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  • Wilhelm Duerer Violin Repair

    This cool old fiddle is being fixed up for a very lucky guy for Christmas. This cool old fiddle is being fixed up for a very lucky guy for Christmas.
    The first step is to glue up all the cracks and open seams. The first step is to glue up all the cracks and open seams.

     

    The next step is planing the fingerboard.  For this I like to use my block plane with specially ground iron that excels at cutting even the toughest ebony.  I use a cloth to protect the violin from the mess it makes. The next step is planing the fingerboard. For this I like to use my block plane with specially ground iron that excels at cutting even the toughest ebony. I use a cloth to protect the violin from the mess it makes.
    After the planing is done I sand and polish the fingerboard.  After the planing is done I sand and polish the fingerboard.
    This poor violin had one bum peg.  You can see here that someone tried to fit it with a pen knife and it just wasn't  working.  The client decided to just replace the one peg with a non matching ebony peg.  Every old fiddle needs a lucky peg, so let's make one. This poor violin had one bum peg. You can see here that someone tried to fit it with a pen knife and it just wasn't working. The client decided to just replace the one peg with a non matching ebony peg. Every old fiddle needs a lucky peg, so let's make one.
    The first thing to do is ream the old peg hole.  This makes the old hole round again and resets the taper to match my peg cutter. The first thing to do is ream the old peg hole. This makes the old hole round again and resets the taper to match my peg cutter.
    This tool cuts the new peg down to fit in the freshly reamed hole for a perfect fit. This tool cuts the new peg down to fit in the freshly reamed hole for a perfect fit.
    Now that the peg fits.  It's time to cut it to length. Now that the peg fits. It's time to cut it to length.
    Now that's what a lucky peg end should look like.  If that nut looks a bit chunky to you, that's because it is.  I'll be fixing that in a few more slides. Now that's what a lucky peg end should look like. If that nut looks a bit chunky to you, that's because it is. I'll be fixing that in a few more slides.
    Moving on to the new bridge.  Here you can see that I have already fit the feet.  A perfect fit is critical for a good sounding bridge. Moving on to the new bridge. Here you can see that I have already fit the feet. A perfect fit is critical for a good sounding bridge.
    Once the string height is set I go to work carving every curve of the bridge to bring out the best tone. Once the string height is set I go to work carving every curve of the bridge to bring out the best tone.
    The finished bridge on the violin. The finished bridge on the violin.
    Time to get back to that unsightly nut.  The strings are too high and the shaping is sloppy. Time to get back to that unsightly nut. The strings are too high and the shaping is sloppy.
    This is what it looks like after I lower the strings and clean it up with files and sandpaper. This is what it looks like after I lower the strings and clean it up with files and sandpaper.
    After one last round of polishing and smidge of touch-up this violin is all ready to go home.  Here you can see it with it's brand new Bobelock case and Core Select carbon bow. After one last round of polishing and smidge of touch-up this violin is all ready to go home. Here you can see it with it's brand new Bobelock case and Core Select carbon bow.

    As always I hope you have enjoyed reading this entry, and feel free to leave comments and/or questions below.

