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Hi, 

I currently have this Gibson MK-35 in my shop for some intonation issues.  It also has a worn bridge plate that could use replacement or reinforcement.  The problem is that this guitar evidently used some odd construction techniques that complicate the potential repair. I have attached some pics of the bridge plate and the bridge area of the guitar. It appears that someone has already re-glued the bridge and didn't take the time to position it correctly.  I appears that the bridge was re-glued about 1/8" closer to the nut than should have been. I was wondering if anybody on this forum has had any experience with these guitars and if so what advice you can give. I am honestly thinking that this repair will be more headache than anything else. And yes the bridge plate is smothered with glue.

 

 

Thanks

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If its the worn & oversized pin holes in the plate that are of concern, I would use the nifty tool sold by StewMac that cuts a large dome out of the pin plate and also cuts a matching piece out of another piece of wood.  The new piece is a perfect match for the dome-shaped cut and when glued in, a new & proper sized pin hole can be drilled and reamed to match the taper of the bridge pins.  The tool is pricey but the results are great & so much quicker and less risky that replacing the plate.

These guitars were regarded as inferior to Yamahas in the UK & some sold for peanuts when they were introduced.

Not worth spending much time or money on.I'd say intonation of 1/8 " could be sorted with a new saddle.

Thanks for the replies.  The stewmac bridge plate cutter would be great but the bridge plate is so small there is a brace that is very close to the high e string and I don't think that there is any room to work in there without damaging the brace.  I know that this guitar isn't worth spending much on but for most people when the headstock says GIBSON they think they found gold. I guess it would be plausible to fill in the saddle slot and recut for a drop in saddle.

"I know that this guitar isn't worth spending much on but for most people when the headstock says GIBSON they think they found gold."

So educate them.  These were the most expensive bad sounding guitars ever made by anyone. They're a wonderful example of Gibson's 70's & 80's "WTF?" era.  It continues today w/the Firebird X and Robot guitars. (;

It'll still sound like hell even with the intonation corrected. (:  The best approach is the quickest, easiest & cheapest....and then out the door it goes.

Good luck

 

Hi Paul, 

I have already spoke with him about that and was trying to figure some work around so he could get at least some satisfaction out of the money he spent to buy the guitar. Gibson should just concentrate on cutting nuts properly and that would be a start!

I know what you mean Gary.  They should also stop putting plastic nuts on $8K msrp guitars!!!!!!!!

BTW: my vintage dealer sold an identical model in near mint condition at a recent guitar show for $125 w/the hardshell case.  He told me that he sold the case for $125 and the buyer HAD to take the guitar along with it.(:

I did the pre-show prep & setup on it. All the time I was thinking that I've seen houses built with less wood.

Have a great weekend man (:

 

You too man.  Thanks!

The MK series was considered state of the art in it's day and was a collaboration of sorts between Snyder and Kasha and of course Gibson...  Hence the unusual bracing.

 

I have a client with an MK-72 that we are seemingly constantly trying to keep playing for him but this guitar has issues as well.  Typically the neck angle by now would also make it a candidate for a reset at least the one that I work with needs a reset now.

 

They can sound pretty good though once set-up properly and if it was my gig I would hand over that genuine plastic saddle to the owner telling him/her to keep if for future use and make a new, properly intonated bone nut for the guitar.  This improved the sound of the one I work on tremendously.

 

Additionally they can be brazillian rosewood which is one of the reasons why in these parts, the former home of Gibson (Michigan) the MKs are retaining some value and desirability.  You have to find the right sort though to appreciate them.

 

My client was apologetic to me because when I first started working on his it had at one time been the recipient of vomit and bong water...  I don't mind the bong water but the vomit was a bit much...

 

Anyway the saddle as you can see is so very wide that with a bone replacement there will be plenty of room to intonate each individual string properly and this will greatly improve the sound of the thing. 

 

Regarding the pin and pin holes if the client lacks the budget or love of the MK to authorize a proper bridge plate repair and redrilling new pin holes perhaps suggesting and installing non-slotted pins would be helpful and buy some time.  In the old days all pins were unslotted and only with the advent of plastics and molding did slotted pins get fashionable and only for reasons of cheapening up the assembly of the guitar.  With unslotted pins we Luthier sorts individually slot the bridge, top, and plate to accommodate the individual string gauges.  It's easy but a bit too labor intensive for a production line.

 

But... believe it or not these things can sound pretty good especially when set-up well, properly intonated, and if it's one with BRW sides and back.

 

Good luck.

The impression I've had is that these are beginning to be noticed by collectors here in the states. They are "different" but that seems to be part of the appeal. I have only seen a couple of them but my impression was that they were better than the run of the mill Gibson's of the period. To be collectible they probably need an intact sound hole ring, pick guard, and both of the bridges they were shipped with as well as being in good condition cosmetically.

I have MK 72 that I bought new in 1978 and I still play it regularly at home, in pubs in the UK and in a folk band. it is the fullest, clearest richest guitar that I have played and that includes a Martin, some Gibsons and a high end Taylor.

I have had some problems in the 35 years of ownership but I have fixed them all with a little bit of ingenuity -

1) the bridge plate has worn so that the twisted end of some the strings ran over the bridge saddle. I now slide one of the little bras string ends over the string before putting down the pin hole and this works perfectly.

2) the bridge lifted slightly from the guitar body so i applied superglue to the gap and slackened all strings. this was over 20 years ago and it is still holding. Idid the same to the soundhole ring.

3) the biggest improvement was to make a new bridge saddle from a piece of 1/4 inch Tusq which fits snugly in the slot.

I finished it off with a set of Elixir Nanoweb 80/20 strings and it sings with rich full lows and a bright sparling middle and highs.

Believe me, this guitar draws approving comments wherever I play it.

I fitted a DiMarzio DP130 pickup under the top just near the bridge plate for use in the band as this is the only pickup i can find to fit. i have to use the notch filter and anti-phase on the Marshall acoustic amp and a bung in the soundhole to eliminate feedback but it sounds fantastic through our Bose PA system.

I am never going to part with it but it would benefit from some attention to the frets. I think I got a good late one - you can see the serial number on one of the enclosed pics. The other pic shows it in its original case and if you really want a treat you can see me playing it in the profile pic,

I also play a Fender Jazz bass in the band which you can just see in that profile pic.

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To be quite honest.....the sweet guitar that I see in the pics......Could not possibly have given you 'problems'...???

While i used to get physically ill when seeing one of these....NOW.....In my older years, I find myself starting to "dig 'em"!

Perhaps, I am beginning to "mellow"... ;-)

While I would generally loathe something like this, perhaps a plate mate might be in order.

http://www.mitchelsplatemate.com/3.html

It would provide stability to the bridge plate, and with a new saddle, you would be done and out the door.

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