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Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 7:13 pm
by Kevin Lightner
I understand this isn't my forum, but I am often one that provides advice, so today I'm asking it of you.

Several weeks ago, I hurt my back very badly.
I've been having problems for the last 20+ years, but now at 45 it's not mending very quickly at all.
Moving synths for decades has taken it's toll, as I'm not a very big person.
I'm the smallest one here, for reference:

With consideration that I generally service synths for a living and it doesn't look like it's going to be easy to continue, my question is what to do now?
Sell parts?
Modification / restoration kits?
Program sounds?
Sell advice?

I'm not much for driving or working for "normal" companies, so it would have to be something I could do from home, but I'm not sure I could ever make enough money without doing actual synth work.

Thanks for any input.
You can write me via [email protected] if you prefer not to clutter up this forum.
But it's the only forum I'm participating in lately and much of my work is with Moogs.


Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:08 pm
by MC
Have you consulted a fitness expert? One who specializes in free weight training? I'm not suggesting lifting free weights, but a weight training belt may help you. You're not overweight so you have a head start towards recovery.

I am very conscious of the health of my back and I make sure I lift the proper way. I've seen too many people throw their back out and I do not want to wind up like them.

I *do* set limits. IE I would never own a real Hammond B3 or something too bulky and heavy that I could not lift myself.

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:43 pm
by gd
Sorry to hear about your back, selling advice (consulting) takes a long time to get contracts that pay what you are worth. You have a great reputation so I would be more likely to get into the mod/resto side. Even with the new Voyagers/LP's there is a mkt to "supercharge" them. Let Brian play with the Mellotrons :) and all those heavy beasts. The vintage mkt has exploded in the past 5 yrs or so. Repairing/resto ARPs Moogs, Jups and Prophets should keep you busy and not do more damage to your back. Not sure you want to take on the CS80's.
Say hello to Brian for me, the biz Brian setup 10 or so years ago of vintage rentals would probably fly today. It seems that it is getting harder each year to make a decent living in the music ind'y whether it be retail, production but resto. should prove the opposite.

Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:26 pm
by Kevin Lightner
Thanks for the kind words.
I appreciate the time and effort to reply.
Several people have also done so in private email and I'm grateful.

For what it's worth, I was just sitting doing nothing when my back went out.
Nothing at all.
I do know how to lift and am well coordinated. I even practice Aikido (or did ;-) )
The center of gravity has been my friend for a long time.
I rarely lift large synths directly at all.

While I've had back injuries before, I've always recovered fairly quickly.
But this time it's been much worse. I was literally paralyzed for about a week.
After that, I was able to visit a chiropractor and doctor, got crutches and a back brace.
I'm doing much better pain-wise now, but after almost a month I still couldn't hope to pick up even up a Micromoog.
A full gallon of milk would be a challenge.
It's difficult to even walk without the backbrace now.
It's that bad and I'm the first one to be surprised just how much.
It's not easy for me to become depressed and so I'm looking for some pragmatic approach.
To me this is just another of many problems, but I still have to find a solution.

I should also explain that I don't do general repairs to synths any longer.
It's not like the old days where one went in and fixed a single problem and returned it to the owner.
Those days are long gone.
Since I put a warranty on my work and many of my clients expect the best, each synth is stripped down, cleaned/refinished and reassembled.
There's considerable gymnastics involved.
And because I live up in the mountains, most synths are shipped in and out.
There's just no way to offer a warranty on a vintage synth that's treated to any lesser service- It would just come back again to haunt me and make the owner angry.
Few people deliver their synths in person, so there's much packing and unpacking too.

Fwiw, I've refused CS80s for many years because of their weight and don't work on P5's.
I've serviced both in the past.

The myth about mint vintage synths doesn't help.
People buy something called mint and just don't understand how many things aged badly in their synths since then.
They all need a huge amount of work done nowadays.
I doubt most owners would even have the patience to *watch* all that's necessary.
Really. It's tedious, often exhausting work and likely sheer boredom for a spectator.
But doing less would basically be capitalizing on a reputation without delivering the goods.
It would be dishonest.
I love the work, but it's the feeling of knowing I tried to do my best that's the payoff.
Taking money for something and knowing you could have done better isn't any fun for me.

Anyways, thanks.
I really do appreciate any input.
Probably best to write privately tho.
Moogs are often my problem, but my problems are not Moog's. :)

Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:50 pm
by latigid on
I think few diehard Moogers would not appreciate the work you have done with vintage synths. The more techs we have, the better. Thus, your problem is ours also.

Would you consider getting an assistant?
Or training a protégé?

Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 6:00 pm
by thewaag
latigid on wrote:I think few diehard Moogers would not appreciate the work you have done with vintage synths. The more techs we have, the better. Thus, your problem is ours also.