  • Gretsch ukulele restoration

    This old Gretsch has seen better days.  I'm told the grandchildren liked to use it as a hammer, but now it's in to be restored. This old Gretsch has seen better days. I'm told the grandchildren liked to use it as a hammer, but now it's in to be restored.
    Just a few quick photos to show you what I'm up against. Just a few quick photos to show you what I'm up against.
    Yup, neck needs to be reset. Yup, neck needs to be reset.
    The back is just riddled with cracks and will need to come off. The back is just riddled with cracks and will need to come off.
    Ouch! Ouch!
    The ribs are loose too. The ribs are loose too.
    First thing's first.  Let's take off the back and see what's inside. First thing's first. Let's take off the back and see what's inside.
    That wasn't too bad.  Now that I can get to the braces and blocks, I can start gluing things up. That wasn't too bad. Now that I can get to the braces and blocks, I can start gluing things up.
    Here I am mixing up a nice strong batch of hide glue that I'll be using throughout this restoration. Here I am mixing up a nice strong batch of hide glue that I'll be using throughout this restoration.
    I usually like to start with the hardest part first. I usually like to start with the hardest part first.
    I'm using my bench to clamp against and I'm using that third clamp in the middle to draw the crack together.  Cellophane keeps the glue from sticking to things it shouldn't. I'm using my bench to clamp against and I'm using that third clamp in the middle to draw the crack together. Cellophane keeps the glue from sticking to things it shouldn't.
    Now that I have access to the lower block I can reattach the ribs.  This will help stiffen up the structure and make repairing the top easier. Now that I have access to the lower block I can reattach the ribs. This will help stiffen up the structure and make repairing the top easier.
    More clamps, glue and plastic. More clamps, glue and plastic.
    Now that the rim is sound again the structure carry a few clamps and I can glue up the crack on the top. Now that the rim is sound again the structure carry a few clamps and I can glue up the crack on the top.
    This worked so well I decided to try it again, only this time I am gluing up two cracks and a loose brace all in one go. This worked so well I decided to try it again, only this time I am gluing up two cracks and a loose brace all in one go.
    Now that the top cracks are taken care of, I can reattach the top to the ribs. Now that the top cracks are taken care of, I can reattach the top to the ribs.
    The edge of the back is so destroyed I'm going to have to graft on new wood. The edge of the back is so destroyed I'm going to have to graft on new wood.
    I decided to use a scarf joint because the back is so thin and the joint will be too close to the edge to cleat.  I used a small plane to bevel the edge and clean away all the crushed wood. I decided to use a scarf joint because the back is so thin and the joint will be too close to the edge to cleat. I used a small plane to bevel the edge and clean away all the crushed wood.
    I grabbed a few blocks of old mahogany that I had to try and find a good match for grain and color. I grabbed a few blocks of old mahogany that I had to try and find a good match for grain and color.
    After I picked the closest one, I ripped off a this slice and beveled it to match the back. After I picked the closest one, I ripped off a this slice and beveled it to match the back.
    I used my go bar table to glue the two parts.  I used the bevel's to my advantage, wedging the two pieces together to create a clamping force along the scarf joint. I used my go bar table to glue the two parts. I used the bevel's to my advantage, wedging the two pieces together to create a clamping force along the scarf joint.
    The neck needs to be reset, so I popped the old dowel joint.  You can see how little was actually holding the neck on.  The two pieces weren't fitted together at all and there was only a tiny contact patch. The neck needs to be reset, so I popped the old dowel joint. You can see how little was actually holding the neck on. The two pieces weren't fitted together at all and there was only a tiny contact patch.
    I made up a batch of mahogany cleats and started reinforcing the top cracks.  I'll thin them down once they have a chance to dry. I made up a batch of mahogany cleats and started reinforcing the top cracks. I'll thin them down once they have a chance to dry.
    The new graft now needs to be trimmed down to the original profile. The new graft now needs to be trimmed down to the original profile.
    The cleats get shaped to reduce mass. The cleats get shaped to reduce mass.
    The top cracks also get cleated up. The top cracks also get cleated up.
    Time to put the back on. Time to put the back on.
    More clamps finish gluing on the back. More clamps finish gluing on the back.
    A little color matched filler to smooth out a ruff spot on the back.  This will all get sanded out later. A little color matched filler to smooth out a ruff spot on the back. This will all get sanded out later.
    After a bit of sanding, I refinished the body with french polished shellac. After a bit of sanding, I refinished the body with french polished shellac.
    The finish looks so much better after a good french polishing. The finish looks so much better after a good french polishing.
    I decided to improve upon the factory neck joint a bit and went with a two dowel approach as opposed to the single it had in the past.  This should make it much stronger without altering the uke in any noticeable way. I decided to improve upon the factory neck joint a bit and went with a two dowel approach as opposed to the single it had in the past. This should make it much stronger without altering the uke in any noticeable way.
    Now that the neck is back on straight and true, I can replace the fingerboard extension. Now that the neck is back on straight and true, I can replace the fingerboard extension.
    Next I replaced the missing fret at the end of the board.  It was of course lowered to match the rest of the frets. Next I replaced the missing fret at the end of the board. It was of course lowered to match the rest of the frets.
    Before I put the tuners back together, I took it upon myself to polish them up a bit. Before I put the tuners back together, I took it upon myself to polish them up a bit.
    And there we have it.  This old uke is ready to hit the road and make some smiles.  I have to say she sounds better than I had imagined. And there we have it. This old uke is ready to hit the road and make some smiles. I have to say she sounds better than I had imagined.

    This old girl was reunited with her original owner who bought it new when he was just a youngster.  Thank you Sam for letting me restore your baby.  I hope it was worth the wait.  And thanks to everyone who read the post, I hope you all enjoyed it.  

