Hello folks,

(just a reminder, I'm in the process of learning the trade mostly on my own with kind friends lending me some pretty torn up stuff for me to cut my teeth on - so far so good, and the old Bay State guitar many of you have helped me with is doing fine and sounding great!  Just waiting on my friend to find the vintage tuners he wants and it's done - used cheap tuners to set it up) ...meanwhile, back at the ranch:

OK, my cousin just handed me this baby today.  I haven't dated it myself, but he has dated it to being a 1936(ish) Gibson L-3.  The pictures tell the story.  The neck joint seems solid, no pulling way from the body, but the shoulders and top are crushed in.  As you may be able to tell from one of the pictures, there was a clear attempt to repair this some time back, but obviously there was a major failure.  Don't know if it was dropped or just heavy strings used and stashed in an attic - no idea.  Other than this, there are some solid successfully repaired cracks that look fine, hardly any checking to the finish and all looks in good order, though it will require a re-fret job as it was played heavily and the frets are down to nothing on the treble side up to the 9th fret or so.

So, from what you guys can tell, is this (1) repairable for regular use? (2) most likely from stress or accident? And (3), is this something that should be turned over to a seasoned pro?  (if turned over to a pro, what would a job like this cost?)

As always, MANY THANKS!!!!


Tags: broken, crushed, in, shoulder, sides, top

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About an hour West of Philadelphia. Nearest towns of note are Lancaster and West Chester. I know of a guy in York, PA - last name is Bluett, makes some beautiful mandolins and does repair as well. Any suggestions?
Looks like brute/blunt force trauma, accidental,crushed from one end or other?$700....+-?
I suspected blunt force trauma myself, but thought I would inquire should that model have been prone to some sort of structural failure of some sort. I could almost picture it on a couch with the neck across the arm and someone sitting on it near body/neck joint.
As an amateur, I think the thing that would scare me most on this is feeling like I needed to hurry because it belongs to someone else and the previous "repair". It looks like a big job but, barring any surprises in the "repair" it seems fairly straight forward to me. At least, I would try it myself, based on the pictures. Please remember that I mostly do this sort of thing for myself so I have all the time in the world to think and prepare before I do anything but I think I could do it and I don't have any illusions of being a professional. I think you will have to decide what your skill level is and determine for yourself if you can manage this repair.

Time fortunately is not an issue at all. Nice and easy does it it is fine with him. Believe me, he has plenty to keep him occupied.

What would you all consider the first couple of steps? I had thought about removing the wedges along the neckblock, the broken cross brace and crosspatches/cleats, then slowly up the humidity inside the guitar for a few days and gradually pull it back to where it is supposed to be and start reinforcing it. Does this sound like a good way to start? What you guys consider here. .I'm not seeing anything exactly like this in my books...still may go with a pro, I need to run this all by him first.

Many thanks to all of you!
I believe that a professional repair of this magnitude would be very comparable to buying one of these guitars with out the damage on eBay. I say do it yourself and move slowly and thoughtfully. Unless of course this guitar is priceless to your cousin, in that case the cost of a professional repair would be worth it. Good luck to you.
Good to know about the cost of repair v/s replacement being similar. The guitar has no real special value to him aside from being a cool vintage guitar and a Gibson. It was handed to him four days ago as a gift from a friend who's father collected guitars and just wanted to weed some out and thought my cousin might like it.
You should go through the "structural" articles at This looks very similar to this article:

It looks like glue joint failure, maybe between the top and the neck block. I've seen the same damage occur on acoustics exposed to high temperatures.
The neck block, neck joint and body seem very solid, it's that the top and shoulders of the sides were crushed in. A closer look seems to confirm this, but I'm wondering if the two triangular wedge shaped pieces of mahogany along side the neck block are original or part of the old repair. One of my pictures above shows them...not well, but they are there (it's hard to photograph in there with clunky SLR camera) Does anyone know if those pieces are original?
Ah! The article was hiding from me. This will server very useful should we decide that I take on the task. Thanks! The only added issue is the crushed in shoulders. I'll comb through the "structural" section for other stuff too.


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