Guitar Repairs London: 1968 Gibson 335 Headstock Repair



 

On the workbench a 1968 Gibson 335.

   

A phone call from a distraught Stage Tech. This guitar was slowly losing its headstock!

The guitar belongs to Richard Oakes, the guitarist with Suede.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suede_(band)

This is his beloved guitar which has had the headstock broken and repaired once before. The Stage Tech had resorted to binding the headstock with Gaffer Tape in the hope that it would last a little longer until the end of the band’s tour.


 

Once on the bench it is clear that the repair is substandard and slowly coming undone.

   

All it takes is a little tug and the whole repair comes apart.

  

This particular break is a bad one, it’s a shear break. The headstock has broken from the neck at 90° to the grain of the wood.

  

This makes for a challenging repair confounded by the fact that it has been repaired once before. All remnants of the old glue must be removed before a new join can be made. Fortunately there is no damage to the end of the truss-rod.

A shear break makes for a difficult repair because it is impossible to rejoin and glue the end grain of a section of wood to another end grain. Reinforcement strips will need to be inserted.

It is important that any repair work should be discreet and invisible.


 

The Process

Fortunately the head veneer is still in one piece and undamaged. The break has occurred just underneath the top nut. So it is decided that the head veneer should be removed and replaced once the repair inserts have be added.

The head veneer is clamped under a piece of perspex to keep it flat until needed later on.

  


 

The Repair

The idea is to join/re-glue the neck to the headstock (as best as). And once this is done reinforcing inserts can be added.

A jig is made up to hold the guitar and headstock in place whilst the glue sets.

  

Once rejoined, the neck and head are routed to except the inserts. Brazilian Mahogany and ebony inserts are made up and glued in oversized to be trimmed down to shape once dry.

  

  

  

  

The head veneer is then re-fitted, conveniently hiding the Ebony inserts

And the back of the neck/headstock is refinished to disguise the work.

  

A few other jobs around the guitar are carried out i.e. fret work and a new bone nut.

All in all a successful repair.

I believe the guitar will now only be used for studio work. It is regarded too highly for the rigours of touring.

 



Advertisements

Fender Guitar Repairs London: Stevens by Fender



Here’s an unusual guitar on the workbench.

A Stevens by Fender made by Michael Stevens.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Michael Stevens is a renown Luthier working out of Alpine, Texas. In 1986 he became the Founder and Senior Design Engineer of the Fender Custom Shop along with design engineer John Page. Together they designed and made guitars for many named artists. Read more here


This beauty has taken a tumble and the inevitable has happened, a broken headstock.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

 

As evident from the serial number this guitar was one of the first few in the run. I can’t be exact as to where this guitar was made but the decal suggests it was out of the Fender Custom Shop.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

The electrics cavity-cover bears two signatures and a date which adds to the intrigue.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

It is decided that an invisible headstock repair should be made. This complicates matters as spraying a headstock with a coloured lacquer, so as to disguise the repair, will obliterate the decal. And the decal is essential to authenticate the instrument.

It will be impossible to save the existing decal as the finish on the back of the headstock will need to be scraped back to the Mahogany. After considered thought it is decided that new decals should be designed and made up.


Firstly the damage to the headstock is repaired, hot hide-glue is used for this. The break is clean with a large gluing area.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

The neck and headstock are stripped down using a simple cabinet scraper. This ensures that the finish is removed in a controlled and careful manner.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

The guitar body, fingerboard, edge-binding and headstock face are masked off and the guitar prepped for the spray booth.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

The first coat is applied – this is the base colour mixed with clear gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer

Layer upon layer of this mix is sprayed onto the neck to eventually fill the grain and to bring the finish up above the surface.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE
Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

The lacquer is cut back in preparation of attaching the decals

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

The water-slide decals are soaked, applied to the surface and left to dry.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

The neck has several coats of clear lacquer applied. This gives depth to the finish and also offers protection for the decals

 

The surface of the neck and headstock are burnished and polished and the tuners reinstated.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

All in all a good result and another quality guitar back in action.

More pics available on Flickr



Guitar and Mandolin Repairs : Kalamazoo Mandolin





This lovely old ‘30s Kalamazoo came into the workshop because it has a problem with its action.

Image

The action is very high and it’s not too long before the reason for this high action is spotted.

The neck is pulling up with the tension of the strings and a gap has appeared at the neck/body join.

Image  Image

According to its owner it had been attended to in the past but the repairer merely forced glue into the join, applied clamps and hoped for the best. Consequently over time the join has failed again.

The only means of dealing with this type of issue is to remove the neck and to make an assessment of the internal join.



The fingerboard extension is heated to release the glue. By teasing a little warm water into the join the hide glue is softened and the neck join becomes undone.

