in the way. Words didn't come, but a violent urge did. My arm reared back and I slammed the pliers on the floor.

"Fuck!" My thumb throbbed in pain. It's amazing how so much pain can spring forth from such a small chunk of skin. I pursed my lips and went back to work, angry. The Enthusiast was not impressed.

Patience is not my strong suit, though I try to remain calm and even keeled despite this shortcoming. The thumb was a blown valve, letting out the tension that had been building for the past two hours.

We were just about done restoring this banjo ukulele to playable condition for my niece, as a Christmas gift. I was attaching the strings, after we had installed a new calfskin head, reattached the tension hoop, tightened the hooks, nuts and bolts, and made a tail piece out of a scrap of leather.

The tail piece was doing its job holding the back end of the strings, but the tuning pegs were in worse condition than I realized when I ordered the extra parts I needed. All four pegs were loose and didn't hold tension.

The third and fourth string tuners worked once I tightened the screws, but the first and second string pegs weren't cooperating. When the screws were tightened, the tuners held tension but could no longer be adjusted--hence the pliers.

When the grip slipped, it seemed all the work we'd just put into this gift was going to be for naught. If the tuners wouldn't work, the instrument would be useless. We had neither the time nor the budget to replace the tuning pegs.

I wanted the banjo uke to be perfect when I give it my young niece. But the fact is this will be a toy. It only has to make noise and look like Uncle Viper's banjo. This will make a fine gift, and the maybe the mark on my thumb will remind me to be more patient and accept the things I can't control.


Georgia Snail said...

Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems.....

BrianFlash said...

You restored a banjo for your niece! That's the greatest gift ever. She'll be very happy.

And your thumb will eventually heal...

Nitmos said...

Shove your "lesson" up your rear. Get that banjo right.