Electric Guitar Repair: 1968 Gibson Melody Maker


Luke Crowther from The Rifles dropped by the workshop a few days back. He was collecting his Gibson Melody Maker.

Melody Maker

On the Bench

This lovely old guitar was made in 1968 and has been cherished by Luke for many years until it was worked on by an over enthusiastic guitar tech and was never the same again. After that it didn’t play very well and the intonation was hopelessly wrong.

A possible reason was identified immediately

Wrap Around Tailpiece

The wraparound tail-piece was never a great idea in the first instance and this one was also tipping forward quite acutely. This type of bridge/tailpiece relies on a raised pattern to fix its intonation. Quite a crude idea which only allows for fine adjustment via two small grub screws hidden in the back end of the wraparound. This allows adjustment forwards or backwards ( or  ) and typically never gives enough movement to permit accurate intonation. 


Tailpiece Pull up

This has been modified at some point as it still shows the remnants  of the old tremolo system. And removing the scratchplate reveals some crude routing out for the humbuckers. Certainly not factory spec!

Open Cavity

It’s hard to say definitively but it appears that this guitar had a fixed bridge and fixed tremolo as well as single coil pickups. And at some point a previous owner has carried out all these mods.


Time to put it right

First thing is to remove the wraparound assembly and trem remnants.

Tailpiece removed

A modern wraparound is bought in to be fitted. This system has separate saddles similar to the Tune O Matic bridges. This will allow the intonation to be set accurately.

New Tailpiece/Adjustable Bridge Assembly

The threaded inserts that are buried into the guitar body are slightly smaller than the originals. Therefore the holes are plugged and re-drilled. To achieve this two Mahogany plugs a turn down on the lathe, inserted and drilled out.

Posthole MeasurementHole Plugs in Lathe12.85mm in Mahogany

With the scratchplate removed a few of the scratchplate screw holes are repaired.

Breakout in cavity

Scratchplate Off Plugs Drilled

With the new wraparound bridge installed and the scratchplate secured correctly the guitar is ready to be set-up.

There is some fret wear which is honed out and the frets re-profiled. The fingerboard is cleaned and oiled and the guitar is re-strung with 10-46 gauge strings.



Luke checks out the guitars new set-up

Yes he likes it, one very happy Rifleman.


Luke Playing a Few Licks

Luke Standing


Check out the band on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/therifles




4 Responses to “Electric Guitar Repair: 1968 Gibson Melody Maker”

  1. Martin Linford Says:

    Good to see ‘Trench Coats’ are back – must dig mine out now Summer is on the way.
    Oh, nice job on the Guitar by the way – no change there 🙂

  2. ed o'toole Says:

    Fascinating stuff, as always.

  3. Tom Bird Says:

    Hi, I have this exact same guitar and am.looking to sell it, would you know how much it’s worth or where would be the best place to sell it? It did suffer a broken neck but was repaired by a Gibson specialist in Cheltenham about 15 years ago and has been fine ever since. It has the black scratch plate as shown in this article and the pickups are not original but upgraded. It’s all in perfect working order however. I want to sell it so I can afford to buy a Fender Stratocaster hopefully!

  4. Jerry Whalen Says:

    I have a 1968 Gibson Melody Maker with the SG body style. The guitar shop owner that I bought it from had a fine rack of SGs. In 1975, the $350 price was out of my range. The owner said that he had a well-worn guitar that was similar. The guitar was in need of some cosmetics but other than that there were a few surprises. The previous guitar owner had ordered many upgrades and after a year, he never came back to get the guitar because he didn’t want to pay for all the extras that he had ordered. The guitar had been refitted with two humbuckers, new frets. and all other hardware including a Leo Quan badass guitar bridge. (biggie in the day). I had used this guitar when I was teaching in the same guitar shop when the new owner suggested that I get a few upgrades. He installed two Bill Laurence humbuckers with one split-coil and one standard humbucker with a three-option mini switch and a separate phase switch. The pickups were designed with the same specs as Jeff Beck’s guitars. I could get nine different tones from my Gibson without touching a pedal. The melody maker is still alive and kicking and I am ready to rehab the basic electronics without touching the other toys. The Melody maker’s name is Clyde! the original price was only $250. I can’t wait to bring it up to full power again!

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