Archive for the guitar repair Category

Lawsuits and other assorted solder issues

Posted in guitar repair with tags , , , on May 22, 2015 by Coyle's Richboro Music

Today’s Benchcapades  (trademarked, don’t even think of stealing that gold) brings us this wonderful 70’s ‘Lawsuit Era’ Ventura LP Custom copy. I put some quotes in there because it’s a topic of much debate, what is and what isn’t. Hell, I’ve seen stuff from the 80’s labeled as lawsuit guitars. There’s been so much written on the subject of 70’s Japanese imports infringing on Fender and Gibson TM’s already, and I’m not turning over any new stones here. This guitar has the open book headstock, so I’ll call it a ‘lawsuit’. Done. Let’s move on.



Pretty, innit? I love these guitars. Call it low self esteem, but I think I prefer them to the real thing. This one is in for some electronics issues, so let’s pop it open.


Wow, that’s funny. Thought the knobs were just on wrong, but it’s wired with volumes on top, tones on the bottom. Makes sense, just veers from tradition.


And most folks just like things the way they’re used to. To keep it original, our customer didn’t want to rewire it to Gibson configuration. I agreed. Gives it more personality.

The issue was intermittent output and no bridge pickup output at all. The selector didn’t cut out with both on, so I knew it wasn’t a grounding issue with the bridge pup. Checked solder joints, no solution yet. Until…


When they stripped the wire, a little of the lead jacket got hacked and if you bent the wire, it contacted the ground. A little heat shrink insulated it because there wasn’t enough wire to cut and strip again. Since this is the pickup lead and we’re trying to stay original, I made a judgement call. I think I’m OK with that, so we’ll move on.


Still trouble. So we follow the lead to its next point, where it meets the coil wires at the base plate. That dangling bit of soldered goodness is the ground wire. It came loose and was kind of rubbing against the base plate, just enough to work 37% of the time. I lpulled the neck pickup to compare and saw that it was attached to the pickup leg. See example R.


example R.

After scuffing, we solder the leg and attach the ground to match.

Great. Bridge output now strong, but still intermittant at the input so we swapped out the jack with a shiny new Switchcraft and it’s AWESOME! Sure it has low frets, a skinny neck and a slightly too low radius, but that’s the fun. It’s got beef AND jangle, the kind of funky tones perfect for blues, punk and Metal Zone-slathered garage rock. So go out and grab all the Ventura,Bradley, Cortez and Hondo LP’s you can before the Ibanez and Cort collectors wise up. Like I said, low self esteem.

Thanks for looking. We stopped blogging for a bit, so until we catch up, try some of our older posts and be sure to email or call with any questions about letting us help with your next project. We’re here to help!



First Quarter 2013 repair blog report card

Posted in guitar repair, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 20, 2013 by Coyle's Richboro Music


That’s the grade we get for not posting for so long. But get off the edge of that seat. Here’s some pictures of some guitars!

Let’s start off by pointing blame at everything but ourselves.  Now that’s a life skill many of us have developed, huh? Very useful.   Truth be told, we lost a lot of before and after pics after my last phone upgrade when the files didn’t transfer properly. And no, I didn’t listen to everyone who said to back up to the Cloud. But on with today’s story.


This winter was the cause of lots and lots of cracks,  like this one pictured above. Top cracks, fingerboard cracks, side splits and lifting bridges. The cause of most of these issues? Humidity.  Or lack thereof. Now that’s one of my favorite things to throw out there. Lack thereof. As in, “I admire your etiquette Emily. Or lack thereof. Ha Ha Ha.” Great for dinner parties.  Alrighty then, most of these top cracks start at the bridge and progress to the end pin. But some of the nastiest splits occur in places where it’s difficult to reach, like this guy pictured above. We make special cauls and posts when clamping in the hard to reach regions. But the most important thing is to humidify the heck out of splits and cracks, hoping they close and regain as much of their original form as possible before being nudged back into place with clamping pressure on both axisises. Or axes.  Next Fall, when you turn your heater on, put a humidifier in your case and keep your high-end solid wood acoustics in their cases. We recommend the Oasis brand. It’s dirt simple and works really well. Best $20 you ever spent.


