Friday, September 6, 2013

Sabbatical Entry 1

This year summer seemed to come and go faster than any other I can remember.  Another school year is underway and the difference this year is I'm not teaching!  I'm very fortunate to have the opportunity to have a sabbatical for the fall semester and plan to update the "goings on" with our blog along the way.

Whenever I talk to someone about my sabbatical the first question (obviously) is..."What are you going to be doing?".  The reality is there are a variety of things I'll be working on and have planned a framework for each day of the week so here goes...

Monday - Curriculum day!
  • As instructors we are always making tweaks and changes to improve the content of our courses but inevitably there is only so much time in a day.  No matter how much of that time I spend updating handouts, presentations or course content there has been a growing "to-do list".  It actually feels more like a "wish-list"!  So Monday is the day to tackle all of the courses I teach and whittle it down while at the same time making some great updates and additions.

Tuesday - CAD/CNC!
  • One very exciting thing for me this fall is the opportunity to take a couple classes in our second year program.  From 8am - Noon I'm a student in the Guitar Development and Production program studying computer drafting for guitar that includes 3D modeling.
  • As the weeks go by we'll also be getting into CNC machines and their use in guitar making.  Computer Numerical Controlled machines allow for incredible precision work but it isn't quite "plug and play" stepping up to use one.  
  • The afternoon on Tuesday will usually be working with the software to spend time learning it and developing some drawings.  Also in the afternoon time can be spent on anything needing a little extra time for any particular week.

Wednesday - Electronics!
  • A fair amount of the information I teach has to do with electric guitars specifically and I've always wanted to talk more about pickups and how they're made.  The Electric Set-up course is plump full of information already but at the very least I want to demonstrate how to make an electric guitar pickup.  So, with time available I'll be working on pickup winding.  
  • There are also changes to course content I want to make and streamline some things to hopefully make room for a few additions to what students can learn.
  • The other portion of this time is being spent learning more about tube guitar amplifiers and how they are made.  I'm somewhat familiar with this already but it's time to sink my teeth into the topic and be able to relay some of these concepts and information to students in the program.  This can allow us to better understand "tone" and the never ending quest for the magical/mystical sound we (and our customers) have.  Oh...and by the way, I'll be making a tube guitar amp!

Thursday - CAD/CNC and Industry!
  • In the morning it's back to school for more in the CAD/CNC courses in the second year program.  The courses run again from 8am - Noon.
  • Thursday afternoons will be spent on industrial aspects of guitar making with some trips being planned for later in the fall.  More on this later but it's something I'm incredibly excited about.

 Friday - Finishing!
  • As the main instructor for all things guitar finishing related Friday's will be dedicated to the broad topic of wood finishing.  The first area I'm focusing on is a new pore filling process that will be more user friendly and more importantly, FASTER.  At the end of each school year we have a production setting with anywhere from 40-60 instruments being sanded, sprayed and every step in between within about a ten day window (controlled chaos).  The pore filling process is always time consuming and labor intensive and while I can't suddenly make it a quick easy process, I'm confident we can shave some dry time!
  • I'll also be updating some of the processes we use in both guitar programs. 
  • In October I will be taking a little road trip to a repair shop in Des Moines Iowa to focus on touch up techniques.  Again, more on this to come at a later date!

So there you have it.  My sabbatical has been about two years in the making and now it's time to seize this wonderful opportunity to hone my skills, learn new things and come back better than ever!