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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:57 am 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:09 pm
Posts: 520
Location: Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada
First name: Conor
Last Name: Searl
City: Duncan
State: British Columbia
Zip/Postal Code: V9L 2E5
Country: Canada
Status: Semi-pro
Well, I'm gonna turn this one away for sure, it's just beyond the scope of what I'm able to do at this point, and a recently inherited heirloom with sentimental value so the desire to not screw something up is even higher than normal. But before I call the customer I'd like to make sure my initial impressions pass muster so I can clearly articulate myself with them.

First here's the guitar...
Attachment:
whole guitar.JPG


Now there's no tension on the strings at all, but this neck angle seems really bad. I think a neck reset is necessary.
Attachment:
neck angle.JPG


Is this cloth tape supposed to be bracing? One of the pieces on the top is dangling off. Not sure if this is something to worry about or not.
Attachment:
cloth braces.JPG


Now on to the things the customer has noticed and asked me to address.

There's a fairly wide open crack at the waist on the back, apparently it hasn't moved for years. It butts right up against the kerfing, I assume re-humidifying a crack/guitar this old probably won't do anything to close the crack, so would a spline be the appropriate fix here? On a pressed birdseye maple back underneath a burst? Yeesh...
Attachment:
back crack outside.JPG

Attachment:
back crack inside.JPG


Finally the pièce de résistance. The top and back have both come apart from the rim, and there is significant disortion on both the top and the rim. To deal with this the top or back would have to come off, introduce spacers to re-form the rim, clamp and re-glue whichever plate I left attached to the rim, then re-glue whichever plate I removed.
Attachment:
back and side separation.JPG

Attachment:
back and side distortion.JPG


Oh and there is a screw missing from the pickguard.

The music store I do work for, left a message regarding this guitar ready for me to pick up saying there was a small crack and some loose binding. hahaha.

There are a few way more experienced luthiers within a couple hours of me. One has extensive experience with vintage resorations, I'll pass their names on to this customer. But like I said earlier I'd like to sound intelligent at least when I let the guy no I'll be passing on this guitar.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:16 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2005 4:02 am
Posts: 2098
Location: The Woodlands, Texas
First name: Barry
Last Name: Daniels
It really doesn't look that bad to me. I would not take off the top or back. The plates should be able to be re-glued and the sides lined up with simple spool clamps.

The back crack is a little different. Since it is in maple and is not straight, gluing in a full spline is really not an option. The good news is that it is right behind an f-hole so you have access to the back of the crack. Re-humidifying the guitar may close it some. Then I would glue splines over the crack while applying whatever force is necessary to get the sides of the crack flush with each other. Then I would probably fill the crack with either slivers of maple from plane shavings and/or CA glue.

Regarding the issue of the neck angle: how far above the top is the fret plane?

By the way, I am not saying you should take on this repair job if you feel it is beyond your skills. That is up to you to decide. It is a nice old guitar and it would be ashamed to mess it up.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:57 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
Posts: 10281
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
First name: Hesh
Last Name: Breakstone
Country: United States
Status: Professional
Connor the force is strong with you my friend. Your instincts are good we would turn it away. We have some of these in our closet of doom that clients asked us to pitch or whatever after giving them an honest and comprehensive assessment of ETA, true costs and what to expect when a once POS is returned to POS status.

The economics will never be there with this one unless the client wants to pay north of $800 and likely more. A hobbyist could take this on as a "project guitar" provided that they are honest in disclosing that they may not have the chops and experience of commercial alternatives and they like to work for peanuts.

I'll add that this was a low end guitar in it's day anyway and they are not rare at all with lots of messed up ones still out here.

The neck angle is underset now (needs a reset) as you suspected for the OEM style bridge that should be what's used on these to properly drive the top.

I laughed out loud at your description of what the music store asked you to do. This is why you should endeavor to do your own triage so as to properly set client expectations up front and not have to be in the position of offering a view that although more realistic is sad to hear for the client.

