It's been another busy month in the workshop with some lovely guitars in for repairs and customisations.
Enjoy some of the highlight photos below, including a 1980's Gibson Custom Les Paul, an Ibanez S series with some custom wiring, a lovely Gordon Giltrap Vintage acoustic, an 80's Musicman Bass, a 1798 Fender Mustang Bass and a stunning Duesenburg!
We're never to busy to get your guitar/ bass to it's playing best so get in touch if you're in need of any repairs, customisations or restorations.
The first step was removing the old frets, this is a precision job to ensure none of the aged lacquer chips away when the frets are removed. The slots are then prepped removing the older glue residue.
We refret guitars using traditional methods, as taught to us at Totnes School of Guitar Making. The technique of hand hammering in the frets allows very precise control over how the frets are seated. This was vital with this refret, as due to how the neck had been mistreated, the wood of the fret slots was starting to rot, causing the frets to spring up. Special work had to be done to the tang of each fret to ensure the frets remained seated correctly
Once the frets had been installed, the frets were leveled using our two stage fret leveling process, before the frets were recrowned and hand polished to a high shine.
The body had been resprayed in the past, we forgot to take a before picture, but you can see the thickness of the paint that had to be carefully removed to allow the original neck to sit back in it's neck pocket. Sadly someone had already tried to remove a section of the overspray, and pulled off the paint along a section of the side of the pocket. The wasn't really anything we could do with one edge, except tidy it up the best we could.
The neck complete, it was installed onto the body for trial stringing. Sometimes working with vintage guitars and modern parts, there is compatibility issues which need to be overcome. With this guitar, the roller nut was a different radius than the neck, the neck being 9.5" and the roller 12". This lead to uncomfortable action due to the different radius.
The solution was a second precise level of the neck, while the neck was under tension, with the goal of removing the high part of the center of the frets. This was possible due to the brand new frets having a lot of crown height, and our fret leveling process preserves as much of the fret height as possible. Although this isn't an ideal solution, it was the only one possible that would give the customer what he wanted, as a fingerboard reprofile on a vintage neck wasn't within budget, nor would it preserve the originality of the neck.
The pictures above show the neck once it was fully finished and ready for restring and setup.
Once the guitar was reassembled, the whole guitar had a detail clean, before being restrung and setup ready for the customer to enjoy!
This lovely vintage Hofner violin bass was brought in by Mark from Classic and Cool Guitars, as it was suffering with low output on it's neck pickup. It's bridge pickup had stopped working and had been replaced with an aftemarket one by the previous owner. The aim was to have both pickups restored back to original working condition and then both fitted back into this lovely condition, vintage bass.
After the pickups were carefully removed, they were shipped off to Ash as Oil City Pickups. Hofner pickups are well known for failing, due to the solder they used at the time, and can only be fixed by rewinding the pickups.
Interesting once Ash received the pickups, he informed me that they turned out to be manufactured by Schaller, which was very common at the time. This was due to the fact that Hofner couldn't keep up with demand, so used to use Schaller for parts as their factory was just down the road.
What made rewinding these pickups awkward to work on, is they were riveted together. This made them impossible to rewind the conventional way, and Ash had to make a special jig to rewind them to original specification. You can find more about the amazing work Ash does here: www.oilcitypickups.co.uk
Once the pickups were back at the workshop, they were carefully refitted back into the bass, and the electronics were also serviced to remove crackles/noise common with vintage instruments. All done it was ready for Mark to collect before being ready for sale on his website! The bass is for sale here: Classicandcoolguitars.co.uk/portfolio/hofner-violin-bass
This lovely Tokai Stratocaster was brought in for a refret by one of our regular customers. We had previously worked on this guitar, with a min restoration bringing it back to original spec, and had advised at the time that a refret would be needed before too long.
The old frets were very flat, this made the removal of the frets tricky, especially with the 30+ year old aged lacquer surrounding them! The slots were then cleaned and the board prepped for the new frets.
We managed to source some fretwire that matched the profile of the original fretwire when it would be been new, as it was not a standard profile that is widely available today.
The new fretwire was installed, and the frets were then levelled using our two stage leveling process, before being recrowned and hand polished. The photos below show the fret dust of the removal of high spots, once the neck is under string tension. This technique preserves the height of the frets, only removing exactly what needs to be removed, definitely needed when dealing with low profile thin vintage fretwire!
This Tanglewood acoustic was brought in the workshop with a very nasty headstock break.
It was the customers 'beater' guitar, so he wasn't bothered with the way it looked, he just wanted it back playable.
Once we got into the repair, it became clear the headstock was only being held together by the machineheads, and this had bent the top veneer upwards, combined with the multi cracked break, made for a challenging repair.
Once the headstock was reattached and stable, we didn't want to leave the guitar with such an obvious crack showing, so a dark stain was applied to the cracks and the repaired neck crack was then sealed with some lacquer to protect the join and give a smooth touch to the join.
Hi, I'm Lewis, Ive been repairing guitars since 2004, I learnt my craft at Totnes School of Guitar Making!