Two recent discussions have caused me some concern from a technician point of view. The reason I say this is that both issues if taken at face value are viable and presented as repair procedures. However, if all instrument types and finishes are taken into account (and they do not appear to have been) the use of these procedures will cause serious damage in some cases. The discussions were centered around the use of hairdryers and heat guns and soldering up fret dings respectively.
Firstly, a hairdryer is not sufficiently hot enough to cause a sound aliphatic glue joint to separate. Hairdryers are maxed out at 160 degrees F (any hotter burns skin) at normal operating distances. They are built like that on purpose. The creep/separation temperature for yellow glue is around 210 degrees F. So, if a joint separates with a hairdryer and a spatula chances are it would separate regardless of the use of a hairdryer, as it is faulty joint anyway.
The other option displayed was to use a heat gun which will set fire to just about anything you care to name in the guitar repair world - you may get away with this option if you are super-skilled and attentive and have a a sixteenth of an inch of poly two pack on the guitar - but come the first whiff of nitro or varnish and you will be toast - and so will the instrument. I routinely use heat guns to strip instrument finishes and it has taken years to master the technique (yep, I've torched a few trainwrecks in learning the techniques and wouldn't recommend it as a 101 gig).
Secondly, As for using eutectic lead/tin or lead free solder (Rockwell hardness 13-15) to repair a nickel silver fret (Rockwell hardness 60 -75) to repair a ding in a fret - this is simply unacceptable from a professional repair standard point of view and has no place in modern luthiery and repair as far as I am concerned.
Hard brazing silver solder (which is considerably harder and would work) can be used if the fret is removed, the solder applied with a brazing torch or similar, and then replaced (a useful procedure if you are a collector or vintage sort of person and all that goes with that) after re-work hardening the annealed area on the fret.
Attempting to solder a fret in-situ on a maple board is similarly inviting disaster and I would not do it even if I thought I could. To get the fret hot enough for the solder to bond will turn the surrounds brown.
Now, I'm not here to be contrary, and I'm not here to thrash and trash newbies or ridicule left field stuff - quite the opposite. I'm sticking my neck out here to reinforce the notion that modern guitar repair both at the professional and amateur level has no place for dodgy, unproven or dangerous (to a customers instrument) practices.
The boss and convener of this forum and his highly experienced peers have demonstrated the level of expertise and sound practices which exist to standardize and educate those who aspire to and those who practice the trade.
These fine hard working dudes set de-facto national and international standards which should be upheld and taken forwards.
I am concerned with anything which takes our trade backwards.
Very good and realistic concerns, Rusty, and I agree with you on all counts and thank you kindly for bringing this up too. It was on my mind in both threads that you mentioned and I did indicate my concerns in the soldering divots thread but hoped for others to weigh-in in the hot air thread.
My reality in the repair work that I do in both my own business and in a 50 year old shop is that whatever method that I select to get the job done, if I mess up I need to be prepared to either fix it.... completely... or compensate the owner for the guitar that I may have wrecked.... Fortunately no wrecked guitars to date but it is constantly on my mind and should be on all of our minds to do no harm.
My path here into Lutherie has been different than many of the vets in our craft who I know or know of. I'm coming from corporate America and although the Lutherie field is the very first time in my entire life that I am earning my living doing something that a) I selected for me to do.... and b) love.
The point that I wanted to make was when I was in corporate America I worked for what once was the largest company in the world and this company was well known for a rather robust corporate culture.... Job one was never making money which, I have to tell you was a surprise to me upon my arrival there. Job once was protecting and shielding the corporation from potential liability. We were trained to be on the lookout for any activity or practice that might somehow create liability for the organization. Job two was making money.... ;)
Although rebracing a guitar through the sound hole is a rather different pursuit than licensing enterprise software with seven figure fees the concern for avoiding liability for the organization, which these days means me and the store that I work for too, remains on my mind. It would be a nightmare if I bubbled the finish while attempting to remove a bridge from a Breedlove that the customers friend.... squirted super glue in the void created by the lifting bridge. It also would ruin my day if a gutiar that I did fret work on came back in two months with the divots in the frets reappearing and an unhappy, concerned client who now has reasons to question both my chops and perhaps my honesty too...
Be all of this as it may... I still see value in these discussions if for no other reason as providing the rest of us with an opportunity to justify the methods that we use, reaffirm these methods to even ourselves though the teaching process, and ultimately dispel the value of a practice that we believe to be unsuitable, risky, ineffective, or not safe.
Forums are really nothing more than an on-line community and all forums will at times suffer from posted content that may not be ready for prime time for one reason or another. That's where the value of folks such as You Rusty comes into play in so much as it's again that opportunity to discuss methods and practices and provide guidance too for directions that may provide better results, less or no liability, or be safer in terms of avoiding personal injury.
