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 Post subject: Ovation acoustic repair
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2021 2:36 pm 
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Hi all. My first post here! I've read lots of great stuff on this forum so am glad to be here.

First off - I'm an amateur. But one with the desire to preserve - and sometimes rescue - instruments that have seen hard-times.

My last project was in no way a luthier endeavor - rescuing a chopped Hammond B3. It had it's legs chopped off sometime in the past, was painted white (with paint dripped all over the insides.) Bass-pedal wiring chopped off and horrendous wiring inside. It was a mess. I found a skilled carpenter to rebuild the bottom of the beast, then sourced a bass-pedal switch assembly and then completed about 200 solder connections to get the manuals, pre-amp, bass-pedals, etc. all hooked up. After some squeaks, howls, rattles, and hums, the beast sounds amazing!

So, that was not meant as a boast - just to show I am a determined bugger. (And, as I tell people - I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid.)

Oh - and I repaired a Harmony Stella whose bridge was split in two. (Common problem I think.) So that's kind of "Luthier. And I re-capped and replaced a lot of components in my '63 Feder Twin-reverb.

So that's me. Just enough skill to be dangerous! :D

Now, my latest rescue job.

I just picked-up an Ovation acoustic. I'm not sure of the model - the inside label is gone. (Least of my worries!) There is a serial number which appears to make it a 1973 vintage. And back in '73 I played a friends Ovation a lot - and liked it a lot. So I was happy to find this one. Now it gets interesting ...

I got it through an an-line auction for $25 CDN because it's rough shape. Honestly, it looks like it was used in a bar-fight, and lost. See photo at bottom of post.

I won't get into the crack in the head-stock quite yet - it's pretty stable. But needs attention after the bridge repair.

As you can see, the bridge has ripped off - and how to fix it? Or rather - how to fix it PROPERLY?

So before I warm up a pot of hide glue and make a mess, I would love to get some guidance and/or warnings.

Thanks in advance!

P.S. - I could take this poor thing to a trained luthier, but I'm willing to bet the bridge and head-stock repairs - plus needing a re-fret in the first five or six frets - would be far more expensive than the instrument is worth. So I'm willing to invest my time and love and hopefully save this instrument and learn in the process.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2021 2:46 pm 
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I would consider doing no clean up as it will be wood to wood and using structural epoxy to put it back on.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2021 3:52 pm 
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Welcome to the OLF, Bob. Wow - what a mess. Wish we could ascertain how that poor thing came to be broken. Usually when the bridge pulls off with the screws, it was because of a real problem. Either the instrument got really hot and yielded to the string pressure, or someone tuned it up way above concert pitch with heavy strings - or a combination of those problems.

A proper repair would doubtless be a waste of time, so take the hardware off the bridge (it didn't do a good job, did it?), and clean up both surfaces in preparation for re-gluing. I wouldn't use epoxy myself, but Titebond might work well enough. And it would be reversible if need be.

Do you have the proper size and length of clamps? Clamping cauls? Get a mirror and check inside for more damage and to familiarize yourself with the bracing structure. And good luck.

My usual recommendation with Ovations is to drop an anvil on them, but you could use the challenge of a difficult repair.

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These users thanked the author Chris Pile for the post: Barry Daniels (Tue Dec 14, 2021 4:03 pm)
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:17 am 
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Thanks guys!

So, Titebond eh? (That's a Canadian expression!) Never heard of it - but will check it out. I was thinking of using hide glue (I have a bag of it) but will re-consider as it is tricky.

Clamps? Lots, but none the right size. But I have a friend that probably has something appropriate.

Drop an anvil on it? That never worked for the coyote after the road-runner! :lol:

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:37 am 
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Titebond - I looked it up, and there are several flavors. Which would be best?

And, it's reversible? Really?

B

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 8:31 am 
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Titebond Original.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 10:52 am 
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Quote:
And, it's reversible? Really?


Yes, really - with water and gentle heat.
Most instrument makers and repairers use water soluble adhesives so the instrument can be taken apart easily for repairs and so on.

And it sounds weird to say, but it's not so strong that it will destroy the instrument when forces such as heat, tension, etc., try to rip the instrument apart. For instance, it is better for the bridge to pop off an acoustic guitar from heat or tension, than to rip the wood fibers or even warp them when it refuses to give.

Same thing about using metal hardware to secure the bridge... See what damage resulted on yours?

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:15 pm 
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Chris Pile wrote:
And it sounds weird to say, but it's not so strong that it will destroy the instrument when forces such as heat, tension, etc., try to rip the instrument apart. For instance, it is better for the bridge to pop off an acoustic guitar from heat or tension, than to rip the wood fibers or even warp them when it refuses to give.

Same thing about using metal hardware to secure the bridge... See what damage resulted on yours?


I've always only used the original tite-bond, but I'd never thought about it from that angle before. That's a good perspective to keep in mind.



