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For years I’ve wanted to make a guitar, something I could stand back and say “I did that” Sally bought me a book a few years ago which I devoured, but did nothing about because:

1: I procrastinate
2: I hadn’t really the funds
3: I procrastinate

I downloaded a template I liked and set about sourcing all the bits and bobs, mainly from ebay and some online stores… The body is maple and came in two parts which I biscuit jointed and glued together with ‘Stronger than the wood itelf’ glue. Which, to be fair is true because I glued it to my work bench… But only a bit glued (blush).

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I altered the template a little to add a larger horn to the top and to add two humbucker pickups in the body. Then screwed it to the blank ready for the jigsawing.

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If anyone had warned me before just how hard maple was to cut I would have made a nice shelf and saved a lot of hassle. I snapped 5 blades in total and almost pushed my blood pressure over the top. Luckily I had the routing to tidy the jagged mess up. Only that didn’t quite work as smoothly as I hoped.
It all started just fine.. Masses of noise and sawdust everywhere… Then I noticed that things had gone a bit iffy! The nut had come loose on the router bit making the guide bush drop below the template. Great! Now there was a chunk out of the body. An hour later, several chunks and snatches from the router I had the roughest looking guitar in the whole world.

Hour after hour I spent filing, planing and sanding to get it into some kind of guitar shape.. My hands and arms ached like hell. I even had Rosie doing shifts to help out.

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Until finally, things started to fit together.

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For some reason I’d decided on ‘through body strings’, so off to the father in laws and his handy pillar drill went I… And came home with holes drilled in the wrong place… So I had to redrill it.

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And fill it to make it right ish. The holes ended up a bit wonky, but I can live with that.

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I’ve always liked candy apple red as a colour.. Probably from my youth when American custom cars were all the rage. So candy apple red it would be. Sanding, priming, filling and more priming, then a whole can of gold basecoat went on.

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A can of the candy went on next, but it wasn’t quite enough. Being a transparent colour it takes a lot of building up to get the depth of shade right.. Ebay purchase and a four day wait later I finally got the last of it on.

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Rosie liked it anyway.. Though she wasn’t impressed with the two cans of laquer that needed polishing…

By now most of the bits had arrived for the build though the post office held things up by not letting me know that my pickups had arrived and needed signing for. Which led to a poor communication rating for the seller because he wouldn’t answer any of my emails. I had to make a couple of on the fly changes to things like pickup mounts and bridge… Oh and I made a cock up with the pickup switch selector, I only bought one I couldn’t find a wiring diagram for!

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The build went well with just a couple of minor adjustments to the scratchplate to fit the pickups and to the channel where the knobs and switches sit. All that was left was to string it up and plug it in.

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I just need to learn how to play now……………….

France, the final frontier… These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. It’s five year mission to blah blah blah.. We went, we saw, we got double booked in our gite and left in the middle of nowhere with a poorly wife and a five year old daughter and no hope in sight.

Imagine our surprise when we turned up at our Gite at half past four on a saturday evening to find a French couple happily making cassoulet for tea. Now my French ain’t too shabby,( and I understand spoken french very well for a chubby English bloke) but I couldn’t quite understand why i thought that they said that it was THEIR Gite for the week.. Perhaps we had screwed up and gone to the wrong Gite by mistake? Perhaps they should get out of my fucking house! So, like obviously mistaken thickoes we drove around the road again looking for another single storey structure with a Gites de France plaque on the wall… Nope… So back we went to OUR Gite, to find the interlopers locking up the gate and high tailing it up the road so we couldn’t get them kicked out.

We phoned up the agent in England who said that it couldn’t possibly happen. Duh! And she would sort it out for us..

Rosie needed a wee…

Sally was distraught.

I was just numb.

ring ring, ring ring “Hello? Mr Cain?”

“Yes”

“oh hi, yes, well I deeply apologise but it seems they have double booked the Gite!”

“Really?”

“yes. But that can’t actually happen you see because…”

“But it has happened”

“Ah. But the system won’t allow you to double book a Gite”

“But it has”…………………………………

Eventually up turns the caretaker who, even though she had two names on her schedule for that gite for the week hadn’t actually twigged there had been a mistake! She was at a loss.

Rosie tried to wee behind a tree but she thought the ants were going to get her.

There was a booking form from Gites de France with the French couples name on it, so someone had really cocked up..

Sally was sobbing in the car, we were stranded with nowhere to go.

After what seemed like hours she agreed to put us up in a hotel room/shithole box room that stank and had concrete beds

until they could get us another gite. Which was going to be MONDAY!! Two days in the shithole was enough to push us over the edge. We decided that we could not put up with it any more and would drive back up to Dunkirk in the morning and get a ferry home. We simply could not believe how badly things had gone.

That night, after eating dinner (paid for by Gites de France) we sat in our dismal, stanky little room wondering what we had done to deserve all this. We made phone call after phone call to our agent to try and get us either another Gite or at least a room that didn’t smell like a swamp! Sally was fuming and crying and angry and upset and really pissed off with everything. Rosie liked the room and thought it was cool. I was numb and wanted to go home

I had looked forward to coming back to France for so long it wasn’t fair to have it all ruined by some idiot getting their friends a cheap holiday. We found out that the gite was owned by the Mairie (the mayor) and was their greed and complete incompetence that had us stuck in a ten by eight mouldy cell. They had somehow overwritten our reservation and put their own people in there instead. I have nothing but contempt for them, and for Gites de France as to this day we have not received an apology from either of them.
At ten pm we realised we had a car full of perishable food we had got on the way in and I went down to see what was going to last till Monday. I saw the hotel manager outside who said there was someone inside who needed to see me right away. By the bar was a bubbly little man with an infectious grin, who seemed to be bursting to say something but didn’t quite know how. He, was Monsieur Gilles, a man with a mission. A friend of his had been in the bar and overheard the caretaker telling the hotel manager of our situation. He went straight over and saw monsieur Gilles who “Had” to come over and see us straight away. He was so sorry for what had happened and offered us his Gite as it was free that week. He asked us to go and see it in the morning with him and if it was ok then it was ours… Just the offer alone was enough, a weight was lifted from our shoulders and despite being in the shithole hotel we went to sleep 100% happier.

The next morning we were driven to the house of our dreams, and Monsieur Gilles was as happy as we were that he had helped us out. Phone calls were made and deals struck so that the Mairie would pick up the tab plus the extra 100 euros above what we had paid for their Gite. Our holiday had finally begun a day late. All thanks to a happy little French man.

Monsieur Gilles

Our Gite