• Structural
  • Martin Bridge Plate Repair

    This Martin dreadnaught as a problem found on many older guitars. The bridge pin holes have been worn to the point that the ball ends of the strings sit below the surface of the bridge plate. This condition occurs slowly over time when the ball ends of the strings are installed below the bridge plate and are forced against the plate rapidly as the guitar is tuned to pitch. When installing strings on an acoustic with bridge pin the string should be inserted through the hole, the bridge pin installed loosely pushing the ball forward, and the string should be pulled up against the top of the guitar while the pin is pushed gently into place. The pin should not be too tight. It is the ball against the bridge plate that holds the string in place, not the pressure from the pin.

    When the plate gets worn it can be replaced entirely or the repaired by removing small divots of wood around each pin hole and gluing in new wood.

  • Structural
  • 1920’s Gibson A Style Mandolin Side Repair

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    This sides on this Gibson mandolin had become distended over time to the point that they could not be pushed back into place.  Pushing one area in just caused it to bulge in another area. I decided that a small amount of wood needed to be removed from the tail end, reducing the circumference of the sides.  To do so I removed the back, the kerfed lining, and the tail block, and then used folded sand paper to slowly remove wood from the seam at the tail end.  It was critical to know exactly how the sides were matching up at all times.  I tried making a standard for the match the back but I really needed to be able to adjust the pressure on the sides evenly all the way around the body so I took the time to make a set of 20 clamps that insert into 1/4″ holes around the perimeter of the mold that push against the ribs.

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    These little clamps work extremely well and I am happy to have them for future repairs.

    I had to replace some of the kerfed lining, remove a small sliver of maple to reduce the folding pressure on the top, and add a small piece of maple to the opposite side to fill the gap.  There are a few areas where a small misalignment can be felt but overall I am happy with the results.  This is an amazing sounding Mandolin back in playable condition.

  • Structural
  • Gibson ES-125 Brace Repair

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    Repairing the braces on this Es-125 is fairly straight forward but it is a bit like building a ship in a bottle. The clean the underside of the top I used rare earth magnets with sandpaper.  Moving a magnet on the topside of the guitar moves the magnet with sandpaper inside the guitar which removes the old glue and exposes clean wood for regluing the braces.  Similarly, I used sandpaper stuck to a stick to remove the old glue from the braces.

    The most important part of the process is making a caul to preserve, and in some cases recreate the top arch.  If an archtop is strung and played with loose braces the top can sink inward causing very low action or an abnormally high bridge setting.  If the braces are glued to the top without a caul they will conform to the new arch which is not functional.  To make the caul I use the back of the guitar as a guide and bandsaw the caul to match the curve.

    At this point it is just a matter of applying glue, aligning the brace, and having a plan to get as many clamps in place as possible.

  • Structural
  • 1959 Les Paul Custom hole repair

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    This ’59 Les Paul Custom is well worn from 50+ years of use.  It has a great patina and checking of a guitar that has been played hard throughout its lifetime – this ins’t a relic job!  Along the way someone drilled several extra holes, one in the back, two by the control knobs, and one where the pickguard was drilled into the top rather than use the L bracket. The trick for this kind of repair is to blend the new lacquer to look as rough and aged as the rest of the guitar.

  • Structural
  • Washburn Bowlback Mandolin

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    This old Washburn Mandolin came into the shop suffering from being stored in very dry conditions.  Several braces were loose, the top was separating near the tailpiece, there was a separation in staves of the bowl, the binding and purfling were loose in several places, and several pieces of the lining had come loose.  With a little patient gluing and clamping I managed to get everything solid again.

    I wanted to bring the action down a bit. Not wanting to modify the original bridge too much, and possibly going too low, I decided it would be safest to make a reproduction bridge and store the original.