The old Gibson Story.

The lady who owned this guitar said it was her late husband's and that over the years he had done repair work on it, and that she would like it made payable.

After I got it on the bench, I could see the amount of work involved in making this old Gibson not just playable but reliably playable for years to come.

Pictures should tell the story, but I’ll give a preview here.

The guitar had certainly been repaired multiple times in the past, the person who did them may have worked in an auto body shop, judging by the amount of “bog” filling some areas of the sides, and the fact the repairs were covered in brown paint. In fact, not just the repaired areas but the whole sides and back of the guitar. Luckily, he did not paint the peghead or top.

After removing the paint, the extent of the work became evident. I decided to remove most of the previously repaired areas completely, “bog” filler, cracks, splits, and all, as well as all the old reinforcing cleats inside.
I did this in small areas at a time and without removing the back or top.

The new reinforcing cleats were fitted before the side Mahogany patches were fitted, as shown, this I thought made it easier to line up and keep the infill Mahogany pieces in place. Any other reinforcing was added through the soundhole if needed.

Many split and loose braces were repaired, the finish coat was applied, and the guitar was set up. As the customer appeared proud of the work her late husband had done, she was happy that I had left, as it was firm and stable, evidence of a piece of his earlier work visible.

This is the short story, I had to leave out dozens of photos, but I think you will get the idea.

Thanks for looking,


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Taffy, thank you for this interesting story, and it brings to mind what John Watson calls "the paradox of restoration" in his book Artifacts In Use. The book is about the restoration or conservation of pipe organs, but the main point is that the more we return an article to what we believe is the intent of the creator, the more of its history we erase forever. In the world of the art and antique curator there has been a philosophical shift toward honoring the changes and modifications an object has undergone over time, and we are seeing that in our world now, too.

In a case like your Gibson, obviously the wishes of the owner come first, but a conversation about the trade-off between restoration and conservation has become important. In no way am I criticizing your excellent work, but I really don't know how far I would have gone toward the restoration without this exchange. [Had this been Mozart's piano that he had repaired himself the answer would be obvious.] I hope the instrument's owner is thrilled, and it gets pulled out at every family get-together.

Artifacts In Use is not an easy read, but I feel it should be in the library of anyone who works on vintage instruments.

I ordered one.

Wow! You did a wonderful job. Obviously auto body repair and guitar repair don't interchange. Congrats to you!


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