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  • Dave's D55

    This is a beautiful mid 70's Guild D55 that has come all the way from Texas to have a number of things done.  Unfortunately in my haste to get started I neglected to take a picture of the guitar in its original condition, that is not a super close up, so you will have to be patient and I promise I'll put a good one at the end.

    Jumping right in, as you can see in the photo, the fingerboard projection is quite low and neck reset is in order. Jumping right in, as you can see in the photo, the fingerboard projection is quite low and neck reset is in order.
    Fist I'll pull the 15's fret . I always use a soldering iron to heat the frets before I pull them.  This softens any glue that might be hiding in the fret slots and insures a cleaner pull. First I'll pull the 15's fret .
    I always use a soldering iron to heat the frets before I pull them. This softens any glue that might be hiding in the fret slots and insures a cleaner pull.
    pulling a fret Number 15 coming out with my hand ground fret puller. I should say a quick thanks to Rob, my old friend, who made this for me when I was just starting out. I can't tell you how many frets it's pulled since.
    drilling steam holes Here you can see me drilling the two seam holes down to the gap between the neck and the neck block.
    heating the extension I use an ordinary iron to apply dry heat to the fingerboard extension in order to loosen the glue. Corrugated cardboard makes a good insulator to keep the top from getting too hot.
    releasing the extension I use a custom ground spatula to gently release the extension from the top.
    sleepy pup Callahan, the quality control specialist, is hard at work.
    steam time It's time for some steam.
    the neck is out. About 5 mins or so later and the neck is free. I like to give the joint a good cleaning while the glue is still soft.
    out go the frets While the neck block drys out, I usually give it a week or so, I'll move on to other things that need doing, like a fret job.
    epoxy on the fret Remember when I said there could be glue in the fret slots? Well you can really see the epoxy the last luthier used on this old fret tang.
    cleaning the slots Once the old frets are out, I use a tiny saw blade to clean out the old glue and junk from the fret slots.
    removing a nut the hard way The old nut was also epoxied in, so I had to cut it out. Never use strong glue for guitar nuts. You only need to keep the thing from falling out when you change the strings. Now I have to ruin this nut to get it out.
    cut nut I don't cut all the way through the nut. The last thing you want to do is damaging the guitar.
    split nut This is what's left after I split the nut out.
    fitting the neck After a sufficient drying period, the neck angle is altered and the neck joint is re-fitted.
    This is one of my favorite tools.  It neck alignment easy. This is one of my favorite tools. It neck alignment easy.
    neck alignment This is another view of the alignment tool. As you can see it lines up perfectly with the center of the guitar, so I know the neck is perfectly straight.
    checking neck projection Here you can see we have perfect neck projection as well. Remember there are no frets in the neck at this time.
    making the glue Now that I'm happy with the alignment and tight fit, it's time to mix up a fresh batch of hot hide glue.
    reattaching the neck Here you can see the neck being clamped in place while the glue drys.
    lacquer chip Now that the neck is back on, I'll start on fixing the chips in the lacquer. I'll start with this big one on the back.
    Lacquer drop fill After the chip is cleaned out, I slowly build up new lacquer one drop at a time. I try and get this stage done right away so I can work on other issues with the guitar while the lacquer takes a leisurely 6 weeks to fully cure.
    more chips There were a few little chips on the rib that I filled at the same time. Later on I'll show you how I level and polish these out.
    dressing the fb Now that the glue is fully cured I can start working on the neck. Here you can see a fancy sanding block I use to dress the fingerboard. This particular one has a 16" radius built into it.
    polished fb What a beautiful piece of ebony. It is completely jet black. You almost never see ebony this good anymore. There is no ink on this what-so-ever. The board was sanded out to 800 grit and polished with micro mesh and treated with a few coats of raw linseed oil. It's just stunning in person.
    The new jumbo frets are in. The new jumbo frets are in.
    frets are leveled The frets are all leveled, beveled and polished to a mirror shine.
    reglue bridge The bridge was lifting just slightly, so I re-glued it to the top.
    re-glue pic guard The pickguard was coming loose in a few spots so that was re-glued as well.
    loose binding The binding was coming loose in a few spots.
    fixing binding Very carefully, the binding was re-glued using heavy tape as a clamp.
    pick up time Next is the pick-up installation. The customer chose a D-Tar multi-source which we carry here at the store. It's a very nice sounding unit.
    old transducers First off, I needed to get the old transducers out from that last system that was in it. You can see one of them here in the mirror.
    old pickup And here they are. Those buggers were glued in tight, but with a little patience and a lot of naphtha, I was able to remove them without damaging the top of the guitar.
    re-routing the saddle slot One of the most important things to make an under saddle pickup sound good is having the saddle slot perfectly flat, so you can see my rig for re-rerouting the saddle slot.
    new slot This is the result. A perfectly flat and even slot. I hardly had to remove anything, but a pickup in compression won't work right without even pressure.
    new pickup The bridge is then drilled and the pickup is placed in the slot.
    in goes the mic Next the microphone and controls are installed together along with the battery pack and the cables are all neatly routed and tucked away inside the guitar.
    lacquer level, scraper Time to finish those lacquer chips. I first level the bulk of it with a razor that I have turned a burr on.
    wet sand Then I wet sand to 1500 grit.
    buffer Then I go to the buffer and polish with med, fine and extra fine compounds
    and the chip is gone And here are the results. A mirror shine and not even a hint of the old chip.
    tuners come off The head stock needs a little loving too, so out go the tuners.
    The tuners get oiled and cleaned. The tuners get oiled and cleaned.
    The head stock gets a good cleaning and buffing out. The head stock gets a good cleaning and buffing out.
    Everything gets reassembled, and a new bone nut is fitted. Everything gets reassembled, and a new bone nut is fitted. No those aren't scratchs, just some residue from the buffing compound that I missed before snapping this shot.

