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Beware ! You're in Kamikazie here. Not many pro luthiers around, more often brave souls experimenting in their kitchen.

k1w1 Lounge Lutherie - archtop neck reset / refret

k1w1 : Well, Zhyla is to blame, Jaydee and I figure we can do it so here is the first stage of a neck reset, this is my steam source, second hand espresso/cappuccino machine I got for $50, and its still useable for coffe after the reset

Harmony Monterey lutherie

And here is the candidate, the 1954 H950 Monterey which although I have had it playing is dead and pretty much a wreck.

Harmony Monterey lutherie

I got the fretboard off a couple of months ago, took one tap with a chisel it was that dry.
Thats my set up, silicon rubber hose, which leaked a bit at the top, but after a while was OK. Low tack masking tape to protect what finish there was

Harmony Monterey lutherie

and after 5 minutes steaming

Harmony Monterey lutherie


Snapcase : I'm jealous. I'm eager to get my workshop running again.
fanfab4 : Did the tape help prevent any steam damage ?
billieg2 : That looked too easy. Did you drill the neck to steam it?
François : How exactly did you pushed it out of the dovetail ?
k1w1 : Workshop? Luxury, its dining room table stuff.

The tape was successful, no steam damage and being low tack didn't mark the finish. I justed wiped it down occasionally with a rag.

I didn't need to drill. The fret board was coming away in places so I lightly tapped with a chisel under the body end and it popped off.

Actually Billie, it was easy, but I got lucky, they won't all be that easy.

To push it out I let it steam for a few minutes, placed a cork sanding block under the neck heel and while the steam needle was inserted pushed down either side of the neck joint until I felt some movement (about 4 minutes or so), and then to prevent it jumping out I just grabbed the neck and wriggled it free.


Todays progress, glue the fretboard back on. I used PVA or carpenters/white glue, I think that is the same as Titebond in the US. And boy am I glad I did, lining that sucker up under clamp pressure was tricky even after a dry run.
And the PVA can be removed with heat too.
Here is the dry run

Harmony Monterey lutherie

And then the final job

Harmony Monterey lutherie

What I found was if you try and get all the clamps dead centre, it slipped all over the place, but if you staggered them slightly off centre they kept things in check.

Snapcase : Hey, this is really interesting. As far as I know aligning a fretboard is a tricky task. Thanks for your advise, Laurie. ;-)

François : yep, that's a great trick to remember :-)

k1w1 : It was quite a fluke, I first tried to get them all lined up and was fiddling around with my fingers trying to line it up at the sides. And then the middle clamp slipped over and I could line it up.
If you look at the photo, the clamp nearest the neck is almost dead on, the next is over one side, and the last is slightly back the other side. Not a lot but it locked the fret board and neck. Stabilised the fretboard and allowed me to gently line it up. :-)
But if you use hide glue you would need to plan this first, I was using PVA, which gave me a longer time to fiddle around

zhyla : Kiwi, I've never glued down a fretboard, this is really cool to see. Did you sand the neck surface flat or anything like that? Or are you just going to plane the fingerboard after it's glued back on?

rlspt : speaking of steam machines, I saw a neck-steaming rig for sale on ebay that looked simple and cheap. The listing was from an experienced luthier and said it worked better than a coffee machine.
It was just a used pressure cooker with a rubber tube attached to the top. One of these ought to be cheaper than a cappucino machine at the thrift store, even if you had to also buy a hotplate to provide heat. I'm thinking i might try it for my next neck reset...

raz : I've heard of people using cable ties to lock the fretboard in place before clamping as well. Making a small headless brad by using snips to chop a tiny nail or even a thick pin and using a couple of those to hold it in place works too.
Laurie - the water resistant PVA isn't usually recommended for guitar work, but I don't think it'd be any issue at all on a fretboard.
I'n not sure why they warn against using water resistant PVA.
If it's structural, then aliphatic wood glue (yellow glue) is the bestest. I searched high and low and rang the manufacturer and discovered Holdfast Gorilla Aliphatic is sold by warehouse stationery - d'oh there's one round the corner from me.
Holdfast Gorilla Aliphatic is real good stuff, I know one Canadian luthier who takes home large amounts of it every time as he reckons it's one of the best he's come across worldwide and it's made here in NZ.

