I have been given the opportunity to restore a beautiful 1960s Guild F-30 NT Special guitar with Brazilian Rosewood back and sides. According to the owner, there were only about 200 of these made. It's slightly larger than a 000 size guitar and was in horrible condition when I got it. 11 face splits, 11 back splits, a large side split and a bad punch out repair near the end block to name just a few issues. Several cracks had been poorly glued with either super glue or Duco Cement, with lots of glue on the guitar top and back.
I have slowly been dealing with that damage and much to my surprise, have managed to repair the body and bring the guitar to the point where the owner wants to go all the way with the restoration rather than "just make it playable any way you can". The original bridge had been radically shaved down and the saddle slot roughly deepened which ended up with a curved bottom and compromised sides. I have had the bridge re-produced by an excellent luthier (I lack the tools to do that correctly at the moment) and have a couple questions about the order of repairs from this point forward.
The guitar probably needs a neck re-set. The new bridge is .355" thick at the thickest part, which currently measures out as .1" too tall relative to the current neck set (which isn't horrible visually, no bow, etc). I made this measurement before gluing on the bridge which MAY make it sit a bit lower once I adjust everything for a clean fit. There is a bit of what appears to be old glue to remove from previous bridge re-glueing (I think the bridge was pulled to assist in the radical shaving down it got). While tear out was minuscule, there is a low point I'll need to deal with to get a perfect bridge to top fit. See the pic.
So here's the question... I would assume the correct order of operations would be as follows but would appreciate the forum's thoughts:
1) Set scale length (I've used the Stu mac saddle locating tool and the original bridge pin holes will work for the location of the new bridge). The saddle slot has NOT been routed yet but should have room to be correctly routed later.
2) Clean, level and match footprint of the bridge to the top of the guitar. This will involve scoring the footprint and very carefully chiseling out and glue, finish etc that might still be in the way. Currently there is enough material to compromise the glueing.
3) Once that is completed correctly, gluing the new bridge in place.
4) Take final neck angle measurements to determine if I really need the re-set and if so, how much angle to cut.
5) If needed, re-move, re-angle and re-install the neck making sure all the eagles are correct.
6) Cut the saddle slot based on the final neck position, angle etc.
7) Final set up adjustments.
My concern is that doing these things in an incorrect order will compromise the final set up and intonation. This guitar has the potential to be an excellent instrument and I really want to get it right. Feedback from the forum would be greatly appreciated!
I think the order 1-7 is spot on! :-)
Thanks Roger! It always helps to get a second opinion. As I mentioned, this may well turn out to be a very interesting guitar and I don't want to compromise the final results in any way!
Hi Chris. This sounds like a great restoration project. I agree with Roger that you seem to have a good plan. The only other thing that occurs to me - and maybe you have already checked this - are there any loose braces? If there were any top braces loose and causing a deformity of the soundboard arch it could mess up your estimation of neck angle, or affect the shape of the bridge footprint.
Don't forget to share some pictures with us of the results of your labour.
Thanks! that's exactly the sort of thing I want to avoid! There were several loose braces the top which have been re-glued and one brace that was completely loose and another missing from the back. The missing brace was the closest to the end block and the loose brace was the next one up. I replaced the missing brace with a new one I made matching the dimensions and contour of the completely loose brace. I don't get the sense that the top is radiuses at all, but I'll be checking for that and make sure Prepare the bridge bottom to match it if so. I usually use the "sandpaper on top of the guitar" trick for final fitting of the bridge.
Here are a couple shots of the guitar in it's original condition as well as the loose brace and the new replacement brace. I'll definitely keep posting as I move forward.
Well, I'm delighted to say that after well over one and a 1/2 years, I have completed the restoration of the 1967 Guild F-30 NT Special and it is a stunning instrument! Thanks to everyone who pitched in with comments and advice!
As asked by folks, I have many shots to share. My standard work routine was to go forward until I found something I wasn't sure about then stop, research and try out the appropriate technique on other, less valuable instruments until I felt comfortable enough to try it. That's one reason this took so long!
As it turns out there were several loose braces, top and back, as well as a missing back brace and a damaged one. I was able to re-glue and re-enforce the many splits (8 on the top, 8 on the back, 2 on the sides). It did need a neck re-set which proved to be challenging. This guitar has a dovetail shaped tendon, not an actual dovetail joint (so the joint doesn't naturally pull the heel together). I had not been able to locate any info on the Guild Neck joints other than to hear they could be touchy. It took a but of work to remove and re-seat. I had made a point of doing about 8 neck sets earlier this year to bone up for this one so I was as prepared as I could be. I'm pleased to say that the neck set did work out well though I did sweat some bullets!
I was able to measure the slot location and mark it and Andy Birko (Birkonium CNC) was kind enough to route the appropriate slot for me when he did a batch of vintage style Washburn replacement bridges for me.
While I had been able to repair the body without having to touch up the finish, when I removed the neck (heat stick didn't work, had to go with steam) there was minor damage to the finish so I decided to do a fair amount of drop filling before doing a light french polish to seal the finish.
I did more or less follow the order of operations above and everything did go according to plan.
Here's the list of what I did on this guitar:
Removed, cleaned, flattened and saved original pickguard
Removed old glue from 8 top splits
Clean, re-glued and leveled and 8 top splits
Installed 10 cleats to stabilize top cracks.
Repaired binding separations at waist on Bass and Treble sides
Re-glued loose braces
Drop filled damaged finish
Prepped, micro meshed top finish
Removed glue from long side split
Cleaned, re-glued long side split
Installed cleats to stabilize crack
Cleaned up and drop filled large damaged area near end pin
Drop filled and sanded out large split and damaged areas
Micro meshed and polished sides
Removed and repaired damaged back brace using wood from another damaged brace
Cut new back brace to original dimensions and tapering, glued in place
Removed old glue from 8 back splits.
Cleaned, re-glued and leveled 8 major back splits
Re-glued 2 back braces
Installed 25 cleats to stabilize back breaks and cracks
Glued three additional loose back braces
Drop filled damaged areas and cracks
Micro meshed and polished the back
*Fingerboard cleaned, treated and polished
*Frets leveled, crowned and polished
*Additional drop fill finish work
*French polish top, back and sides
to blend in repairs and seal finish
*Removed and replaced bridge with perfect copy
*Routed saddle slot
*Headstock veneer re-glued
*Flattened, cleaned and re-installed
*Cut new bone compensated saddle
*Final set up, tweak action
Low E string 3/32" @ the 12th fret, High E 2/32" @ the 12th fret.
The tone is massive, clear with brilliant highs and a full, rich, low end.
Bad previous repair.
I'll take additional shots of the finished guitar and post later.