Customer Support 24/7

Tag Archives: restoration

  • Violin Soundpost Patch

    This old family heirloom was brought to me to be restored back to playing condition.   It needs quite a bit of work including a soundpost patch.

    The before pic This is the violin before I started. It's in pretty bad shape.
    all cleaned up The first step was to clean off all the old grime. What a difference it made. If you look closely you can see old touch up from a previous top repair. This is just the first stage of cleaning, it will get all polished up again at the end.
    popping the top The top has to come off. I like to use a super sharp knife for this.
    under the hood Taking a look under the hood, you can see all the old repair cleats. All of this will need to be redone.
    crack close-up Here is a close-up of the first crack. As you can see it has opened back up over the years and will have to be completely disassembled and re-glued.
    clean the crack The old cleats come off and the crack gets cleaned out.
    new cleats Then, in a multi stage process the crack is re-glued and new cleats are installed.
    thinning the cleats Once everything is dry the cleats can be thinned down and smoothed out.
    crack 2 This same process is repeated for all the remaining cracks.
    crack 3 again
    crack 4 and again until they are all re-glued and re-cleated
    making the mold In order to do the soundpost patch a plaster mold must be made of the top.
    plaster The plaster is in and starting to set.
    mold finished Here you can see the final mold. It's not the prettiest mold I have ever made, but it is more than sufficient for this repair.
    spruce I picked out a nice piece of spruce to make the patch out of.
    digging the hole The area under the patch is carved away leaving less than 1mm of old wood.
    patch The patch is now roughed in.
    blocks Small blocks are temporarily glued to the top to assure perfect realignment as I fit the patch perfectly to the hole.
    chalk fitting I use chalk to show where the new wood fits the old.
    starting to fit This is fitting much better now.
    yay it fits Once the piece is fitted, the hole is cleaned out and the patch is split.
    glue time The patch is glued in place on my go-bar table with a fresh batch of hot hide glue.
    carve the patch The patch is then carved down to match the surface of the violin top.
    last two cleats The final two cleats get installed
    completed sp patch Here is what the patch looks like when it's all finished.
    top goes on The top gets glued back on.
    A new soundpost is fitted A new soundpost is fitted
    This is what the new soundpost looks like inside the violin. This is what the new soundpost looks like inside the violin.
    set up The violin gets a complete setup including a finger board planing, a new bridge and strings.
    reaming The old pegs were completely shot, so new ones will have to be fitted. First the old holes are reamed out.
    new pegs And new pegs are fitted one at a time.
    all done After a final polish and some touch up, the violin is finally finished.

    I hope you have enjoyed seeing this old violin transform back into a working instrument.  As always thanks for reading and feel free to post comments and questions.

  • Shutt Mandolin Restoration

    Here is an interesting one.  It's an Albert Shutt mandolin.  For those of you who are interested in learning more about Albert Shutt, check out this link for more information.   http://www.harpguitars.net/history/shutt/shutt.htm

    Albert Shutt mandolin before restoration As you can see, this mandolin is in rough shape, but we're definitely going to fix that.
    First I'm going to address the broken headstock. First, I'm going to address the broken headstock.
    broken head stock Here is another view of the damage with the tuners removed.
    gluing the headstock I'll start by gluing up the broken headstock. The glue alone is not strong enough to keep this permanently together, so I decided to use a carbon fiber spline as a reinforcement.
    Here you can see me building a jig to cut the slot for the spine. Here you can see me building a jig to cut the slot for the spline.
    The slotting jig in action The slotting jig from the photo above in action.
    I made sure the slot went well beyond the damaged area, but will still be hidden behind the tuner plate. I made sure the slot went well beyond the damaged area.  This will still be hidden behind the tuner plate.
    Next the carbon fiber spine is glued in.  This adds  an extraordinary amount of strength and stiffness to this otherwise weak headstock design. Next, the carbon fiber spline is glued in. This spline adds an extraordinary amount of strength and stiffness to this otherwise weak headstock design.
    Because carbon fiber is ugly, I capped the repair with mahogany. Carbon fiber is UGLY!  I capped the repair with mahogany for a more pleasing aesthetic.
    When the peghead snapped the screws that held the back plate on were torn out leaving these nasty holes. When the peghead snapped, the screws that held the back plate on were torn out, leaving these nasty holes.
    I drilled them out and plugged them with new mahogany. I drilled them out and plugged them with new mahogany.
    After a little clean-up I chemically oxidized the wood to match age of the old surrounding wood. After a little clean-up, I chemically oxidized the wood to match age of the old surrounding wood.
    I put a little finish on to help hide the repair. Just a little finish on to help hide the repair.
    This is what the back of the headstock looks like after the repair with the plate reinstalled. This is what the back of the headstock looks like after the repair with the plate reinstalled.
    On the flip side, the head plate is completely smashed.  The owner and I have decided to replace it completely. On the flip side, the head plate is completely smashed. The owner and I have decided to replace it completely.
    Just beneath the surface I found old body filler that was used by an earlier repair person.  Now I know why it had been painted back. Just beneath the surface, I found old body filler that was used by an earlier repair person. Now I know why it had been painted black. Save the bondo for fixing jalopies. Ugh.
    I picked out a beautiful piece of  macassar ebony for the new head plate. I picked out a beautiful piece of macassar ebony for the new head plate.
    The new head plate being glued on.  You can't have too many clamps. The new head plate being glued on. You can never have too many clamps!
    Here it is after it's been sanded and drilled Here is the new head plate after it's been sanded and drilled
    And here it is once more after it's been french polished. And here it is once more after it's been french polished.
    The original finger board was completely mangled by a careless refret many moons ago.  The original fret slots were cut rather haphazardly as well and the intonation was quite bad, so we decided to replace it with a new one.  In this photo you can see me removing the old board. The original finger board was completely mangled by a careless refret many moons ago. The original fret slots were cut rather haphazardly as well and the intonation was quite bad, so we decided to replace it with a new one. In this photo you can see me removing the old board.
    Laying out the new fingerboard on a beautiful piece of jet black African ebony. I'm tracing the lay out of the new fingerboard on a beautiful piece of jet black African ebony.
    The new board cut and slotted. The new board, cut and slotted.
    The new fingerboard was bound in white like the original. This new fingerboard is now bound in white, just like the original.
    The fingerboard is done.  It was radiused, sanded, attached, and fretted. This fingerboard is done! Radiused, sanded, attached, and fretted.
    Now I just need to set it up.  A new bridge is fitted to the top. Now I just need to set it up. A new bridge is fitted to the top.
    The saddle height has been set and it has been fully compensated. The saddle height has been set and it has been fully compensated.
    The original nut has been shimmed with bone and refitted. The original nut has been shimmed with bone and refitted.
    There you have it.  This old mandolin has been brought back life. There you have it. This old mandolin has been brought back life.

    Thanks to everyone who took the time to read the post and as always feel free to share it with all your friends.

    Andrew Pursell

     

  • 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.

  • 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.  

4 Item(s)

Back to top

Locations: 28673 Bayberry Ct E. Livonia, MI 48154

502 W Webster Rd. Royal Oak, MI 48073