k1w1 : Zhyla, I scraped it with a pocket knife to remove the old glue residue and then checked it was flat and gave it a light sand, it was pretty straight.
raz, I figured PVA would be OK for the fretboard, it can be taken apart with heat too. I was looking for yellow glue for the neck joint yesterday at Mitre 10 but couldn't find any, thanks for the tip I'll get some today.
I have heard pressure cookers work too. The beauty of the espresso machine is it has an on/off switch for the steam so you have some control over the flow - and I can make coffee as well


OK, I haven't been able to reset it yet, still finding suitable shim material, Julie I don't think any of those you mentioned will be suitable ie hard enough, I have a lead for some maple so will buy enough for yours and mine.
So I have glued back the lower part of the neck heel which snapped off some time ago

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Just filling and refinishing it now. But what I am super happy with is I was able over the last few months to get the finish looking good, its not a collectors and paint was flaking off everywhere, had long compression cracks in the side finish etc. Here is a before

Harmony Monterey lutherie

And here after

Harmony Monterey lutherie

It looks way better and the side compression lines were eliminated with a clear coat sanded and then another.
More to come :-) And thanks Zhyla for the inspiration.

k1w1 : Anybody know what would be a good mix for "ebonising" the finger board, I had to replace 1 fret and need to stain that area.

zhyla : I don't think I'd try re-ebonizing (with a rust/vinegar mixture) something that is already ebonized, that sounds unpredictable to me. You could try a standard wood stain (they even make "ebony" color). I think you'd have to stain the whole fingerboard.
On my H950 I just planed the fingerboard and oiled it, it turned out pretty nice. Actually, way better than the original surface.

Snapcase : I agree Zhyla. It will be difficult to touch up. Sanding the entire fretboard without removing the frets might be complex task too.
Like on any typical maple or whatever clear wood used for fretboards, the good way to go is lacquering it to avoid looking ugly and dirt in just a few days of playing. Usually in amber color like any old Fender or even darker wich use to look nice. I have an old parlor with a previously ebonized fretboard that was sanded and finished in dark amber. It looks really nice.


k1w1 : Well I decided that I would refret, but damn, the fretboard was so dry even after months of oiling, when I took the frets out there are so many chips out, I am going to have to not only level but fill all the chips.....get back after the weekend when I have fixed it :(
[...later...] And it appears to be rosewood, I'll try and get a photo up tomorrow, but damn I am annoyed, heating the frets made no difference, they all chipped badly

Snapcase : The same happened to Zhyla. This wood is not maple, it's a much softer wood. Maple don't chip this way. Edmatts said one mahogany was used for fretboards :O wich is soft (so not a good one for this usage) It's hard to believe this dark wood was ebonized, but who knows. It is probably polar or beech. But my wood knowledge don't go that far to tell it for sure.

k1w1 : After some sanding I am pretty sure its mahogany, smells and feels like it. Here is a photo, the dark splotches were an experiment in sawdust and superglue patching, they will be sanded off. Luckily the fretboard is thick, so a sanding should fix it and then deepen the fret slots

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Snapcase : Mahogany! Well, Edmatts told about it. But it's really strange. Fretboard planks must be hardwood, mahogany is soft. Many softwoods are used on budget guitars but cheap woods. Mahogany is not exactly cheap and... why staining it?
I've checked the ebonized Harmony fretboards around and none looks like mahogany grain. I resist to believe they used mahogany, but who knows. Any wood expert around?

k1w1 : Paco, its definitely mahogany, and it is a bastard to work with, every time I do something another piece splits damn it is nasty stuff, :angry: :angry:
I have so much glue on it it's ridiculous, and still it keeps splitting. I think the only way may be to harden it with superglue :Down:
I will certainly have to stain it.

Snapcase : Wow, If I'd ever have to refret any of our ebonized Harmonys I think I will replace the fretboard with a proper rosewood one. I don't know if this is a mod or a repair, but it's basically an improvement.

jaydee : From the picture it sure looks like mahogany to me ! Probably the single most splintery wood you can get, too. /me sends consoling thoughts.


k1w1 : I am about 1/3 of the way to getting the fretboard back, I had a talk with my local guitar guy, and I am on the right track. I am gluing all the big splits back with superglue, and filling the rest with mahogany sawdust and superglue, glue - sawdust - glue.

In progress it looks very ugly, but will come right with sanding. The mahogany splits and splinters badly, last picture is the first fret, that wavy line is one big chip, and the whole board around the fret slot splintered, and this was with heat.

The 3rd and 5th fret in the same picture were done cold, but its not the answer as the first picture they were all pulled cold and were just as bad as the first fret.