     

    This one is going to take a while, so be sure to check back in every so often to see how it's going.  Thanks for reading, and feel free to share links and post comments or questions.

  • Gibson Blues King Electro guitar repair

    Blues King Electro in for crack repair This beauty has recently come to the shop for some crack repairs. The owner had a tragic strap malfunction and the guitar fell and landed squarely on the binding of the lower bout.
    Gibson rib crack In this photo you can clearly see the rib crack. It runs from the output jacks at the base all the way to the waist.
    Gibson top crack As you can see, the top of the guitar took a bit of a beating as well.
    Mixing the glue Step one for this repair is to mix up a fresh batch of hot hide glue. I find this to be the best possible glue for crack repairs. It is extremely strong, penetrates deep with capillary action, and is nearly invisible when it drys.
    gluing the crack I use quick clamps with waxed pads to clamp the crack being extremely careful to keep both sides of the crack level.
    tape marks the spot Here you can see I am using painter's tape to map out the locations for the reinforcing cleats that will be glued to the inside of the rib.

     

    Cleaning up the squeeze out inside the guitar Looking on the inside, you can easily see how the glue penetrated the crack. This squeeze out will prevent the spruce cleats from gluing flat on the inside, so I am using an extremely strong magnet wrapped in sandpaper to clean it up.
    This is the result of the clean up. This is the result of the clean up.
    cleats going in guitar And here is what the first round of cleats look like being magnetically clamped on the inside.
    And here is what it looks like from the outside. And here is what it looks like from the outside.
    More cleats The second round of cleats are installed in the same way. I do them in two steps like this so that the powerful magnets don't get too close together and interfere with each other.
    Starting the retouch Time to start the retouch. First I start by cleaning the area, sealing it with hot hide glue and then softening the edges of the crack with acetone.
    color matched drop fill Next I mix up a custom color to match the existing amber lacquer. Then I just start building it up to level the crack. This is the first round of drop fill. I will have to repeat this process many many times as the lacquer drys and shrinks back.
    The Lacquer is all polished up Sorry I miss a few photos of the drop fill process, but this is a close-up of the spot after the lacquer is leveled and polished.
    And this is finished result of the repaired top. And this is finished result of the repaired top.
    Just in case you were wondering how the rib turned out, here it is after touch-up. Just in case you were wondering how the rib turned out, here it is after touch-up.

