Friday, 28 April 2017

Not sure why pictures didn't add to last post.

Here they are. Les Pauls before and after. Gee, this is a sweet-sounding Deluxe.


here's the happier post!

Coincidentally, during the time experiencing and recovering from the flood, I got to restore an old Gibson who's damage far exceeded any of the flooded guitars I have seen so far. Oh, except one...does plywood really do that when it is saturated?

 A few weeks before the flood I received an old Gibson that was in bad shape. Actually, it was in truly awful shape. It was a quite rare, early 1970s Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, finished in the rare (and collectible) "Blue Sparkle" finish. When it came in to the shop there was only the barest hint that it was blue. Not only was it perhaps the dirtiest guitar I had seen, it was maybe the dirtiest THING I had seen! Muddy, grubby, covered in that inexplicable scum that guitars sometimes get from our lovely clean fingers. It is the first guitar that I have seen in almost 40 years that had lichen growing on it.

It had also previously had possibly the worst broken-headstock repair I have seen that was still holding; a cavalier fret-dress that had reduced the frets to slivers; gangster contour-carvings of the body (a-la-Strat); Bunnings hooks as, I have to stop now.

The chap that currently owns the guitar inherited it from the fellow who did most of the weird mods. He was a dear friend of the current owner and we decide to leave as much of the "character" of his repairs and modifications as we could. So, I restored all of the playing surfaces (fingerboard, re-fret, new nut, new bridge) to make it play and intonated well. The original pickups tested fine (as did the original Switchcraft switch!), but all of the pots were missing, so I rewired the entire loom. It all worked fine.

I ignored the rough, hand-cut contour at he back of the body, ignored the big chunk of mahogany missing from the inside of the horn, moved on by the very sloppy headstock repair (which seems solid and hasn't moved), strung the guitar up with D'addario 10s, tuned it, and played it.

I've played zillions of guitars, thousands of Gibsons, countless Les Pauls, and this little survivor is one of the best-sounding Les Pauls I can remember. Certainly one of the best Deluxes (and I've owned a few mini-humbucker Deluxes over the years).

My restoration stuff is professionally done, and should have no real bearing in the value. The weird amateur modifications and carvings here will de-value this guitar 100% - 150%.

This poor guy is horribly compromised as a collector "piece", but sings like a bird.

And that's the eternal mystery of the vintage guitar thing. I'd own this guitar at the drop of a hat. I've seen "mint" pristine versions that, while fine, didn't ring any bells for me.

Attached are a few photos.

I will try to write  more regularly from now on. About guitars. The first few might still be a little pre-occupied with the flood though...


it's been four weeks since the flood! Yikes! Wasn't that just yesterday, or back in some galaxy far far away?

What a month! My little shop is back up and running as normal (there's that word "normal" again), and the last week or two have allowed me to catch up considerably on the backlog of repairs.

If you have a repair with me, please call or email as to it's status. I'll also be calling as many of you as I can next week.

It looks very much like I'll have to be closed the week commencing May 8th, as the building is being renovated. I have advised my landlord that I'm fine with this, but that I can only accept being closed for one week only. He has his building insured, and insurance is like being beholden to the devil, so he (and I) are at the mercy (if that's the word) of his insurers and their splendid trades-folk. Thay have one week (max) to do their stuff. I recently had a carpet layed at home, in an area slightly larger than my shop's two rooms, and one guy did it in about two-and-a-half hours. Great job. We had a guy lay Karndean vinyl boards through three bedrooms - seven hours. Spiffing.

So I will re-open the week commencing Tuesday 16th May. If renovations continue beyond this point, then trading in these circumstances may be a bit Beirut, but it will all shake down fine. If entry to the building is compromised then I'll have a billboard directing y'all to the back entrance.

Because I will be closed from May 8 to May15, it would be great if you could collect your guitars before that. I will be calling you all about this. If you collect your guitar, and pay me for the repair, that would be excellent. If that doesn't happen, I will have to put the guitars into storage while the building renovations take place. This is not a problem, but the less guitars I have to do this to, the better.

