This Bruno parlor guitar came with its original coffin case.  The guitar itself is about as close to a basket case as they come.  It was held together with duct tape, and I suspect it had been used as a stage prop.  In spite of the many splits in the sides, most of the wood seems to be there.  Thick varnish was daubed over the sides and back, and you can see that same varnish still on the top and fb.  The top is in remarkably good condition except for the varnish.  Any thoughts about getting the thick varnish off, while trying to preserve the original varnish underneath?  Or should I just go with: "very little of the original finish is left on the rest of the guitar, so why bother?"

Once again, many thanks for the help and advice, George

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The original finish is more or less gone. You will need to get rid of the lacquer... usually a non-no when doing a restoration. Try methylated spirit and see if it dissolves the overspray, if so, a lot of spirit and tissue papers will get the lacquer off and some color will remain. This also gives a good base for some clear or tainted spirit lacquer or shellac.

The one thing you may need to give some color is the top, the wood in the sides and bottom will look good with a clear coat of spirit based lacquer or shellac.

Other than that, you will need a lot of hot hide glue and cleats! :-)

Oh, the top have a LOT of ladder braces, I count them to 7. Some must have been added, 3 or 4 will do.

Hey Roger,

I will try the methylated spirits.  I can experiment with the finger board, where the varnish all has to come off, anyway.

All of the many top braces are tucked neatly under the linings, and appear to be original to the guitar.  The  upper transverse graft is not under the lining, but that is the usual case.

I spent a couple hours yesterday making cleats, and suspect that I will need more.

The neck joint is a simple mortise and tenon, and I am leaning toward a bolt on supplement.

Even if the braces are original, there are too many of them. They can actually be tucked in later if the bottom is off. The two braces below the one under the bridge will dampen the tone.

I simply use a wooden screw through the neck block and into the heel from the inside for necks without a dove tail. A small washer to spread the load, thin superglue in the hole to make the connection stronger. The hole in the heel should be drilled as wide as the central part of the wooden screw. To make the fitting easier, screw in the screw with the neck loose and use some wax or candle-grease to make it easier to mount the neck.

Check my site for some inspiration :-)

Roger's suggestion of "methylated spirits" worked very well.  I had to look it up, but methylated spirits is the same as denatured alcohol: grain alcohol or ethanol, with wood alcohol or methanol, added to make it poisonous.  The original varnish seems very much intact, with some fine craquelure visible.

I don't think the rosewood cleats quite outweigh the original sides, but its getting close.  I remember Paul Hostetter recommending strips of Tyvek instead of cleats.  He used shipping envelopes. 

Roger, do you glue the heel mortise and tenon joint, as well as using the wood screw?


So, the lacquer was nitrocellulose and the over spray spirit based? That's great, congrats!

No, just a screw and a washer from the inside thought the neck block and into the heel. I use cheap but really hard white metal screws that has deep, sharp and straight (not conical) threads. I drill the hole into the heel as thick as the un-threaded center of the screw. A straight profile threaded screw will not crack the heel as a normal conical wooden screw does.

I strengthen the hole in the heel with thin superglue before mounting the neck and use wax (or a candle) to greese the screw. You should screw it in a couple of times into the heel before mounting to make it easier. You also need a very short screwdriver.

I glue the neck with hot hide glue, the screw is there to make the connection stronger. I have never just used the screw with no glue, maybe I would use two of them without the glue...

As for the side. I use 0.6 mm thick veneer with the grain cross the grain of the side to "wallpaper" the side, that is strong enough. Glued with hot hide glue and using many 2,5 cm (one inch) wide cauls on both sides to really press the veneer against the side with as many clamps. The cauls on the inside are topped with 4 mm thick rubber (Yoga mat!) to follow the rounded form of the side, the cauls on the outside are hard and flat.

I have two Bruno's from this era, one that is nearly completed and one I haven't started on yet.  Both have the butt joint rather than a dovetail joint.  In my particular case, I was told to make it a bolt on neck, but the heel is so tiny, I wasn't sure it would hold the bolt inserts.  

You have a lot of work ahead of you, but this should make for a fine guitar when it is restored.  I also have 7 ladder braces across the top of the Bruno I'm almost done with so I assume that was the standard they used.

I would take my time and either figure out how to convert this to a bolt on neck without destroying it, or glue the neck back on as a butt joint and see if it holds.  In my case, I've deepened the heel pocked about 1/8" and and added a bit extra wood to the butt end of the neck using epoxy to attach it.  I'll then re-angle the neck to set it correctly and glue it via the butt joint using hot hide glue with a slightly higher gram strength than usual. 

Hi Chris, I wonder if this would solve the problem of a small heal and the fitting of regular size inserts.  I got smaller inserts from a hobby store. These inserts were for use on radio control aircraft and came in a variety of sizes.

Our local Ace hardware store has inserts down to #8's. That size is also used to repair stripped wood screws in the Fender style neck attachment.

Hi Taffy,  

Yes, that looks like just the thing for a tiny neck heel!  On that first guitar, the heel had also been broken so I was concerned that it would not hold the insert, butI do plan on trying it on the second guitar.


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