Here’s an action shot of a Breedlove getting it’s bridge planed.  This early batch Atlas series guitar had a shallow neck angle and is on the verge of needing a neck reset. Bad neck angles mean a high action and unhappy players.  It’s saddle had been shaved down to the point that it barely stuck out of the  slot, and we still needed to come down another 32nd or so to achieve optimal string height.  Normally, we’d recommend a neck reset to realign everything and get that saddle height back.  A more cost effective solution to realign everything is to lower the bridge itself instead of resetting the neck. It’s about $80 compared to $300.  For lots of guitars it’s a no-brainer. Very debatable though , since you’ll eventually run out of lowerable bridge material as the neck angle continues to flatten out or worse.  Theoretically, you’ll need to reset the neck AND replace the modified bridge somewhere down the road.  That’s assuming that you’ll be playing this guitar 40 years from now.  OK, we got that out of the way.  So what we’re doing is taking some material off of the top of the bridge and lowering the saddle slot with our handy saddle routing jig…

This is a different guitar, but at least pictures the jig.  This is very useful for flattening the saddle slot for pickup installs as well. Some factory slots can be pretty sloppy or not deep enough to fit an under-saddle pickup without shaving your saddle too thin.  A lot of people’s golden ratio for saddle height is 50/50 for how much saddle shows above the bridge line. Especially with undersaddle pickups. This handy Dremmel jig ensures that we get that just right.


Here’s our finished product with a new compensated bone saddle.  Looks like it sounds nice, don’t it?  That’s a pinless bridge in case some of you think those pin holes look a little funny. It strings from the rear of the bridge, like an Ovation.


Lots of banjos lately. This one was an old 70’s  Japanese 5-string. It had a funky neck angle and the fingerboard didn’t clear the hoop.  After lots (and lots) of shimming and shimmying, it still needed another 1/8″ clearance.  This one had a wooden dowel rod, not a threaded steel coordinator rod, so the neck angle had to be altered with shims. That 1/8″ doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a lot in the world of string height. Instead of just filing the clearance flat, we scalloped it for individual string clearance.

photo-78Here’s a custom compensated saddle for a uke with some intonation issues. As you can see from the extreme offsets, the G (4th) and A (1st) strings were a little flat and the E (2nd) was very sharp. So we glued two pieces of bone saddle blanks to form a T.  We carved the contact points  until it corrected the intonation, making sure the shelf didn’t touch the bridge outside of the saddle slot. Since this uke has a pickup, we had to be sure all of the strings’ down pressure made it to the element. We were awarded some kind of engineering award from Denmark for this. But for me, man, it’s all about the music.


Here’s a battery box installation so that this Gibson’s owner doesn’t have to reach into the soundhole to change the 9-volt for his LR Baggs pickup.  Clean and convenient, routed into the endblock for quick battery changes.

IMG_0489  Here’s an internal view from one of our newly designed guitar probe robots.
IMG_0022This handsome Strat just got an EMG afterburner and a quick-change battery door.  The placement of this battery box is right next to the control cavity, allowing easy access to the battery wires.  You can put this in a few spots, this one’s my favorite.


Here’s a cool strat with some worn frets and heavily played fingerboard.  It’s owner wanted a little more meat to his fret wire, so we suggested our favorite Jescar extra jumbo. Tall and wide, just like I like my…frets.  Although a refret sounds scary to some, it’s the best way to bring an old favorite back to life and optimize your guitar’s performance.  Now that you’ve played your guitar for a while, would you prefer smaller vintage frets to feel more wood under your fingers, or big & tall wire for easier bending?  Custom fretwork gives you the ability to refine the feel of your neck.


Here’s the after shot of this strat. Fingerboard freshened up and X-tra jumbos. Feels great.


Here’s a cool  Klein-inpired Tele that’s about to go headless…


So this one got routed for a licensed Steinberger trem and got a headstockectomy.


First we had to make a few routing templates since this isn’t an everyday job.  There were 3 routs in all to fit the bridge.  Once they were done, we stained the bare wood black for a more finished appearance.  The Tele bridge pickup went in without a plate or ring for a Tom Anderson vibe. Love that look.


