I played snare drum for my high school’s marching band and became close friends with one of the bass drum players named Tom.
Tom and I bonded over the same music—a melange of jazz, hip hop, rock, and electronic—and we both dreamed of playing drums professionally someday.
It’s ten years later and I work as an assistant chef at a large hotel, hardly anything in the ballpark of a working musician. Tom on the other hand runs a music store out of his house in the rural country. We reconnected on social media last year and he had long been inviting me to drive out to his place and visit his shop. I finally made the time to pay him a visit and figured I might even purchase something from his store. I’m still a hobbyist despite working in food service, so I considered picking up a new cymbal or a pair of sticks at the very least. When he led me inside, I realized immediately that he had converted a former four car garage into a showroom, practice area, and workshop, all-in-one. But the first thing that stood out to me was the hot humid air inside the garage. Despite all of the major doors shut—and just a single one in the back that he led me through—the air was still and uncomfortable. I asked him if he had air conditioning and he told me that it wasn’t necessary. If it got overly hot, he opened the main doors to the garage, he said. Otherwise he saw no reason to keep the space climate controlled. Sadly, he had several expensive guitars hanging in his showroom. Without humidity control, the wood soaks up moisture in the air and leads to warping, in some cases making an otherwise amazing instrument completely unplayable. When I noticed the neck warping on a random $2,000 guitar, I just shook my head in disbelief. I bought a pair of drum sticks but I doubt I’ll ever use them. There are some places where air conditioning is mandatory, and anywhere that sells or stores expensive instruments is such a place.