As such I'm glad that you started this topic and I am also glad that you specifically mentioned the two threads in question. My belief is that this is when those with the chops and experience to be successful in our craft weigh-in, teach, advise, inform, and guide others into the directions that will more likely help them get to where they wish to go.
So... even though some of these threads may be concerning for dissemination of information regarding practices that may be unsound or ineffective I still believe that an opportunity exists for all of us to learn from these threads and for some to teach and steer others into a better direction.
It's likely that two things will never change: 1) information available on the Internet being largely worth what we pay for it.... 2) and the void that this creates for those with the knowledge to share this knowledge and help others while at the same time honing their own chops and knowledge by the value of explaining what we do to others forcing us to organize our own thoughts and even review same against a number of criteria such as sound practices, effectiveness, safety, risk, cost vs. value, and more.
We will never see a shortage of bad ideas but if we look hard enough we may see the value in discussing them anyway.
I thought long and hard before broaching the subject - the issue of repair standards is important and it's complex - which means I would need to write an essay if I'm to get it all in a tidy boxed-up perspective. Lifes too short for that and the broad spread of experience levels across the members of this forum ensure that I will not resonate with at least some of them as I seek to draw a line in the sand.
I draw the line at accepting or furthering discussion on clearly sub-standard repair and refurbishment procedures. This is different from discussions regarding the best way to do things on a limited budget or with limited skills which is the way of the world and quite respectable on the forum.
It's way too hard and time consuming to unpick these things - far easier to say they are just wrong,explain the science and the reality as opposed to the voodoo,warn people of the consequences (seen/done most of them) and take the flack - it's never going to be my problem and I just don't want it to be someone else s' problem.
Appreciate your insight and thoughtful comments on this Hesh - I suspect others may not be so understanding!
I fully agree with Hesh & Rusty there is no place in this business for any halfass repair standards. I would like to think we here are proud of what we do and are just trying to help others to be of like minded Thanks. Bill............
There are folks though that 'Just Plain Won't Listen' no matter what or who is talking. If you scan the repair section of the Cafe, for every 5 Luthier over there, there are 3 goofs who once glued grandma's broken china back together and think that their opinions are just as important (many times MORE important!) that the Big Boys.
Case in point: There was a guy last year contacted me via my Facebook Kay Kraft Guitar site to tell me he had bought an oval hole 1939 KK mandolin. The top had completely collapsed. He asked me to go read the Repair thread on the cafe, and maybe give an opinion. He decided against all Big Boy advice to cut some 3/4 inch dowel, and jam it between the top and the back in ( I think) three places close to the fretboard. No amount of talking was gonna change his mind! He thought we were all nuts, and in that opinion, was all by himself. Now he has a mandolin that some of my unplugged Electric Mandolins could out-perform acoustically. And I will bet money, those dowels are screaming trying to punch holes through the mandolin's front and back!
As recently demonstrated on this site, rudeness/arrogance has a vera valid place in some folks minds, and is their personal 'Standard Operating Procedure'. I choose not to respond at all to those people, and will hopefully never post on their threads. Let them burn their own bridges.
Folks are going to do what folks are gonna do.
Great overdue thread Rusty!
Rusty, You've been brave to shout this out. I think you're right.
Repairs are not standardized in our field, but experience and mechanical sense can help to draw a line between the "as good as before", which is what a repairs person should aim, and "not as good as before", which should be avoided for a professional result.
So yes, I think we can draw a line using that simple rule of thumb. Saying in a discussion that, from a professionnal point of view, a proposed repair is "sub-standard" for good motivated factual reasons, should be enough to help a reader make up his mind, shouldn't it? Well I think so... and "we" (the professional repairs person hanging out here, whom I think I'm part of) have to be vigilant to keep the level, at least, at a fraction of what the founder of this place is used to.
Thank you for reminding it to me!
From my amateur perspective this thread is a gold nugget. My status as a "non-professional" allows me to set my standards only as high I I want to set them. I only have to please myself. I think, for myself, that this doesn't mean that my standards are low, only that I accept that some things I do are, by the nature of my amateur status, new to me and probably not done as well as it can be done. I accept this simply because it is all part of the learning process.
That said, I am skilled enough to recognize some of the less desirable work that I have done and I have, over the years, revisited many thing to "do it better", once I have improved my skills. The years of playing at this have given me some ability to see that some ideas are just not good ideas but I am reticent to speak up because I am a hobbyist This thread has made me realize that that's not really a valid idea. If an idea is a bad one, it's a bad one, no matter who sees it and we are fortunate that there are people like Rusty that are willing to say so.