  • 1955 Kay bass repair

    This old Kay had a bad spill.  It was dropped on it's endpin and now the lower ribs and block are badly cracked.  Let's see if we can get it jamming again for the holidays. This old Kay had a bad spill. It was dropped on it's endpin and now the lower ribs and block are badly cracked. Let's see if we can get it jamming again for the holidays.
    This is what we have to fix.  The back is loose, the ribs are separated and badly cracked and  the block is mostly broken free on the inside. This is what we have to fix. The back is loose, the ribs are separated and badly cracked and the block is mostly broken free on the inside.
    First off I gently removed the endpin from the damaged block.  Kay endpins are unique as they are press fit as opposed to the more common tapered variety and are much more difficult to remove. First off I gently removed the endpin from the damaged block. Kay endpins are unique as they are press fit as opposed to the more common tapered variety and are much more difficult to remove.
    Now I have to remove the top to gain access to the inside of the bass.  I do this with a sharp knife, some denatured alcohol to desiccate the glue, and a lot of patience. Now I have to remove the top to gain access to the inside of the bass. I do this with a sharp knife, some denatured alcohol to desiccate the glue, and a lot of patience.
    This is what the inside of a bass top looks like. This is what the inside of a bass top looks like.
    Callahan has come down stairs to check on our progress. Callahan has come down stairs to check on our progress.
    This big hunk of wood is the lower block, and it has to come off so I can fix the shattered ribs.  Sometimes I can get them off without destroying them, but in this case the ribs are so badly damaged that won't be able to take it out whole without making the ribs worse. This big hunk of wood is the lower block, and it has to come off so I can fix the shattered ribs. Sometimes I can get them off without destroying them, but in this case the ribs are so badly damaged that won't be able to take it out whole without making the ribs worse.
    That means it's going to have to come out in pieces.  This is called splitting out the block and I will be using a chisel and mallet. That means it's going to have to come out in pieces. This is called splitting out the block and I will be using a chisel and mallet.
    All done! What a mess. Luckily I was able to extract the block with out further damaging the ribs. All done! What a mess. Luckily I was able to extract the block with out further damaging the ribs.
    Now I have to gently go through the shattered laminants of the plywood ribs and line up all the layers.  Some parts of the outer veneer had to come off, but they will be put back later. Now I have to gently go through the shattered laminants of the plywood ribs and line up all the layers. Some parts of the outer veneer had to come off, but they will be put back later.
    I made a clamping caul out of a scrap of pine and some cork.  It is shaped to the original curve of the ribs. I made a clamping caul out of a scrap of pine and some cork. It is shaped to the original curve of the ribs.
    I need to reform the separated layers of the rib.  Here you can see me applying glue with a thin spatula. I need to reform the separated layers of the rib. Here you can see me applying glue with a thin spatula.
    Now you can see that fancy caul in action.  I wrapped the cork in thin plastic, so the glue won't stick to it. Now you can see that fancy caul in action. I wrapped the cork in thin plastic, so the glue won't stick to it.
    Here you can see the inside where I used a scrap of lexan to distribute pressure from the clamps.  Now it needs to dry overnight. Here you can see the inside where I used a scrap of lexan to distribute pressure from the clamps. Now it needs to dry overnight.
    Now that the clamps are off, I need to put these bits back into place. Now that the clamps are off, I need to put these bits back into place.
    There are a few holes that I will patch up with new veneer. There are a few holes that I will patch up with new veneer.
    A few magnets and clothespins ought to hold everything in place while the glue drys. A few magnets and clothespins ought to hold everything in place while the glue drys.
    With the middle layers repaired, I can move on to the damage of the inner maple veneer.  In this photo you can see how I have prepared the surface for new wood. With the middle layers repaired, I can move on to the damage of the inner maple veneer. In this photo you can see how I have prepared the surface for new wood.
    Here you can see the fresh new layer of maple glued in place. Here you can see the fresh new layer of maple glued in place.
    Now I am putting on an extra layer that will go under the liners and will reinforce this weakened area. Now I am putting on an extra layer that will go under the liners and will reinforce this weakened area.
    Now for the other side. Now for the other side.
    While that is drying I can do a little sanding so the new wood will blend into the old. While that is drying I can do a little sanding so the new wood will blend into the old.
    This ought to look familiar. This ought to look familiar.
    Wow that new wood really stands out.  Perhaps I can fix that. Wow that new wood really stands out. Perhaps I can fix that.
    A few coats of blue mountain brown should do it.  A few coats of blue mountain brown should do it.
    If you don't happen to have blue mountain brown in your stain cabinet, you could substitute in some folgers fawn, or even some starbucks sepia to achieve the perfect patina. If you don't happen to have blue mountain brown in your stain cabinet, you could substitute in some folgers fawn, or even some starbucks sepia to achieve the perfect patina.
    Now that the ribs are looking tasty, it's time to glue them back to, well... the back. Now that the ribs are looking tasty, it's time to glue them back to, well... the back.
    I have selected a nicely aged piece of quatersawn air dried sitka spruce for the new tail block. I have selected a nicely aged piece of quatersawn air dried sitka spruce for the new tail block.
    The block is cut to size and the curve of the ribs is cut into the mating surface. The block is cut to size and the curve of the ribs is cut into the mating surface.
    A few test cuts to be sure I have the grain run-out going in my favor for later carving. A few test cuts to be sure I have the grain run-out going in my favor for later carving.
    The end grain has to be sealed with glue ahead of time so the pours don't starve the joint later on. The end grain has to be sealed with glue ahead of time so the pours don't starve the joint later on.
    Doing a little last minute veneer patching where the old block damaged the back.  This will get glued in at the same time as the block. Doing a little last minute veneer patching where the old block damaged the back. This will get glued in at the same time as the block.
    I like to warm up the block so I can get a little more working time out of the hot hide glue. I like to warm up the block so I can get a little more working time out of the hot hide glue.
    Clamping time! Clamping time!
    Now is when I wish I had three hands. While the block is drying I glued in the last of the kerfing.  Sometimes you have to get creative. Now is when I wish I had three hands. While the block is drying I glued in the last of the kerfing. Sometimes you have to get creative.
    The block is now carved with chisels and planes to remove excess weight and give it a pleasant shape. The block is now carved with chisels and planes to remove excess weight and give it a pleasant shape.
    Planing down the end of the block to match the ribs. Planing down the end of the block to match the ribs.
    All trimmed down and sealed with hot hide glue, this block is finished.  All trimmed down and sealed with hot hide glue, this block is finished.
    Finally, it's time to put the top back on.  I start by gluing up the neck and tail block, this restores the neck angle and eases the process. Finally, it's time to put the top back on. I start by gluing up the neck and tail block, this restores the neck angle and eases the process.
    The rest of the top is glued using spindle clamps, I do this in two stages. The rest of the top is glued using spindle clamps, I do this in two stages.
    I like to put the bass on it's side for this so that gravity helps draw the glue into the joint. I like to put the bass on it's side for this so that gravity helps draw the glue into the joint.
    Now that the top is back on I need to do some touch up, so I mixed up a small jar matching handmade brown spirit varnish. Now that the top is back on I need to do some touch up, so I mixed up a small jar matching handmade brown spirit varnish.