Apologies to those of you who's guitars I have completed, and to whom I haven't yet called, but it has been a busy busy time. I hate to use the flood as an excuse most cases, nearly all of them, it was! 

Sorry this has been a bit of a down-vibe post. Much happy stuff to follow, including mentions of some of the splendid help I have had re-inventing the shop. A lovely bunch of folk are supporting me in this, and I won't forget any of it.

Read my next post! It is a much more happy tale, the story of a nice old guitar that had been through almost as much hell as the darned flood!


Friday, 21 April 2017


great news - the Book Warehouse on Keen Street is open again, Cafe Saffron on Magellan is open for takeaway, Shipways Auto Electrics are open, and the splendid Thai Food Shop on Woodlark will re-open next Monday. Yay!

You can't keep a good town down!


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Hi again,

this journal thing is becoming addictive! Perhaps I'll do it more often from now on (with hopefully more interesting and positive posts - maybe even about guitars!).

Little shop now seems to be back to normal, in an operative sense at least. Kind folk bringing in new repairs or picking up their completed ones, just as it ever was. Decor-wise, it's still a bit bleak, but what passed for "decor" was always a bit shaky anyway. This gives me a chance to re-design! The re-born version will be a bit more tidy, and will have somewhere comfy for you to sit (while I'm messing around with someone else's guitar).

The building will be renovated (my landlord was insured) and this may take some time. I've already told him that I'd like the bare-minimum restoration in my rooms, simply so that I can get back to normal ASAP.  My landlord bought the building a few years ago and has restored it wonderfully - he has been fastidious regarding fittings and decor, not to mention the splendid pressed-metal ceilings and walls. He clearly loves the place, and is hurting quite a bit. He's a good chap, and is going to make it all better again, not the least for himself and his business (Lismore Skin Clinic).

I've done the sums, and I lost a bit. Much less than other folk (those businesses dependent on retail sales, for example), but still significant. Five figures, just. Thankfully I can still fix your guitars, so I'll be able to get back to where I was before the flood in  a few months, or by next summer.

I've attached a few photos, with more to follow, perhaps. They don't show all the stuff in my chests of drawers than rusted or turned to mush, but you'll get the idea.

Again: I was lucky that only one meter of water flowed into the shop. I follow the BOM website like a religion, and on the Wednesday it seemed clear that we were going to have problems, so I got most of the guitars out that evening. I had a "flood-plan", and since this event I have co-ordinated another two flood plans, involving moving guitars and stock out of the firing-line. So if this ever seems like it may happen again, I will clean out my tiny shop (with the help of a few stalwart friends), and we won't go through this shit again.

Most of the shops in town that got themselves back open and running quickly all seem to be the family businesses, and owner-operated businesses (like mine), that had a flood plan. The chain stores and distantly-owned franchises are still closed up with condensation on the inside of the windows. Hopefully their insurance policies will allow them to crank up again. Lots of big red hearts in the windows of the re-opened shops. The North Will Rise again!

OK. If you've been following this journal, thank you. Normal service (or what passes for normal 'round here) has been resumed.

Check out the pictures (they don't make it look quite as nasty as it was, for some inexplicable reason...). The muddy river had receded when these shots were taken. Third pic is AK showing eventual river height in shop. 955mm. Without the one-meter of muddy-water in there it looks quite tidy! Imagine the shop if it was all brown, stinky water up to my hand in the third photo, which it actually was for almost three days. And then imagine that shit ALL THROUGH TOWN. Yikes! More to follow.


Monday, 17 April 2017

Monday April 17 2017


thanks to all of you who have followed this journal over the last couple of weeks. I hope it has been useful and informative, especially to those of you who have instruments with me for repair, and were concerned (understandably!) about their status. I'm working through it all and will be in contact with you all over the next week or so. If you have a guitar with me and still haven't called, please do.

It's been a stressful time for everyone in Lismore, some folk have lost an awful lot. The next few months are going to be a time for us all to support each other as the town (and indeed the entire region) gets back to how it was/is. Seeing how the Lismore CBD has responded should make us all very positive.

