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Timbuck
11-15-2011, 11:44 PM
Today I got out of bed had breakfast..looked at the TV went on the Web etc:..and then try'd to decide what I'm going to do with the rest of the day..I looked at a bunch of uke's I'm working on but my intrest is not there anymore :( there's nothing wrong with e'm but I just don't feel like working on e'm today...So I don't.."maybe tomorrow, maybe never, who cares?" i say to my self:(.....Now and again I go off the the boil like this..But it dosn't really matter..I don't do it for a living..I don't do commision work..The mortgage is paid off..The kids have all grown up and look after themselves (Well almost :))...It's at times like this, I wonder how the "Guys who do it for a living" cope when they feel this way? and do have all these commitment's..Do you just get stuck in and work at e'm regardless of mood?..Do you take a few days off or what?..Or maybe you never feel like that.

mrhandy
11-16-2011, 01:58 AM
I find that I definitely have days that I don't want to step into the shop. Most of those days I generally feel like I am moving in slow motion and that I am more likely to make mistakes. My problem is that I have to get stuff done, I have set myself goals and deadlines, so if I don't work I don't meet my deadline... I hate being late. So I work through the day, set my self small goals to achieve and go to it.

I also find that I work in cycles, if I have an unmotivated day that I don't want to work or don't get much done, I tend to have a couple days that I am very productive and you can't drag me out of the shop.

My solution is to take those days that I don't want to work on whatever I am working on, and clean up the shop, make a new jig or 2, and do the little things that are different that I have been putting off, or just havent gotten too.

zac987
11-16-2011, 02:23 AM
Well I don't have any experience whatsoever with building ukuleles, but psychology will tell us that your life is getting repetitive! You've got this awesome Style O Soprano business down to a science. Try making something new! Whether it be a banjo, guitar, tiple, etc, you should definitely try making some new things to spice the process up.

0011000011001
11-16-2011, 03:09 AM
I had a very similar experience many times in the past, although not with ukuleles!I used to build large R/C aeroplanes, some days i didnt even want to look at the darn things! But you leave it for a few days, then all of a sudden the interest is back! It is very disheartening to go through those periods of zero interest though.

Hope it gets better for you!

thistle3585
11-16-2011, 03:15 AM
I think its the difference between being a job and a hobby. If its a job, then you really haven't a choice if you want to pay the bills and fill the fridge. As a hobbyist, it becomes an easier choice. Zac987 nailed it. You need to mix it up. That's actually how I got in to building ukes. I was having a hard time getting myself to get in the shop to build mandolins so I decided on trying something new. I also have several other projects in process that are ongoing, a tenor guitar and octave mandolin, that I can revert to "recharge" me. Building the same thing tends to become repetitive and mind numbing. I also recently bought an old Jeep to restore and that has been taking up some time too. Variation is healthy.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
11-16-2011, 05:02 AM
The key for me is to try to keep things fresh and new. Unlike you, I build in small batches of four and I always make sure that at least a couple of them excite or challenge me. One of the benefits of doing custom work is that I'm always doing something different and it often forces me out of my comfort zone. Every day is a new set of problems for me to tackle. And if I don't have problems I'm not pushing myself enough.

Rick Turner
11-16-2011, 05:47 AM
Ken, my observations re. your work as presented by your wonderful posts here is that you are fascinated with figuring out "how to do it".

The trouble is that once you figure it out, it then becomes mundane quotidian work. The thrill of the chase is gone, and your hobby has become a job.

You've figured out the vintage Martin thing as well as anyone I've seen. Time for a new game? Turn the tooling over to someone who just wants a nice job? Turn it into a "real" business? Oh, the choices...

aaronckeim
11-16-2011, 05:59 AM
Yup- What Rick said. When I was only building banjo ukes, I got that way around number 70 or so. That is when I started to work more on traditional ukes. Working with Gordon has pushed me so much that I haven't felt that way since, but it is only because of the multiple body and wood combos I am working with and a detailed and fast production schedule. Then the challenge becomes perfect building with peak efficiency

Dan Uke
11-16-2011, 06:54 AM
Hi Aaron

Talking of perfect building with peak efficiency...How many luthiers does MM have? I see your production level and amazed at how many instruments you guys do a year!

olgoat52
11-16-2011, 07:31 AM
Maybe you need to take on a bit of custom work.