    This is how it turned out.  The camera can be unforgiving at times.  After taking this picture I decided to keep working on it.  You can see the end result in the last slide.

    This is how it turned out. The camera can be unforgiving at times. After taking this picture I decided to keep working on it. You can see the end result in the last slide.
    This fingerboard was so worn from years of play.  You can see rutts where the strings were.  A board planing is way overdue. This fingerboard was so worn from years of play. You can see rutts where the strings were. A board planing is way overdue.
    I was not expecting to find this under there!  It turns out this Kay has a beautiful figured walnut fingerboard.  Wild!  I planed out all the old string wear and fixed the relief and curvature.  Bill is going to love this. I was not expecting to find this under there! It turns out this Kay has a beautiful figured walnut fingerboard. Wild! I planed out all the old string wear and fixed the relief and curvature. Bill is going to love this.
    I mixed up that big jar of kay brown, it would be a shame not to do something about this edge damage. I mixed up that big jar of kay brown, it would be a shame not to do something about this edge damage.
    That's much better.  Bill and I are going to have to have a talk about rib bumpers when I see him next. That's much better. Bill and I are going to have to have a talk about rib bumpers when I see him next.
    Fitting the new adjustable bridge. Fitting the new adjustable bridge.
    A close up of how the bridge turned out after string height was set and the carving done. A close up of how the bridge turned out after string height was set and the carving done.
    All done!  And here we have the completed bass, all tuned up and ready to go home. All done! And here we have the completed bass, all tuned up and ready to go home.
    Bill and Dorothy came to pick up their beloved bass. Another happy customer! Bill and Dorothy came to pick up their beloved bass. Another happy customer!

    So there we are.  This repair took just a day or two over two weeks to finish here at Bayberry Music.  I hope you all enjoyed seeing the process.  Thanks for looking and Merry Christmas!