     

    Thanks to everyone for reading the Gibson Blues King Electro guitar repair post, and I hope you found it enjoyable.  As always feel free to post links to your social media of choice and leave comments below.

  • Martin Backpacker repair

    This little guitar has seen some trauma.  Unfortunately a well-meaning roommate has done more harm than good trying to fix it.  Let's see if I can do a better job. This little guitar has seen some trauma. Unfortunately a well-meaning roommate has done more harm than good trying to fix it. Let's see if I can do a better job.
    Going in order from easy to ugly, this is what need fixing.  First is a simple top crack at the sound hole.  This will get glued and cleated. Going in order from easy to ugly, this is what need fixing. First is a simple top crack at the sound hole. This will get glued and cleated.
    The top is loose from the ribs on the bass side.  No big deal. The top is loose from the ribs on the bass side. No big deal.
    The end block is completely cracked in half and will need  some glue. The end block is completely cracked in half and will need some glue.
    And lastly we have the treble side, which is a complete mess.  This is why gorilla glue should never ever ever be used on a guitar, ever. Gorilla glue is a polyurethane glue that foams up when exposed to too much water.  Worst of all it gets into the wood fibers and makes my prefered glue, hot hide glue, refuse to hold.  No worries though, this guitar will sing again. And lastly we have the treble side, which is a complete mess. This is why gorilla glue should never ever ever be used on a guitar, ever. Gorilla glue is a polyurethane glue that foams up when exposed to too much water. Worst of all it gets into the wood fibers and makes my prefered glue, hot hide glue, refuse to hold. No worries though, this guitar will sing again.
    Nothing that I know of dissolves Gorilla glue, so it must be removed by force.  Some gentle persuasion cleans up the exterior dribbles with little added trauma to mahogany rib.  Nothing that I know of dissolves Gorilla glue, so it must be removed by force. Some gentle persuasion cleans up the exterior dribbles with little added trauma to mahogany rib.
    Now I need to reopen the crack so that I can relevel the two halves of the rib.  I do this with a sharp thin knife. Now I need to reopen the crack so that I can relevel the two halves of the rib. I do this with a sharp thin knife.
    With the crack open I can clean out the remaining glue on the inside.  Some sanding is unfortunately necessary to remove the polyurethane sodden wood. With the crack open I can clean out the remaining glue on the inside. Some sanding is unfortunately necessary to remove the polyurethane sodden wood.
    The hardest part is getting the rib halves to line back up again.  After a bit of wrestling I got it glued back together. The hardest part is getting the rib halves to line back up again. After a bit of wrestling I got it glued back together.
    In order to keep the rib from splitting again at that weakened spot I put in spruce cleats on the inside.  You can think of these as permanent sutures to hold the wound closed. In order to keep the rib from splitting again at that weakened spot I put in spruce cleats on the inside. You can think of these as permanent sutures to hold the wound closed.
    More cleats going in.  More cleats going in.
    While those cleats were drying I fixed the top crack.  Those are powerful rare earth magnets clamping the reinforcement cleats to the inside. While those cleats were drying I fixed the top crack. Those are powerful rare earth magnets clamping the reinforcement cleats to the inside.
    Heating up a fresh batch of hot hide glue to fix the last of the rib and block cracks. Heating up a fresh batch of hot hide glue to fix the last of the rib and block cracks.
    Here you can see the rest of the cracks are glued and clamped. Here you can see the rest of the cracks are glued and clamped.
    With the camps off, I cleaned up the excess glue and did a little filling in the large crack. With the camps off, I cleaned up the excess glue and did a little filling in the large crack.
    This is the final result.  It's all tuned up and ready to play. This is the final result. It's all tuned up and ready to play.

    Thanks to everyone who read the post.  Putting this old Martin Backpacker back together was a snap and I hope you enjoyed watching the progress.

  • 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!

  • 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