Refret with Evo Wire
Martin Orchestra Model

For more details on fretwork,<br>please see the following two articles:
Fretwork Matters –
What Makes Great Frets? Part One
The Road to Great Frets, Part Two

Background: When frets are too worn for level, crown, and polish, I recommend a refret. For conventional guitars I use one of three different wire types – nickel (which is what is typically factory installed, Evo wire which more durable than nickel, or stainless steel, which typically lasts the lifetime of the instrument.

Evo wire, used in this refret, provides about 50% more wear resistance than nickel wire. Its gold hue is shiny when new, but oxidizes to a matte gold. There is no concern with how the guitar looks, as the fret wire blends in very well which chrome and nickel tuners.

Repairs: This Martin had received a prior level, crown, and polish. Often a guitar can receive two such services before refret. Unfortunately wear was so deep that we recommended a refret. A dial caliper is used to adjust the fretboard completely flat. The frets are electrically heated, and removed. The fretboard is then dressed. Divots are typically filled and leveled if there is fretboard wear. Fretboard edges are turned. Frets are then sized, and installed with hot hide glue. To fit the fres to the board, the frets are filed to a 30 degree angle along the board.

Once the frets are installed and fitted, a complete fret level, crown, and polish. The fretboard is taped off to protect all wood surfaces and binding. All fret ends are dressed so there are no sharp edges. The frets are crowned with diamond files, wet sanded up to 1200 grit, and buffed to a high luster with rouge.

Broken Headstock Repair
1986 Martin HD-28

Background: With its original owner since new, this guitar has traveled the country and played on many stages. It suffered a severe fall when a cable wrapped around its stand and threw the guitar across the stage. What resulted was a nasty neck failure: a v-split at the volute and a heavily damaged head plate. Head plate removal showed complete split headstock in 3 pieces.

Repairs: The head plate was removed and a new one made in Bolivian Rosewood. Typically I use fish glue for repairs. In this case given the extreme wood damage, structural epoxy was used. Head was pieced back together, then glued to the “V” break on the neck. The head plate was made an extra 50% thicker than the factory head plate, to increase strength. The head plate also glued with structural epoxy. The complete neck had all imperfections repaired, airbrushed with brown mahogany stain mix in nitro lacquer, then completely shot in nitro lacquer.

Output Jack Damage
Epiphone Emperor Regent VS

Background: This beautiful archtop arrived with an output jack that had taken a hit when plugged in, shattering the side where the jack is mounted. As well, the original plastic nut was blown.

Repairs: The jack was aligned correctly, locating the wood chards for initial glue-up. The jack was removed, side repairs completed, along with finish repair. A larger washer front and back of the jack helped increase the clamping surface area and also protect the repair. A cattle bone nut was made, and the guitar received a complete setup and flatwound strings.

Bridge Removal & Installation
2004 Taylor XXX-MC Anniversary

Background: Owned since new, this guitar has given countless public performances. Well taken care of, well-played, and well-worn. This anniversary Taylor’s bridge was coming unglued, the frets had significant playing wear, and the top by the rosette had a growing 1″ gouge from pick damage.

Repairs: The bridge was heated and removed. Bridge patch routed clean, and a rabbet routed on the bridge so it sits on the wood instead of the edge of the bridge patch finish. Frets were leveled, crowned, and polished. The top gouges from pick wear were filled, flattened, and polished. A small, clear acrylic pickguard was installed to protect the finish from future pick wear while maintaining the guitar’s original look.

James Jones Folk Harp #38

Background: This beautiful 36-string harp was made by Bedford, VA instrument maker, James Jones. It is a beautiful piece of work, in Eastern Hard Curly Maple and Sitka Spruce. Living in northern Virginia, a lack of winter humidity caused movement of the column. The knee plate took pressure from string tension. Finally the soundbox also warped at the bottom no longer able to be flat against the base.

Repairs: The harp was de-strung and disassembled from the bottom. The column was pressed back into place though still about three-eighths of an inch past the bottom. The column was cut with a Japanese Dozuki Saw and then leveled with a hand plane. The soundboard base was then leveled, and all the attachment points were repaired.

Output Jack Damage
2010 Ibanez Artcore

Background: This beautiful archtop had the misfortune of slipping off the owner’s lap during a recording session. The guitar landed square on the input jack, which punched through the body taking a good chunk of curly maple and the inner plies. Unfortunately access inside the body of an archtop is only through the f-holes, making an internal repair relatively impossible.

Repairs: A 3-ply jack plate was made from curly maple, black fiber and rosewood. The woods were bent on a hot pipe and glued in a caul with a radius matching the side profile. The jack plate was wiped with shellac to pop the curly maple grain. The 3 tints were mixed to match the factory tobacco sunburst on the jack plate. The body damage was cleaned up with the finish cracks filled and repaired.

Fret Level, Crown, Polish, Nut, Setup
Fender American Telecaster

Background: A good example of how factory guitars are not necessarily well set up, this Telecaster was brought to our shop by a player complaining of the low E string slipping off the neck. Furthermore the frets showed significant wear. The neck had 0.010″ relief and the bridge saddles were set very high.

Repairs: The original factory nut was installed in the wrong location, with the nut approximately 30 thousandths too close to the edge. The original plastic nut was cut from the finish, the bottom of the nut slot cut flat and a new buffalo bone nut made. Frets were leveled, crowned and mirror polished. Action was then dialed in, including neck relief, intonation, fret height and 1st and 12th frets. Finally dents in the back of the neck were filled and flushed to improve playability.

Nitrocellulose Lacquer Back Refinish
1975 Ryoji Matsuoka M30R

Background: The East Indian Rosewood back to this guitar was ruined with heavy scratches which may have come from the player’s shirt buttons.

Repair: The back was stripped back to original wood. Layup epoxy was used to bring the color depth out of the rosewood. The back was finished with nitrocellulose lacquer and blended to the sides for an indistinguishable repair.

Neck Refinish, fret Level Crown & Polish
Henner Hagenlocher

Background: This wonderful guitar was made in the Smallman style by Henner Hagenlocher in Granada Spain using Canadian Cedar and Brazilian Rosewood. Unfortunately the guitar had suffered misrepair by a previous luthier and its player, who plays 2 hours/day, complained of left hand fatigue. The neck finish was worn through and the frets exhibited significant wear. The back was also separating at the lower bout. As a working instrument the now thin french polish required complete rejuvenation.

Repairs: The neck had to be stripped of its original finish. The player’s body chemistry etched the finish. Given chemistry issue, the neck was refinished with epoxy with french polish over top. The frets were then reground, polished with careful chamfering of the fretboard edges to improve playability. A complete setup focused to minimize left hand fatigue while still supporting the players right hand playing style. Finally the back was repaired with hot hide glue and the complete guitar received french polish.

Broken Headstock Repair
Les Paul Goldtop 1960 Reissue

Background: Gibson necks are very weak at the nut, due to a large truss rod access hole. This mid nineties Les Paul came in with a broken neck, suffered from falling off a stand. The complete guitar was also hazed out from the binding and finish gassing out.

Repairs: The neck was carefully cleaned out to prepare for a glue and a caul made to support the back of the neck break during glue-up. Thinned hot hide glue was used to ensure the full crack area received glue. The crack was now nearly invisible. Thickened lacquer was then used to fill the finish crack which was then leveled and polished. The complete guitar was disassembled with all metal and finished buffed, removing the gas out haze. Playability issues which the client articulated were addressed with a complete setup.