  • Guild neck reset

    This guitar was brought to me because the action was too high and it was hard to play. This guitar was brought to me because the action was too high and it was hard to play.
    here you can see how high the strings are at the 12th fret. Here you can see how high the strings are at the 12th fret.
    This photo shows the neck projection onto the bridge.    You can see here that the neck has rotated so much that the projection is below the top of the bridge.  A neck reset is in order to fix this and get the action back down. This photo shows the neck projection onto the bridge. You can see here that the neck has rotated so much that the projection is below the top of the bridge. A neck reset is in order to fix this and get the action back down.
    Here you can see me using an iron to heat up the fingerboard in order to loosen the glue.  I am using my bending slats wrapped in tinfoil to protect the guitar top from the irons heat.  I should note that there is no water in the iron.  The steam comes later. Here you can see me using an iron to heat up the fingerboard in order to loosen the glue. I am using my bending slats wrapped in tinfoil to protect the guitar top from the irons heat. I should note that there is no water in the iron. The steam comes later.
    I use a sharp knife and various spatulas to free the fingerboard from the top.  once again you can see I am using the steel slats to protect the top from any accidental damage. I use a sharp knife and various spatulas to free the fingerboard from the top. once again you can see I am using the steel slats to protect the top from any accidental damage.
    Now the fret has to come out so I can drill down to the neck joint.  The hole will be hidden under the fret wire when it all goes back together.  I use a soldering iron to heat the fret, so it will come out clean. Now the fret has to come out so I can drill down to the neck joint. The hole will be hidden under the fret wire when it all goes back together. I use a soldering iron to heat the fret, so it will come out clean.
    Here you can see the fret has come out nice and clean and I have drilled a tiny hole into the pocket of the neck joint so I can inject steam to melt the glue inside. Here you can see the fret has come out nice and clean and I have drilled a tiny hole into the pocket of the neck joint so I can inject steam to melt the glue inside.
    In goes the steam!  here you can see part of my neck steaming setup.  On the guitar is a fancy jig to apply a constant pressure to the heel of the neck to encourage it's clean release with a minimum amount of steaming. In goes the steam! here you can see part of my neck steaming setup. On the guitar is a fancy jig to apply a constant pressure to the heel of the neck to encourage it's clean release with a minimum amount of steaming.
    This is a homemade water trap I built to catch any condensed water in the lines before it gets to the guitar and makes things unnecessarily soggy.  Yeah it leaks a bit, so I put it in the paint can to catch the drips and keep it from tipping over.  It works surprisingly well. This is a homemade water trap I built to catch any condensed water in the lines before it gets to the guitar and makes things unnecessarily soggy. Yeah it leaks a bit, so I put it in the paint can to catch the drips and keep it from tipping over. It works surprisingly well.
    A little while later and out she comes clean as can be except for a layer of old hide glue. A little while later and out she comes clean as can be except for a layer of old hide glue.
    All this glue will get cleaned out before the joint has a chance to cool.  After that, the guitar gets to rest for a spell while everything drys back out.  I need the wood moisture to fully stabilize out before I go resetting the neck angle. All this glue will get cleaned out before the joint has a chance to cool. After that, the guitar gets to rest for a spell while everything drys back out. I need the wood moisture to fully stabilize out before I go resetting the neck angle.
    My apologies, I must have forgotten to snap a photo of the neck going back in, but I assure you there was nothing more than a few clamps and some glue.  The neck joint was of course adjusted and refit to raise the saddle height beforehand.  Sorry no pictures there either.  In this photo you can see the new bits of cow bone that will soon become the new saddle and nut. My apologies, I must have forgotten to snap a photo of the neck going back in, but I assure you there was nothing more than a few clamps and some glue. The neck joint was of course adjusted and refit to raise the saddle height beforehand. Sorry no pictures there either. In this photo you can see the new bits of cow bone that will soon become the new saddle and nut.
    The new fully compensated saddle and new bridge pins installed. The new fully compensated saddle and new bridge pins installed.
    All finished.  The new action is back to factory new and this guild is ready to go home. All finished. The new action is back to factory new and this guild is ready to go home.

    Thank you Don for trusting me with this beauty and thanks to everyone who took the time to read this post.  As always feel free to leave questions and comments below.

  • Benjamin's Vivi Tone Mandolin

    What a cool old mando!  This is a Vi Vi Tone out of Kalamazoo MI made in the 1930's by the legendary Lloyd Loar.  This mando is in for a new adjustable bridge.  More info on Vi Vi tone can be found at this link http://www.mandolincafe.com/glossary/glossary_57.shtml What a cool old mando! This is a Vi Vi Tone out of Kalamazoo MI made in the 1930's by the legendary Lloyd Loar. This mando is in for a new adjustable bridge. More info on Vi Vi tone can be found at this link http://www.mandolincafe.com/glossary/glossary_57.shtml
    First, some eye candy.  The logo is spray painted on. The V's remind me of F5 head stocks. First, some eye candy. The logo is spray painted on. The V's remind me of F5 head stocks.
    The tailpiece looks to have been sand casted. The tailpiece looks to have been sand casted.
    Just a quick photo of the label. Just a quick photo of the label.
    This is the back of the instruments.  Its' carved spruce with f-holes.  Super cool. This is the back of the instruments. Its' carved spruce with f-holes. Super cool.
    Time to get down to business.  Here you can see the the original bridge, a template that I made, and the beginnings of the lower half of the new adjustable bridge. Time to get down to business. Here you can see the the original bridge, a template that I made, and the beginnings of the lower half of the new adjustable bridge.
    I am temporarily gluing the ebony saddle to the maple bottom to make drilling the screw holes easier. I am temporarily gluing the ebony saddle to the maple bottom to make drilling the screw holes easier.
    The two pieces are fitted together polished and drilled. The two pieces are fitted together polished and drilled.
    Here you can see how the ebony has been separated from the maple and the adjusters have been installed. Here you can see how the ebony has been separated from the maple and the adjusters have been installed.
    Now the feet of the bridge are carefully fitted to the top of the mandolin. Now the feet of the bridge are carefully fitted to the top of the mandolin.
    Now I am setting the intonation so the mandolin will play in tune all the way down the neck. Now I am setting the intonation so the mandolin will play in tune all the way down the neck.
    This is what the finished bridge looks like after the saddle has been carved.  Sorry about the bad angle.  It gives the false impression of uneven string height, but you will see in the next photo that all is well. This is what the finished bridge looks like after the saddle has been carved. Sorry about the bad angle. It gives the false impression of uneven string height, but you will see in the next photo that all is well.
    The finished bridge installed on the mando.  Note that the strings are shifted to the left.  This was done purposefully to correct for a slightly crooked neck.  I deemed it more important for the strings to run down the center of the neck than the center of the bridge. The finished bridge installed on the mando. Note that the strings are shifted to the left. This was done purposefully to correct for a slightly crooked neck. I deemed it more important for the strings to run down the center of the neck than the center of the bridge.
    As a last minute addition, Benjamin decided to have an ivory strap pin installed.  Here you can see me cutting the taper to fit the mando.  This pin will look great with the white headstock overlay. As a last minute addition, Benjamin decided to have an ivory strap pin installed. Here you can see me cutting the taper to fit the mando. This pin will look great with the white headstock overlay.
    fin fin