IMG_0178 Headstock sawed off and a zero fret carefully fitted. The string retainer had  to be modified for our purposes, but worked out well. About an 1/8 of an inch or so was ground off the leading edge to fit snugly against the tang of the zero fret. We added a rosewood cap to make it look a little more loved. Not just chopped and screwed on.  I like rosewood caps. You should see me in the winter.



What we ended up with was a killer Klein-inspired  guitar with terrific balance. Really fun to play and definitely a conversation piece. Better than taking a puppy to the park.

Here’s something you don’t see everyday.


IMG_0077 This is the headstock of an upright bass that came in recently. It was cracked and loose, so we handled it with extreme care until we were ready to dismantle it and glue it back together. Only problem was, it wouldn’t come apart! So after some gently prodding and scraping wood fibers, some wood filler began to loosen up and come out. Then we found a bolt head! then another.  There were 4 bolts in all, but lots of gaps between the wood where the old glue job didn’t do a thing. A previous repair drilled out holes for bolts, tightened them up and wood puttied them to conceal the reapir. But without a snug fit on ALL the surfaces, it just didn’t hold. So we’re in the process of doweling those 4 holes and fitting things as snuggly as possible. Then LOTS of clamping pressure to do the rest.  Came out solid, but the after shots will have to wait for next time.  These Cheez Its arent’ gonna eat themselves.

Thanks for looking.

Guitar Repairs in Berks & Montgomery and a rare 23 fret Peavey (?)…

Posted in guitar repair, Store News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2012 by Coyle's Richboro Music

Breaking News…we are expanding our presence West!  Don’t worry, we’re not moving, just offering pickup and drop off services at the High Street Music Company in Pottstown.  Located at 135 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464.  Phone is 610-906-3357 .  Just drop off your instrument with Louis at the studio and we’ll get you a free estimate by phone or email within a day or so.  Right now it’s a 5-day turnaround, but it sure beats driving all the way to Richboro from Berks and western Montgomery county.  For directions and hours, check them out at

 Our guitar repair shop is busier than ever and we want your business!  Plus that pesky urge for world domination, but that’s another post.  And not  just guitars, but your violin, mandolin, dobro, bass, amplifiers, PA gear, you name it. Setups, refrets, pickup installations, structural repairs, electronic mods, trem installations, nuts, saddles…you get the idea. We do it all, satisfaction guaranteed.

Here’s a link to our repairs page with some basic services and pricing info.  All other jobs by quote. Hope to hear from you soon.  Email us at or call 215-355-6711.

Now on with the show.

Here’s an interesting one.  First I’ll say that we’ve noticed an increase in Strat owners leaving the back plate off of their guitars. Nothing new, but seems to be more common. At least for the last 3-4 weeks. So that made us think of offering customized trem cavities. Yes, we are serious. First we sunbursted the cavity on a black strat. Looked cool. No pics. Sorry.  Then we did a stencil. Looked nice too. Today’s pic features a burled maple laminate over the ash body to match a stunning burled maple neck. Think about it. Nothing says custom like a personalized trem cavity. And if you don’t have a trem cavity, we’ll route one for you. Then we’ll stencil it.  Just think about it.

Here’s a killer Tele that we installed one of our all time favorite pickups in, the G&L MFD. It’s the soapbar looking jobbie in the neck position. To do this, we had to expand the route in the neck position and route the pickguard.  Sounds incredible on this guitar.  Pares nicely with the bridge pickup and a nice 2007 Monte Antico Rosso red.  This Tele has a 3- way toggle on the upper horn for pickup selection and the conventional spot for the selector is now a 3-way for the humbucker for Split/Parallel/Series.

Peavey Mystic. I know. I want one too. Super cool guitar from the mid 80’s with Peavey’s little understood T-60 tone circuit. I don’t know if that’s the formal name but that’s what we’ve always called it. When the tone control is on ’10’, it’s a single coil. Back it off a little and it’s a humbucker. Back it off a little more and the tone control starts doing its job.  So usually when people plug these in, they complain the pickups are weak. But back that tone to ‘9’ and the hum goes away, the volume goes up and the low mids arrive to the party.  So what’s the problem with this one?  It’s the bridge. Can’t intonate it. See here…

Even with the saddles all the way forward, still too flat at the 12th.  What we guessed was that the bridge placement was done with a 22 fret neck in mind. So after some careful measuring, we decided to cut down the neck to allow for proper intonation.

