I'm really hoping someone has come across this problem, found an elegant solution and is happy to tell me :-)
One of my regular customers, well friend really has brought me a 1913/14 Gibson harp guitar with a problem at the tailpiece.
It's made of celuloid and over the years its dried out and cracked. It won't hold the 1st and 2nd strings now. I've tried seeping thin 'hotstuff' ca glue into it - cracked again under string tension. I've disolved celuloid dust with acetone to make a paste which I've forced into the cracks using 2 cauls and some clamps. Still won't take string tension.
I am, obviously very keen to maintain its originality - anyone with any ideas?
It's not an 'every day of the week' sort of a repair.
Once that stuff starts to go south, it's gone. Making one from ebony might be a solution. It will also corrode everything around it. That process has already started on the metal section of the tailpiece. IMO, it would be best to remove/replace it.
Thanks Thomas, I was thinking that way myself but just wanted to see if anyone else had a better plan. You any idea where I can get celluloid? I'd rather use that than ebony.
If you make a replica using celluloid, it will simply start the degradation process all over again. I wouldn't go that route.
If the owner wishes to keep the original appearance, use Ebony for the tailpiece's substrate and use a cosmetic overlay of this :http://www.stewmac.com/Materials_and_Supplies/Pickguard_Materials/T...
Cool guitar :)
Celluloid that thick isn't generally available, although you could laminate several layers of .090 archtop pick guard material to achieve what you need. And, yes, it will deteriorate too. Nobody knows how fast a given piece will decompose. I've seen 100 year old sound pick guards, and have had some that I made out of new material crumble into dust.
While you have the guitar, you might want to go over the pickguard carefully too.
I think I'll suggest Paul's idea of ebony in disguise to the customer.
Thanks for all your help guys - The solitary nature of our jobs can mean that sometime you just need a bit of backup.