Archive for guitar repair philadelphia

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.


Un-Floyd-ing a Swedish Strat and other odds and ends

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 20, 2012 by Coyle's Richboro Music

Al B. Sure to check us out at

And on with the program…

We’ve had some really cool jobs lately and the owners of a few of them asked if they’d make it to our blog.  We had joked that we only blog when we’re not as busy as we’ve been lately. But that seemed like a bunch of bologna. It only takes  a few minutes after HBO Sunday night.  So we’ll try to get back on the wagon with this stuff and take lots more pics. Starting tomorrow.  Here’s a good start.

See this Stat? It’s got a cool story.  This was painted by the owner in a “Dark Side of the Moon” motif when he was a younger man. Living in Sweden.  The story goes that a friend of Yngwie’s guitar tech got him some parts for this baby.  I love it already.  He had some extensive work done years ago including having the fingerboard re-radiused to 12″, refretted, EMG’s put in and a Floyd Rose double locking trem installed.  Our job? Re-install a vintage style trem and find a better place for the battery than under the pickguard.

One thing we always like to consider when un-doing a previous hardware or electronics installation is the “what-if” situation of when the owner wants to put ’em back in? You know, sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants.

 First step, dowel the old post holes.  No, wait! we don’t have to dowel anything. Those holes just need to be filled and stained over. We don’t need structural integrity at those spots, and filler would drill out easily without losing the hole’s center should the owner want the Floyd back.  So to cover up those old posts and fill in the gap the previous installation created (pickguard cut to fit the larger trem size), we made this little piece.  Don’t worry, it’s only tortoise shell on the bottom. Or the top if you’re in the southern hemisphere. It’s a 3-ply which we’ll sharpie the white line out and gently age it to match the rest of the pickguard.  The guard is hand painted just like the rest of the body, so we sprayed it with semi-gloss lacquer and 0000-steel wooled it to look weathered.

So that worked. Next we attack the nut.  Originally we proposed to use the way-cool ebonal nut from ABM that’s sold by Allparts.  It’s purpose built for just such an occassion.  But after further consideration (always dangerous), we decided to make something more special out of bone.

 We wanted it too feel more like a regular nut than an adapter, so we tapered the base and created a ledge to let the actual contact area sit higher like a conventional nut. Then we stained the base a deeper orange with Behlen’s Golden Wheat stain and left the nut portion bare-bone white.  One note about that. Don’t polish the bone too much or the stain won’t take very well. That’s the photo above. We had to rough up the portion we wanted to stain to let the color sink in. It still wasn’t quite as orange-y good as I’d hoped, but we didn’t want it to be darker than the aged finish on the headstock. Always better to be a shade lighter than darker on touch-ups and color matches.

 Next we fill the holes behind the nut.  These days, most Floyd nuts are secured from the top with small screws. Originally, all were installed with bolt going through the neck from the back.

 Some more filler, Behlen stain and a super-glue drop fill and we’re good.  Looks better at some angles, but after 4 pics I gave up. It’s a close match, again, trying not to be too dark. With holes this big on a natural finish, we’re not fooling anyone. You just want the fill to look like somebody cared. And they did. Sniffle.

 Next we find a home for the battery.  We’ve found this to be a great way to do it. We cut a cavity to allow the 9-volt to sit flat instead of on it’s side. Most strat cavities don’t allow a depth of a battery sitting on its side without going into the control cavity. As you can see here, even at the minimum battery depth, we still have daylight from the control room.  We then customize a claw, fitting just 3 springs and having 2 holes right next to each other.  After lots of installs, I can assure you that having all of the spring tension on one side doesn’t change the trem performance at all. Scout’s honor.

 I think that’s it.   So after some fretwork, setup and play testing, this baby was ready to go. Thanks to Anders for letting us work on his prized 70’s Strat.

We also had a killer Squire ’51 with an old Arlen Roth Hotlicks neck and some custom wiring. Really cool guitar. We just had to put in some ferruls for its new string-thru bridge.

   Putting ferruls (the metal inserts that hold the ball-end of the string)in a guitar after-market like this can be tricky. Even with patience, a drill press and gently beveling all holes that might see a drill bit, the thick, plastic-y finishes of today’s import guitars can be a challenge.  Just go slow, don’t use any high-tack masking tape and keep some sharp dental tools and some super glue to seal around your new holes before pressing the ferruls.

