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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:06 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:54 am
Posts: 549
State: Texas
Country: United States
Focus: Repair
This might be a little weird to some, but I played one of these old hoss's at an antique store and I could easily hear the potential that it had, had it not been in such horrendous condition, but the ladder braced tone was something that I really liked, and especially from this size it just had a "thump" to it that I haven't heard from other guitars. These are not the most complex guitars from a tonal perspective but they are ladder braced which gives me a guitar with a tone that I currently do not have.

Ever since I played that antique store model almost 12 years ago I have been seeking one to call my own. What always held me back was usually that these were way overpriced and I wanted something I could put some time into and enjoy the process. In my usual perusing of eBay I spotted this wonderfully relic'd old bird I will name Hoss. Hoss is exactly 17" across, has some fairly serious top damage at the bridge, but on the positive side it has obviously been played and enjoyed immensely over the years. The shipping on this guitar was almost more than what I paid for it from ebay.

Image

The glue in the dovetail completely let go, and the only thing that was holding the neck on was the fingerboard extension. There's alot of damage to the top from some less than ideal construction techniques that you'll see later on.

Besides the AWESOME patina that this thing has, this was my favorite thing about it.
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The bridge had been reglued at some point with hide glue I think, and it has obviously let go and it looks like the job was done many moons ago. After removing the screws from the bridge it simply lifted off, the screws were the only thing holding it onto the top which is why there are cracks in that location.
Image

As you can see the ball ends were resting *directly* on the top causing the damage and the enlargement of the holes. I would normally just work from the outside in a case like this but in feeling around there is a large piece of the bridge plate missing and I could feel a large part of the top missing as well. The wood for the plates on these was spruce, not ideal.

The bridge has a few cracks in it, but it's actual old rosewood instead of the usual PMW (painted mystery wood) that usually comes on these. So I will probably try to save it, I've saved worse and with the screws being removed for this rebuild it should be alot more stable.

So I decided to remove the back in order to repair the damage in a manner that will last another 50-70 years.

I initially started to use a seam separation knife and some heat to remove the back but I quickly realized that this was a mistake. The top layer of the laminate back began to peel away and rip up. I quickly changed tactics and decided that it would be safer and easier to saw the back off (YIKES). The kerfing gave me a good amount of space to saw with a little veneer saw. After a while of careful cutting the back popped off. Some damage was already done from where I foolishly tried to separate the seams before. The neck and tail block were both poplar which made them a breeze to cut through. I'll add some shims to make up for the lost portion of wood when the back goes back on. I plan on replacing all the kerfing for the back anyway.

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As you can see from the big picture there is an entire section of the bridge plate missing. And upon close inspection you can see how much wear there has been on the top, it's completely elongated the pin holes.

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So I plan on rebuilding this whole thing and grafting in a new section of top in the various damaged areas. More to come soon so stay tuned. Really excited for this one! Been a long time coming for me.



These users thanked the author DanKirkland for the post: Michaeldc (Thu Oct 17, 2019 8:36 pm)
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:32 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

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I too like that ladder braced sound. Loud and punchy, great blues guitar.



These users thanked the author jfmckenna for the post: DanKirkland (Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:07 pm)
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 5:09 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:26 pm
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First name: Carl
Last Name: Dickinson
City: Forest Ranch
State: California
Zip/Postal Code: 95942
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Hey Dan. I got one of these on ebay too back about 2005. I've determined that it was built in 1954. I think it had been hanging on the wall of a bar somewhere before smoking had the nix put on it. It stunk worse than an old ashtray. It took about ten years to out-gas.
It had a pinless bridge that was poorly designed. The string holes were drilled thru it so that the strings were pushed thru from the soundhole side, wrapped around the front and over the saddle effectively leveraging the bridge off of the guitar's top. It also cracked in half thru the boltholes which were all that held it on. Not salvageable. I replaced it with a pinless bridge with a belly. Much better connection and I was better able to get the intonation right. I also retained the fancy bolts.
I also did a neck reset. Does yours have the baseball bat sized neck? Mine had fairly deep, crossgrain gouges on the back so I did a shoeshine sanding to smooth it out and refinished with tru-oil.
I never had the back off, but since you do you might consider X-bracing it. I've read that it can really end up being a tone monster, but granted, no longer that ladder braced flavor.
It's got a cool metal "Kay" on the peghead.
Pics:
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PICT0288.JPG

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PICT0289.JPG

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PICT0293.JPG

One other thing, I've had no luck finding a case for it. If you get that figured out, let me know.

