I got up this morning, da-da-da…da-da
And went to the loo, da-da-da…da-da
The shower was dripping, da-da-da…da-da
There was nothingI could do… I got the, ‘shower tap ain’t got no washer,’ blues
(sung to a slow blues beat)
I read an article last week about the importance of basic maintenance and I liked it so much I decided to build this column around that piece.
It was written for a guitar magazine and aimed at encouraging readers to change their strings more often to improve the sound of their guitars instead of buying new instruments.
To catch his readers’ attention, the author started by talking about tyres.
I wrote that blues number with a similar intention.
It relates to another maintenance experience I had last week, it fits with the feel of the article, and the washers I was hoping to find in my tap look like tiny tyres.
The guitar guy started by saying he was extremely worried the last time he took his car for a service.
The thing had been vibrating all over the place and the steering alternated between pulling to the right and then pulling to the left, so he was bracing himself for major repairs.
He also admitted he didn’t know much about cars so the mechanic could have told… and sold… him anything.
As it turned out, the garage owner was an honest man who simply told him he needed a new set of tyres.
Interestingly, he said he felt disappointed paying for tyres instead of some fancy new part for his car.
Disappointed, that is, until he drove it and discovered the tyres made the vehicle handle like it was brand new.
Then he said he sees the same resistance to simple maintenance from guitar players when he tells them they don’t need to upgrade their guitars, they just need new strings.
I am pretty good at buying tyres when they are needed but I can relate to the resistance to changing guitar strings.
The thing is, changing parts that are designed to ware out, things like tyres, brake pads, guitar strings and washers, is usually a lot cheaper than buying a new piece of equipment.
I must admit, however, that I have come across parts for my car that cost more than the vehicle is worth.
Maintaining our own equipment can be very satisfying and help us understand how things work, as that picture at the top of BB King changing a string mid-song would indicate.
These days, however,knowing how things used to work can lead to frustration as well.
That’s what happened with my shower tap because when I opened the unit I discovered the valve used two rotating cylinders to open and close the water supply.
There were no washers to turn over or replace so I wound up having to buy a new valve.
That’s the way it goes sometimes, but I still think it is good for us to understand the things we use.
Sure, the valve was more expensive than a little piece of rubber, but at least I didn’t have to pay a plumber to replace it.