Also I should mention taking these on is not always a matter of one's skill set it's far more frequently a question of economics both what should be billed to do the work AND all the other more profitable stuff you can't work on because of the "opportunity costs." My advice to you is as a working in the trade pro not a hobbyist who has a completely different situation in terms of billing and time. I don't see anything here as beyond what I've seen in the way of great work from you in the past.

Good instincts on your part.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 1:05 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
Posts: 10281
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
First name: Hesh
Last Name: Breakstone
Country: United States
Status: Professional
I know you may not have client contact but we do and when we turn these away that have been inherited and are family heirlooms we express empathy and suggest that the history of the instrument and it's steward is still there even if this one gets hung on the wall as is. This along with an honest quote and we are always thanked for our time, efforts and understanding. This is when a different skill set comes into play, caring about other people.



These users thanked the author Hesh for the post: fumblefinger (Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:35 pm)
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:35 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2005 4:02 am
Posts: 2098
Location: The Woodlands, Texas
First name: Barry
Last Name: Daniels
Not everyone is doing this work based on economic decisions. I would gladly take on a job like this but to be honest, I am retired and repair guitars part time cause that is what I love. It would be very rewarding to take this wall hangar and hand it back to the client as a playable guitar with the sentimental value intact. Not much in life is better.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:56 pm 
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Contributing Member
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Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:04 am
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First name: Chris
Last Name: Pile
City: Wichita
State: Kansas
Country: Good old US of A
Go for it, Conor - I have saved worse Harmony archtops. Even if you don't make money, consider it an education working on the old stuff.

_________________
"Act your age, not your shoe size" - Prince


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:35 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:09 pm
Posts: 520
Location: Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada
First name: Conor
Last Name: Searl
City: Duncan
State: British Columbia
Zip/Postal Code: V9L 2E5
Country: Canada
Status: Semi-pro
Barry Daniels wrote:
It really doesn't look that bad to me. I would not take off the top or back. The plates should be able to be re-glued and the sides lined up with simple spool clamps.


Now I'm curious, I think I can see how spool clamps would be a good way to clamp those parts together, but when I squeeze it closed, the rim sits proud of the top, and the back sits proud of the rim, how would I get it all lined up, just push on the rim from the top side once there's a little pressure?


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Last edited by Conor_Searl on Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:39 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:09 pm
Posts: 520
Location: Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada
First name: Conor
Last Name: Searl
City: Duncan
State: British Columbia
Zip/Postal Code: V9L 2E5
Country: Canada
Status: Semi-pro
Thanks for the encouragement guys. I'm not opposed to taking on projects that are un-economical (is that a word?) but I've got a couple project guitars in the works right now that are learning experiences taking up mental space, plus a couple non-luthiery renovation projects for the house that I hope to have done at the beginning of summer, and I hope to have a couple electric guitars built from scratch, as well as a first acoustic guitar started by September, on top of lessons to teach and other more standard repair work that comes along. So not a lot of room for a project like this.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:11 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2005 4:02 am
Posts: 2098
Location: The Woodlands, Texas
First name: Barry
Last Name: Daniels
If the sides are sticking out then push some small wedges between the side and the spool clamp's all-thread.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:47 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 1651
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
My two cents. I agree with everything Hesh says. I would willingly do the project for a couple of reasons and with a couple of caveats

First, I don't know if you have done a reset yet but Harmonys are generally fairly easy to do. It would be a whole lot better to practice your chops on that guitar than a prewar D28 (by the way, I just turned down a reset on a D35 yesterday)

Second, the top and back separations look very fixable. You might even be dealing with hide glue with would make it even easier. You'll get some practice building jigs to hold everything in place.

Third, I would glue and cleat the back crack from the inside, you'll get some practice working thru the f-hole. I wouldn't touch the finish, it is what it is.

I'm not sure what the tape is all about.

You'll also learn to make a good estimate of your time and see how close you actually come. You'll need to negotiate with the owner and you'll loose money whatever you decide, but when I read between the lines on many of your posts is that you are still learning the trade and you need this kind of experience before you touch the prewar D28's.