The Book Warehouse on Keen Street will re-open on Thursday! Can't tell you how happy I was to see THAT sign! Dallas Bryant's Mattress shop is open again - after the flood that was one of the shops that people mentioned as being completely wrecked (Dallas is a customer of mine and a very splendid chap). Great to see the shop open so quickly. I'm hoping that the wonderful little Thai Food Shop on Woodlark, just up from the Gollan, will re-open. I've always been a bit of a fan of Thai food and that little shop had (has!) the best chicken satay on the planet. BWS at Central is open again - thank god!

And my little shop is open again. I worked over Easter and I'm almost up-to-date with the weekly repairs (the longer-term ones have been set back a bit). Please bear with me as I get the whole cranky machine back up to speed!

My dear, eccentric landlord, who loves the old building like a child, did have insurance, and consequently there will be a short period at sometime in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future that I will have to close my shop while they renovate. I'll keep you all posted, either via this journal or via the 'phone message-bank thingy. We'll work the short-term repairs around that, and an enforced break from shop-hours will enable me to make progress on the longer-term restoration work etc.

OK. Keep well y'all.

I'll post another update in a day or so.


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

12 April 2017

I'm posting this at lunchtime on Wednesday - the first full day I've been back doing repairs since the flood. A nice sandwich, a cup of tea, and time to write a few more words to you all.

I actually re-opened the shop yesterday, and will be open again tomorrow, and then back to my regular timetable next week. Yay!

I'm determined to make this event a nuisance, rather than a set-back, and part of that nuisance is that I've spent the best part of two weeks NOT doing repairs! So I'm behind on all of the jobs that I currently have booked in. I'll work through them all as steadily as I can (I'll do a few evenings and weekend days to catch up) but if you can be a bit patient with things, that would be splendid.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to call or email. It make take a day or two for me to get back to you, but normal service (or what passes for normal 'round here) is almost back!

Each time I walk around town there are more shops open or getting closer to being so. Very encouraging. I give a little cheer at each sign of progress. It's made me realise how fond I am of this crazy town.

Thanks again for all your support.

Sandwich finished...back to the workshop.

See ya soon,

Friday, 7 April 2017

7 April 2017

Howdy folks, it's me again...

Shop is clean as a whistle, and pretty dry. Doctor Ken is going to keep the jet-dryers going all weekend.  Health and hygiene regulations require that his practice be bone-dry and free from mould, and this is exactly what a guitar shop requires too.

I will be open as usual next week from Tuesday 1.00pm.

At the moment, my little shop is not as cosy as it used to be (it's a barren couple of rooms, to be honest), but I'll gradually shake it all back into place. I have a few cunning plans...

First consideration is that I have enough tools, parts, and supplies to be able to do for you guys what I've always done - which is to repair your guitars as well and as reasonably quickly as I can. I lost a lot of my stock of small parts ( sockets, switches etc.), and tools, but also saved quite a bit, so hopefully I can do almost as many "on-the-spot" repairs as I'd always tried to do. Some repairs may take a bit longer as I order the parts in as required. I will be re-stocking as quickly as I can afford.

A small business like mine, especially one in the music industry, is a fragile thing. I'm sure that most of you musicians are in the same place - we all live week to week in the service of this silly shit that we love. This has hammered me a bit - I didn't need to lose $10,000 worth of parts, books, tools etc., - but, at the same time, that's just stuff. The thing that I do, which is making your guitars play well, fixing them if they're broken, and disseminating whatever knowledge I've learned so that this mysterious device ain't so mysterious any more, will continue.

For those of you who currently have a guitar with me for repair: some of them may already be done! I'm going to try to get most of the other short turnaround repairs finished over this weekend. The ones that I can't get done then will be worked on over the following week. If you have a guitar with me at the moment, and you're a little concerned as to it's condition, please call me! Otherwise I'll be calling y'all as soon as I've finished the job. This may be in a batch at the end of the day, rather than 11.16 am or whenever I did actually finish the job.

If you're nervous about calling me, and wondering if your guitar made it through the flood, please call or email ASAP.