 Here’s a great sounding Seagull Performer Mini Jumbo that’s shown here post-repair. The top got caved in something awful. Looked like a foot, but something caused 3 major cracks,some splintering,  2 crushes and 3 bracings knocked loose.  Even after lots (and lots) of even clamping pressure with heavy cauls on the inside, the top still had a little wave to it around the most serious crack.  We did some mild leveling but didn’t want to go too thin on this already thin top.  So we chose to refinish it with a lower-gloss Tru-Oil gun stock finish. This great looking finish looked very similar to Seagull’s semi-gloss finishes  and  improved the tone of the guitar. At least we thought it did compared to others of the same model we’ve had. Or maybe our auditory memory wasn’t that great. I mean, without some other-worldly powers, we’ll never be able to compare the pre-damaged guitar to the finished product here. Unless there are some recordings of it around and we can use the exact same equipment with the exact same mic placement.  Now it just seems like I’m arguing with myself.  Just don’t want to be held to ridicule.  I should save this kind of thinking for my diary.  The good news was that the top was now smooth to the touch and looked great without needing a thick clear coat to hide any inconsistencies.

 Double trouble. Bridge and headstock. At the same time.  Don’t worry big fella. You’re gonna be fine. Let’s start at the top.  This guitar was in a few years back with a broken headstock. We guarantee  our headstock repairs. Forever. Even if this one did break in a different spot than the old repair, we told the owner we’d take care of it.  I mean it was only off by a few mm’s, but it was a fresh crack. Anyway, we fixed the new crack and hid it pretty darn well, sanding down to bare wood and refinishing the entire area. But this guitar’s main talking points concern bridge repairs.  The bridge on this Garrison 12-string was lifting up enough to cause someone to squirt some foaming Gorilla glue in there.  The only problem is that without clamping pressure, that’s a false sense of security.  And they left glue residue on the top in a couple places.  Ugh. The only way to fix what’s ailing you is to remove the bridge, scrape the old glue off both surfaces and clamp the fresh wood.

 Here’s the bridge pre-repair of the repair. Got it?  Doesn’t look so bad, but that’s because the string tension is off and  the gap isn’t so big. Add some strings and you see a void and some old foamy glue residue.

 We like to score the underside of the bridge to really bond the tight-grained rosewood to the top.  All of the old glue is scraped off and sanded smooth.  So we then glue, clamp, clean up and attack the old glue splatter.  Since it had been there for a while, it didn’t come off the thin satin finish without a fight. Removing it glossed the top in the 3 spots where the glue settled. Sometimes you can de-gloss finish spots effectively with the right abrasive grit and some gentle wet sanding with soapy water.  This time it just didn’t match well enough for our inflated egos. So we removed the pickguard, taped off the newly repaired bridge and oversprayed the top with a few light coats of semi-gloss lacquer. It was more ‘spritzed’ than sprayed and ended up matching the original patina perfectly. Score.

Well that’s all for now.  If I could only figure out Bill Compton’s motivation right now. Is he really on board with the Authority?  And what’s up with Erik?  Dang you True Blood !!!!

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

Custom Lefty Strat

Posted in Electric Guitars, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 3, 2011 by Coyle's Richboro Music

From time to time, we’ve been known to put together some funky guitars. Sometimes at a customer’s request and sometimes we just find ourselves with some cool parts begging to be assembled.  This one was a collaboration with one of our all-time best customers Mike M. Mike’s a lefty and has to special order all of his guitars, and he has great taste. From Taylor walnuts to  Breedlove myrtles, Gretsches to G&L’s, he’s had some top shelf guitars. So we were flattered when he asked us to assemble him a killer strat. He wanted versatility, so we recommended the Seymour Duncan Everything Axe Set. This pickup set includes single-coil sized ‘buckers that retain the classic S/S/S strat look until you look up close. The Lil’59 is one of our fave neck pickups, as is the JB Jr in the bridge. Just enough chunk for classic rock and blues. The Duck Bucker in the middle lets you nail “Hey Joe” convincingly during the 3rd set. No fancy switching here, we’re going for a simple array of solid tones and the familiar 5-way switch.

This guitar features a 2-piece swamp ash body, finished in a trans-green burst. The stain and burst was done in-house, but we left the final clear coats to Fran Drummond at Drummond Custom Airbrush. His finishes have that “dipped in glass” look. He’s done some amazing work for us in the past and came through again on this one.

