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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rifles_%28band%29

 



 

Acoustic guitar repair London: Gibson 1966 LG-0 (Hot Rod)





Here is an interesting project recently taken in by the workshop: a Gibson LG-O made in 1966

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This is an all Mahogany guitar: Mahogany soundboard, back, ribs and neck. This guitar was a budget instrument at the time of manufacture and sold at an affordable price as an entry-level model. The guitar has a slim neck which measures 1 9/16’’ at the nut and joins the body at the 14th fret.

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The Bridge

In 1962 with many thousands of the LG-O sold Gibson decided to exchange the standard rectangular Rosewood bridge for a plastic “belly above” type. This plastic moulded version was held in place by 4 screws that attached from under the soundboard up into the base of the bridge. This was done for ease of removal when dealing with replacements. This was upgraded in 1968 with a Rosewood replacement which included an adjustable saddle.

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 The Soundboard

The soundboard is ladder-braced with 5 lateral braces across its width. This type of bracing gives a distinctive tone that is indicative of the old acoustic Blues sounds of the 1930s. However, this system lacks structural strength and over time the soundboard can become bulged and distorted with string tension. The over large bridge-plate can exasperate the problem as these where generally made of softwood which also offered little structural strength. The LG-O was discontinued in 1974.



The Brief

Our Brief in this instance was to remove the internal ladder bracing, replace with a scalloped X brace system to give the guitar a more balanced tone and to accentuate the bass tone.

To upgrade the bridge-plate and to make and fit a Rosewood replacement bridge.



Removing the Back

In order to gain easy access to the internal bracing it will be necessary to remove the back.

This LG-O does not have an edge binding around its back outline. Therefore, a thin pallet knife is slipped between the back and the end block to start the separation. Once started a Japanese saw is used to precisely cut through the inner lining. Because of the saw’s thin blade and unique cutting motion very little material is lost during this process.

 

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Once the back is removed the simplistic ladder-brace system is revealed. You will notice that a brace and the bridge-plate are missing. I believe these became loose and subsequently lost years before. Their footprints are still visible.

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Rosewood Bridge-Plate

The remaining braces are easily removed and the internal face of the soundboard is prepped in readiness for its upgrade. An Indian Rosewood bridge-plate is made up and fitted. Rosewood is the workshop’s prefered material for bridge-plate replacement because of its strength to thickness ratio.

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Go-bars are a very handy and simple way to fit bridge-plates and braces. They are made from flexible timbers that allows pressure to be applied where needed whilst glue is drying.

The Bracing System

The bracing system is made up and glued into place piece by piece.

Each brace is made from 1/4 sawn straight-grained spruce individually scalloped.

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 Gluing the Back

Once the bracing system is completed the back is cleaned up and glued into place

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A replica of the plastic bridge is made up out of Brazilian Rosewood and fitted

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The Set-Up

The frets are showing some wear. They are honed and re-profiled and the truss-rod is adjusted.

The guitar is strung up and tested.

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 Conclusion

I’m happy to report that the finished upgrade turned out very well. The guitar has a sweet sound with a good balance. It has a warmth and depth to the bass with sweet mids and trebles. It likes to be picked as well as strummed and I suspect that it will record very nicely and with a small body guitar that’s all you can really ask for.

Full size photos available here on Flickr





Acoustic Guitar Setup: Gibson Hummingbird Custom Shop





 

This Beautiful brand new Gibson Hummingbird Custom Shop is in the workshop for a quick set-up.

Its new owner has only just taken delivery of it and wants to get it checked over.

It’s in fine fettle and is just given a truss-rod and action adjustment.

It’s given a clean bill of health

Enlarged photos here…


 

Spec:

Body
Soundboard          ~     Sitka Spruce
Back and Sides     ~     AAA” Figured Koa
Binding                   ~     Multi-ply Top w/ Abalone, Multi-ply back
Bracing                   ~     X-Bracing
Rosette                   ~     Double Ring w/Abalone
Hardware
Bridge                      ~    Ebony Belly Up
Scratchplate         ~    Tortoise Hummingbird Inlay
Tuners                     ~    Gold Grovers Engraved Knobs





 

Guitar Repair London: 1968 Gibson 330 Semi Acoustic: The Dilemma

This lovely old Gibson ES330 Semi Acoustic guitar dates back to 1968.