Here we are after some time with my old Ginsu knives. They can even cut a penny. Saw a Ginsu salesman do that when I was about 9.  Or maybe that was Cutco. No it was Cutco, I was 8, and they were scissors that cut the penny. My saw cut this neck. Then we smoothed it out on the belt sander, gently rounded the edges and refinished the end of the neck.

We also had to re-drill the neck screw holes.  Nice clamp shot. My favorites.

Now it’s the very rare 1985 23 fret version.

And now a glamour shot of that Mystic…

Here’s another of our Custom Carve Necks coming off the line. Well, the bench. We don’t have a production line. Yet. Lightly flamed and gunstock oiled for our favorite blend of feel and sheen. Sounds like a hair color commercial.

Thanks for looking and check us out at

And if you happen to work east of Reading along the 422 corridor or east of King of  Prussia on the PA Turnpike, give us a call and take us up on our  complimentary pickup/delivery service to your business or office.  Pickup and delivery between 10am and 11:00 am Monday thru Thursday only.

Thanks for watching!

Posting out of sheer principle is rarely fascinating.

Posted in guitar repair with tags , , , , , on March 13, 2012 by Coyle's Richboro Music

That’s our website, so  you can find us on the web.  I think that’s how this stuff works. Now on with the program. 

Just wanted to warn you that this post will not be terribly informative or life changing. It will have some pictures in it, so it’s worth the next 3 minutes of your life.  We try not to go too long without adding some new things to this blog. But…the busier the shop gets, the worse our documentation skills get regarding this thing.  So, without further adieu, here’s what I scavenged from my phone this morning

Here’s our resident inspector Joe checking on the progress of a bass fingerboard being planed.  The fingerboard ramped up at the end, so we plane it flat with…a planer.  Man, just not inspired today. Get it together cupcake!  Alright. We had a couple of interesting upright repairs last week. This one had a new bridge, some relief carved into the fingerboard and a hump on the bass side planed out.  Nice sounding bass, played hard by its owner. He wanted a low action at the nut and up high for his runs up the G string, but needed more relief in the middle of the neck so he wouldn’t buzz.  Hopefully the work passed the approval for the aforementioned Joe.

You never want to see this.  Bad fall, sheered the neck right off. Usually this would call for a replacement neck. However, the budget for this job dictated otherwise. We ended up drilling for a reinforcement dowel. Glued and clamped. Fingers crossed. Didn’t hold. Even with the scariest glue we could find. So we ended up with a re-do. This time we still went with the dowel, but removed the fingerboard and used 4 deck screws to help hold it all together.  Fingerboard back on and a little finish touch-up and it looked good.    Sounded great too. I really don’t think the break impacted the performance of the bass, so everyone involved was really happy.

We also had some cool 70’s and 60’s Gibsons last week. Here’s an SG in for a refret…

And a little more.

Since the neck is bound, the frets have to be cut and shaped prior to being clamped in. This is a rough fitting in progress. You have to trim the tang at the end so a little bit of the fret hangs over. All of the nubs (affectionate term for the bit of binding that goes over the fret end) were worn away, so we just had to let the fret hang over the binding without having to worry about fitting them in the old nub’s cavity. That’s a little trickier. Alright, a lot trickier but can be done.

Those are some old Dimarzios and modified pickup rings from the previous owner.  We reassembled using the existing parts so it was playable. But this one’s going to be completely restored. The current owner is planning on getting those pickups out in favor of some P-90’s and custom rings to fit the elongated cavity. Refinishing to remove some varnish brush strokes (!?!!??) is also in order. Can’t wait to see it when he’s done with the project.  Glad to be a part of it.

Here we are in mid pickguard fabrication. That’s a fancy word for cutting plastic. Makes you feel better when you say fabrication.  We ordered a cool pickguard, but it was just a hair to small for our customer’s taste. After staring at it for a few  minutes, I suggested we use the last bit of a tortoise shell pickguard blank we had. The blue tape was for tracing. We cut it with a roto-zip and hand filed the bevel. The bit on our table router was a little to steep, better suited for a strat pickguard than a jazzbox. Hand beveled sounds waaay better anyway.

