Denise Adams

There are casualties when vacuuming.

Dust bunnies, dog hair and M&Ms hiding underneath the couch are the usual victims. I didn’t expect my son’s first guitar to be on the injured list the last time I hauled out the vacuum cleaner.

Chris moved his guitars back to our house while doing some home renovations. Unfortunately, his empty house caught on fire in the middle of the night and everything – his clothes, furniture and the entire house – was destroyed.

After the shock wore off, I was relieved he’d brought his guitars to our house, some of which he’d had since high school. This Ibanez guitar was the first one we’d bought him in high school.

Chris was fascinated with the guitar ever since his older brother started taking lessons. Chris would sneak into his brother’s room and play around on the guitar. He was pretty good, and when his birthday rolled around, we bought him that Ibanez from a pawn shop and signed him up for lessons.

A quick learner with a natural aptitude for the guitar, Chris was lucky to take lessons from an incredible guitar teacher, Steve Nicosia, and played until his fingers bled.

Late at night, when the house was quiet, I could hear Chris in his room, strumming and practicing songs over and over again. I knew that Ibanez was his way of coping with an often-tough world, and hearing him bring music to life was an incredible gift for me.

The afternoon I broke the guitar, I was in a hurry. I knew when I propped the guitar against the wall it was a mistake. I accidentally knocked the guitar over with the hose of the vacuum cleaner, and the “crack” I heard was like a punch in the stomach.

I picked up the guitar and saw the neck was broken. Chris kept reassuring me it was okay, but I knew that guitar was dear to his heart. I looked up guitar repair shops and left messages with numerous shops.

The next day, a friendly voice called back and said he’d be happy to look at the guitar. No promises, but he’d let me know if the guitar was worth saving.

I found Neil Sargant at Professional Guitar Repair. A smiling man with a blond ponytail opened the door and welcomed me in. It was like stepping back into the 1960s – guitar cases were stacked on the floor and colorful posters from dozens of bands lined the walls. Dusty shelves held an ample supply of replacement guitar parts and every tool and oil associated with guitars.

Neil tenderly took the guitar from my hands and put it on a padded work bench. He ran his hands over the wood and noted the Ibanez was from the 1970s but seemed to be in pretty good shape.

A cracked neck is common, he explained, as he efficiently removed the headstock, pegs and tuners. As he worked, we chatted. He said he’d originally gone to school to learn how to build guitars, but, over the years, he became fascinated with repairing them.

Corporate America wasn’t for him, he said, and I caught glimpses of the 1960s culture throughout our conversation. Neil was open and honest, and seeing how he expertly handled my son’s guitar, a virtuoso.

There aren’t many sole proprietors around these days, and Neil Sargent is one of the guys who makes America run. He was so much fun to talk with, and I left there feeling like I’d rediscovered an old friend.

Fingers are crossed that Chris will be strumming that guitar again and teaching his children to play and love the guitar, just as he did.

That love can start with a beloved 1970s Ibanez guitar, expertly put back together by a cool cat named Neil Sargent.

Denise’s email is dhadams1955@yahoo.com.

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