Here is a little fable about guitar repair that may have a moral. If you figure out what it is, please tell me. My first guitar was an Ibanez named Jackie, which I thought was the coolest thing ever in high school (largely because of an inexplicable Joe Satriani phase) and which remained an entirely decent workhorse guitar through collegebut when I got a Telecaster a couple of years ago I put Jackie aside. Last month Erik, who is a consummate guitar tweaker in a way that I am not, volunteered to take over Jackie's rehabiliation; he shined up the fretboard, raised the action to get rid of the fret buzz, and yesterday we undertook the replacement of the erratic volume control. Soldering in the new potentiometer went fine, but when I bought it I'd had to make some educated guesses with the guys at the guitar store as to size, so it ended up sticking about an inch out of the guitar. It would have looked very silly when the actual knob was replaced, except that we couldn't even get the knob back on because the old potentiomenter was Japanese, hence metric, while the new one used English units. Imperial units. Whatever they are. Anyway I said no problem, we'll go to the guitar store around the corner, which is open even on Easter Sunday, and get a new knob.
There are currents of music that remain active in guitar stores long after they are erased from the rest of the world. "Yeah, I know him," the dude behind the counter was saying as we walked in; "he opened for Ronnnie James Dio." So I show up with my Underground Nerd Eyeglasses and put the guitar on the counter and get a condescending speech from the dude about how all we need is to clamp the potentiometer with a pair of pliers and use a second nut and washer to recess it back in the guitar's body. All right, fine, I say, and we take the guitar to the Fred Meyer. There aren't any of the right sort of nut, so we just buy a bunch of washers in the hardware aisle. We don't bother to check the size, as they're the biggest washers in the store and surely they will fit over the potentiometer. We get home and discover that they do not fit over the potentiometer. In the meantime we have broken the volume knob in half by trying to cram it on there and have to glue it back together with contact cement.
Fuck this; it's all gone to hell. Time to go to a barbecue. At the barbecue, through a chain of events too complicated to relate, there are some props in the basement from an old Aerosmith video. In said video people take guitars, drumsets, and keyboards, build skateboards out of them, and then trash them. The aftermath is very sad to see: a perfectly nice guitar, obviously bought new (it still has dealer stickers on it), nailed to a piece of plywood and wrecked beyond repair. But: beneath the ruins of the knobs are some pristine nuts and washers, precisely the size we need! We pocket them. That night Jackie is reassembled and sounds better than she has in years. There's a bit of Aerosmith in her now.