    Thanks again to everyone who read the post.  I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did making it.  Next up will be an old Guild with a belly ache.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Angie's Ol' Amati

    It may not be a real Amati, but we are going to treat as one.  This fiddle is in for full set up and a french polish.  In this photo I have just begun planing the fingerboard. It may not be a real Amati, but we are going to treat as one. This fiddle is in for full set up and a french polish. In this photo I have just begun planing the fingerboard.
    The fingerboard has been re-surfaced with a hand plane, sanded, polished and oiled. The fingerboard has been re-surfaced with a hand plane, sanded, polished and oiled.
    Soundpost time.  The old post didn't fit well and it was so thick (~8mm) that I had to split it to get it out properly. Soundpost time. The old post didn't fit well and it was so thick (~8mm) that I had to split it to get it out properly.
    The new soundpost is the right diameter (6.3mm).  The rough length for the post is measured with the brass calipers below. The new soundpost is the right diameter (6.3mm). The rough length for the post is measured with the brass calipers below.
    The post is now cut to fit the inside of the violin.  Not only do the angles of the top and bottom of the post have to fit the top and back exactly, but the length of the post has to be perfect too.  This is all done with a very sharp knife. The post is now cut to fit the inside of the violin. Not only do the angles of the top and bottom of the post have to fit the top and back exactly, but the length of the post has to be perfect too. This is all done with a very sharp knife.
    Everyone always asks " how do you get them in there?"  They get levered into position with tool aptly named the soundpost setter.  The other end of the setter has a little paw that lets me scoot the post into the exact spot. Everyone always asks " how do you get them in there?" They get levered into position with tool aptly named the soundpost setter. The other end of the setter has a little paw that lets me scoot the post into the exact spot.
    This is what the post looks like in the violin as seen through the endpin hole.  Note the vertical alignment and good fit with the top and back. This is what the post looks like in the violin as seen through the endpin hole. Note the vertical alignment and good fit with the top and back.
    Now that the platform is properly supported I can move on to the bridge. This is what a new bridge blank looks like before any work begins. It has a long way to go before it can be used. Now that the platform is properly supported I can move on to the bridge. This is what a new bridge blank looks like before any work begins. It has a long way to go before it can be used.
    The first step is to fit the feet.  A perfect fit is crucial to tone and usability.  A poor fit will actually damage the top.   The first step is to fit the feet. A perfect fit is crucial to tone and usability. A poor fit will actually damage the top.
    Next I need to cut the top of the bridge down to establish the proper curvature and string height for optimal playability.  Here you can see me sighting down the fingerboard to check my line for a starting point.  This is drawn intentionally high and will be lowered to the final height later. Next I need to cut the top of the bridge down to establish the proper curvature and string height for optimal playability. Here you can see me sighting down the fingerboard to check my line for a starting point. This is drawn intentionally high and will be lowered to the final height later.
    Just a quick note.  When I went to put the tail piece back on I noticed that the old tailgut was failing.  You can see the knots that hold the gut on have completely fallen apart.  Just a quick note. When I went to put the tail piece back on I noticed that the old tailgut was failing. You can see the knots that hold the gut on have completely fallen apart.
    I opted to replace the old brittle natural gut with a sacconi loop.  I only use the genuine Sacconi loop's as I find that the cheap knock off's often strip out right away. I opted to replace the old brittle natural gut with a sacconi loop. I only use the genuine Sacconi loop's as I find that the cheap knock off's often strip out right away.
    Now back to the bridge.  Here you can see I have roughed in the top curve and  have fine tuned the string height.  I can go nice and low with the fresh fingerboard planning and the new Helicore strings.  This violin is going to be lightning fast. Now back to the bridge. Here you can see I have roughed in the top curve and have fine tuned the string height. I can go nice and low with the fresh fingerboard planning and the new Helicore strings. This violin is going to be lightning fast.
    So now the feet fit and the string height is set.  This is the point where a lot of shops stop, but for me, this bridge is only half done.  The next step is for tone and looks.  I go over every every line of the bridge with knives and chisels and carve it into it's final shape. So now the feet fit and the string height is set. This is the point where a lot of shops stop, but for me, this bridge is only half done. The next step is for tone and looks. I go over every every line of the bridge with knives and chisels and carve it into it's final shape.
    Here you can see some of the tools I used to make the bridge.  All of the knives you see here are handmade. Here you can see some of the tools I used to make the bridge. All of the knives you see here are handmade.
    This is what the bridge looks like after the final carving.  I can alter the voice of the violin by varying the size and shape of the curves.  This is what the bridge looks like after the final carving. I can alter the voice of the violin by varying the size and shape of the curves.
    Here is what the new bridge looks like on the violin. Here is what the new bridge looks like on the violin.
    Because the fingerboard was plained, the nut now has to be lowered.  This is what it looks like when it's done.  Because the fingerboard was plained, the nut now has to be lowered. This is what it looks like when it's done.
    Last on the list of things to do is the clean and polish.  Here you can see what a generation or two of play will do to your varnish.  I will attempt to clean this and other spots up and reseal the varnish with french polish.  We decided not to do touch up, and keep the weathered, warm look of the old fiddle. Last on the list of things to do is the clean and polish. Here you can see what a generation or two of play will do to your varnish. I will attempt to clean this and other spots up and reseal the varnish with french polish. We decided not to do touch up, and keep the weathered, warm look of the old fiddle.
    We have done a dirt transplant.  From violin to rag.  Next up is the french polish. We have done a dirt transplant. From violin to rag. Next up is the french polish.
    Here you can see the varnish (hand made by my friend Ed McCoppin from McCoppin Violin's), oil and pad that I used to french polish the bare spots of the violin. Here you can see the varnish (hand made by my friend Ed McCoppin from McCoppin Violin's), oil and pad that I used to french polish the bare spots of the violin.
    So there is that ware spot again after a bit of cleaning and a few coats of french polish.  Ed's varnish really has a nice glow to it.  This will add years to the life of this fiddle. So there is that ware spot again after a bit of cleaning and a few coats of french polish. Ed's varnish really has a nice glow to it. This will add years to the life of this fiddle.
    All done!  This old fid is ready to go back into the world and get back to making music.  All done! This old fid is ready to go back into the world and get back to making music.

