Well, I officially have my first "job" by a customer who is not a close friend or relative. Look out now, I'm makin' waves! Ha! Anyway, the repair was pretty straight forward, reglue shrunken plastic veneer on the peghead, reglue pickguard, light fret dressing and so forth. All went very well, until I needed to deal with stringing it up.
You see, the previous repair was done, according to the owner, by a violin repairman years ago when the customer's father had the guitar. The previous repair was an odd variation of JLD Bridge System
http://www.jldguitar.net/warped_tops/fixtop.html but uses a piece of pine cut to a parallelogram mounted to the original bridge-plate with a steel bolt running through it to the end-block. This puts the pin hole openings at an odd slant with little wood to hold the strings solidly and they already have tear-out. I glued a piece of hard wood just above the pin-holes to *hopefully* give the strings something harder and more stable to rest against. However, the string balls still won't sit properly and when you tune certain strings to pitch it forces the bridge pins out forcefully! Please see the picture and the diagram I drew to get an idea of what I'm dealing with. ANY help and suggestions would be so GREATLY appreciate!
Many thanks, as always!
If this were my project, I'd remove the previous modification and install a bridge doctor (if it's called for..there may be a less invasive solution).
I think you'd be better off taking the instrument back to a "clean slate" or stock condition and repair it using modern methods and techniques. Trying to work around the existing frankenthingy will be an exercise in needless frustration & futility.
If you think that device/mod is "odd", you should see what amp tech's have to deal with. And their mantra is: take it back to stock condition and then proceed judiciously.
Don't forget to charge accordingly for the removal process (:
Best of luck John & we'd love to see your final solution. :-)
Ugh - I hate to ask this, but is the original bridge plate still in there? I have a hard time believing that the strings could pull out like that. Those rosewood bridge plates were huge and really solid. Something ain't right.
Are the holes too long for the pins? Perhaps what is happening is that, now that you have added a piece of wood (to a bridge plate that is already overloaded with tone-sucking crap), now the ball ends might be resting on the end of the pin, instead of on the side of the pin, and they simply have no choice but to push up against the pin. Perhaps longer pins would help? That's what I see in the picture.
Thanks for your questions and comments. There is a bridge plate between the top and the frankenthingy apparatus, I do not know if it is original or not, though. Also, there is a pice of wood that is bridge-plate-like, only larger, that is adhered to the top just behind the actual bridge plate and frankenthingy, and I suspect - though I don't know - that it was added later. Any thoughts on that?
Yes, the bridge pin holes are at least 1/8" linger than the pins and the pins sit very loosely in the pin holes. Also, the pin holes have been grooved to allow for the strings. I've tried to bend the ball end at an angle to hopefully catch the hard wood piece that I added, but it's not working at all.
I agree with Paul. I would replace the existing "system" with a bridge doctor. One of the features of a bridge doctor is it's very light weight. This looks much too heavy to be hanging from the bridge.
I've found the bridge doctor to be pretty effective. It's not the same as fixing the original issue which was probably that the bridge was rotating but it's cost effective and there are a lot of people that actually believe it enhances the sound of their guitar. Personally, I can't say that I support THAT idea but I can say from experience that it didn't seem to diminish the sound of the guitars I've experienced with them.
+1 to the comments of our friends here. I'll add something to look for besides the pins being too long and that is the pin holes in the plate being worn to an over size permitting the string balls to attempt to pull up the string holes in the plate, the balls rise under string tension and hence push the pins up too.
If this is the case in addition to removing the Violin makers contraption and installing a proper bridge doctor perhaps a bridge plate cap and perhaps too new, longer pins are in this old Guilds future.
Congrats on your first customer repair too!
Thanks for the advice! I have installed a real Bridge Doctor once before on an old Japanese crap guitar with creeping mystery glue. That worked very well, so that is a very realistic option for the owner to consider. I'll check with him and see how he would like to procede.
Any suggestions on how to remove the frenkenthingy-apparatus with minimal headaches?
Also, would an F20 from the early 1960's have had factory installed wooden plate - not unlike a bridge plate in thickness, though larger - just behind the bridge between the the bracings? Because this guitar has such piece of wood. I'm puzzled. I figured perhaps the guitar bellied a bit, and rather than giving it the neck reset that it really needs, the last guy might have added the extra wood, saw that it didn't do the trick, and added the frankenthingy for another stab at the high action .....just an idea. Let me know if this piece was original or not, if anyone knows.
Many thanks! -John
Hmm, sounds a little scary. I can see where you are coming from. My grandfather (a mechanic and woodworker from age 14 until his death at 83) would often say "sometimes ya just gotta leave well-enough alone." That said, would it be a reasonable solution, should the owner wish to have the frankenblock removed, to just use my small flexible flush-cut pull-saw and remove the frankenblock that way? Just an idea. That block is made of pine, so it wouldn't be so tough.....theoretically speaking. Thoughts?
Go to Frets.com and look at Frank's bridge plate removal tool. You might be able to make/use something like that to take out the block thing and install a bridge dr.
Nathan Clark brings up a good point. I could be opening a nasty can of worms were I to try and remove the frankenblock. It's glued and screwed in solidly.
What are your all's thoughts on just drilling the pin holes a little larger in diameter, filling them with rosewood dowels and re-drilling and reaming them? Of course I would have to find some supplier of extra long bridge pins to make this work properly, but I don't feel confident trying to remove the frankenmess I'm faced with. I haven't talked to the guy about any of this yet, as I was hoping to have a clear path ahead of me before offering solutions. I just don't wan't to wreck his guitar trying to remove the stabilizing block and all its additional junk. What are your thoughts on my fill-n-drill idea mentioned above?
"I just don't want to wreck his guitar...."
I think somebody beat you to that, John.
At his point, unless you commit to deconstructing/reconstructing the guitar "the right way", you may want to pass on the job or have your customer consider re-topping the guitar. You don't want to do what will only be considered a hack fix on an already hacked-up job.
Unfortunately, your first 'customer job' is an instrument that can only be salvaged using extreme and costly measures. Everything needed to make the guitar stable & playable will probably greatly exceed the value of the instrument. I think your customer has some serious decision making ahead of him/her.
And please don't consider my remarks as disparaging. I'm all for the creative solution, but this forum must continue to promote sound repair practices. Plus, we always have to think about the next guy that will have to repair the instrument. Would you want him/her to be presented the same kind of mess you're up against....but with longer bridge pins?
Best of luck, John and I hope everything sorts itself out :-)