The resonator guitar cone. The myth, the legend. Built in mojo bag. Talisman and bringer of all that is good and loud in the world.
Ok, that’s overkill. But we love them don’t we? It’s such a unique part of guitar culture. Designed by a couple of brothers who wanted to make guitars loud enough to compete with brass instruments of the time. Then they got in a fight about which cone design was better and split up. Drama, intrigue.
They are also spun on a pretty rad machine. This is the first step in my cone spinning journey, but it may be the coolest. A Haag spinning lathe from a closed up spinning factory in Kentucky. Pretty fun. Here ya go:
If you make things for a living this is for you. If you make things but not for a living, add this to your thoughts if you find yourself daydreaming about telling your boss to shove it.
This is my friendly encouragement to myself and to you: remember you aren’t an amateur anymore. An amateur can take all the time in the world until the perfect “original” idea comes along. They can afford to hide all the things they dont want to show. A professional realizes that we all use the same chords, the same materials, the same methods. Nothing is ever completely original. Part of what you do is your own, but part of it is from everyone before you. Don’t hide from that, build on it, you honor other makers with what you do. You are in select company. Because of what you do, you know many others who also do it. Guess what, the majority of the world doesn’t care about you, your work and where it fits into the scheme of People Who Make Things. You should find that refreshing. I read that sentence twice to remind myself of that. You, however, are original. How you connect to people is how YOU connect to them. Be that.
An amateur’s art defines them. A professional keeps it at a healthy distance knowing there will be good weeks and bad weeks, and they are in in for the long haul. The highs are lower, the lows are higher. A amateur does the work when they are inspired, a professional does it always, incessantly, because that’s how you care for yourself, your family, and your future. A professional shows up, everyday. The balance for the professional is found between making their art and doing what it takes to make the living they want, both are equal in virtue. If you are are/are not using a certain tool, making a certain thing, designing a certain way and its harming your life’s balance you need to figure out why. If you’re being an idiot, stop.
You. Are. A. Professional. Keep going.
The Yes Man. Mocked throughout the cubicles. “Don’t be a yes man.” is used in contexts other than the office to try to instill in people a sense of pushing back, going against the grain, standing up for their own opinions.
Here’s the rub: We live in a world of No. Does anyone really have any trouble saying no? Sure you might not say no to your boss, but you spend the whole rest of the day telling everyone else why the answer is ‘No, that will never work.” It’s many kids first words. Sometimes they say no and don’t even know why. Five minutes before they said yes to strawberries and now its a big fat no, for almost no reason at all. And I think the last part is so important- for almost no reason at all.
A part of psychology is realizing that you are not, necessarily, your thoughts. Sometimes we just think things because our brains are constantly going. This mechanism, when repeated habitually, changes our brains to make them act differently. There’s no rational reason for those thoughts to be there but if they are left there…again, and again… they cause us damage. And the danger is that it ends up becoming who we are without us realizing it. We rationalize the thoughts. We find support. We find other people who think the same and they increase. This negative thinking, decided by a million tiny steps, becomes our character.
Obviously there’s specific questions that need more than just this advice but here it is : Get better at saying yes. Maybe that shitty idea your boss had would actually work if he had a room full of employees who said yes and went about trying to make it work regardless, instead of a room full of no’s. “Maybe we should try this pickup” No. Nothing happens. “Maybe we should apply for this job?” No. Nothing happens. Yes is the only answer that affects change. Something inside you might be saying “Well, it may not be a good change.” That’s a no! Why? Did you try it? How will know for sure? Do you have any experience in doing the thing you are saying no to? Of course it may not work out. It doesn’t even need to be said because you can always try something else. No is poisonous. The whole world says no to you. Friends and family say no, because they don’t want you to do something that will go wrong for you or them. You say no to yourself. Maybe you’re saying no to your own idea ‘That would never work, ‘ “They would never hire me,” etc. WHY?! That’s the worst kind of hypothetical. You can’t tell the future, you’re not the HR person. How can we possibly think those thoughts are credible?
The real work is figuring out how to make things happen. It’s no surprise that’s also where the courage lies. As does progress, and opportunity. Why is standing up for yourself always about saying No? Maybe we should focus more on standing up TO yourself and saying yes.
If you are guitar maker, resonator guitar enthusiast, or are just looking for a good book- Guitar Lesson by Bob Taylor and The Way of the Seal by Mark Divine are two of the most helpful I’ve read this year.
The hard part of running the business is not knowing what questions have to be asked. Anyone can run around and find the answer. The Way of the SEAL asks those questions and has exercises to find the answers. It’s a meaty book.
If you run your own business reading how Bob Taylor started Taylor guitars will be the most insightful, reassuring thing you can read. You. Are. Not . Alone.