This poor Taylor had a run-in with a misstep of the wrong foot! The customer had borrowed this guitar from a friend and mistakenly used it for a slipper, or boot, or… I dunno. But it done got broke!
The customer was nervous this guitar might not be fixable in its condition. The breaks were complex and many. When it all comes down, (most) guitars are wood. Everything can be fixed one way or another.
Clamping wood from the outside is no issue, but when a crack is 8″ or longer and going through a surface, is difficult to keep level when re-gluing. I needed to create pressure from the inside-out for the guitar’s top to clamp evenly on the exterior.
For this repair, I went Macguyver and made a new set of clamps from a turnbuckle, threaded furniture foot and… a another, non-threaded furniture foot! The threaded furniture foot provided the necessary torque to apply pressure outward when unscrewed, inside the guitar body. Any additional clamp on the outside can apply pressure inward. The cracks are then equalized between the two sides so not to set unevenly.
Some of the cracks where odd, broken and uneven with the grain where they rest. Overlapping from where they should rest. In some of those occurrences, it’s easier to break the piece off and re-glue than to attempt to force it back.
After all the pieces were glued in place, the back, the guitar back needed to be evened out. Fortunately, Taylor uses light lacquer on their guitars, so it only took a few hours of sanding to get through the finish and level the wood. Once that was even, A few coats of clear lacquer was applied and the back was good as new.
Here is an old guitar that underwent a total makeover. Once again, the was the unfortunate result of parents allowing their young children to “play” their guitars. I honestly don’t know how these kids are able to deconstruct this guitar the way they did, but this is absolutely the most broken guitar I have ever come across…
The top and back were almost completely separated from from the sides, only being held together by the neck, which was broken at the dovetail joint, loose from the top and fingerboard splitting apart from the rest of the neck. The inside of the guitar had melted crayons scattered about. There were no tuners or string nut and bridge saddle. The kerfing on the sides has been split in various locations… basically, this guitar was as they call in the auto-industry, “totaled.”
But one can’t put a price on sentimental value and it was decided to bring this guitar back to life. I think for this occasion, I’ll let the pictures do the talking 😉
Wow, it’s almost been a month since I’ve had time to blog about Austin guitar repairs. Despite the summer rush for repairs being over, the rush itself seems to continue on. I guess it’s a good problem to have?
So, down to the nitty gritty.
After many years of love and play time, the owner of this guitar made an honest attempt to re-fret the first four frets on his own. Unfortunately for his efforts, murphy’s law is especially true when doing any kind of work on your frets. So after his replaced frets completely fret themselves out, he brought it in to my shop for a fix.
The main issue, was the frets were not a good replacement size (too short in crown height) and I couldn’t simply mill them down to match the others. In this case, it was faster and easier to replace them entirely.
First the frets needed to be pulled. The customer didn’t use any glue, so they were only being held in by the teng of the fret. Once they were out, I cleaned out the inside of the fret slots for any debris.
Next, I use a gauge to determine what radius the fingerboard has been manufactured. This guitar was 10″. To translate, imagine a 10″ diameter circle; the top of that circle is the shape of this guitar’s fingerboard, which the frets are placed.
Using my handy fret bender, I fed the fret wire through and cut sections to place on the neck. Because this fingerboard had binding on its sides, I also needed to undercut the ten on the ends so it could sit flush on the fingerboard.
After applying a bit of glue to the bottom of the frets, I hammered them into their slots using a brass-tipped hammer. Once they were in, I clamped them down with a radius block that matched the fingerboard’s profile.
After a night of the glue curing, I removed the clamp and beveled the edges of the frets for any sharp corners. Using that same radius block and a bit of 150 and 220 sand paper, I leveled any imperfections in the new frets and it’s older neighboring ones. Then, using some wet/dry sandpaper, I gave them each a “once over” to smooth them further.
Next, I polished each one with a bit of rubbing compound to buff out any additional scratches. After removing the masking tape from the fingerboard, I apply a few dabs of lemon oil to coat and enrich the rosewood fingerboard
Once that’s dried, I string out the guitar and it’s back in action! Fret work, to say the least, is a series of steps. But when performed correctly, bring a tired, worn guitar, back to life.
Well, it’s been a busy, busy month. And not coincidentally, a hot, Texas month. The kind that makes old glue weakened and acoustic bridges start to pull apart from the surface of a guitar. I’ve had about 5 guitars brought to me in the last 30 days with this very problem. If you’ve been perusing this guitar repair blog, you may have seen an older entry, of a Framus Nylon String guitar, whose bridge popped off entirely. This guitar, didn’t quite have that luxury, and required some extra TLC to get the job done.
After removing the strings, I heat up a metal putty knife by holding it against an iron. I carefully slide the hot putty knife into an open area of the pulled bridge. Once I hit a section of the bridge that is still glued down, I give it a little push to force itself in, and wait a few seconds for the heated glue to settle and I pull the knife back out, and heat it again on the iron. I do this until one end of the bridge has been lifted enough to wedge another plastic putty knife under. This helps any glue that’s been heated not find its way back down to the guitar top.
Once the bridge has popped off, the old glue from the underside of the bridge needs to be removed entirely so we’re working with bare wood. After a little sanding on the bridge’s underside, the next thing to do is clean the surface of the guitar. I totally dropped the ball and forgot to take a picture of this step. But to paint a picture for you, I place the bridge back on the guitar top, mask off the area around the bridge with blue painter’s tape and use a combination of a sanding block and flat chisel (for scraping) to get any bits of old glue or lacquer.
Now, we’re ready to glue this bridge down! Because the bridge has a tendency to shift when clamps are applied, I manufactured a device to keep the bridge from shifting while gluing. I use a strip of wood with two threaded rods epoxied to accommodate the two farthest and most opposite holes which the guitar’s bridge pins secure. After the glue is applied and the clamping begins, there’s a mad rush with a series of wet and dry rags to wipe away any excess of glue that is pushed out from the under side. After a few minutes of tightening clamps and wiping excess glue, the guitar can sit over night and allow the glue to cure.
The next day, clamps are removed, the strings are strung and this guitar is back in action!
This was another interesting guitar to walk through my door. An old, nylon-string Framus guitar. While I can’t put an exact year on it’s make, I would assume early to mid 70’s based on its characteristics – most interestingly, the brass Framus logo, peeling off the headstock.
This guitar was passed down to my customer from her mother. While maintained very well over the years, the temperature changes in Austin had taken their toll on this guitar and the glue had deteriorated over 2011’s long summer.
Fortunately, the break was nearly perfect and brought little wood from the guitar top with it, and made for a quick and easy glue job.
Then, came the more challenging repair; A thin piece of brass laminate used for the Framus logo that had begun to peel over time. Most logos that I come across, are either painted on a guitar, then sealed with lacquer (or whatever finish the manufacturer uses) or are a plastic laminate that can be heated (melted) to the surface. In this case, it appeared Framus put finish coats over the entire guitar, laid the strip of brass logo on top of those coats of finish, and then applied a few more over that small section only.
Needless to say, that wasn’t the best idea they utilized in all their guitar manufacturing mastery. But after bending, flattening and more bending, the laminate was ready to be reunited with the guitar’s headstock after some makeshift clamping.