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.