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

 



 

Bass Guitar Setups London: Sadowsky Bass



I had a visit from Jean-Louis Locas.

Jean-Louis is the bass player with Cirque Du Soleil who are performing their show “Kooza” at the Royal Albert Hall.

Jean-Louis has in his arsenal of instruments a beautiful 5 string bass by Sadowsky. The bass was in need of a quick set-up and a little fret attention mid shows.

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Sadowsky are a reputed workshop based in New York who make a fine array of 4 and 5 string basses

More about Shadowsky guitars here


Cirque du Soleil tour with a 5 piece band where the musicians double-up on instruments . It’s made up of bass, guitar, keyboards, drums, percussion and a horn section.

More about Cirque de Soleil here


Catch Jean-Louis in action at the Royal Albert Hall here

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Circus of the Sun is in town!

KOOZA | Royal Albert Hall




Guitar setup: Acoustic Guitar Repair: Fret Dressing a Martin D 28

This Martin HD 28 is in the workshop for a full set up and fret dress. It dates back to 1987 and this is its first serious set up.

The frets are showing signs of wear and tear. Also the fingerboard has started to show signs of wear and has a few grooves worn into it around the lower end on the treble side.
The fingerboard wear is tackled first. It is skimmed between the frets and the worst of the grooves filled and smoothed.

Next comes the fret dress.

The truss rod is released to ensure that the fingerboard is flat and level. The neck is supported along its length. The body work is protected and masked off.

The fret tops are skimmed with a fine honing stone to remove all fret wear and grooves. Also to ensure all frets are a uniform height.

The fingerboard is masked off. Each fret is re-profiled.

Each fret is polished up to 2500 grade Silicon Carbide paper and then finely polished with burnishing cream.

The guitar is strung up and the truss-rod reset for Martin medium gauge strings.

And it plays like a dream.

Meet Colin the happy owner.

On the workbench

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Aria Pro II fretless bass guitar repair


This Aria Pro II bass was bought by one of my regular customers. It was listed as a fretless long scale bass.
To the horror of the new owner it was a fretted bass that had had its frets removed.

After a bit of haggling with the seller he decided to keep the bass.

A new fingerboard would be too costly so it was decided that fret markers would be added.

The fret makers were made up from lines of maple veneer.

The guitar was set up with flat-wound strings to ease scoring on the fingerboard. Fret markers can be an practical option for bass players that are playing fretless for the first time.