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An Eleven String Guitar

How many strings are on a 12-string guitar? No, it's not a trick question, but if you're in my house on the right day, the answer could be eleven.

That's not the right answer, but it is the true answer.

Why? It's not intentional. The strings come in various gauges, simplified on the container as Light, Medium, and Extra Light (an interesting logic of its own) and the mediums are hard to find. Using light gauge strings on a 12-string guitar means that the thinnest string is so thin (.08 cm) that it's very easily broken.

Sometimes, I can break a string while I'm tuning it, that's how easy they are to break. When that happens, it's eleven-string time until the next trip to the music store.

If you don't tell anyone, an eleven-string guitar could go undetected for weeks (I've done it). The sound is pretty much the same and the strings are so close together to begin with that you'd need to really get close to see the gap.

It's not ideal, but the music is still good and the rest of the strings don't seem to mind.

What did I learn from an eleven-string guitar?
  • Plan ahead
Clearly, I've done this before. Why not have an extra string for when one breaks? By planning ahead my 12-string guitar will always be complete. Maybe I just like to live on the edge, when it comes to music -- but when it comes to business, are your "extra strings" in place? 
  • Play on with what you've got
OK, so sometimes we don't plan ahead enough. That doesn't have to be the end of the song. Lots of great music has been made with pieces missing and lots of great teams have succeeded long after key players left. Play on.
  • Know your breaking point
That .08 cm thin string breaks for me about half the time, which is why I usually select the higher gauge. What parts of your machine, or team, or project are breaking under the strain. What can you do to minimize that? How do you raise the gauge of your work?

Points to Ponder

If you play a musical instrument, change something about it (use a different reed, re-tune your strings, use a mute, amplify it...) and play your favorite song. How does change for you to be more creative? What else can you do to increase your creativity?

Draw a picture of yourself (or your company logo, or your favorite cat...) using your non-dominant hand. What details can you miss and still make a recognizable picture? Can you still capture the essence of your message? What accidental lines or marks spark a memory or idea?

-- Doug Smith


WHO SAID IT?

"You do not merely want to be the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do."

Was it...

A. Jerry Garcia
B. Eric Clapton
C. Pat Metheny?

The answer is here.

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