There are a ton of pieces of craftsman/mission/Stickley furniture that I would like to build for myself but it almost never gets me down to the shop to do it. But if an acquaintance, friend or family member comes to me with a problem or a something specific they want or need, I'm down in the shop the next available opportunity.

Those projects don't come out quite as nice as the ones I do for myself because I am often outside my comfort zone and have not mulled it over in my head for months before pushing a board into a blade. But the "client" always seems pretty happy with the results and some of them are pretty discerning.

You have tremendous talent from what I have seen. I hope you find a way to revitalize yourself and contribute more to uke building.

Pete Howlett
11-16-2011, 07:39 AM
I always get into a slump no matter what I am doing because my mind starts to drift and I want to get to that next project. What I do now is if I don't want to go to work I don't. I'll go to the beach or play my guitar/uke or just veg out. I can't see any point in standing at my bench and resenting every moment of it. I understand that this is frustrating for everyone else and clients especially who get their work late, but to do my best and maintain my reputation I have to have my best head on. This business comes at a price and a sacrifice. My thinking is that alongside that, I have to find the benefits. Today when I started to put together the 6 tenors I am working on and it all started to happen, I got a couple of payments and a customer was really happy with their ukulele, the post office admitted they overcharged me and gave me some money back I ended the working day happy but with very sore knees and a headache. On top of this i am doing my first gig in about 3 years....

Michael Smith
11-16-2011, 07:42 AM
I understand your feelings. Working by yourself you don't have the motivation of having others depending on your presence and production. It can be hard to get going. Someone told me a very important point, that motivation follows action and often not the other way around. This has helped me a lot. I know if I take myself by the hand and get out to the shop and start doing something the motivation will follow. It always seems to work.

Pukulele Pete
11-16-2011, 07:58 AM
Build some Style 2's . Sounds like you are in a rut.

Allen
11-16-2011, 09:02 AM
If it's repetitive and not challenging it bores me to tears and I just can't get motivated to continue.

That's why I like taking on commissions, as not one of them has ever been for anything plain. And the challenge to hit all the design criteria excites me. Then there is always something different that I'm working on. Many don't ever make it before I decide it's not working out, but the ideas get tried and perhaps modified for something else.

And then the really exciting part for me is teaching. It might just be the same old simple instrument that you've made a 100 or more of, but for the student it's exciting and fresh. That's invigorating. Not to mention challenging especially when things go pear shaped for them, and your left working a miracle to save their precious instrument.

finkdaddy
11-16-2011, 09:28 AM
2 fingers of rum and 4 ice cubes. Or, if it's too early in the day, beer works just fine. ;)

Sven
11-16-2011, 09:45 AM
Ken, you should spend some of the cash you've earned from your ukes. Come over to Stockholm and see me! The whisky is here already, but the supply seems to be dwindling a bit...

ukulian
11-16-2011, 10:11 AM
The advantage of being your own boss is that you can do what you like. So when I hit those ruts, like many here I do something different. I don't build in batches, had to much of that back in the cabinet days, so I often have more than one instrument on the go, and mostly at different stages. It helps keep things fresh. Think about another style, or even a different instrument as something fresh and challenging. Which all adds up pretty much to what all the above have suggested! ;)

Timbuck
11-16-2011, 10:13 AM
Sven! I'd love to come and visit..But not at this time of the year...Anyway my passport expired in 1972 and I never renewed it..I'm feeling a bit better now and i did a bit of turning on the lathe this afternoon re-shaping a pile of tuner buttons...and I did a bit of R&D on a foam hot wire cutting machine that my Son and I are building for his business.

aaronckeim
11-16-2011, 11:42 AM
nongdom- Mya-Moe has three luthiers, Gordon, Char and I. I only build four days a week on average because of my performing schedule. We also have Ben making parts, jigs, fixtures, etc...and Neil helps out a couple of days a week.

