Well, I officially have my first "job" by a customer who is not a close friend or relative. Look out now, I'm makin' waves! Ha! Anyway, the repair was pretty straight forward, reglue shrunken plastic veneer on the peghead, reglue pickguard, light fret dressing and so forth. All went very well, until I needed to deal with stringing it up.
You see, the previous repair was done, according to the owner, by a violin repairman years ago when the customer's father had the guitar. The previous repair was an odd variation of JLD Bridge System
http://www.jldguitar.net/warped_tops/fixtop.html but uses a piece of pine cut to a parallelogram mounted to the original bridge-plate with a steel bolt running through it to the end-block. This puts the pin hole openings at an odd slant with little wood to hold the strings solidly and they already have tear-out. I glued a piece of hard wood just above the pin-holes to *hopefully* give the strings something harder and more stable to rest against. However, the string balls still won't sit properly and when you tune certain strings to pitch it forces the bridge pins out forcefully! Please see the picture and the diagram I drew to get an idea of what I'm dealing with. ANY help and suggestions would be so GREATLY appreciate!
Many thanks, as always!
I'm totally with the side that says fix it right or don't fix it at all, but here's how I solved a similar situation a few years ago. First, do not undo anything and leave well enough alone. Second, make up a set of brass pins ( I have a small benchtop lathe for this ) out of brass screws with no threads. I didn't bother to cut the slot in the pin, opting for a full depth slot in the Frankenplate thing. The thing about the brass is it can taper pretty small and still be strong enough to hold the string ball, and as long as your pins may be, you may get to a fairly small diameter at the end of the pin. I did something decorative to the head of the screw/pin and it worked like a champ. I left about 1/4" of the pin below the ball. Hope this helps.
That's great, but unfortunately I don't have access to a lathe, nor would I know what to do with it were access available. I would just leave it as-is, but I can't get the strings to seat well enough to even tune it. My regluing of the shrunken pickguard and peghead venere went very well, but stuff like this has me thinking I just need to keep up my job search and leave this to the pros.
I'm going to call around in the morning and see what some local luthiers have to say, if they will consult with me, and see what they might do or what they might charge to do this right. I'm willing to take a stab at it if it's my axe, but not with a customer. I'll relay the info gathered here and what I glene from my calls and let the guy know what we're dealing with. I'll charge him for what I did, and let him find someone else to finish the job. I think this could very well conclude my bid for professional status. :-/
Thank you all for the help, I really do appreciate it! Kindest regards. - John
Don't be discouraged - I can't think of any pro who would take this job without a hefty chunk of change as a deposit. It may turn out great, but at an expense which is prohibitive.
I would try some other pins in there, though. You might just have a really crappy set that have gotten worn out, or which are not the correct fit. There are so many variables here. Go take some pins out of some other guitars and give them a try. Perhaps take the guitar to the local guitar shop and try some cheap long plastic bridge pins and see how they do.
The StewMac over-sized might be an option, but I'll have to order some to see. The length would still be a problem though, but It's an option to consider. Thanks!
The original (maple?) bridge plate (if it's still under there) is probably far better equipped to retain the string balls than the pine frankenthingy. And even if it's worn, you can always cap it with a Stewmac bridge plate saver (or home-made equivalent), to avoid the potential drama of full replacement. So I'm +1 on the pull saw idea, ditch the frankenthingy, sort out the bridge plate if needed, new pins, and a bridge doctor.
Well, much time has past since last discussing the bridge on this Guild F20 and I thought I would give an update and ask a question.
Upon deeper inspection, I found out two important things regarding the Franken-block inside: 1. The two MOP dots on the bridge are not factory original, which indicated to me that screws might hold the franken-block in place. 2. I could find NO glue squeeze-out anywhere inside the guitar where the franken-block meets the bridge plate.
So, with the owners consent, I drilled through, poped to dots out, unscrewed the two wood screws I found inside, and what do you know? The franken-block dropped right off without a care in the world!!! Wheeeeeew!
Next up was to shave the top of the bridge to get the action down, re-drill the pin holes, install rosewood (or similar) dowels, re-drill, taper and chamfer the holes for new pins, and string 'er up.
The result is a nice playing and great sounding little box without any anti-belly block mechanism inside. Not sure, but I suspect that the franken-block might have been placed there in an attempt to lower the action.
Now, I tuned it to pitch and let it sit in it's case for a week and made photos and notes about the top and the action to see if there was any change in the top under tension of .011 - .050 John Pears strings. I do not note any change from before, but I do see a slight reverse-belly in front of the bridge, while behind the bridge there is a very acceptable positive belly per usual on a "flat-top." Please have a look at the picture and tell me if you think this mild convex curve in front of the bridge is something to worry about. Additionally, the top does not give when I push down on the bridge or directly on the top in front of the bridge just under the strings. The X bracing seems very solid to me.
Could it be that a proper JLD Bridge Doctor should be installed, or do you think this guitar is good to go? Like I said, aside from my *possibly* reasonable concern about the convex curve, it plays and sounds great and didn't even lose it's tuning over it's rest in the case for a week and my pulling it out for a few strums on two occasions for maybe two minutes or so each time. What do you think?
Looks totally normal to me. I'd leave it alone.
Some-days the dragons win - some-days they don't. Dodged a bullet here, good one!
Well, if you all think it looks good, I'll give the man a call tomorrow and let him know. I'll give him the option of installing a Bridge Doctor if he's set on it, but It seems sounds to me. I rather hate putting a bunch of stuff on a guitar when it's not necessary, especially an acoustic because of ...well, ....acoustics! ;-) Lean and clean, say I.
Thanks again for all of your help!!!