Hello all, newbie here. Glad I found this site, hoping to find resources to help me on journey to restore a 1965 lg1. This was my mom's guitar that my brother tore apart 40 years ago with the idea of restoring it. He didn't get far, and it has been sitting for decades now. With the experience of building a few dulcimers under my belt, he agreed to turn it over to me to restore. The original top is gone, but otherwise it is in surprisingly good shape. I took it to a Luthier to make sure there were no fatal flaws before I embarked on this project. He thought the neck was pretty solid, and might not even need re-fretting. The biggest question I have is how to do the new top without the original soundboard as a template? How can i find out where and how big to make the sound hole, and where to place the bridge? I have the original bridge, I'll make a rosewood one to replace it. My research says the original bridge was screwed on. Is this the correct way to install the new bridge? My moms other Nylon String acoustic guitar, has the bridge glued on. Since there is no reason to restore this as original, without the original top, I am planning on doing cross bracing rather than ladder bracing for the top. My brother also gave me the sitka spruce he got 40 years ago for the top. I have that planed down, glued up and rough cut to shape. I assume the pick guard is just glued on the top, but I saw a picture of one with the guard removed and it almost looked like the pick guard had been in a routed recess in the top. Any suggestions, advice, information on resources would be appreciated. Thanks.. Cjr
Any number of people on this forum will be able to help you (and better than I can) but I got here first. First , your questions, which will be the tip of the iceberg of questions:
1) Making a new top will require more than just "repair" skills, so you need to start gathering information on how to build a top as well as what the bracing of the LG1 (which I'm pretty sure was X-braced) was. There are a bunch of books (you might remember books) on building steel string guitars (Cumpiano comes to mind) so start collecting them. Your new bracing does not need to be identical to the original but needs to be suitable and well done.
2) Sound hole size and bridge placement. You need to do the research. While you might find someone with plans for the top, you should be prepared to make many searches as well as asking questions at forums like this. But here is your first (at least from me) glimmer of light. I have an LG-O that I tried to "improve" as a youth. This is the same size but a model lower than your guitar. I'll make a tracing of the outside of the top with the sound hole in place. This may be helpful but you'll be gathering lots of info and stuff. I could show you the bridge placement , but it will be wrong. The bridge placement is dictated by the fingerboard (for scale length).
The sermon: While it is no sin to ask questions, your research should have told you how to place a bridge. You get the picture.
3) How to affix the bridge and pick guard - The bridge and pick guard should be glued to the top unless you are bound and determined to make the guitar as original, with all the bad design of the original. "You mean a Gibson Guitar might exhibit design flaws? In a word, yes. Your research will bring you to discussions about these flaws. That being said:
The bridge (either plastic or wood) was original screwed to the top as was (probably) the pick guard. Don't do this. The pick guard was not inlaid in the top, at least not by Gibson. Get online and find the proper way to do install the bridge and pick guard. There will be lots of discussions and exhibits. I'll send you a tracing of the LG-O pick guard with thickness. Your pick guard need not be as thick (this is an understatement).
You are in a good position. You have the carcass of an inexpensive instrument and the motivation to repair it. There is no downside unless you start thinking about paying yourself for your time. So don't think that way. When you're done you'll have your Mom's guitar back in playable condition and you'll have done the work. It doesn't get much better than that.
Or maybe you'll end up with that carcass as an artifact. Not the end of the world. You can blame your brother.
I've got a basement full of stuff like that. I should take a page from your book and get off my ass.
ps. Is the neck on or off the guitar? If it's still on, take it off (and be able to say why you removed it). Hint: No cutting tools are involved, Also, if you have the discipline, take lots of pictures.
One last item. Find some space that will be covered with this project for a long time. No, you'll need more space than that.
Good luck. This is going to be a lot of fun.
