1928 Gibson L-00

Background: This Gibson arrived needing a variety of work. Along with a neck reset, there was a lifting bridge.

Restoration: With restorations, sometimes one is presented with a surprise discovery. In this case, once the lifting bridge was removed, we discovered a poorly executed prior repair. It seems that the bridge had lifted before, removing some of the spruce top as it lifted. Someone put different spruce bits in to fill the hole, applied glue, and clamped the bridge down. This ultimately failed.

What was worse – the top has significant runout and was cracked under the bridge area. This was not evident prior to bridge removal. Repairing such an issue is complicated. Inside the guitar, the bridge plate was removed so a larger maple bridge plate could be installed to mitigate a split and weakened top. Pin holes were plugged with spruce. The top was then routed for a recess that would take a cross-grain bridge patch providing both top strength and a solid gluing area for the bridge. Correct bridge location was then measured (for proper intonation) and the bridge reinstalled with 315g hot hide glue. Finally the pin holes were redrilled.

1935 Gibson L-50 Archtop

Background: L-50 archtop production began in the early 1930’s. This 1935 example represents a unique design variant only produced in that year. Carved archtop with a 15′ radius back. These are some of the most beautiful Gibson bursted guitars, showing what was then a new “pear” burst in place of the earlier bullseye burst.

Like many instruments of this vintage, this guitar incurred a variety of failures in its life. Two structural top cracks, the back cracked in several places and complete split in two, the sides showing a half-dozen cracks as well. Rather than use a suspended Symphonic Mike pickup, a previous owner glued the control and pickup to the top. Internal back braces were mostly separated, and there was both water damage and an significant mold. Judging by the damage, this guitar had been in disrepair for 30-50 years.

Restoration: The back was removed, and original cellulose back binding saved. 3/4 of the back linings had to be replaced due to damage and mold which could not be removed. The top was brought back into alignment and the cracks repaired. New lining were replicated to match old, installed, and sized to the original height so the back could be reinstalled in original position. In most restorations, new binding is used, which allows for sizing binding once the top is attached to the sides. Instead, this instrument had a precise mold fabricated and closely fit so the sides would align perfectly with the back, allowing the original binding to be reinstalled.

Extensive finish restoration was performed, including lacquer replacement and aging where the pickup system had been glued. There was excessive nicotine damage as well as shellac applied by a prior owner or luthier. At some point long ago, shellac finish repairs were performed over the lacquer. Shellac was removed and selective lacquer touch-ups were performed. The instrument had original tuners in unusually useable condition. Those were straightened and restored. The end result is a superb sounding L-50 that shows the patina of having been owned by a professional musician while retaining its beauty in age.

2014 Reynolds Woodsong
7-string Classical

Background: A 2014 Reynolds 7-string classical recently restored. Significant french polish finish failure due to acidic body chemistry, coupled with having been cooked in a case, sitting in the sunlight, which caused structural failures.

Repairs: This guitar was completely stripped, disassembled, repaired, and built back up. Finished in water-based urethane, impervious to acidic body chemistry. New armrest in matching Western Red Cedar. New Brazilian Rosewood 18-hole bridge. Neck removed, frets removed, and fretboard planed and rebuilt to correct neck geometry issues.

This guitar is built with a double-top using aerospace-grade Nomex, Western Red Cedar top, Nicaraguan Cocobolo Rosewood, Ebony fretboard and Honduran Mahogany neck.

1934 Gibson KG-11 (Carson J Robinson)

Background: In the early 1930’s Gibson made a version of the KG-11 ladder-braced guitar for sale by Montgomery Ward. The headstock carried the Carson J Robinson name – a famous cowboy musician during that time.

This instrument arrived to us in tremendous disrepair. Owned by one family since new. Extensive top runout damage, bracing failure, neck warped, mold, and even bird poop from years in an attic. Extensive disassembly, reconstruction, refinishing, and cosmetic restoration and repair.

