Binding Repair On Vintage Weissenborn Guitar

 

A customer brought this family heirloom in to the shop recently for some restoration work. This   guitar was found in the attic of his grandfathers house. It was destined to be thrown out with the rest of the aged artifacts till the grandson wanted to keep a part of his grandfathers history.  The story was that this guitar traveled all around the world on a navy war boat sustaining harmony in the midst of fighting and rough seas. This is just one of the reasons I love my job.

The guitar had some very serious cracks on the side and top, the rope binding was missing in several places and  the finish was in very bad shape. In order to make up binding, I glued strips of maple and rosewood together and then cut the angle with a miter saw. 

Early 1920 Gibson Mandola Top Repair

          Gibson instruments from the early 1900s sound as beautiful as they look. Gibsons of this era are exceptional instruments, and I admire the craftsmanship and attention to detail the builders put into them. Overtime, however, the down bearing pressure from its eight strings can sink the top. In an attempt to keep this mandola as original as possible and not sacrifice sound, I added a little support where needed. This is a technique I learned when working in the repair shop with Randy Wood and I will attempt to summarize the steps here.

      The back was starting to separate, so I continued to pry it off with a small spatula using a little heat in places that were tough to release. I then clamped a brace with the appropriate inside contour and glued it to the underside where it lined up with the bottom of the bridge. This gave support and also raised the sinking of the top. The back went back on perfectly and with a little touch up using an airbrush and thinned out lacquer, I was able to make the reassembly invisible. The instrument lost none of its distinctive tone. Without looking on the inside with a mirror and seeing an additional brace, the instrument had no trace of being repaired. 

1931 Martin 00-18 Replaced Top

This 1931 00-18 is a real beauty. The Brazilian Rosewood Binding and Maple purfling really gives it an elegant look. Unfortunatley, during a bar room brawl (as the story goes) a boot heal found its way through the top. The owner of the instrument bought the guitar after the incident happened and did not recieve any of the broken pieces when purchased. At the owners request, I replaced the entire top.

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The guitar came out great, and the owner was trilled. One of the things I learned in this expierence is the difference in materials used in the 30's and what is available today. The top and the bracecing materials were extra stiff. The braces were heavely scalloped, and the highest point on the X- braces were very low. I felt that if I were to copy the dimensions exactly, the top would surely cave in and belly up  in a very short time. The answer  was to carve the braces while continously  comparing stiffnes of the two by flexing. I continued to shave down the braces until I felt like the two tops  had an equal amount of flex. The result was a very loud and responsive instrument that retained alot of the sound qualities asssosiated with the vintage Martin guitars. 

Making a New Bridge for Gibson Harp Guitar

This is a magnificent old instrument. It was in great shape with the exception of a missing bridge. I was lucky enough to locate an instrument from the same period and make a bridge to original specification.