All guitars that people cared about made it to much higher ground before the river got spooky.

It was spooky nonetheless...

Normal trading next week, open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons, 1.00pm - 5.00pm. Next Friday is Easter, so I'll be closed.

Don't be shy to call or email,

Hope y'all made it through the deluge and are fine,


Thursday, 6 April 2017


Howdy folks,

another day of drying! My little shop is getting better. If all goes well, I will re-open as usual next Tuesday.

I have quite a few completed repairs that are ready for you to pick up - I'll call you next week and let you know that they're back in the shop and ready to collect. I also have repairs that I haven't had the chance to complete yet. I'll get the short-term ones done over the next week or so. As the renovations take place at my shop (thankfully at my landlord's expense!), I may have to take a few days off here and there, which will give me time to work on the longer-term jobs I've had on the boil for a while.

It's all going to shake down nicely, eventually.

I've had lots and lots of calls and emails. Thank you every one of you so much for your support, and best wishes also those of you who have have been tangled up with your own strife, or who thought it best to leave me alone for a while until it all got sorted.

Hope you all made it through ok.

I walked around town again today, and spoke to lots of folk that I know. Remarkably, perhaps 20% - 25% of shops are open and trading again, at least in some way. And most of the others are still cleaning out and re-configuring and hoping to be operating next week! If you have seen the size of this disaster in person, you will know how amazing these numbers are. Lismore looked like Pompeii (ok, without the lava) on Sunday.

Sadly, there are some shops that are closed, shuttered, and look like the owners may have just walked away. But on balance, the town looks like it will get back on it's proverbial feet pretty soon.

The North will rise again!!

At the weekend, when I have a bit more time, I'll post a few photos.

Keep tuned to this station!


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

5 April 2017

Hi everyone.

Got all the cleaning finished today. Looks good (and smells much better too!)

We've got the jet-dryers going overnight again, and within a day or so the shop will be habitable.

Actually, I've worked out of some pretty dubious buildings in Sydney over the years, and I reckon that this poor old flood-drenched shop is probably cleaner and dryer than many of those!  Guitar World, Annandale was an electrical death-trap. How I made it out alive is still a source of wonder.

My dear, upset and struggling, eccentric landlord Ken (who lost a lot of personal stuff stored out in the back sheds)  is going to re-furbish the building, the splendid old "Molesworth House", and I'm intending to make my little part of it look just the same as it ever was.

I've been there for almost 13 years now, I see no reason to change!

I walked through the streets of Lismore today, to say "hi" and see how some of the other folk I know were doing. Awful shit everywhere, but lots of them are already bouncing back!

The toy shop on Keen Street (which incorporates North Coast Hobbies, from where I get all my glue and exacto knife blades etc.) lost a lot of stock, but saved more than they lost (yay!) and they will start trading again next week. Several clothes shops, various other specialist stores, more than a few cafes, and quite a few others have already started trading again.

I spoke to our fellow musician Garry Pinkerton, who runs Lismore Jewel Centre on Molesworth Street, and they're aiming to re-open Friday! Garry's shop had lots of nice timberwork display cabinets, many of which are either ruined or quite a bit warped. I should have mentioned that musicians are also often a bit "warped" and that this damage might not be such a problem, but then realised that musicians don't buy a lot of jewellery (the occasional diamond earring notwithstanding). Garry is a very splendid chap - if you need an engagement ring, or even just a watch battery, see him first.

Several cafes up and running again. More to come.

Interesting that the Telstra shop was completely fucked. This modern electro-psycho nonsense probably got tripped at the first drop of moisture. A single spark. I could be wrong, but that's how it always seemed to be when we were connected to Telstra via copper wires. Not sure that their Sputnik-phone is all that better either. We may have to hold hands and try to manifest some kind of telepathy. If you've already done that out at Nimbin, please let us know!

But more than a few Lismore businesses are already cranking up after a day or two. This is inspiring, and hopefully will inspire other shop owners, who were perhaps teetering on the brink of whether to start up again or not, to dive once again back into the pool. We will support you!

OK, that's my Lismore rant for the week. We're doing ok.