These users thanked the author Conor_Searl for the post: Chris Pile (Wed Dec 15, 2021 1:58 pm)
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 2:01 pm 
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Most of the rules for guitar building came from the violin building world - and that's their rule. Most violins can be broken down into the basic components in mere minutes, for repairs, upgrades, or reassembly.

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These users thanked the author Chris Pile for the post: Conor_Searl (Wed Dec 15, 2021 3:39 pm)
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 3:41 pm 
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Chris Pile wrote:
Most of the rules for guitar building came from the violin building world - and that's their rule. Most violins can be broken down into the basic components in mere minutes, for repairs, upgrades, or reassembly.


I always understood that repairs should be done with future possible repairs in mind. I just never thought how much more beneficial it would be for a glue joint to fail than for the actual components to fail.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 10:12 pm 
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Looks like 90% wood failure and 10% glue. So not a glue issue.

Also looks like possible runout in the top wood might have contributed to the failure on the bass side. Top peel being thinner on the tail block end and thicker going toward the soundhole. That can make it a little easier for a bridge to peel.

On the treb side the runout would go in the opposite direction in relation to the top making a peel harder to start -- which corresponds to your pictures pretty well. You can't fix the runout issue, the top is what it is.

I'd remove any loose splinters with tweezers, decide what glue you want to use and glue it back down. I'd probably go with HHG if you are used to it, or titebond if not. Since the glue didn't fail, no sense removing the wood stuck to the bridge making a perfect fit much more difficult. In essence you are gluing wood to wood in a perfect fit situation so it should work fine.

Might even consider some washers under the bolts. Why not? The bolts are already there.

One of the problems with classic bridges and it looks like some Ovations is lack of bridge pins. The pins/strings actually help hold the bridge down IMO.

Just my 2cents.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2021 5:55 am 
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Hmmmm.... Ixnay on the washers. Metal hardware of any kind isn't proper form for bridge attachment (see your photos), not to mention it adds weight to the top. In my experience, makers (or repairmen) who use metal for attaching bridges are looking for short cuts instead of craftsmanship. Also - if heat or excess tension was again introduced to the top, washers can keep the bridge from popping off (which REDUCES damage), warping the top or damaging even more wood fibers. Again - washers are no bueno.

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Last edited by Chris Pile on Sun Dec 26, 2021 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2021 8:40 am 
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Hey Chris, absolutely agree on the nuts and bolts -- in general. Maybe if it were a hundred dollar guitar I'd be more inclined not to suggest it but at $25, no worries if the goal is to have a player and not a restoration.

Since the wood is what failed and not the glue, there is a higher chance of a repeat failure without something additional IMO. We don't know if there were external forces at play when the bridge failed. Like was there a shock load from being dropped, over tensioned strings, who knows? Is there a bridge plate in the guitar? I'm not seeing it through the holes in the top. Are the machine screw heads under some inlay in the bridge or exposed? Were they an attempt to put the bridge back on post failure. Guess I'd have to know more for additional advice.

Some more pictures might add to the possibilities, whole guitar top and top side of the bridge at minimum.

And welcome to the OLF Bob, and good luck with the project. Fixing up instruments so they can sing again is rewarding and fun.

Brian

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2021 8:37 pm 
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Wow.

Haven't been here few a few days and look at all the great posts! Thank-you all!

And I'll post a few more pics if I can get angles that tell more of the story.

I can get TiteBond through Amazon - and I agree with the ethos of using something that can be "un-done". But I'm in no hurry to jam this thing together. I'll study the situation and these posts some more before jumping in.

The ONLY clue I have as to the cause of the damage is a note in the auction where someone (don't know who) commented they had seen this happen before - from over-tensioned strings. Whether they really knew the cause is unknown.

So, this "little" project is on my list. Along with repairing the main PC board in a 1980's Korg PolySix whose battery leaked and ate a bunch of traces and some components. Another g-sale find - $30. If I don't completely ruin it it's worth a lot more. (But I never sell anything ... :-)) Tricky - my 1st time with PC board repair. And nothing like re-wiring the B3 - all point-to-point wiring and a case you can almost get inside and work on like an old car.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2021 12:31 pm 
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You'll be able to find original (the red stuff) tite-bond at any hardware store.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2021 5:01 pm 
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johnparchem wrote:
I would consider doing no clean up as it will be wood to wood and using structural epoxy to put it back on.



for what it is, I'd concur.



These users thanked the author Lou Thier for the post: Hesh (Sat Dec 18, 2021 7:32 am)
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2021 5:10 pm 
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And make sure there's a reasonable bridgeplate (and use fender washers under the nuts).

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2021 8:07 pm 
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Ok, fender washers. I'll see how that works under the hood.

And the glue - this is Canada. So not everything you are used to finding everywhere is easy to find everywhere here. I just ordered some from Amazon.

B

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 18, 2021 7:34 am 
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Lou Thier wrote:
johnparchem wrote:
I would consider doing no clean up as it will be wood to wood and using structural epoxy to put it back on.



for what it is, I'd concur.