(I will add that I have an old harmony flattop under my bench right now that is much worse than yours. Needs the reset, frets, it has a hole kicked in the side. But it belonged to a friend's mother before he was born and he wants to play it for her before she passes. I told him I needed some practice setting necks and patching holes)


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 3:08 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:09 pm
Posts: 520
Location: Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada
First name: Conor
Last Name: Searl
City: Duncan
State: British Columbia
Zip/Postal Code: V9L 2E5
Country: Canada
Status: Semi-pro
Barry Daniels wrote:
If the sides are sticking out then push some small wedges between the side and the spool clamp's all-thread.


That makes sense. What if the top or back are still overhanging though? How do you bring the rim out to be flush with the top or back?


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 3:18 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:09 pm
Posts: 520
Location: Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada
First name: Conor
Last Name: Searl
City: Duncan
State: British Columbia
Zip/Postal Code: V9L 2E5
Country: Canada
Status: Semi-pro
Thanks for the feedback everyone. After sleeping on it I'm definitely gonna pass on this one. If I stumbled across this guitar at a pawn shop in this condition I'd be willing to take on the challenge. After all I do have so much more to learn. But I'm just not into practicing things I've never done on other peoples stuff, without a very explicit conversation. That coupled with all the other learning experiences I have on the go or on the horizon, and the reality that there is always another basket case instrument around the corner if I really want it, I don't feel I'm missing out on an opportunity. Not to mention all of the stuff Hesh has to say, as new as I am to this game I am trying to establish luthiery as a viable income stream, and I understand the danger of being pecked to death by ducks.

I am glad to learn that its not quite the basket case I initially thought though, I'm happy that I can refer the guitar on knowing that other more experienced luthiers won't necessarily dismiss this guitar out of hand.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:54 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:09 pm
Posts: 520
Location: Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada
First name: Conor
Last Name: Searl
City: Duncan
State: British Columbia
Zip/Postal Code: V9L 2E5
Country: Canada
Status: Semi-pro
Well, the client has clamps of his own. He's gonna do it himself. :)

He doesn't care much about the guitar's value, or ever selling the instrument, or what it looks like, or doing the job properly, just wants to play it for grandma before she passes, (which sounds like it may be imminent) so it needs to be able to be strung up and that's it. He said he'd be fine for me to do it, but I'm not into mickey mouse band-aids (I didn't use that term), he understood.

Thanks again for the help.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 8:41 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 1651
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Ironically the latest issue of American Lutherie which hit my mail box today has a very good article about doing neck resets......


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:46 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2008 10:08 pm
Posts: 1953
Location: Missouri
First name: Patrick
Last Name: Hanna
State: Missouri
Country: USA
I respect your decision to refrain from trying new repairs on other people's instruments. I really do. However, if this instrument were to fall in my lap I'd happily dive into it. I don't think there's anything too daunting there. Maybe more time and expense involved than the inherent worth of the instrument, but not too daunting. I must add, however, that I only repair my own stuff. I don't do it for a living.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:33 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:09 pm
Posts: 520
Location: Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada
First name: Conor
Last Name: Searl
City: Duncan
State: British Columbia
Zip/Postal Code: V9L 2E5
Country: Canada
Status: Semi-pro
I talked with another luthier I really trust about the top and back delamination, he thought it was likely that the top and back shrunk, while the sides remained as they originally were. He said in his opinion the proper fix was to take about an 1/8" material out of the sides then reglue. He said it's likely most guitars that came out of chicago during the 40s and 50s experience some shrinkage like this.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 9:47 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2005 4:02 am
Posts: 2098
Location: The Woodlands, Texas
First name: Barry
Last Name: Daniels
Yes, that is quite possible. If you can't get things to line up then it might be necessary to move the sides. But sometimes a little pressure in one direction or the other will be sufficient.



These users thanked the author Barry Daniels for the post: Conor_Searl (Fri Jun 21, 2019 2:37 pm)
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:53 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:01 pm
Posts: 1858
Location: UK
Back shrunk. I have an 18 th cittern where the back simply won't fit back onto the ribs. The only way to get it to fit is to shrink the rib slightly. Suddenly the work hours increases enormously. It's not uncommon for old violins to have the same problem.


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