Tomorrow's blog will be specifically about my shop and, not inconsequentially, your guitars. Which are fine.

I only did three journal entries in the first four years, but I'm starting to like this! before you know it, you'll never get me off the thing!

See you tomorrow.


Tuesday, 4 April 2017

4th April 2017

Hi everyone. Thanks to all the folk who have helped or visited the shop in the last couple of days. And thanks to all of you that have called or emailed.

My little shop survived.

Got pretty wet, and lost a few of its bits, but is generally in much better shape than a lot of other  businesses and homes in Lismore.

Revised river height after more accurate measuring (including secondary tidal flow): it reached 955mm above floor level. Benches are at 1050mm. Small shelf that holds polishes and potions, and my weird old converted valve record-player amp, is at 970mm. A close shave. I'll list a few other quite remarkable survival measurements in the next post.

I spent the today cleaning out the mud, and disinfecting the floors and wall, and all of the benches etc. We've got jet-dryers running all night, and all of tomorrow, to dry the place out. A bit more bleaching to do tomorrow, and some more cleaning and drying, but we're getting there.

Eskimos apparently have 50 words for snow. Lismore folk probably have at least 50 words for mud.

As you may be aware, I lost all of my guitar-books. It was a pretty comprehensive collection of most of the important books that have been published on the subject of the history of guitars. People sometimes use to come into the shop just to read the books! I've had almost as many worried calls about the books as I've had about the guitars!

I've already had several folk offer me their copies of some of these books - that is a real and touching offer. My collection was always there for you all to come in and read. A community chest, if you like. It wasn't a huge library, but it was a library of sorts. If anyone would like to lend their copies of any guitar books they may have, then you are most welcome to add them to the bookshelves (which, I promise you, will not be chipboard this time!). It will be a community library for the community of local guitar players. And, if we do this, you can take yours back any time you like!

I lost quite a few parts too, but most of these are replaceable. Some of the rare ones might be tricky. It'll also take me a while to re-stock, but if you have a repair that needs a particular part that I don't have, then I'll order it ASAP. The wholesalers are going to help me out with this.

I'll include a few photos in tomorrow's post.

Please support the poor Lismore businesses, many of whom won't survive without our help. This is a fine town, and if we all stick together we'll all get through this and be stronger than ever.

I'll keep posting these notes. Please keep in touch.


Monday, 3 April 2017

The measurements in the last post were a bit wonky - the benches are 1050mm not 1050 inches! And the water level came to 3" below that.

It's that bloody metric system again - you guys all know how much I like it!

Hi everyone,

We finally got into the shop today. Lismore is a true disaster zone. Please support the good people and businesses of Lismore just as you've always done. Shit happens, and sometimes it does happen to you.

I've been having nightmares for the last three days, and probably cultivating a wonderful ulcer, but can't imagine ever being so happy to have had a metre of water through my shop. I was expecting three metres...

So yes, my little shop is a bit of a mess. I got the majority of the guitars to higher ground before the deluge, and most of the remaining guitars, some parts, most tools etc., remained about 3"" (75mm) above the water line. If you've been to my shop, and can recall the layout, my benches are at 1050", The tall rack-shelf in the back room is 1200mm.

The water level in the shop was 903mm.

I have lost a lot of parts and accessories, not a critical amount, but more than a bit. Saddest thing may be that my nice collection of books, a fine resource if there ever was one, is no more. They were housed in a chipboard bookshelf, along with my 47-year old collection of Guitar Player magazines. The cheap chipboard completely crumbled into a sad heap by being inundated, and all of the content fell down into the muddy water and turned into pulp.

Thank god I memorised them kidding, folks.

OK, that's enough about me. If you have a guitar with me at the moment, either booked in for repair, or awaiting collection after repair, please get in touch. There are quite a few completed repairs stashed on higher ground - if you need them this week please let me know a day in advance and I'll bring them in for you.

I will be there this week cleaning up. I aim to be back trading as normal (or what passes for normal at my place, at least) next week.

Special thanks to the guys who came by the shop today to help out.

I'll do another update tomorrow.