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1937 Epiphone Blackstone
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Author:  Conor_Searl [ Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:02 pm ]
Post subject:  1937 Epiphone Blackstone

One of my old guitar students brought this guitar by for me to look at. It was his great grandfathers. It's an old Epiphone Blackstone, he thinks its from 1937. When he got it it had been living in a garbage bag in the rafters of his grandpa's garage. Anyway, at first glance its in pretty good shape for how old it is. But he's hoping I can get it back into playing condition for him, (when he got it there were only 3 strings left.) He wants to do as little as possible to it, not from a cheap perspective but from a respect for the heirloom perspective which I think is the right choice.

These are the issues I've found...
- Frets are pretty worn out, especially 1 - 5
- Tuning peg screws are loose, which is causing the pegs to bind when tightening
- The neck angle doesn't seem terrible, but the floating bridge is as low as it will go.
- The binding is shrinking and has cracked off in certain places.

He hasn't even had it strung up to pitch yet, so what we decided to do was to start with addressing the tuning keys so he can at least get it strung up to see what he has. And from there we can see better what the neck angle is like, and make any other decisions about other work he might want done to it.

So for dealing with the tuning keys, some of the screw holes are stripped and the gears are super stiff. Previously I've dealt with stripped holes by filling them with new wood and re-screwing. The stiff gears by taking the tuning keys apart, cleaning the gears, then oiling them with something like sewing machine oil or bike chain lubricant. But I want to be as un-invasive (is that a word?) as possible. Does this seem like a reasonable approach?

I also wanted to deal with some of the loose binding, so it doesn't keep chipping away on him. The spots around the waist, while coming off the body still feel pretty sturdy, but around the neck joint most of it is missing and what's left is loose. Can I just glue it down with super glue? Or will that have an adverse effect on binding this old?

Author:  DanKirkland [ Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1937 Epiphone Blackstone

Those are neat old guitars.

You may want to seriously consider resetting the neck. Having had a few from the same era and manufacturer on my bench they almost all invariably had exceptionally low neck angles. When the bridge is bottomed out like that it's a good sign that it's time to have that done.

Looking forward to seeing the end result of this one!

Author:  Freeman [ Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1937 Epiphone Blackstone

First of all, while this is a nice old guitar it isn't a super valuable collector's item so keeping it totally original is not necessarily required. I think most people would approve of replacing the tuners with period correct new ones, fill the holes as required. It would be nice to use the original bushings. Keep the original tuners with the guitar in case anyone wants to do a "restoration". Same with the frets, replace them, do a good job, clean up the fretboard while you are at it.

Dealing with the binding isn't easy but it is possible. Try to duplicate what is there using modern binding - you may have to hunt or modify something. It was probably originally glued on with acetone based glue or possibly hide, but I have no problem using a modern glue for the repair. I completely replaced the rotting binding on a jazz style guitar a while back and replaced some missing sections on an old Lester



One of the really hard parts of replacing the binding is that while it probably started out white both the binding and the lacquer over it have turned amber over the years. Matching that color is really tricky and needs to blend into the finish, which has also turned amber. I would, under absolutely no circumstances, consider refinishing the guitar.

Once you get all of that done and have it strung up, come back with the measurements and we can decide if it needs a neck reset.

Author:  Freeman [ Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1937 Epiphone Blackstone

One additional thought - if you are going to reset the neck and you are going to replace the binding, I would do the binding while the neck is off. It will be much easier to deal with around the neck heel.

Author:  Conor_Searl [ Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1937 Epiphone Blackstone

Thanks Freeman. Seeing as I've yet to actually do a neck reset I'm going to save that particular learning curve for something I own, and that has minimal value. I don't mind passing that on to someone with a little more experience.

I'll start with the tuning keys and go from there, and get it strung up and then see where we're at.

Author:  zcostilla [ Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 1937 Epiphone Blackstone

I’m fascinated with old archtops like this. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Author:  Conor_Searl [ Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1937 Epiphone Blackstone

zcostilla wrote:
I’m fascinated with old archtops like this. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

We didn't end up doing much. I glued the loose binding, cleaned and lubed the tuning keys and strung it up for him. It sounded great though, and so much mojo...

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