It has been well looked after and cherished by its owner (one of my regulars).

Simple Problem

What had started out as a simple problem soon turned into a long and complicated repair.  The jack socket had come loose and when the owner tightened it up all the electrics stopped working. This is a common fault with many types of jack sockets because the connecting cables often break if the jack socket is allowed to rotate. This was the cause of this jack socket failure.

To repair this faulty jack meant stripping the guitar down, taking out all the electrics through the pickup cavity and making the necessary repair.

A Convoluted Scenario

Due to the guitar’s age the wiring had become rigid and brittle. Any slight movement to the components or the wiring resulted in a minute fracture in the wiring circuit resulting in an intermittent fault.

The Dilemma

The value of a vintage guitar is determined by several factors

  • The make
  • The condition
  • The functionality
  • The authenticity

To remove and replace all of this 330’s electrical wiring and components would detract from its authenticity and therefore decrease its value. However, it could be argued that parts have to be changed and upgraded for the guitar to function properly. Should all the working parts on a valuable vintage guitar such as this one (including the wiring) be continually maintained and repaired?

Take part in the poll.

Vote functionality if you think that it is more important to change and replace parts as necessary for the sake of functionality.

Vote authenticity if you think that a vintage instrument should retain all of their original parts and remain completely authentic.

Vote now!



Outcome

 

In this instance the guitar was repaired using its existing wiring and components. It was painstaking work as any slight movement, tugging, pulling or distortion in the wiring would lead to another failure in the circuit.

I am happy to report that the guitar is now fully functional, playing beautifully and remains completely authentic, but for how long is yet to be determined.

Comments Please

Should an old vintage beauty such as this one be kept completely original, even if it becomes very labour intensive and costly to do so?

Or should all faulty parts (such as perishable cables etc) be replaced to keep the guitar in tiptop functional condition?

At what point should the old be replaced by the new?

I would be very interested to read your views on this so please feel free to make a comment.


Guitar Repair: 1953 Gibson LG1 Acoustic

This 1953 Gibson LG1 acoustic guitar was brought into the workshop several weeks ago.

It was purchased by one of my regular customers from a well known auction site and listed as a “project guitar”. They were not kidding!


The Damage

  • The back was badly split and cracked
  • The struts that reinforced the back were missing or cracked
  • The machine heads were stiff and difficult to use
  • The bridge was missing.

Not only was the bridge missing, but a bridge shape had been painted on in a disconcerting fashion. The bridge pins were still in place and clearly someone somewhere had been trying to use this guitar in its sorry state.

Being over 50 years old this guitar had suffered serious abuse and damage not only structurally but also to its finish. It was decided that cosmetically the guitar would not be altered due to financial restraints.


The Repair

  • All splits and cracks to the back repaired
  • A new back brace made and fitted (without removing the back)
  • Machine heads overhauled and made functional
  • A new Rosewood bridge made and fitted
  • Fingerboard and frets cleaned up
  • Set up for .011 – .054 gauge strings

Guitar Repair Specialist for Martin, Gibson, Fender, Guild, Takamine, Yamaha, Ovation and Adamas Guitars

Over three decades I have specialised  in repairing Martin, Gibson, Fender, Guild, Takamine, Yamaha, Ovation and Adamas guitars.

Repairs vary from basic set up work to full blown renovation and rebuilds.
The most extreme repair I have undertaken was taken into the workshop about 8 years ago; a woman had bought a Yamaha acoustic guitar for her husband from her local music shop and 2 years or so later he was sadly killed in a car crash. The guitar was also in the car at the time of the accident and was badly damaged in the resulting fire. The widow wanted the guitar restored as a memorial to her late husband but alas the only thing salvageable was the guitar’s bridge. I was commissioned to build an exact replica of his guitar using the old bridge.

Contact me if your guitar is in need of TLC and talk through the possibilities.

Les Paul and the Luthier

Graham Parker Luthier discusses the pros and cons of the Gibson Les Paul with the man himself Les Paul at The Iridium Jazz Club, Broadway, NYC. (He makes a few notes)