Then sand, re-cut the frets (thanks Raz for the saw) and stain then back to the refret. Here are some pics of the problem in progress

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Harmony Monterey lutherie

If you strike one of these mahogany boards, good luck.

rlspt : wow, you sure have more patience than i do. that fretboard would be in pieces by now, from being thrown on the floor and stomped on.
when we say mahogany, it could be who knows what species from who knows what continent. some woods sold as "african mahogany" or "indian rosewood" or some other fake name, bear no relation to the real stuff. plus depending on grain, cut, part of the tree, etc., etc...
judging from the job you did with the finish on the body, though, i'd bet your labor and patience on the fretboard will pay off and it'll come out looking better than new. nice work.

k1w1 : I am the most impatient guy around, that finish took 3 months, I'd screw it up trying to spray in winter and second coat too soon...not good lacquer with moisture LOL, but I got there, I had to put this aside or it was going on the barbecue I can assure you, 2 days and a talk with my luthier guy sorted me :cool: Now wheres the chainsaw aaaagggghhhh

Snapcase : Certainly this kind of mahogany doesn't look like fine Honduras mahogany or the Mexican mahogany usually found in Sovereign backs, sides and necks.
Sometimes Harmony made strange things, like using mahogany shaded finishings over non mahogany guitars while covering true mahogany bodies or backs with paint and faux grains.
Go, Laurie, go!


k1w1 : Did a bit more work on it tonight, another glue and fill and it might be OK.

Harmony Monterey lutherie

It's starting to come together, glue and sawdust works, it just looks ugly at first. I'll clean up the rest tomorrow, and fill the last chips.


I cut the fret slots tonight, but that bastard mahogany split on one so back to gluing and sanding, thanks Raz the saw worked well, I cut the tang off one end of a fret and used that as a depth gauge.
Here is a tip, if you ever have to work with this dampen it with a wet sponge, it has decreased the splintering quite well, obviously not totally, but much better.
I can't sand much more or I am into replaqcing the dot markers, so spot sanding after this. Before i stain I am going to see if oiling the board will cover the blemishes.
So apart from one fret, I am going to fret in the next couple of days.

Harmony Monterey lutherie

And here is my kamikaze depth gauge

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Snapcase : I'm not sure [oiling the board] is a good idea. Oil would make stain not getting properly soaked inside the wood. The same before lacquering, oil and lacquer are not exactly compatible. Better use any kind of filler instead. It might be clear of mahogany colored.

zhyla : Snap is right about the oil. Maybe you can oil just schmidge and then sand it some more to get fresh wood. Or maybe just water will give you a good idea.
I'm curious why you had so much trouble with this fingerboard, my H950 was a pain but not like this. I didn't bother filling the little chips that came off during the refret. Maybe I don't have a mahogany board?

billieg2 : I think you are doing a great job and thanks for all the pics. The only thing I question is the superglue. Will it take the stain or will it just repel the stain so the board shows all? Just a thought..... And don't oil it if you are going to stain it unless the stain is oil based too...

raz : Looking good Laurie. If you're sawing using masking tape on the wood either side of the cut can help keep it together, or at worst scenario, makes sure you don't lose bits that chip off.
If you know the radius of the fretboard I also have some radiused sanding blocks. that might make sanding it easier. I have a radius gauge somewhere too if that might help.
Also you might find going through the grits on the sandpaper might help with a nice finish. Start gently round 200 grit then work all the way up to 1600/2000 - 2000 grit is like a polishing cloth and can leave mahogany looking beautiful, even with epoxy filled divots.
Also Laurie remember something a luthier friend once told me - strings change everything. You'll see every fault because you know where they are, an observer will focus on the strings. It's like a trompe de l'oeil. Don't get too hypercritical.

k1w1 : Thanks guys, Zhyla, I would guess yours wasn't mahogany, but this one also sat hanging on a wall in a NY apartment for 15+ years, it was very dry, I have had it in a case with a wet sponge and the body responded well, but mahogany is just plain nasty to work with, dampening it did help though (that Frets website is a godsend).
Hehe, not stupid enough to slather the board in oil, I tried it on a small part of the extension end and it worked great, so no staining, just Fret Doctor brings it up great. I'll get some pics up tomorrow.
But 2 steps forward one backwards. The fret board extension just fell off last night, so there is another fix........will it never end. I think the slight deepening of the slot, which is right over that part weakened it. Oh well another job to do.