Image

The neck and body are held together with a simple French Dovetail. On close inspection of the dovetail it appears that it does not reach to its full height.

Image  Image

It is decided that a simple solution would be to extend the male half of the dovetail.

The end is trimmed down and a piece of Mahogany glued into place.

Image Image Image

As a safeguard an Ebony dowel is fashioned and inserted down through the body of the join.

Image Image

Veneer shims are added to the dovetail to ensure a snug fit.

Image

The join is assembled using hide glue and clamped.

Image

A few days later the mandolin is strung up, tuned and tested. The join is now gap free and the playing action is as it should be.

Click photo for Flickr pic set

Image

This lovely old mandolin has the beautiful tone of a mature instrument with the playability of a new mandolin, good for another 80 years!





Fender Bass Repair : 1969 Fender Precision Bass Truss-Rod Repair





On the workbench is a 1969 Fender Precision Bass with a problematic playing action. The action is high and the bass is very uncomfortable to play.

It was bought through a popular online auction and was brought into the workshop for an assessment after the new owner had tried various adjustments but failed to make the bass more playable.

It had spent most of its life in its case inside a closet. This is confirmed by its amazing condition. The finish is bright and clean with very little markings or lacquer cracks. The hardware is all original and unusually the bridge and pickup covers are still present. I suspect that it was put away and forgotten about because it is such an effort to play. This would account for its immaculate condition.

Click image to enlarge



Fender Truss-Rod

On all early Fender guitars the truss-rod adjuster is at the body end of the neck. Upon inspection it is apparent that the truss-rod is not working as well as it should. Any adjustment has little effect on the neck.

Upon testing the truss-rod, it appears that the adjusting screw reaches its limit before any changes to the neck are effective.

The prognosis is that the truss-rod is either broken internally or that the adjusting nut is ineffectual in some way.

The remedy is to replace the truss-rod.

This is a problematic job as this would require the rod to be removed without removing the fingerboard. It is not possible to remove a Fender style fingerboard without changing the nature of the neck beyond all recognition. This would detract for its originality and drastically devalue the guitar.

A Fender truss-rod is made from a piece of round section steel with a “T” soldered onto one end (the truss-rod fixed point )and a thread tapped onto the other end to accept the adjusting nut. Once fitted into place, and when the nut is tightened, the adjusting nut pushes against a fixed internal washer which is part of the inner channelling that the truss-rod sits into.

It is decided to create an opening in the fingerboard directly above the truss-rod fixed point and expose the “T”.  Once exposed, the “T” can be severed and the rod extracted via the body end on the neck.

A magnet stack is used to locate the end of the truss-rod

A section of fingerboard is scribed through and removed thus revealing the “T” fixed point

The “T” is drilled through and severed

The rod is extracted through the body end of the neck

Testing the truss-rod once it has been removed, it is apparent that the adjuster is ineffectual. As the adjuster is tightened it has the effect of ejecting the screwdriver (very frustrating).

Click image to enlarge


A new rod is made up using a piece of silver steel and a different style of adjuster. This is inserted into the headstock end of the neck and fixed. Silver steel is a tougher material and more likely to allow for extra torque that may be needed on final adjustment.

The fingerboard piece is replaced

The area smoothed over and cleaned up

Frets 1 & 2 are replaced and a new bone nut made and fitted.


The Conclusion

I am pleased to report that the truss-rod works well and has made a vast improvement to the basses playability. The initial cost of a repair such as this is easily justified due to the overall value now put on this fully functional  ’69 Fender Precision bass – all original and in excellent condition – in short a splendid bass.

The bass is now permanently out of the closet and enjoying its new lease of life by its new owner.

More on P. Basses here




Gibson Guitar Restoration: Gibson L1 1926








Here’s a very old guitar on the workbench. It’s a Gibson L1 made in 1926.

This was the year that Gibson reintroduced the L1 as a flat-top, previously it had been a carved arch-top instrument.

More early Gibson L1 info Here….

This old darling has had a bit of a hard life. It’s seen a few changes to its bridge and finish and needs a lot of work to bring it back to optimum playability.


­The Issues

Its bridge has a nasty crack along its length

It has a very high playing action

It has multiple splits and cracks

It has a part broken Rosette

 


The Bridge

Repairing the split in the bridge can only be carried out with it removed from the soundboard.

The finish is scribed around the edges of the bridge and the soundboard  protected. A block is heated and rested on the bridge, the heat transference is enough to soften the glue holding the bridge.

The bridge is held in a purpose made jig and a channel routed into the underneath. A Rosewood piece is inlayed into the channel and smoothed down. The bridge-pin holes are re-drilled and the surface sanded. The repair to the bridge is now complete.