Maybe the real lesson I should try to embrace with this thread is to resist the impulse to react without thinking if and when someone calls me on one of my posts. This is a very cordial forum overall and that, I believe, is directly attributed to the restraint of most of the posters here. It's good that we try not to offend one another but it should also be true that we work to be slow to take offence and strive to keep an open mind to different opinions and to corrections. Maybe we can learn something we didn't know we needed to learn.
I've been doing repairs for almost 30yrs . In this forum I'm not unique. I come here for the ideas and advice of peers and mentors and I want to give as good as I get.So I weigh in when I think I can offer something.
I'm going to be self serving for a minute. I've got a tricky end grain patch I need to do - Lower bout, 1/4" x 3", kerfing is missing - I posted it a week or so ago and I got 1 response. And then the "should I fill in the dents in my frets with solder" prompts pages of discussion and 2 threads.I'm guilty of this myself, I call it Van Peltism I should know better but I do it anyway.
There is lots of good content on this page and some very good points made ( I'm still trying to figure out if Hesh meant "hot air thread" as a specific thread or a type of thread) I'm not trying to be critical but I am suggesting that some things get more discussion than they deserve.
Hi John - thanks for pointing this out to me. I meant this thread: http://fretsnet.ning.com/forum/topics/2177249:Topic:1220
My comments were by no means engineered to demean anyone's participation or ideas. Far from it. Moreover the crux of my thoughts were intended to convey that there is value in very nearly any thread... if one looks hard enough that is. Even junk science has value when and if it inspires those in the know to dispel the false and educate the unknowing. Even those in the know may gain valuable insight in the spirited discussion that may follow. And, of course, there is a difference between spirited discussion and being rude...
Anyway, that's what I meant, sorry if I was not clear in this.
I have no problem with anyones replies. I have thick skin from much rougher dialog than this....mostly political! No need to go there....:-)
It is a good idea to remember to take everything you read on the internet with a bucket of salt. When you learn who you can trust, you can reduce the sodium intake to a "grain".
Rusty (& all the other responders):
Many of us have been practitioners of the craft long enough to have had the experience of learning & having to re-learn repair techniques as they evolve via advances in technology, knowledge and experience. Many "industry standard" processes from 30+ years ago could be considered 'hackery' by today's standards. The value of this forum lies in the responders' experience and ability to review the issue, and give the appropriate suggestion.
Most folks graciously accept our advice. Some aren't so much interested in cultivating options as much as they are in soliciting votes. Some folks become upset when they receive info contrary to their own preconceived notions. They just keep beating the legendary deceased equine.
I think the best thing we can do, after offering a courteous "ummm...that's not a good ideas because...." response is to give those posts the "attention they deserve" (sound familiar from your previous line of work, Hesh?) which may include total silence. I've recently espoused this approach (;
So let us enjoy the positive aspects of this forum, of which there are MANY, and try to navigate around or minimize the counter productive issues. But....I believe we have an overriding ethical responsibility to point out the impracticality or 'wrongness' of certain posts. I feel we do a great job of that and that we must sometimes concede that the original poster "refuses to get it".
Again, GREAT POST Rusty. I hope the positive reaction to your post reflects the courage it took to post it.
With tremendous personal respect & appreciation,
Right-on Paul and yes it does sound very familiar to my previous gig.... ;)
All forums at times will struggle with very well intentioned folks with new ideas vs. those who have great experience and may know better. I second Paul's suggested approach!
I have been to this movie before, trust me.... :) and there is no substitute for being true to one's beliefs while at the same time respecting everyone's right to participate.
So as for me when I see a thread such as the threads in question here if I have direct knowledge of the topic matter (a personal participation rule for me....) I say what's on my mind. Better yet if I can think of a way for those reading the thread to not have to take my word for it but test things out on their own I offer how a test might be done and suggest that readers test out the ideas for themselves. Personally this is how I learn best.
And lastly, for now.... there is a danger in a forum with a culture that does not encourage new ideas, unsound or not.... And that danger is that we may end up some day breathing our own air and that which seems new to us is actually not new at all and may actually provide decent results. More than once I have watched real pros who had the chops to back it up driven off a forum because the resident curmudgeons (no disrespect intended...) were intolerant of anything that was not in their own golf bag....
At the end of the day we will never have a shortage of bad ideas to discuss and in a way, as previously indicated, is this not yet another opportunity for all, including the pros to learn and/or be reinforced in their beliefs by gaining an understanding of the views of others?
With this in mind me thinks that the answer my friends to threads such as the two in question here is to simply weigh-in, participate, state your arguments, be decent to all, and when this happens I have faith that most will know what to do.