I figure most have seen a re-fret so I didn't take any pictures, but here it is with new frets installed (but not dressed yet). I have figured that if I superglue the extension back on, then use the sawdust and superglue fill in the fret slot, then re-cut the fret slot it will be strong enough, probably stronger than it was LOL. Anyone with any better suggestions let me know.

The fret board has come up quite well, still a few nicks here and there but looks OK. I even managed to retain the radius on the fret board pretty much. Instead of using a hard sanding block, I went with a sponge one and went very slowly with 80 grit sandpaper and then finished with 220.

The Fret Doctor is the bees knees, it has finished the board very well

Harmony Monterey lutherie


raz : Laurie I think you've done a sterling job with this. One of the problems with a lot of lutherie advice is they pre-suppose you've got a semi pro woodwork shop at your fingertips.
Showing actual scene by scene on how you did things on the kitchen table is a lot more realistic for most of us I think.
The books don't say it but a large part of the "art" of lutherie is artfully covering your mistakes IMO.
Well done mate.

k1w1 : Thats it in a nutshell Paul, you read the books and web pages and there are all these little special tools, I am not going to make Stewmac millionaires by buying them LOL

I haven't done any more, but Laurie I have pulled 6 frets that I wasn't happy with, too loose etc and could have glued them but will take a step back and detail the refret.

Firstly, these are the tools I mainly used, fret saw, nipper pliers (thats what we call them here, you may have other names) pocket knife, stanley knife, jewelers hammer, putty knife and cork sanding block to support the neck where needed.

With the nipper pliers, they are a standard $5 set from the hardware store, but they come with a beveled cutting edge, so 2 minutes with an angle grinder and they now cut flush with the leading edge.

Harmony Monterey lutherie

To pre-bend the fret wire I used an empty vodka bottle, for 2 reasons, one it was much more fun to prepare than the pliers, and 2 it has a decent curve and the paper label meant the wire didn't slip on me.

Harmony Monterey lutherie

I used this to put the initial bend in the wire

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Then I would just use my fingers and thumbs to bend it even more, it really does help to have a bend more than the fret board radius, the first time I tried they sprang up at the ends. Raz tipped me off to this, hats off mate.

Some of the fret slots were slightly oversize so to remedy this I got some super glue on a toothpick and carefully coated the fret slot sides

Harmony Monterey lutherie

(Sorry about the focus on the last one, hard one handed) Thats it for now, will do the remaining frets over the weekend and document as much as possible.


Zhyla : Kiwi, I found it worked well to use the nippers and my fingers to radius the frets instead of bending it around something. It's really easy, you just grab the fret by the tang at one end using your nippers and bend it a bit with your fingers. Then grab it closer to the middle and bend it a bit more. Doesn't take any time at all.

k1w1 : Zhyla I did use that at first, but found it hard on my fingers, in fact took a couple of chunks out, I found with the paper label it didn't slip and I could get a decent first bend, and then gently work the rest with my fingers.

Here is the fret job, I must apologise for the quality of the photos, it's damn hard trying to focus the camera with one hand, basically I had to pre-focus on the dry run and hope I got the shot, in reality, it didn't always work

Harmony Monterey lutherie

This is just an example, I cut each one individually, and found that if the curve is good they go in clean.

Harmony Monterey lutherie

The putty knife worked so so, I would recommend getting a decent piece of steel to do this. I gave a good hard strike with a choked hammer in the centre and then at each end and then just gently tapped in anything that didn't take first time. And I would definitely recommend a plastic faced hammer, I had to be so careful with this one.

jaydee : It's blurry but it gives the idea. I wouldn't have thought to put such a curve on it so I'm really glad you showed us. And that you told us tap in the middle then both ends.

What are you doing with the putty knife? Laying it over the fret then tapping the back? If so, the flat side of a rounded file would do as the piece of metal. Also, in place of a plastic hammer, maybe a bit of cloth or leather over the tip? Last time I did something involving fret bashing I used a carved piece of hardwood (an ex-project of a kid). That worked well as it was just hefty enough without being really hard.

Just thinking out loud. I wonder if the Magic Garage has a plastic hammer in it. The man might know.

zhyla : Whoa! You guys aren't using plastic hammers for your fretting? I grabbed one for like $10 at Home Depot. It has one end plastic and one end rubber. Takes about 5 minutes to bang all the frets in with it and there's no scratches or dings on the frets afterwards.

Kiwi, that's quite a bit more bend to the fret than I've done. There's no harm but they just need to have a tad more bend than the radius of the fretboard. The bend doesn't need to be especially perfect either since you're going to bang it flush with the fretboard anyways.