Hippie Dribble
11-16-2011, 01:01 PM
Hi Ken

I tend to agree with those who suggested you try some different designs...your style o sopranos are the bees knees and you have that uke down as close to perfect as you could ever hope to ...why not build a concert or tenor scale...try some bling - bindings, inlays etc - and perhaps a style 2 as suggested..something to break the monotony of the repetition with the style o's? Just my 2c mate. I love your work.

BlackBearUkes
11-16-2011, 02:37 PM
Your work shows you are a fine craftsman, no doubt about that. If you want to take your work 180 degrees and try something challenging, study violin making and give a go. Very rewarding work for sure. Just a thought!

Pete Howlett
11-16-2011, 09:53 PM
They don't understand you do they Ken? If you have followed this geniuses work (Ken's that is) you will know, having awed us with other builds which were, if I might be so bold as to say, diversions, he is only interested in his repro sopranos. Ken is a part-time builder, retired from 'work' but not life and is a National Treasure here in the UK. What we are seeing here is what my local farmer use to say was the 'blues' (and not in a musical sense). Ken, I know you are probably over it by now and back doing your stuff. I always get like this when I finish a run or a particularly demanding piece of work. I think you have the balance right with the work you do with your son. My answer is to go for a walk on the beach or build another tool. How about you look at ways to make those patent tuners then your repros really will be the real deal :)

Timbuck
11-17-2011, 05:16 AM
Thanks for the support fella's.....I felt a bit better today..So I finished off one of the ukes..I'm glad I did co's it plays really great...and it gives me a chance to sneak a photo in :)
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/PICT0002-7.jpg

agilitydog
11-17-2011, 06:39 AM
Ken,

Show this (above) picture to the next street corner psychologist. Perfect juxtaposition of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder i.e. winter blues, British sub type:) and the Timbuck Ukulele Rx. The picture sure perked me up! I'm in the middle of losing another dog and am reminded of how long music made continues and how wonderfully powerful it is. Thanks for the thread.

byjimini
11-17-2011, 07:02 AM
This is why I said to Rick Turner that I wasn't fussed about the uke being a few weeks late, if it needed to be. I've no idea if he liked the email, but to my mind you can't rush talent. My Compass Rose will go to the grave with me, so I'm more than happy to have it when it's ready.

Bradford
11-17-2011, 09:05 AM
Those of us that are involved in this kind of creative endeavor put a great deal of our personal energy into what we make. Chuck Moore has referred to this. The Japanese call it ki, the chinese chi, the Hawaiians mana and the Native Americans spirit. Building ukuleles is not hard physical work, but I am often exhausted at the end of the day. Fortunately the universe does provide us with more mana, often the more we use the more we receive. It does get low now and then, and many of the above suggestions work well to get it back. I grab a Native American flute and go play it on the beach.

Brad

ukulian
11-17-2011, 01:47 PM
The Japanese call it ki, the chinese chi, the Hawaiians mana and the Native Americans spirit.

Brad

In my neck of the woods they say "your get up and go has got up and gone. The only way to get it back is to get up and go after it!" :) :)

mketom
11-17-2011, 02:09 PM
Hi Ken,
Looks like you got your mojo working' again because the ukulele you just listed on eBay is a beaut! Nice! I kicked off the bidding on this one.

Pete Howlett
11-17-2011, 08:04 PM
You are right Bradford, it is not always hard physical work (my knees really ache at the end of a full day standing tho) but it is mentally taxing...

Vic D
11-18-2011, 01:42 PM
Thanks for the support fella's.....I felt a bit better today..So I finished off one of the ukes..I'm glad I did co's it plays really great...and it gives me a chance to sneak a photo in :)
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/PICT0002-7.jpg

So freaking beautiful, Ken., what do you use to saw your string slots in your bridge? I've been using a coping saw with the bridges clamped in a vice lol. Sometimes I veer a bit. I'm thinking you use the bandsaw? What type of blade and do you use a jig?

As far as shaking off the blues I dunno... Brad's method with the native flute sounds about right but all I have is a recorder and I can't figure out how to make one of the notes in Green Sleeves so it just frustrates me more. Native flute in on my to build list for sure. Then there's always a Xanax script... nah. 500mg frigitol and a native flute STAT.