Would you consider getting an assistant?
Or training a protégé?
This was going to be my suggestion, although, training employees is always a "fun" challenge. It may also be difficult, depending how far out in the boondocks you live.

Backs are tricky things. I am a very large guy, and so I have always been the one expected to lug big things around. Every now and then this gets the best of me and my back goes "out" for no proper reason.

Sometimes this repairs itself in days, while other time it takes weeks. Maybe you are into one of those "weeks" repair modes.

A good physical therapist can make you walk in hunched over, and walk out straight up like normal.

I suggest that you find a good PT, or chiropracter.

Best of luck! I commiserate with you.

Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 11:17 pm
by Kevin Lightner
Thanks again.

Ok, so who wants to come to the San Bernardino mountains to pack up a Moog 55?


Posted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 12:52 am
by museslave
Kevin Lightner wrote:Thanks again.

Ok, so who wants to come to the San Bernardino mountains to pack up a Moog 55?

Want to and can are two different things. If I didn't live 1500 miles away, I might be inclined to pay YOU to work for you. :)

Posted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 12:36 pm
by electrical_engineer_gEEk
museslave wrote: Want to and can are two different things. If I didn't live 1500 miles away, I might be inclined to pay YOU to work for you. :)
I second that, if i didn't live so far away I would pay YOU to teach me a thing or two about vintage synth repair or become your protégé.....le sigh

Posted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 4:31 pm
by nathan
then spend the money on a planeticket and dont pay kevin anything.

Posted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 6:56 pm
by museslave
nathan wrote:then spend the money on a planeticket and dont pay kevin anything.
I would love to learn from Kevin and help him... but I don't know if I want to leave my wife and child to do that. :wink:

Posted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 9:44 pm
by Don
Hi, Kevin.

My heart goes out to you. People who have never had back problems don't know how debilitating, irritating, painful, and draining they can be. I had it happen to me once, 20 years ago, and I'd never want it to happen again.

Rather than work arounds, I'd prefer to suggest work throughs. Have you been to a physician who specializes in working with backs? Is there any spinal damage? Nerve damage? Or is it just soft tissue? This would have to be diagnosed by an MD, and I'd respectfully suggest a specialist rather than a GP.

If there is something that needs to be repaired such as a tear, chip, crack, etc., has that been done? I would respectfully suggest trying a physical therapist and chiropractor. Working in conjunction with them I would also suggest adding a massage therapist who specializes in sports injuries and even an acupuncturist. A friend of mine is a doctor of acupuncture and one of the leading acupuncturists in California. He has testified to the state legislature concerning laws governing the practice of acupuncture. His office is in Chico (near Sacramento).

I would add that the longer you wait on this, the longer it may take to get through it. Act quickly, my friend! You are needed.

Posted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 5:59 am
by Kevin Lightner
Thanks, Don.

All you said is wise, but causes the sound of a cash register in my ears.
I'm an 80 mile round trip from anything that resembles a specialist and have no insurance.
Chico, CA is a 900 mile round trip for me.
I've done that drive before.

Anyways, I may well have a specific and treatable problem, but at the moment I'm completely in the dark.
My current modus operandi is one of prevention and management, not treatment.
This out of necessity.
Specialists are like gold taxis that may well take you where you wanted to go, but will do it for a golden price.
Last month cost me over $1000 just for the local doc and chiropractor, along with the pharmacy.
As someone self-employed with no savings, that type of spending can't last long.

"Waiting on it"...? Well, I messed things up originally 23 years ago.
My back is now the product of that damage and time.
Again, I'm not terribly large and have lifted literally thousands of synths.
What's done is done.
It would be great to have some valid treatments, but it just ain't going to happen on my income and thus anytime soon.
Especially if I hire Nathan above as my business manager... ;-)

Thank you very much. :)

Posted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 7:11 am
by nathan
you can take an apprentice in return for backrubs.

Posted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 8:51 am
by gd
don't laugh but years ago (70's) a friend of mine who used to work on the heavy old gear like Hammonds/Leslies/ ep's etc. His back was in terrible shape as a result of losing too many wrestling matches with this gear. He was a phenomenal tech. - we initially tried rigging up a hoist for the gear but in the end we actually re-worked a wheel chair (forced him not to lift as he didn't require one for walking etc.) and made some electric hoist and lowered his work bench to wheelchair height. He was reticent at the beginning as he didn't like the idea of ppl seeing him in a wheelchair but after a few days he came to appreciate it and over the years continually modded his gear to save his back. We even used an old engine hoist on some gear as it had wheels on it to move a P5 and CS series around the shop. When gear was dropped off at his store it had to be placed on a specific bench. I understand your pain as my wife had vertebrae sheared off her spine and every rib broken in a min. of 2 a number of years ago by a drunk driver. She lives in pain each and everyday.