Thursday, April 10, 2008

Zombie Guitar

Well, hello there again! I've just put up some more photos on Flickr of some repair work I'm doing on an 1890s parlor guitar and so I figured I'd put some here. First, the background...

I bought this hoping it would be an easy fix. Neck is perfectly straight, has good Victorian-era tuners, nicely proportioned body (think a small-size Martin or Larson parlor guitar), and wonderful ancient spruce for the top. Matches the grain very closely to my mandolin from the same time period, so I'm guessing that it might be Adirondack. Anyhow, that was all the good.

The bad was that the seller identified only "two tight hairline cracks" in the top and one big crack on the back. The back was no problem, I took it off, put it back together, and reglued the braces. The two "hairline cracks" must be the ones under the tailpiece and right down the center-seam of the top... those are okay. At this point I've glued and stabilized them. They're not going anywhere. So what was the bad? The soundhole had caved in at the top and the area around the soundhole was badly bellied-in. This left the neck at a five-degree angle pointing into the body and a massacred upper-bout top and structure underneath it. I decided that I was going to salvage the neck, sell the parts, and make a banjo-guitar with the neck... but then I went ahead and did the foolish thing and said "I'm gonna fix this!" So I am, and it's actually going okay. There's no doubt that I can in no way sell this piece, but it looks like it'll end up as a player anyhow!

Here's the broken end-block, missing part of the top, and broken-off brace.

Cutting away the old brace leavings... never fear! It'll turn out okay!

Bits and pieces... the brass tuners cleaned up nicely and now I have them all in working-order, too! Tailpiece is shiny and pitted at the same time. I might replace the bridge with a new one...

Cutting away the old top leavings that were still stuck to the underside of the fingerboard.

Almost done! Then to sand...

Clamping my "patch" in place. This will also remove the warp from the top of the soundboard when the glue is all dried. Getting there!

A little help from my cast-iron friend to glue these braces back to the back.

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