This one involves an old Gibson hollowbody with a floating pickup. The original installation put the pickup a little too close to the middle for its current owner. We wanted to make a pickguard that put the pickup to be closer to the neck, but didn’t have too much room otherwise the hi E would hit it . The neck angle wasn’t designed to accomodate electronics without routing. And we didn’t want to do that.

Here’s the before. And the next will be the after. Just to clarify.

Here’s a pic of a sound port we cut into my guitar. We’ve been experimenting with this idea, as have many others for the past 100 years or so. It’s not revolutionary, but man does it work. If  you cut it in the right spot, this added a tremendous amount of detail and low end to the tone. The difference is apparent only to the player. Doesn’t effect the sound to the listener one bit. Good or bad.  But to my ears, it made my old Ovangkol bodied Washburn sound like a nice Rosewood dread.  Not for everybody, but I’m glad we did it. If you have a guitar that sounds  a little thin for your taste and you’re not afraid of regretting a hole cut into the side of your instrument, this monitor soundhole idea might just work for you.

That wraps up today’s entry.  Maybe next week we’ll hire that documentary crew and do this for reals. I meant that ‘s’ on the end. That’s for street cred.

And don’t forget to check us out at

Gettin’ rid of that dang buzz pt 2 and other early January shop tidbits and a too-long title

Posted in guitar repair, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 12, 2012 by Coyle's Richboro Music

Be sure to check us out at Whew. Always forget that part.

A while back we discussed shielding your guitar’s cavity to avoid the dreaded ground hum that’ll make you nuts playing under fluorescent lights or worse yet, that neon Stroh’s sign at the bar  you played at last Tuesday night.  Well, we had 5 shielding jobs already this week, so that warrants rehashing it in my book

Once it was explained to me that the best way to shield a cavity was to use conductive shielding paint in the pickup cavities and copper foil in the control cavity.  Just make sure the paint overlaps a tab of the foil to make sure it’s all connected.  And this certainly does the trick. However,  after some trial and error we figured nothing beats good ‘ol copper tape all the way through and on the back of the pickguard. Doing it this way seems to kill all of the hum (you can crank up your amp and tap the bridge with no noticeable difference), and even quiet down the 60 cycle hum of single coils about 50%. That’s a rough measurement because I have no idea how to actually measure things like that. I, like most people, tend to through out numbers and hope nobody questions me. You’ll also notice that we solder the seams all the way around. That’s a little overkill, you can just put a connection between each piece like a tack weld, just where each new piece overlaps.

Here’s another cavity, this time the much debated “swimming pool route”. They call that because you have to add chlorine to your Strat every week during the summer to…forget it. That’s not even funny.  You’ll also hear this called the universal route, because you can install any pickguard you want on top with any pickup configuration without worrying about routing for singles, humbuckers or P-90’s.  Some say the missing wood robs sustain, some say the open cavity adds jangle. I don’t think it make s bit of difference as I’ve heard great guitars with similar qualities with both routes. You’ll notice that the tape isn’t very smooth on this one. That’s not just a lazy repair guy. The pickup cavity of this guitar had lots of bumps and from not being smoothed before it was finished. The control cavity smoothed out nicely.  Not a big deal, we’re just sensitive. This also segues into the rest of this project…

Here’s the before shot of the Strat we just saw. It’s about to get a new set of Fender Custom Shop Texas Specials, new 5-way, grounds and wiring cleaned up and re-done, Roland GK kit installed and a basic setup to re-radius the saddles, fix the intonation and set the string height.  The following pictures will tell the story. I’ll stop talking while you look

This installation has the pickup screwed into the top of the pickguard. You can also route a channel into the guard to have the GK pickup mounted underneath. That’s a nice clean look, but for this one we needed all the height we could get otherwise we would have had to grind the bottoms of each saddle height screw to achieve the right balance of saddle height ( we like the screws to not slice your hand when palm muting) and GK tolerance. It has to be a maximum of 1mm from the strings when the last fretted note is depressed on each string.

