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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.


Rare Les Paul gets a de-yellowing…

Posted in Electric Guitars, Store News with tags , , , on June 10, 2011 by Coyle's Richboro Music

Look away if you’re squeamish…
This poor Les Paul Pro Lite had it rough. First off, it was finished in the rare and desireable Nuclear Yellow finish (it is from ’88) then treated to a few coats of black Krylon spray paint.  We’re picking up where the stripper started getting that evil combination off of this mahogany wonder.

Here’s another in-process shot showing more of that Yellowy goodness.  Note the bevels around the edge. This guitar is almost Ibanez Saber thickness and is remarkably thin for anything that came from Gibson. It also boasts a single P-90 size pickup with EMG-style cover and a Steinberger KB Trem.

And here we are 5 minutes later after dipping it in a tub of brown paint. Amazing how that works.  We kept the yellow edge on the original pickguard, although we were dying to Sharpie it out. I think it’s a nice nod to its history without being too obvious about it.

Here’s the headstock after some mild aging and a new logo. The old logo was silk screened over the previously mentioned Nuclear Yellow.  We put some impressions around the drawn logo to simulate an aged inlay. It sort of works. I think. No, I know it does.  Low self esteem cannot be changed with Oreos. It just can’t.As you can see from this angle, there were a good number of little nicks and dings that led us in the aging direction from the jump. We didn’t want to fill the honest wear and make it look too shiny and new. I’m hoping the owner (Big J) gets lots of excited guitar guys asking him what the heck that guitar is.

And there you have it. Another week in the life at the music store, solving the world’s complex problems by ingnoring them.

A big thanks to Jason for letting us do this job for him.

And now for some advertising…

We have Tech 21 amps in stock. There I said it. And they’re awesome. Come buy one and make your life better one righteous tone at a time. will tell you how to find us and come by and buy one or have us ship it to you.  You deserve it, after all of the wonderful things that you do.

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.

o.k., I get it, you fix headstocks…

Posted in Acoustic Guitars with tags , , on September 15, 2010 by Coyle's Richboro Music

Ah, but this one’s a cautionary tale. This particular guitar survived a fight which left it with a nasty crack and ( today’s topic) missing wood. The only reason we’re boring you with another headstock repair post is that recently a customer said they threw a guitar away becase their neck was broken and “missing a chunk”.  Then this one fell into our lap, destined to illustrate advances in modern science.

So after gluing and clamping, we had a gap on either side of the headstock as shown above.  Next we cleaned out the void and fitted some reinforcement strips.  I wish we had more detailed pics of the process, but we must’ve been particularly busy that day. Or low on film.

After some sanding, here’s our pre-finish outlook…

After taping over the logo and binding, we’re ready for the finish coats.  Looks like black, but it’s actually a translucent stain on the back of the neck. We used black walnut stained lacquer and it came out looking pretty good. This next pic is of the front before final buffing. We  forgot to take a final front pic, but the back is after final buffing.

So next time you drop your favorite guitar down the steps and can’t find a chunk of it, stop by before you throw it away.  Thanks for watching.