BTW, Ken. If it makes you feel any better you're the only builder who's ukes I've bid on. Keep on keepin' on.

Vic D
11-18-2011, 01:50 PM
You are right Bradford, it is not always hard physical work (my knees really ache at the end of a full day standing tho) but it is mentally taxing...

It's not hard work if you work smart instead of hard. As a newer builder I'm always finding easier ways to do things, sometimes that takes new investments. One thing though, my carpal tunnel isn't affected by any process in uke building, I can't last more than an hour house painting but I can go all day shaping ukes with no pain in the hands... the sciatica and a bad knee is another story...

Timbuck
11-18-2011, 09:09 PM
So freaking beautiful, Ken., what do you use to saw your string slots in your bridge? I've been using a coping saw with the bridges clamped in a vice lol. Sometimes I veer a bit. I'm thinking you use the bandsaw? What type of blade and do you use a jig?

Hi Vic!..:) and good morning from the UK...This is how I used to make my bridges ..First you need is a piece of steel angle to make a Jig and carefully mark out drill the holes and saw slots in it with a hack saw..like in the sketch ..Next clamp workpiece into Jig with your drill vise drill holes and cut slots by hand then remove from vise and saw off the scrap bit...Don't forget the saddle slot ;)
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/PICT0011-7.jpg

Vic D
11-19-2011, 06:27 PM
That's perfect... kinda what I had in mind but I thought maybe you had some kind of jig that did everything itself and spit them out like PEZ lol. Wait... I think you do and it's called a homemade CNC. ;)

joejeweler
11-20-2011, 04:27 AM
Those of us that are involved in this kind of creative endeavor put a great deal of our personal energy into what we make. Chuck Moore has referred to this. The Japanese call it ki, the chinese chi, the Hawaiians mana and the Native Americans spirit. Building ukuleles is not hard physical work, but I am often exhausted at the end of the day. Fortunately the universe does provide us with more mana, often the more we use the more we receive. It does get low now and then, and many of the above suggestions work well to get it back. I grab a Native American flute and go play it on the beach.

Brad

I think you may be referring to this statement by Chuck recently,......one of the most profound revelations into an artists heart and soul i've ever read.....

.......printed on a Moore Bettah teeshirt might serve Chuck well into his retirement years as a source of income, and as an inspiration to the rest of us. A poster on a builder's wall would serve as well.........




When it comes to designing the actual instrument, I caution people that I am not the Burger King of uke builders. That is, you can't always have it your way. Hopefully I can accommodate some of the customers wishes and work around their parameters but I always have final say in what the finished instrument will be.

There are plenty of builders out there who will build anything you want. I can't do that. If you've been in this business long enough you've gotten your share of crazy requests. Sometimes the customer will suggest something to me that I may be uncomfortable with but I know it's a direction I should be going in anyway so I'll accept it. These are the challenges I sometimes look forward to. They push me out of my comfort zone. I appreciate all of the input I receive from a customer but it's my job to inform them of what I can and can not do and what I do best. My very best ukes were those in which I had ample freedom to work. Of course, this involves instilling trust in your customer!

Hopefully, the customer see's something in what I do that they like. After all, they were attracted enough to my work to want to contact me in the first place. Every uke I build comes straight from my heart and honestly, every uke takes a lot out of me. Musical instruments tend to be traded like baseball cards. So, while the customer buys the ukulele and will own it for however long he chooses, ultimately, the uke will always have my name on it and will always be mine; a reflection of who I am.

I'm not just selling stuff, I'm selling a piece of me, the highest part of who I am. I'm not a factory, I don't crank these things out. I'm an artist and a craftsman. I'm the kind of guy who lays awake at night worrying about the details. I'm very careful of what I put out there to the world that has my name on it. Some people have a difficult time understanding that. I try to gently coax those people to seek another builder knowing that I'm not going to be able to please everyone. I realize I only have so many ukes left in me. Each one I build has to be carefully thought out and considered.

(edited to break up paragraphs for easier reading)