Mark, I hope you don't mind if I repeat that last paragraph of yours. It's so filled with truth, it's bursting at the seams.
"Tip for new players: You need an obsessive personality. If music is simply an interest you'd like to add to your already crowded life, you can have a great time singing and playing with friends. On the other hand, if your goal is to stand out among musicians, be in demand for sessions and get the big hand for an instrumental break, you need to be obsessive. Very few "great ones" in any field are well balanced personalities. They do what they do pretty much to the exclusion of everything else and they do that not by design but because they can't help it."
(Rick here again) I'm glad that this thread is going to be a permanent one, because I'm going to let as many of my students as possible see these words.
I make a lot of time for my hobbies and "semi-vocations" such as Leather-carving, article-writing, and cartooning, but I play A LOT because I "can't help it".
Once you take your instrument in for repairs you've usually lost 50 bucks right off the bat. There are several good books on doing home repair and set-ups. It really isn't difficult. Get to know "Elderly Instruments" in Lansing Mich. Find their web-site and send for their catalogues. Also Stewart-MacDonald. Different company, great catalogues on repair (and EVERYTHING ELSE)
Every musician should know about these two companies.