Me too and I wanted to point out that gluing as is with ep*xy is an opportunity of sorts. An opportunity to make a good, solid connection for the bridge that has the added benefit of some mechanical connection by fitting the puzzle pieces back together.

Most of all you can be done with it, wash your hands, throw up and never see it again :)

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 18, 2021 6:51 pm 
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torontobob wrote:
Ok, fender washers. I'll see how that works under the hood.

And the glue - this is Canada. So not everything you are used to finding everywhere is easy to find everywhere here. I just ordered some from Amazon.

B


Sorry, I should have been more clear, I commented on the hardware store thing because I'm in BC. I feel your pain on the scarcity of many things guitar repair related in in Canada.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2021 7:34 pm 
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Ok, lots of stuff here!

So the glue - Home Depot, Lowes, and others here in Toronto either don't have TiteBond, or only have TiteBond III. So, Amazon to the rescue. (While I have hide glue, I found it tricky to use given the need to maintain heat on the parts when working on the Harmony Stella bridge. So, this should be easier.)

Now a clamp. For the poster from B.C. (Hesh?) I found a clamp that should help here from BusyBee tools (a Canadian chain):

https://www.busybeetools.com/products/e ... clamp.html

I'm gonna pick one up this week.

There's a store in Richmond B.C.:

https://www.busybeetools.com/pages/stor ... #Vancouver

I've been to the one here in Toronto before, and it's hard to leave without blowing a paycheck (or three!)

B

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2021 12:26 am 
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Buy at least 3 clamps. One will NOT do it.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2021 1:29 pm 
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torontobob wrote:
Ok, lots of stuff here!

So the glue - Home Depot, Lowes, and others here in Toronto either don't have TiteBond, or only have TiteBond III. So, Amazon to the rescue. (While I have hide glue, I found it tricky to use given the need to maintain heat on the parts when working on the Harmony Stella bridge. So, this should be easier.)

Now a clamp. For the poster from B.C. (Hesh?) I found a clamp that should help here from BusyBee tools (a Canadian chain):

https://www.busybeetools.com/products/e ... clamp.html

I'm gonna pick one up this week.

There's a store in Richmond B.C.:

https://www.busybeetools.com/pages/stor ... #Vancouver

I've been to the one here in Toronto before, and it's hard to leave without blowing a paycheck (or three!)

B


Hi Bob - I would avoid HHG for a bridge reglue unless you are all tooled up to use it and well practiced. Titebond Original is fine and lots of very fine guitars including some $25K ones have been built out of only Titebond original. Please note I only suggest the original version of Titebond, others have properties we don't like for Lutherie.

The clamp should be able to give great force without flexing and like Chris rightly said either use three clamps with cauls or make or buy a bridge regluing caul, Stew Mac has them and you can only need one clamp with these cauls since they can cinch down the bridge wings well.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2021 8:03 pm 
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Ok, a "caul", eh? Never heard of that, but learning ... from all you guys!

Thanks!

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1961 Strat, 60? Harmony BobKat, 1978 LP Deluxe, Squire Jaguar Bass, Harmony Stella acoustic, funky Greek-classical, 2 Yamaha Pacificas, Art & Lutherie Wild Cherry, Art & Lutherie Cedar w/Godin Electronics, 1963 Black-Face Twin, Garnet Mini-Bass, 1973 Ovation acoustic rescue, 1961 Hammond C3, 195? Leslie 22R, 1971 Hammond B3 (chop rescue), ???? Franken-Leslie 122, Korg Poly-Six (in surgery for battery leak), Epiphone LP Junior, two left feet, and an insatiable curiosity.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2021 8:05 pm 
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Hi all. I just spent a couple of hours reading posts & replies here, and have a couple of take-aways:

- You are all a dedicated, helpful, and experienced bunch that often have to toil with tough stuff and the mistakes of others. Thank-you for all the help given here to a rank amateur!

- Ovations are ... politely ... crappola. Ok, I get it. No worries! I want to fix this one because I'm a sucker for hard-cases, and I spent a *lot* of time playing a neighbors back in '72 - '73 or so when I couldn't buy my own guitar. (Ok, I had a Hofner Clubman that - honestly - "vintage creds" and Lennon mythology aside - was the WORST guitar I've ever played!) Then in 1974 I lucked into a '61 Strat for $200. I still have it.

So - again - thank-you all. And I wish you all the best of the season!

Bob

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1961 Strat, 60? Harmony BobKat, 1978 LP Deluxe, Squire Jaguar Bass, Harmony Stella acoustic, funky Greek-classical, 2 Yamaha Pacificas, Art & Lutherie Wild Cherry, Art & Lutherie Cedar w/Godin Electronics, 1963 Black-Face Twin, Garnet Mini-Bass, 1973 Ovation acoustic rescue, 1961 Hammond C3, 195? Leslie 22R, 1971 Hammond B3 (chop rescue), ???? Franken-Leslie 122, Korg Poly-Six (in surgery for battery leak), Epiphone LP Junior, two left feet, and an insatiable curiosity.



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