This is the rear view, showing off the killer grain of this light-weight ash body. The neck was sprayed in nitrocellulose lacquer with a vintage tint, slightly aged and given a speciall burst around the back of the headstock…

I don’t think we’re capable of not bursting a headstock in some way or another. I need to talk to someone about that. It’s becoming a problem. Those are black chrome  Gotoh’s on there as well to match the Gotoh/Wilkinson bridge.

We did a faux-grain on the headstock by spraying a TON of  tint and letting it swirl. It worked out great but I don’t think we could replicate it again. We just wanted to do something interesting. It was either this or overlaying a thin ash veneer to match the body.

Mike’s bridge of choice is this Wilkinson VS-100bk by Gotoh, made in Japan.  It was a special order in lefty but was worth the long, long wait.  It’s silky smooth and looks great.

Here’s a shot of the whole thing, pre-setup. My photography skills need some honing, so you can’t make out the pickups or the fact that it’s a white pearl pickuguard w/ black screws. hopefully we’ll get a better shot when it’s all done later today.

Until next time, remember what my Uncle Ned always told me. “Shut the door and stop making so much noise.” He really meant “Life is beautiful so enjoy every moment!”

Thanks Ned.

This week in Guitar Fixin’…

Posted in Store News with tags , , , , on February 28, 2011 by Coyle's Richboro Music

It’s been a little while since we had a minute to update here, so let’s see what’s transpired recently.

This first number is an answer to the question, “How many knobs can we fit on that strat?” 

This is a Squier Strat brought to us by a heck of a nice guy, Haider. He requested some custom routing and to bring a pickguard tracing to life.  It’s pretty ambitious and we were happy to be part of the project.  Those offset ‘bucker holes are actually cut to fit (6) individual single coils. Lots of independant switching is in store for them. Hopefully we get a picture when it’s done.

Here’s a re-bound Guild archtop who’s original binding had shrunken and broken off badly enough to need replacement.  So off came all of the old binding and heel cap, to be replaced with fresh plastic and an over-spray of semi-gloss lacquer around the edges to match the sheen of the finish.  We don’t want the new binding to look out of place.

The finish on this guitar was very thin and worn in a few spots near the binding as it was, so we used lots of rope and avoided taping anything to preserve it. We trimmed it as level as possible without disturbing the finish too much.  Our good buddy Dan can now enjoy playing it without fear that the binding will fall off any more.

What else, what else…hmm. Oh yeah. We almost forgot to post this picture of one of our favorite customers with his prized new G&L.  Thanks for all the pretzels Mike. And we’ll soon have a lefty Custom strat done for this fine gentleman in Green Burst with matching headstock. But that’s another conversation.

Blocking an old Kahler copy trem and squeazing midi into a Saber

Posted in Electric Guitars with tags , , , on January 8, 2011 by Coyle's Richboro Music

Here’s a cool late 80’s Hohner solidbody with a Kahler trem copy. These trems were all the rage on upper-end imports before the Floyd Rose patents ran out.  You saw them a lot on Hondo, Arbor, Cort and other guitars of the period that didn’t have a real Kahler. I personally love Kahlers for their smooth response. But honestly it’s probably just as much because of that Charvel with the UPC code graphic I fell in love with at Zaph’s Music when I was 12. It was the first time I heard someone play E to Bb with palm muting. Some would say that’s the beginning of the end. But on to today’s subject…

This guitar is now in the posession of a young player who wanted to disengage the locking trem and have a hardtail bridge for tuning stability. Since the footprint of this bridge was so big, a replacement bridge wasn’t the first option due to the size of the rout. He plays .011’s in drop D and needed something rock solid.  This trem had tension adjustments to stabilize the bridge under a variety of string guage and tuning choices, but still floated. Locking it in place isn’t a stock option. To do this we could physically install a block to eliminate any movement as on a standard Fender trem. But this trem has a ledge plate underneath with a set screw to control upward movement. We decided to drill a hole into the ledge and tap it to the same thread as the adjustment screw. Now we can lock it in place with a screw or loosen for regular whammy movement.

Phase 1 is now complete. Next to remove the stripped out string clamp and install a proper nut.  Our customer choice an intonated Earvana graphite nut.

Alright, I know we’ve done this before, but the finished pics never got done. It was picked up before I realized we didn’t have a final shot. So you’ll have to imagine the final result. It’s a shame because I was wearing my new rabbit hat. It was adorable.

Just remember, all trems can be stabilized to allow you to drop tune at whim without tuning nightmares.

Here’s an Ibanez S that got a Ghost Floyd for midi and piezo options. It also got a Lace noiseless middle pickup and a DiMarzio bridge ‘bucker. We’ll get into the process of this one next time, but first we’ll see some wires. Lots of ’em.