Thanks Joshua, appreciate the advice. and the offer for a tracing of your LG0.. that would be helpful. Thanks for the suggestion of a old fashion book.. hah, I hadn't even thought of that... oh how times have changed. Google is an imperfect science... so far unable to find anything on sound hole size, placement, VSL etc. of the LG-1, or even LG-1 plans. But it did bring me here! The original bracing was ladder bracing. Some say it gives a unique sound suitable for blues playing, but from the Youtube videos and my reading, I think I'll prefer the sound of the x-bracing more. I found lots of pictures of the cross bracing of the LG-2, which will be useful. Thanks for the info on the pick guard and bridge attachment, that is what I assumed, but wanted to double check. I have the original pick guard, but it is scratched, so I want to replace it. As for the neck, no I haven't taken it off..... I was hoping to avoid that. Some pics below. There was only some top left under the neck. I cleaned that out and I can slide the new top in underneath the neck. I'd have to do some creative clamping, but hoping I can do this w/o removing the neck. (The clamps in the pictures are just holding the top in place for the pics.) (BTW, We have a full shop, only space problem is that we are currently building a wood strip tandem Kayak, which is taking up a lot of room.) Last picture is of the two dulcimers I built....
This is where a bunch of people jump in to tell you why you need to remove the neck, but once again, I'm here first. If you put the top on as you've pictured, it will be torturous to remove the neck at a later date. This is because the dovetail holding the neck slides forward for removal. The way you have things, the top will have sealed the dovetail in its slot. But Gibson did this on occasion and it makes repair people even more unhappy with them.
You may ask why the neck would need to be removed. Go to Frets.com and look up neck resetting. Then report back to us.
When I was learning to be a teacher, this was called the discovery method. Fortunately for everyone, I did not go into teaching.
Nice dulcimers. You're up to this. And you might be able to polish the scratches out of the pick guard. I would bet there is enough meat on it to stand up to some thinning.
Appreciate the encouragement! Also, too bad you didn't go into teaching.. never heard the term "discovery method", but I buy into it completely.. much prefer to have the direction to the right resources to learn rather than just being told what to do.... will look a the neck resetting... and come back...
Thanks Andrew and Mark.. Mark, I'll take look at fretted strings, Davis is a drive, but totally doable. I did take the guitar to cb Perkins before I embarked on this project. Andrew, I've read now about neck resetting, watched some videos and read some photo journaled reset jobs, and some info on how to evaluate a neck. Included a nice video of a removal reset on an lg2... Problem is that without a top and bridge, its a little difficult to evaluate the neck. I set a straight edge on it, and took a couple of photos ... below. The neck looks pretty straight to me. I don't see any obvious bowing or angling. Perhaps since it had been unstrung 40years or so? But as yet, if the neck doesn't need resetting, I can't see a need to remove it just to replace the top. I. may be missing something here? Perhaps the best thing is to get the top done with sound hole and bracing so it is nice and flat without flex, and locate the bridge and double stick tape the bridge in place, clamp the top on and check the neck at that point. Would be easier to assess with a bridge in place. I imagine either cb Perkins or the place Mark mentioned would look at it for me. Oh, and thanks for the comment on the sides, there is some flex there, so yes getting that right poses some challenges..
There are people who are much wiser than me on these matters, but here are the problems I would be trying to solve if this were my project, and some musings on the solutions.
First, there is a need to accurately register the position of the top for installation. You need to be able to consistently place the top on the guitar in the same place, so that your bracing, bridge plate, and bridge end up in the right place. This is complicated by the fact that the body can flex, and the neck block can move.
I suggest that you need some kind of jig or mold to lock the whole body and neck into a very precise position. Once you are able to lock the body and especially the neck into the position you want them to be in, it will be much easier to set the neck angle and place the bridge. This will also allow you to make sure that the sides aren't bowing out anywhere.
Then, once you know that the top will be in a particular place, you need to set up the bracing so that the bridge plate is in the correct place to back up the bridge.
Now you can brace the top, cut the sound hole, and glue the whole thing to the body. The soundhole placement will be based on the bracing, and that is based on the bridge placement.
If this was my project, I'd be hunting up a piece of 3/4" plywood that is bigger than the instrument, and placing wood blocks on the board to position the sides and neck exactly where they should be. The neck will be a little tricky, you will have to make a bridge for the guitar, place it on the top, and set your ruler just as in the pictures above to get the angle right. You can then back up the headstock with a block of wood and strap it in place to keep it rigid.
If you instead chose to remove the neck, you would have more freedom to place the top on the body, correcting for side flex of course, and then you could adjust the neck to fit the body, rather than adjusting the body to fit the neck. I don't know if there is any particular advantage to either approach, except that removing the neck can present a separate group of challenges.
