Mandolins are small. They have eight strings and they are wound tight. And, they are made from wood that has fine sonic qualities. They can make beautiful music and they can make loud noises.

I had one that made a sound like a gunshot once. I was at a local venue one evening some years back, waiting for my time to play and I had my mandolin out of the case so I could tune it and acclimate it to the room. A loud 4 piece band was playing on the stage. They had electric guitars, drums, and a bass, and they were rocking along, loud enough where you couldn’t converse.

I laid my mandolin on one of the tables to free my hands for a minute to drink my soda water. I decided to go outside to tune, so I picked up the mandolin in a quick sweeping motion. The strap was hooked on the corner of the table and it jerked out of my hand and crashed to the floor.

When the neck broke off it made a clap like a rifle shot. It was so loud the band stopped playing in the middle of their song. Though the memories of what happened are hazy, I had an impression of people looking for cover. The second loud noise followed and that was me screaming my expletive of the month at the top of my voice.

I grabbed my case, slammed the pieces of mandolin in it and slammed it shut. My anger was uncontrollable and, I suppose, very visible as I stormed out of the bar. A good friend who was outside and had no idea what had just happened made some comment to me, I’m not even sure what it was, something sarcastic, I imagine, because that’s who he is.

I walked out to my car and threw the mandolin in the trunk. Then I went and gave my friend an earful of my best expletives. By that time someone had told him what had happened and after my tirade he commiserated with me and we sang some songs on the porch. If he’d not been the good man he is, he would have been perfectly within his rights to bust my nose… a few times.

I have great friends, he being one of them. Another friend heard about my mandolin woes and offered a gift certificate she had for a few hundred dollars to help defray the cost of a new mandolin. And the music store owner, who also heard of my sweet Mid-Missouri mando’s demise, made me a superb deal on a new Mid-Missouri. I was quickly back in business.

And in the end, another of my great friends rebuilt that mandolin, shined it up, and made it even better than it was before though I have graduated to a couple of other fine mandolins.

Music playing is full of pleasure, sometimes almost heavenly, and then again sometimes music playing is a pain so deep its a wonder we survive it. Its really all about the people, the music bridges the gaps.

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