The soundboard under the bridge is cleaned up

A section of new Spruce is laid over the bridge footprint and levelled off. This gives the new bridge a flat and stable gluing area.

The bridge is then glued into place.


The Neck Reset

The playing action on this old L1 can only be restore with a neck reset.

The 15th fret is heated and removed. A 3mm hole is drilled through into the dovetail cavity, the finish is scribed around the heel. The fingerboard extension is heated to soften the glue. Steam is then pumped into the dovetail cavity and the neck removed.


The Rosette

With the neck removed the Rosette can be repaired.

A section of the rosette that is hidden under the fingerboard can be used to repair the visible break.


The neck angle is adjusted at the heel and the neck reset.

More on neck re-sets Here…

All splits and cracks can be easily sealed and cleated.


Finally

After the neck reset the fingerboard has taken on a slight hump at the neck-body join, this is quite common after a neck reset.

To solve this it is necessary to remove all frets and re-shoot the fingerboard thus ensuring that there will be no string choking around the upper area of the fingerboard.

 




More workshop photos on Flickr Here…





Acoustic Guitar Repair: Vintage Epiphone Texan Neck Re-set







This lovely old Epiphone Texan was made in 1951.

The Guitar was taken into the workshop for some major repair work. It has many problems: a split in the soundboard, loose soundboard , loose bindings, fret wear, high action and intonation problems.

 

History in Brief

The Texan was produced by the Epiphone Company starting in 1942. After Epiphone folded, the Gibson Company produced the Texan in Kalamazoo Michigan until 1970. There have been numerous reissues of the Texan since their primary production period in the 1960’s. More here…

The Players

The Texan was made popular by Sir Paul McCartney for the recording and the live performances of the hit song from 1965 “Yesterday”. It is also famous for being the acoustic guitar on which McCartney performed the signature “McCartney Picking” in some album pieces such as “Blackbird”, “Mother Nature’s Son” (The Beatles “White Album”), “Calico Skies”( Flaming Pie), and more recently “Jenny Wren” (Chaos and Creation in the Backyard). Kurt Cobain of Nirvana used an Epiphone Texan on the 1994 In Utero tour. Also, Graham Nash used an early customized black (originally “cherryburst”) Epiphone Texan while in The Hollies and during the beginnings of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Other artists with which the Texan is identified are Tom Rush, Al Stewart, Noel Gallagher and Peter Frampton. More here…



This straight-edge reveals where the string height should be

 

On a budget guitar the financially viable option would be to plane down the top of the bridge and set the saddle groove and saddle lower. However, on this valuable vintage instrument such an invasive repair is not an option. The only course of action is to remove the neck and reset at the appropriate angle.

It was also noted, in the initial work-bench examination, that the neck was positioned incorrectly for accurate intonation, another reason to remove the neck.

 

 


To reset a neck on any acoustic guitar is a complicated and difficult procedure.

Firstly the 15th fret is removed

Two small holes are drilled into the slot of the 15th fret (at a slight angle). These holes will allow steam to be forced into the neck’s dove-tail join. The 15th fret is approximately situated over the space between the female part of the dove-tail on the body and the male part on the neck.

The lacquer around the heel is scored with a sharp blade, to stop lacquer break-out when the neck is removed.

The fingerboard extension is heated. This softens the glue and allows it to be separated from the top of the guitar.

With the help of this neck removal jig the neck is safely removed.

A calculation is made using the “Neck Re-set Formula”. This allows the exact amount to be removed from the heel (for the correct neck angle) to be accurately determined.

A further adjustment is made to the tenon, heel and shoulder to shorten the string length and allow for correct intonation.

Two Rosewood dowels are made up to fill the two small holes drilled into the fingerboard.

The 15th fret is replaced and a hone and re-profile to all frets carried out to remove all fret wear.

With the neck angle adjusted the neck is firstly checked for proper string alignment relative to the horizontal plane and centre line.

The neck is glued in place using reversible Hide glue.

The soundboard split is cured and loose binding reattached.

The Texan is strung up with D’Addario 12 – 54 strings.

It plays and sounds fantastic and would be a treasured addition to anyone’s collection

Follow this link for enlarged photos on flickr…







 

 

With the help of this neck removal jig the neck is safely removed.

Martin D-41 Refret








I had the pleasure of working on a beautiful Martin D-41 which was in the workshop for some general maintenance work. After a workbench examination it was decided that it needed a partial re-fret.

Partial Re-fret

In this short video I take you through the process of its partial re-fret. Explaining the techniques, tools and materials used.








Fret Hone and Re-profile

In this short video I go through the process of honing and re-profiling the frets of the D-41. Explaining the techniques, tools and materials used.