    Thanks everyone for checking out my post.  I hope you all enjoyed it.  As always feel free comment and ask questions.

  • 1962 Gibson J-45 restoration

    This J-45 has had a hard life and is about get the full treatment. This J-45 has had a hard life and is about get the full treatment.
    Starting at the top, The old broken tuners have come off and the old screw holes are filled with tapered plugs of new wood. Starting at the top, The old broken tuners have come off and the old screw holes are filled with tapered plugs of new wood.
    The plugs are trimmed and the first round of touch-up is applied, after this the chips in the finish will be drop filled and leveled. The plugs are trimmed and the first round of touch-up is applied, after this the chips in the finish will be drop filled and leveled.
    All the touch up is complete and the lacquer is repaired All the touch up is complete and the lacquer is repaired
    The new Waverly tuners have been installed and the tuning is silky smooth The new Waverly tuners have been installed and the tuning is silky smooth
    The old bolt on adjustable bridge was robbing tone and had poor intonation.  The customer opted for a new ebony bridge with a fixed and compensated bone saddle to replace the old rosewood and porcelain. The old bolt on adjustable bridge was robbing tone and had poor intonation. The customer opted for a new ebony bridge with a fixed and compensated bone saddle to replace the old rosewood and porcelain.
    Next, cracks... Next, cracks...

     

    These two top cracks were likely created by the old shrunken pic guard.  They will need to be glued and cleated from the inside. These two top cracks were likely created by the old shrunken pic guard. They will need to be glued and cleated from the inside.

    Cracks are leveled, glued and clamped.Cracks are leveled, glued and clamped.