Moving on. Here’s a cool conversion of an American Standard Tele that got some vintage vibe. We added Klusons and a Bigsby kit making this the coolest tele ever. Well that’s very subjective, but for today, it’s the coolest tele ever. You’ll notice that the Klusons have a smaller post hole size and needed these cool adapter bushings to fill the larger holes left by the modern tuners.

See this…

You don’t want to see this.  We were calling a customer to discuss some fretwork when we noticed that his neck was shifting. Badly. Turns out all of the glue in his dovetail had given way and the whole thing was being held together by tongue of the fretboard and the contact of the dovetail. You have to resist the temptation to just squirt some glue in there. You’ll be seeing it move again very soon. So off it comes.

Don’t know if you can see, but there’s not much glue to scrape off.  Must have been a Friday afernoon at the guitar plant and the glue was almost empty.  The fretboard extension didn’t put up too much of a fight with the iron and spatula, but at least was amply adhered.  The neck angle was great , so it wasn’t a technical re-set. More of  a “re-glue”.  Usually at this point we’d be shaving some wood in strategic spots to correct the neck pitch. This neck sighted up perfectly with the saddle/bridge line.

This guitar also had cracked & shrunken binding reglued, frets leveled and crowned and this repair done. Perhaps the culprit that helped the neck loosen? We may never know. This is the same neck but my photography skills are not too good. The center stripe on the first picture appears darker than in the second.  Something about the lighting and my poor composition skills. Whatever. The ding’s fixed. Next.

Here’s a saddle from a guitar that came in with uneven string response when plugged in. The E and A were quiet even after the bottom of the saddle was checked for straightness. Even though the impressions from the strings weren’t really deep, they did effect the response of the pickup. The moral of this story is simple. Next time you change your strings just smooth out any burrs with sandpaper and you’ll avoid this becoming a problem. Just good guitar hygiene.

Yes, we really took a before and after shot of a saddle that we sanded. Sad, isn’t it. Just need to document every waking hour just in case we wake up too early and start a blog post.

Thanks for reading and thanks to all of those who’ve frequented Coyle’s Richboro Music this year. We forgot to do an official “Thanks for your Support/Happy New Year” email.  All joking aside, we really do appreciate all the great people who’ve come to be part of our daily life at the shop.

Happy New Year! (there I said it.)

A Martin’s bikini line and miscellaneous shop stuff…

Posted in guitar repair, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 11, 2011 by Coyle's Richboro Music

So this week we had lots of upgrades and repairs but nothing too crazy, but we haven’t posted in awhile, so let’s look. That was a run on sentence.  Sorry about that.

This awesome sounding D-18 came in to have it’s original black pickguard replaced with a vintage style tortoise shell guard.  Acoustic guitar pickguards usually come off  easily with a hair drier and some patient peeling.  Just be sure to take your time. Not too hot, not too fast.  We’ve had guitars come in with splinters attached to the bottom of the old pickguard! For those who prefer the look of an acoustic sans guard, you can put your guitar in front of a window for a few days to let the UV color the  bikini line left by the old scratch plate. This one is more dramatic, but we were recently able to get a previously unexposed portion of a Breedlove to match the rest of the finish within two days. But we’re recovering this one anyway. If the replacement you’re looking for doesn’t cover the whole area, don’t worry too much. It’ll eventually match the rest of the finish’s aged hue.

After some final trimming, we matched the guard to the radius of the rosette. This guitar also got some shiny new Waverly tuners, some of the best you can buy.  These vintage style tuners are stainless steel with a bronze crown gear and have a 16:1 ratio. Super smooth and look great.

Next up is a really nice Gibson J-30 with a stress crack in the bridge. The design of this bridge didn’t give the saddle enough support. So after 20 or so years, it finally gave way…

So we removed the offending bridge and ordered a high quality replacement bridge. No problem. I saw this guy on YouTube use a 9 iron to remove a bridge in one hit. I used a pitching wedge, because we wanted sufficient lift. My swing coach keeps telling me we should use heat and a spatula. Next time.

Here we are after cleaning and prepping the area. You sould always replace your divots. It’s just good etiquette.

