Is getting the right tool an excuse?

I’m attempting to switch out the pickups in my main guitar, a Sterling JP50, and I did what I usually do when approaching something for the first time.  I looked online for others who have done it before to see what pitfalls are out there.  Of course how deep I go will depend on the perceived risk/value of the item I’m attempting to modify.  In this case there it is a non-trivial amount of money between the pickups and the guitar itself if I wire it incorrectly.  So I read and re-read several forum posts., measured and re-measured the distance between the poles, and imagined myself going through the steps in my head.  Then I pulled off the string, pulled the cover off, unscrewed the current pickups, and warmed up the soldering iron.  Once it was warmed up I sat down to do it for real.  Now my soldering iron is an old pistol grip one from my wife’s grandfather and while it works great for many things it is huge and as I maneuvered the wires to melt the existing connections I realized there was little chance I was going to be able to solder in that small space without melting the 3-way switch or burning myself.  I just didn’t have the right tool.  So for once I stopped.  I didn’t accomplish my initial goal, but I was worried about ending up worse than when I started.

Obviously there are also times to not let the little things stop you from finishing a project, but I think that often you end up taking a shortcut to “finish” but in the long run ends up taking longer because of all the problems created by that initial choice.  This is true in a work environment as well as personal projects.  I remember trying to change brake pads on a vehicle and thinking it was ridiculous to go spend the time, effort, and money to go and get a tool that pushes the brake hydraulic back.  It cannot be more than an inch or so and I figured I had enough tools that I could push it back no problem.  So got the car up on the jack, the tire off, and the bake pads removed in about 10 minutes.  I started on the plunger, going back and forth from the tool chest.  60 minutes later I was seething and no closer to getting the plunger backed out for the new pads to go in.  So I broke down drove to the store and spent the 13 bucks to get the stupid piece of plastic and bolt with a knob.  It took 30 seconds to push the plunger to the correct place and another 10 minutes to get the pads and the wheel back on.  I moved to the next wheel and it took me 20 minutes total.  So not only did I have to spend the time to drive back and forth to the store and spend the money anyway, I wasted all that time.

So how do you know when you are using the lack of the correct tool as an excuse or as a legitimate case to keep from screwing it up?  I wish I knew, but based on several things lately I will be leaning toward the legitimate side of things, which means for the moment I wait on my guitar.

By the way this is coming from a guy who has a monitor stand shelf held at the right height by beer cans.  In my defense, the cans are the perfect height for getting my controller under and it took 1 minute to setup and were originally Coke Zero (because they’re black) until my wife stole them.  So this is a frustration that has been building.

This post not really sponsored by Steve Lukather – Darnkess in My World but it is a great track.


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