    Cleats are carved and installed to reinforce the top cracks. Cleats are carved and installed to reinforce the top cracks.
    Fingerboard time!  Off with the old Fingerboard time! Off with the old
    New ebony board slotted and radiused. New ebony board slotted and radiused.
    Layout lines for the new pearl. Layout lines for the new pearl.
    Pearl installed Pearl installed
    fingerboard cut to size and polished fingerboard cut to size and polished
    New fretts pressed in. New fretts pressed in.
    On with the new! On with the new!
    A final fitting to insure a like new fit. A final fitting to insure a like new fit.
    Pearl side dots installed. Pearl side dots installed.
    Next, is the new ebony bridge. Next, is the new ebony bridge.
    Here you can see the blank is cut to the right shape, the starter string holes are drilled, the saddle slot is cut and the bottom is radiused to match the curve of the guitar top.  The bridge pin holes will all get straightened out during the pin fitting/ reaming process Here you can see the blank is cut to the right shape, the starter string holes are drilled, the saddle slot is cut and the bottom is radiused to match the curve of the guitar top. The bridge pin holes will all get straightened out during the pin fitting/ reaming process
    Here you can see the bone saddle is cut to an exact fit. Here you can see the bone saddle is cut to an exact fit.
    The bridge is now tapered at the ends to form the "wings" The bridge is now tapered at the ends to form the "wings"
    This is what the bridge looks like after final shaping and sanding.  The next step is to put it on. This is what the bridge looks like after final shaping and sanding. The next step is to put it on.
    Here you can see where the top as been prepped for the new bridge.  All the old lacquer has been scraped back to provide a good wood on wood glue bond.  Unfortunately the top has been severely scored by the factory.  It was once thought that gouging up the surface like this would improve the strength of the glue bond, we now know better, but I have to make due with what I have. Here you can see where the top as been prepped for the new bridge. All the old lacquer has been scraped back to provide a good wood on wood glue bond. Unfortunately the top has been severely scored by the factory. It was once thought that gouging up the surface like this would improve the strength of the glue bond, we now know better, but I have to make due with what I have.
    The inside of the guitar is reinforced with a block of wood to protect the delicate top from the pressure of the clamps.  I use a specialized aluminum clamping pad on the bridge to help distribute the pressure evenly across the bridge. The inside of the guitar is reinforced with a block of wood to protect the delicate top from the pressure of the clamps. I use a specialized aluminum clamping pad on the bridge to help distribute the pressure evenly across the bridge.
    Now it's time to tackle the crack on back.  This one I actually started early on, but it took so long for the lacquer to cure I'm just now getting around to posting the pictures of it.  As always if you have any questions about the methods I used, feel free to post them along with any comments you might have and I'll respond to them as soon as I can. Now it's time to tackle the crack on back. This one I actually started early on, but it took so long for the lacquer to cure I'm just now getting around to posting the pictures of it. As always if you have any questions about the methods I used, feel free to post them along with any comments you might have and I'll respond to them as soon as I can.
    Here you can see how I used an acrylic clamping caul to level the crack while clamping.  Acrylic is good because you can see how well the crack is closing and glue doesn't stick to it. Here you can see how I used an acrylic clamping caul to level the crack while clamping. Acrylic is good because you can see how well the crack is closing and glue doesn't stick to it.
    The caul worked well and the crack leveled out nicely however quite a bit of finish and wood are missing from the accident that will have to be replaced. The caul worked well and the crack leveled out nicely however quite a bit of finish and wood are missing from the accident that will have to be replaced.
    This is the final result.  The crack is still slightly visible, but at a casual glance the aesthetics are much improved. This is the final result. The crack is still slightly visible, but at a casual glance the aesthetics are much improved.
    The new pickguard is going to be made from a material called Tor-Tis, and at $70 a sheet there is no room for mistakes.  Here you can see the outline of the new piece drawn on and ready to cut. The new pickguard is going to be made from a material called Tor-Tis, and at $70 a sheet there is no room for mistakes. Here you can see the outline of the new piece drawn on and ready to cut.
    This is the result.  Cut, trimmed and polished, it's ready to go on.  Before I do that I will seal the bare wood to ease any future repair work. This is the result. Cut, trimmed and polished, it's ready to go on. Before I do that I will seal the bare wood to ease any future repair work.
    Here is how the new pick guard looks on the guitar. Here is how the new pick guard looks on the guitar.
    fitting the new ebony bridge pins fitting the new ebony bridge pins
    The string holes reamed, slotted, and beveled. The string holes reamed, slotted, and beveled.
    The string height has been set and now the compensation is tuned in. The string height has been set and now the compensation is tuned in.
    After the compensation has been carved into the bone saddle, it is polished and reinstalled  into the bridge. After the compensation has been carved into the bone saddle, it is polished and reinstalled into the bridge.
    The string height is now finalized set at the new bone nut. The string height is now finalized set at the new bone nut.

    The nut is shaped and polished.  This completes the restoration.

    All done!  This old girl is ready to go home.

  • Ibanez Fret level

    Ibonez Fret level A routine set up on a sweet new Ibonez electric
  • 1960s Gibson bridge replacement

    Bring a new life to an old Gibson.

    Here is what the customer had to say about his experience --

    "Hi Andy,
    Just wanted to let you know that I had a chance to play [the] guitar for a while last night and it sounds really great! Thank you for such good work. I'm sure I'll be seeing you again in the future."

    Remove the old bridge and pins. Remove the old bridge and pins.
    Fret level and new bridge Fret level and new bridge
    New rose wood bridge built form scratch and glued in place New rose wood bridge built form scratch and glued in place
    Fully compensated bone saddle for perfect intonation and a set of matching bone pins for tone. Fully compensated bone saddle for perfect intonation and a set of matching bone pins for tone.
    TaDa! TaDa!
  • Gibson L4 refret

    Here is what the customer has to say about his experience ...

    "The L-4 is an awesome sounding guitar finally at its potential. So rich and strong. Plays well too, nice work on the [new] fret ends. Thanks for making it get through its last steps to maximal tone."

    Old worn frets, too low to relevel Old worn frets, too low to relevel
    Pulling old frets with soldering iron fret puller and a lot of patience Pulling old frets with soldering iron fret puller and a lot of patience
    Frets are out, board is dressed and polished and slots are cleaned out Frets are out, board is dressed and polished and slots are cleaned out
    New frets are bent, cut and installed with a touch of hot hide glue New frets are bent, cut and installed with a touch of hot hide glue
    Frets are leveled, beveled and crowned Frets are leveled, beveled and crowned
    All polished up with micromesh All polished up with micromesh
    And finally an new bone nut to complete the job And finally an new bone nut to complete the job

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Locations: 28673 Bayberry Ct E. Livonia, MI 48154

502 W Webster Rd. Royal Oak, MI 48073