Carl


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These users thanked the author CarlD for the post: DanKirkland (Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:24 pm)
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:20 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:54 am
Posts: 549
State: Texas
Country: United States
Focus: Repair
CarlD wrote:
Hey Dan. I got one of these on ebay too back about 2005. I've determined that it was built in 1954. I think it had been hanging on the wall of a bar somewhere before smoking had the nix put on it. It stunk worse than an old ashtray. It took about ten years to out-gas.
It had a pinless bridge that was poorly designed. The string holes were drilled thru it so that the strings were pushed thru from the soundhole side, wrapped around the front and over the saddle effectively leveraging the bridge off of the guitar's top. It also cracked in half thru the boltholes which were all that held it on. Not salvageable. I replaced it with a pinless bridge with a belly. Much better connection and I was better able to get the intonation right. I also retained the fancy bolts.
I also did a neck reset. Does yours have the baseball bat sized neck? Mine had fairly deep, crossgrain gouges on the back so I did a shoeshine sanding to smooth it out and refinished with tru-oil.
I never had the back off, but since you do you might consider X-bracing it. I've read that it can really end up being a tone monster, but granted, no longer that ladder braced flavor.
It's got a cool metal "Kay" on the peghead.

One other thing, I've had no luck finding a case for it. If you get that figured out, let me know.

Carl


Carl, That one looks great. I had considered the X bracing conversion but I'm really after that tone that I heard 12 years ago in that dingy little antique store. The one issue I'd have with X bracing this thing is that the top is THICK compared to what I'd like for an X braced instrument.

What I've had in mind though is to find another one and completely retop it with an adi top and Larson brothers style bracing. It's weird but I've always wanted one of the 19" Prairie State instruments so I figured it'd be a cool way to get something similar without the 5 figure price tag that I'll never be able to afford. It'd be sort of a "Poor Man's Prairie State" if you will. These guitars pop up for sale in poor shape fairly often so it'd be easy enough to find another one.

The neck on mine is big but it's not quite baseball bat big.

The back on mine has some finish loss, but I'm fine with it, I don't want the back to be super polished and the top be all ragged, that'd drive me crazy.

I haven't really looked for a case for it, does yours not just fit in a J200 sized case?


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:04 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:26 pm
Posts: 160
First name: Carl
Last Name: Dickinson
City: Forest Ranch
State: California
Zip/Postal Code: 95942
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
No, the upper bouts are so flat on top and so wide that it doesn't fit. I've bought a couple of them , Gator and Access. They did fit a Prairie State style w/17" lower bout and a J-200 finished this year so I wasn't out anything.



These users thanked the author CarlD for the post: DanKirkland (Mon Oct 21, 2019 6:37 pm)
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 9:02 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:54 am
Posts: 549
State: Texas
Country: United States
Focus: Repair
CarlD wrote:
No, the upper bouts are so flat on top and so wide that it doesn't fit. I've bought a couple of them , Gator and Access. They did fit a Prairie State style w/17" lower bout and a J-200 finished this year so I wasn't out anything.


Gotcha, I'll see what I can come up with case wise then.

Update time!

The bridge plate peeled off with a little heat and encouragement from a chisel. The old hide glue just pops apart sometimes, spruce as a bridge plate is a bad idea just fyi.

My main concern are these 3 areas. Right in front of the pin holes where the ball ends have chewed through the top completely. And the 2 points where the top has bowed badly from the screws bearing down against in. The wood in front of the pin holes needs something for the new bridge plate to stick to. I may graft in from the top too but I'll do that as final prep before I get the bridge glued on. My method for adding wood is as follows for those interested.

My gouge of choice
Image

These pfeil gouges are too long to fit within the sides to make the cut I need to, so I just pop the blade out of the handle with some strong hits from a mallet and use the blade as is. Very usable and maneuverable in it's short state.