Restoration: Complete disassembly. Top runout repaired, all new bracing with additional reinforcement for the top while retaining a ladder brace structure. Neck disassembled, two carbon fiber rods added for structural reinforcement. Mold created to reshape the instrument, which arrived highly distorted. Finish carefully restored and preserved to keep its patina while allowing the ability for use in many years to come.

1927 Weissenborn Style 1

Background: Made in Los Angeles, Weissenborn built approximately 5,000 instruments. These are sought today by musicians playing blues and roots music. This instrument had significant internal structure failure, which is common to Weissenborns. Extensive disassembly, reconstruction, refinishing, and aging.

Repairs: The back was removed to perform internal repairs. All top bracing along with the bridge plate was replaced, along with additional tone bars added (which were used on other style numbers). Mold and water staining removed. Sections of lining were also replaced. All back braces were loose and necessitated replacement. Complete refinish in nitrocellulose lacquer, tuners, and bridge along with aging.

1940s Harmony Patrician

Background: A very nice sounding example in good condition. No body cracks or internal separation. Came with a tall and heavy archtop bridge. Needed a neck reset and general conditioning.

Repairs: Extensive cleaning and finish refurbishing, while maintaining its original patina. New adjustable archtop bridge from Katalox avoided a neck reset, and restored a more vibrant sound. Mild top restoration – pickwear and nicks repaired with Caramel shellac and transtints where deeper damage was evident. Tuners disassembled, cleaned, lubricated, with shafts now supported by hard fiber shims in the headstock. Complete setup. Great sounding archtop from the 40s!

1952 Gibson Les Paul

Background: The first year for the Les Paul. 1952 and early 1953 models had a tailpiece and shallower neck angle. This is an all original guitar, down to every bit of electronics. It was never abused but clearly well-played.

Restoration: Minimal work was performed to maintain the instrument’s originality. Dirt and grime were carefully removed, as this was a player’s guitar. Binding had shrunk in places. The nut was original but broken above the low-E string, which was rebuilt rather than replaced. All electronics were cleaned. One tuner was carefully repaired. Several fretboard trapezoid inlays were re-installed.

Concertone Mandolin Circa 1920’s

Background: This mandolin arrived with the top glue separating, as well as the back waffling from lack of braces. The top was also warped from brace separation, where the bridge pressed the top.

Repairs: The back was removed, and much of the top separated from the sides, due to glue failure. Upon inspection two back braces were completely missing. The linings had come loose in places as well as missing a section. New braces and linings were made. All braces and linings were reglued, then the top and back were mounted. Finally a new bridge was made to set the correct string height.

1964 Gibson SG

Background: This SG has been in the owner’s hands since the early seventies. In the late sixties, the headstock was abused, puttied and painted with a black spray can. The owner wanted the instrument restored to original condition (that is, 50 years old and unabused) along with a return to original style pickups.

Restoration: Extensive work was done to rebuild the headstock, tint and match original faded red color, and relic work to keep the headstock looking original to 50 years of wear and tear. Pickups were wound and relic’d to match. All aspects of the guitar were returned to as close as original as possible.

1936 Gibson L-30 Archtop

Hear this guitar.  

Background: Owned by the original family since about 1938. Extensive internal cracks in the top and back, with previous improper epoxy repairs. The back braces were unglued and the back was no longer arched. Fretboard and frets in mediocre condition.

Restoration: The back needed to be removed to properly address structural issues. The goal of restoration is to minimize any impact to the guitar’s existing condition and patina while returning it to a safely playable condition. Given the original black lacquer finish without bindings, removing the back without damaging the finish was an exceptional challenge. The top had 3 significant cracks and the back was broken in two. Internal water damage and mold required wood removal and remediation. Repairs using spruce cleats and hot hide glue brought the guitar back to structurally sound condition. Frets were gently polished and very minor touchup performed on the original lacquer.