Since the edges are way too thin to accomodate the 13-pin connector, we mounted on the rear of the guitar. This was a lot of stuff in a small space. Some said not to try. We didn’t listen. Partially because someone was playing really, really loud that day.

So here’s some custom back plates, battery compartment and rear mounted midi jack.

This was the rough fit of some of the plates, but it ended up looking nice.

It also got a Trem Setter.  Man, this ended up being a ridiculously cool and versatile guitar. Thanks to Dan for letting us do this job.

These switches are for Electic/Piezo/Both, Midi on-off, and midi program toggle. The placement for all of these componenets took a lot of measuring and in some cases we only had a tolerance of 1/8″.  The size of the internal components and wiring harnesses didn’t leave much room for guess work. The depth of the body and proximity to other routs dictated the battery compartment and midi jack locations.

Here’s the finished product. (2) Dimarzio’s, (1) Lace, (1) Graphtech Ghost Hexaphonic preamp and Floyd bridge.  Tremsetter. Battery compartment. Stereo output jack. Midi output jack. Sigh of relief.

Neck resets and a Tele with a trem…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 18, 2010 by Coyle's Richboro Music

Well, what we’ve got here are two great sounding acoustics from the late 70′ – early 80’s that have rendered themselves nearly unplayable.  The action’s high, the fingers hurt, the guitar gets put in the case. To prevent this from happening, we’ve decided to take ’em apart and put ’em back together. It’s what fancy talkers call a neck reset.

When the saddle has been cut down and the truss rod cranked and you still have a high action, this proceedure corrects the neck pitch for optimal playability. When set properly, the fingerboard should be in line with the top of the bridge, right where it meets the saddle. Sight down the neck of your guitar and you’ll see it.

So…what’s supposed to happen is that you remove the 15th fret, drill the hole, steam the joint and the dovetail comes loose enought to remove and we proceed. However, what makes these two guitars (Guild dread and Alvarez 12) interesting fodder for this stuff is that the joints were a little more complicated.

On the Alvarez, we hit metal. Ouch. Turns out that the dove tail is a bit tighter on these guys than your typical Martin-style joint. Since we were flying blind, the only way to prevent unnecessary damage was to remove the lip of the fingerboard completely and find a new method of attack. As you can see, there’s almost no gap between the neck and body and this joint was made to last forever.  So we drilled some holes on each side of the joint and patiently steamed them seperately while keeping lots and lots of pressure on the neck.  It finally  popped after 10 minutes of steaming. Luckily we knew what we were in for and taped off the lables and put lots of towels inside the body to project the bracings and seams.

Here we are after cleaning up the gluing surfaces, gluing and clamping. What follows next is re-fitting the fingerboard section, fret leveling, crowning polishing, finish touch-up. Can’t find any of those pics.  But I already typed all of this, so I’m not stopping now. Lets just say it turned out great.

If anyone’s wondering about the Guild, I’m glad you asked. Just substitiute the word “Guild” for “Alvarez” above and you’ve got the idea. The Guild’s issue was that the gap in the dovetail joint was located almost exactly between the 14th and 15th fret. After 3 small angled pilot holes didn’t his pay dirt, we removed the top portion of the board on that one as well.

We removed a larger portion of the board on this one to also address a truss rod rattle. We’d usually just drill a tiny hole and get some wax in there as a filler, but since we were already doing something drastic, what’s another couple frets?

Here’s a nice action photo of a chisel.  I don’t think it’s from either of these jobs, but it looks cool.

On to another topic…

So our good friend Steve came in the other day with a cool Mighty Mite parts Tele for trde that he got at a guitar show a few years back. Nice ash body, great feeling neck. Just one problem. The guy who assembled it used a rear loading bridge and drilled the ferruls by hand.  The holes had finish chips and were very uneven. I couldn’t even take a picture. And we definitely couldn’t sell it as is out of self respect. So here’s what we did.

Routed for a trem. Note the old ferruls. In an effort to make it look better, two of them were filed so they’d fit together in a tight space. Ugh.

Out came the stock pickup (whatever it was) and in went a Duncan Hotrails for Tele.

Yup, those are flat head screws on that pickup buddy.  There’s always room for cool points. We also went with a mis-matched gold vintage-style trem and graphtech saddles.

And bursted headstocks are in for 2010.

The dice knobs came with the guitar, and I’m not going to be the one to take ’em off.