Image

Image

And my relief channel is cut

Image

And of course we need wood to fill our gap with. I super glue a patch of wood onto an angled block and flip the gouge over and cut the fill. Using the same gouge ensures that the channel and the fill are the exact same shape and do not require any fine fitting. You should always check the channel for consistency but if you have a nice wicked sharp tool you shouldn't have many issues.

Image

Some acetone breaks it free from the block

Image

And it's glued in place. I've found that if it's cut well enough then the suction from the glue will hold it in place without the need for much clamping. I clamp anyway because I like to be certain it's seated well.

Image

And skip forward to the next day, after the hide glue has dried and cured the fill is cut flush with the surrounding top.

Image

I also scarfed in some wood on the severe cracks around the screw holes. I really love this method and I adapted it from a method I learned on here years ago about filling in gaps of wood from when a bridge is reset. Exact same idea and it always works great provided that the relief is cut well and that the spruce melds well to the top. The biggest advantage I see with it in repairing cracks is that it adds a nice amount of ridgidity and strength to an otherwise weakened area.

There was a rather large crack in the top I addressed today as well. I decided to recycle that old spruce bridge plate and use it in a spline repair on the crack. I'll add cleats but this crack wasn't going to close even with a good sized bar clamp on the top. So a spline it is.

Image

The problem I noted is that the crack didn't follow a perfectly clean straight line across the top. There were lots of little torn fibers in the crack that would've prevented a spline from being effective. There was also alot of dirt and contamination in the crack. So to give myself a good glue surface I took my little dentist's paddle thingy and carefully cut out some slivers of wood to give me a straighter wall and to give a better glue surface on clean wood.

Image

Image

The spline is trimmed from that piece of the bridge plate I showed earlier. The color match was pretty nice for the top, even without a stain or coloring.

Image

I snap the spline and I've got a pretty good fill that I'm happy with.

Image

I took one of those touchup pens that SM sells and did a quick pass. When you get it in the light just right you can see it easily but if you're looking at it right on it hides nicely.
Image

That's all for now. I'm going to do the tedious task of removing and replacing the kerfing on the back tomorrow. Stay tuned.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 5:08 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Looking great Bro!

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These users thanked the author Hesh for the post: DanKirkland (Mon Oct 21, 2019 6:38 pm)
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 8:39 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:54 am
Posts: 549
State: Texas
Country: United States
Focus: Repair
Hesh wrote:
Looking great Bro!


That means alot coming from you Hesh so thank you! More updates and work to be done tomorrow.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:01 pm 
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Mahogany
Mahogany

Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:06 am
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First name: Roy L
Last Name: Smith
City: Apache Junction
State: Az
Zip/Postal Code: 85119
Country: USA
Focus: Repair
Status: Amateur
Very nice work to see. Do you mind saying a bit about how you did the flush cut around the bridge hole repair?
Scraping? Sanding, both? As a new person trying to get scraping down cleanly without impacting any surrounding wood, I'm just curious about your process. Thanks. Roy


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 2:41 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:54 am
Posts: 549
State: Texas
Country: United States
Focus: Repair
flemsmith wrote:
Very nice work to see. Do you mind saying a bit about how you did the flush cut around the bridge hole repair?
Scraping? Sanding, both? As a new person trying to get scraping down cleanly without impacting any surrounding wood, I'm just curious about your process. Thanks. Roy


Flush cutting anything is best done by plane. I don't sand these repairs as sanding leaves a really uneven surface since our fingers aren't tiny little straightedges.

Scraping is good for removing a tiny bit of material but I almost always plane these down since I get a flatter result. If you cut carefully you won't remove any surrounding wood, remember a plane only cuts the highest point in relation to it's blade/body. As long as you don't bear down on it once it's flush it'll simply stop cutting since the high points are all gone. My experience anyway has been like that.

Some progress, I finished installing the new kerfing and I also completed the final top graft over the second screw hole. Thankfully it wasn't as bad as the other side so the inlay graft didn't have to be as long. I also added small cleats to the large top crack.

Image

And the worst news of this rebuild, the back decided to completely delaminate on me

Image

So now I'm going to have to replace the back. Honestly I don't care if the grain matches the sides or anything of the sort. easiest course of action would be to simply order a pre-thicknessed piece from LMII or the like and re-use the original braces to match the radius from the factory.

Lots more work to be done. Stay tuned.


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