Guitar Restoration: Vintage Michigan Jazz Guitar


Stan Alexander from The Darts came into the workshop over the weekend. He called to collect his Michigan Jazz guitar which has been restored.

The guitar has been in Stan’s possession for many years and remained stored in his attic for several decades.

It was in a bad way:

The neck had parted company with the body

The soundboard and back were both loose

The internal bass bars* were cracked and loose

The ribs were split and cracked

The fingerboard inlays were beginning to lift and curl up

The end on the neck was split and cracked

The machine heads weren’t working

The bridge was missing

All in all it was a sad case. However, over the course of a few weeks work commenced on the old jazz veteran and the guitar was put back together piece by piece.

Firstly, to get to the loose and cracked bass bars*  the soundboard was removed, the bass bars repaired, cleaned up and re-glued. A temporary mould was made up using stiff cardboard. This was a precautionary measure to ensure that the ribs retained their shape.
*Bass bars are the internal strutting that help give the soundboard its stiffness and is partially responsible for the “acoustic” sound of the guitar.

With the soundboard removed the repair to the ribs was made so much easier. The splits were repaired and reinforced from the inside.

The back was then re-glued to the ribs.

The soundboard re-fitted to the ribs.

Once the body was whole again the edge bindings were cleaned up and stained where necessary.

The neck was re-aligned and re-glued to the body.

The splits and misaligned holes at the end of the fingerboard repaired and plugged

The whole of the completed body work was cleaned and polished.

The new machine heads and bridge fitted.

The pick-up and electrics were overhauled and re-installed

The guitar was strung up with heavy gauge jazz strings.

The guitar played like a dream. It had a low action without any buzzing on the frets, it intonated very well and sounded great acoustically, just what you would expect from a vintage jazz guitar. And when it was plugged in to an amp it sounded fantastic.

Stan was delighted and used the old vintage jazzer at a jazz gig that evening.

Job done!


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7 Responses to “Guitar Restoration: Vintage Michigan Jazz Guitar”

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for Guitar Restoration: Michigan Jazz Guitar « Graham Parker Luthier [grahamparkerluthier.com] on Topsy.com Says:

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  2. Stan Says:

    Graham-Thanks for a great job! It plays like dream! I play bass as well, and put it thru a small Warwick bass combo-Really warm sound-If anyone out there knows anything about these guitars..let me know! it originally had a scratch plate..i’d like to add one that was authentic
    Thanks again.I’m delighyed
    Stan

  3. Graham Parker Luthier Says:

    Thanks Stan, I hope the guitar gives many more years of delight. I’m anticipating some feedback on the scratchplate soon.
    Best regards
    Graham

    • Lawrence Says:

      Did you get the scratchplate sorted as a matter of interest ?
      If not, I can send a photo(s) of my Mitchigan for inspection,
      Hope this is helpful ?

  4. matt Says:

    hello i have one of these and it has a crack in it…how much would it cost to repair? is it worth it? do you know how old the guitar is?
    thanx m

  5. Andy Sankey Says:

    Can you tell me how much the Michigan is worth? I have one in original and good condition without pick-up and looking to sell it.


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