Here’s the replacment bridge. If you look closely, you’ll see the graft line where we spliced two bridges together. WHAT? Well, here’s the thing. The original bridge on this model is 2 1/4″ center to center from the E bridge pin holes.  The replacment bridges are the standard Gibson 2″ spacing. After some further digging, the Google told me that most Gibson bridges need to be fabricated. So in an effort to keep as original as possible and make sure the bridge plate and holes line up perfectly, we cut the broken bridge just below the pins and glued in the saddle half of the replacement bridge. The new style has LOTS of wood between the bridge and the edge, insuring that this baby won’t crack any time soon. Or ever. After lots of shaping, sanding and light finishing, this looks pretty original. The last couple pin holes haven’t been re-beveled yet after sanding.

Here’s the finished product with a new hand-shaped compensated saddle. The intonation came out nearly perfect and was fine-tuned with some saddle shaping. Now you can play an open E at the 12th fret and it all rings true. This guitar also got a new bone nut and fret level. It’s now ready for action and hopefully sounds better than ever.  Thanks to our buddy Fred for letting us work on this one.

Here’s a brief note about semi-hollow and hollow body guitars. Usually to replace a jack or repair a loose wire, the whole assembly has to come out.  If you’re going to go through that trouble, make sure you don’t have to do it again for a while. So we like to heat shrink the contacts on the jacks and make sure you put a lock washer to keep it from spinning again. Loose jacks tightened from the outside (without securing from the inside) account for 105% of repair guys having to fish electronics out of f-holes.

Here’s yet another pickup swap that needs some dressing up. The squared shoulders of the stock Duncan Blackouts leave lots of room on this 8-string. Yes, 8 (eight).  This was discussed in our last post, but we have a really nice shot of rings being glued together. It features our Craftsman clamp. I love this clamp.


O.k. Here’s a killer Ibanez Musician that wants to have new pickups. Only problem here is that the original pickups, much like the ones above, are very wide and don’t utilize pickup rings. The height adjustment is within the body of the pickup, smiliar to a P-90 but closer to the edges. We’ll have to figure something out with this one. We don’t want to modify the guitar in any permanent way or add new screw holes.

Here’s the size difference.

Here’s the mounting plate for the Ibanez pickups. We want to retain them if possible. We drilled and tapped new holes that lined up with the replacments’ height adjustment screws (Seymour Duncan ’59’s with 4-conductor wiring to keep the original Parallel/Split/Series switches).

We ended up being able to use pickup adjustment screws to mount the pickup ring. They were just long enough to wedge between the pickup mounting plate and the cavity wall. This way we didn’t have any additional screw holes but anchored the rings quite well in the right spot. Awesome. But…

The mounting plate made the neck pickup sit too high. We didn’t want to risk damaging the pickup legs by re-bending them or shortening them in any way. And we couldn’t rout the cavity deeper without compromising the integrity of the neck joint.  So we cut this dowel into quarters and glued them into the corners to hold a pickup ring. Sometimes you just can’t tell how it’s going to work until you try it. We were able to mount the bridge pickup onto the existing mounting plate following what we just outlined.

Here’s a great project a customer brought in. It’s a violin that was in his family for generations and needed an overhaul. It has had lots of repairs over the years. Some different types of wood were spliced in to repair cracks, lots of open seams and a bad neck angle. We agreed to give it a dark burst similar to another violin we had in the shop at the time to cover up the old repairs.

The neck had this really big shim glued in at one point, but the angle was still way off making this violin unplayable.  We removed the shim and cut the neck heel to fit properly.

Here’s a shot of the back in progress. You’ll notice two screws at the endblock that were put in a long time ago to reinforce a crack repair.  We left the brass screws there. The neck had the same treatment. Although we removed them in the neck when we fixed the neck angle, we left the screw heads in place. Our job here was to keep the history, but make it playable.

Here it is after getting a new bridge, strings, 1 new tuning peg and all of the structural repairs and finish completed. Sounds really nice. Check out that cool fingerboard complete with inlay.  Hope this lasts in the family for a few more generations.

Here’s a shot of our new “guitar room”.  I call it that because it’s from a collection of old 1940’s Brazilian Rosewood D-28’s and I think a few 41’s. We took them all apart and used the back and sides for the floor boards. I know it’s wasteful, but man that floor sounds good.

Thanks for watching.