Those are my thoughts, and they have value roughly equal to what you paid for them. :) I'm sure there will be other ideas and corrections from folks on this board.
My suggestion of Fretted Strings come from the fact that Harrison Phipps does a fair number of rebracings of guitars from ladder to x bracing, and he would be worth discussing this with. He does have a fee structure for students to come in and work with him, I'm sure you can discuss that.
Excellent input Mark.. very helpful. I have an adjustable jig I made up to build the dulcimers.... I 'll have to check if it is wide enough, it would be perfect to hold the instrument if I go that route. I think I'll need some kind of temporary internal braces to hold the sides out... I actually had to do this with one of the dulcimers, so I have some ideas. I'll contact Harrison Phipps...
Very nice dulcimers. I noticed that you went with an evenly tempered scale rather than the one I usually see on these. Looks like a very good job.
You have my sympathy. I'm saying that because I'm pretty sure that this is turning out to be more than you might have bargained for. It's all part of the fun and you will probably know much more about Gibson LG guitars and acoustic guitar construction in general than you thought you would need before you are finished.
You appear to be falling into a very common trap. It's very common for beginners to underestimate the amount of work involved in a repair job. This is pretty big... do-able but not a simple fix. It can be disheartening to hear someone suggesting that you make what sound like more work before you make the fix but it's pretty common in repair work. You have received some very good advice... but you are resisting, probably because it will add to the work and you may not be too sure of your abilities.
Pull the neck. If it doesn't need to be reset, which you can't truly assess now, you will be able to fit it right back into place once the top is in place. If it does need to be reset, you will have removed when it will be about as easy as it ever gets. You need to get it out of the way. You will probably have your hands full just getting everything aligned again without having it in the way and until you have the top in place and a bridge that is ready to fit, you don't need it anyway.
Plan everything out completely before you do anything else. You really need to know what NEEDS to happen and when before you jump in or you're probably going to learn how much fun it is to scrape, plane, pry or rip out/off what you finished doing to the project. With the building you have done, you should be able to do this but repair is not the same as building. There is a different mind set and working with something that someone else made... decades ago can have some pitfalls that may not be all that easy to see.
Since you want to go with an X brace, I would suggest that you invest in some plans. There are plans for a '37 L00 on both the GAL (Guild of American Luthiers) site or on the Lmii site ( same as the plans on GAL) that will work. It's NOT an exact fit but it will get you close. The LMII plans are found here. I gave a link to them simply because they are a bit cheaper.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a hobbyist, not a pro. I've done this for quite a while now but my production is very low in comparison to the professionals. There's a lot to learn and a lot of help available here but you should always remember that the instrument is in your hands and the results are dependant almost completely on your knowledge, and ability. The more you know and the better your skill, the better the result will be. Your dulcimers go a lot way towards showing that you probably have the ability to do this but don't underestimate the amount of information you will need to do this properly.
Andrew,Ned... so very much appreciate your input-- and everyone else, been so helpful. I'm not worried about the work involved in pulling the neck, and I'm not worried about the amount of time this takes. My fear with the neck is re-setting it, and screwing it all up... Cutting the sound hole, placing the bridge, dealing with the binding, doing the bracing etc., I have some at least similar experience with those tasks. But, setting a neck is far afield of anything I've done so far -- therein lies the resistance. I have a steamer that I can rig up with some kind of fine nozzle that I can get into a 1/16" hole as I have seen done.... I'm pretty sure I'll be able to remove it OK. Sounds like that is what I need to do. I'll check out those plans for the bracing. As a side note, we are building a woodstrip tandem kayak, really my husband's project. So, I'm working on the guitar while he is working on the Kayak, and I'm there to help with the Kayak when there is stuff for me to do... So, really little downside to tackling the restore. Oh, and yes, the Dulcimers are chromatic rather than diatonic, which is the traditional dulcimer. It has become pretty common to add a 6.5 fret, then a 1.5 fret etc., to dulcimers.. so heck why not go chromatic? Some traditionalist balk. But heck, the "original" dulcimer didn't have frets that went all the way across, and they were never played chord melody style, etc., so, chromatic is just another evolution...