I think I told one either JD or Kiwi that I didn't crown my frets after installation. I ended up crowning one of my archtops a few weeks later to get fix buzzy spots.

k1w1 : Thats probably a little more bend than I put in most of them, (I wanted to make sure I got the photo, which turned out bad anyway), usually a millimetre or so above the centre of the fretboard. Julie if you use a file you are likely to end up shattering it, they don't take to hammering being hardened steel.

I used the putty knife as I didn't have a piece of steel or plastic hammer, the local Mitre 10 (hardware) wanted $60 for one so I went with what I had.

Yep, placed it over the top and hammered that to make sure I didn't dent the board, worked fine. probably took me all up about 15 minutes but I was being extra careful.

jaydee : Yeah, that was me you told about not dressing. Actually now that you say so it makes sense to let the guitar neck settle a bit then do any truss rod adjusting and fret dressing for just the reason you said.

Another good tip to try to store in my brain for when I do my beloved '38.


k1w1 : Well I had to put this aside for a week or so, the fret board constantly splintering was doing my head in, but Julie prompted me today so here is the next stage. But it has come up very well, the glue doesn't show and there are only a couple of chipped areas still evident. Fret Doctor rules!

I got the fret extension glued back on using the superglue and sawdust to completely fill the fret slot over that weak area and cut a new fret slot. Then got all the frets in. Here are the tools I used to dress the frets

Harmony Monterey lutherie

One tip, wood works fine but make it a little longer, I managed to keep the curve by rolling the wood block as I sanded, used 220 grit sandpaper. Finished off with steel wool and Brasso. The file is an ordinary mill file on one side and a wood rasp on the other, very handy.

I had to respray the neck edges anyway from the fret board removal, so taped the frets and used the mill file to file flush and then resprayed.

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Then crowned the frets

Harmony Monterey lutherie

And finally used a needle file to take the edges off. I am going to have to revisit some as I am not too happy with them. I think Francois' plastic fret tool is a better option and then I will use the big file, the needle files aren't that great.

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Once I did that, I put the neck back in and looked at the angle I needed calculating it off the Frets.com website to give me an idea of what I am aiming for. I used low tack masking tape to hold the bridge in place.

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Thats it for now, reset after Christmas


OK, been away doing the family thing at Christmas, but got home tonight and finished dressing the frets, they are level and smooth. Stuck with the masking tape and used the mill file to take the edges off and then 0000 steel wool to finish, nice and smooth now.

Harmony Monterey lutherie

rlspt : wow, what a difference. you'd never know looking at this pic how it looked before.
I have to upgrade the towel i use to lay guitars on, seeing your "gracious living designer collection".

jaydee : I laughed when I saw that because I noticed the brand, too. Beats my ugly brown striped one that I use. Lol.

k1w1 : Ahh just what the world needs, another couple of comedians :-D You can't let turning the dining room table into a woodworking shop destroy your sense of style, get with the program people :-D

I got a bit more done last night, finished when I looked up and saw it was 2.30 am.

So, here we go. I started by calculating the amount I need to take off as per the Frets.com site and it was nearly 3mm if I wanted to have up and down adjustment of the bridge. So marked the heel and started. I used zhylas' and rlspts' method, wood rasp as I am hopeless with a chisel, check their threads here and here.

I used the double sided file previously pictured but the wood rasp side, for the heavy work, and then a half round file for getting into corners and finishing and the 220 grit paper pulled through with the neck in place. This is just the beginning filing

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Once I had it roughed out I decided to look at how I would shim it. I can't shim and file the body dovetail as I have no way to clamp and hold it still, so decided to shim the neck side. (It is my dining room table after all)

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Its not finished yet and will need more work to file and adjust right but I am half way there.

The other problem I have is the fret board extension will be high off the body, and as it is already a weak point having snapped off once, even though it would look good floating it won't be strong enough, so I have to pad out this area.

For shim material I managed to get some oak veneer which is very easy to work with, so I am laminating the extension with veneer and superglue. I could use solid wood but this is very easy, quick to do and strong.

In this picture you can see the veneer and the first 4 layers of the laminated extension.

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Snapcase : If the guitar were mine I wouldn't bother about it ("the fret board extension will be high off the body") and leave the extension flying.


k1w1 : Before i went away for New Year, I did a little more, firstly I built up the laminate on the fret board extension, And decided to have it unattached (Paco, you will like this) but being a weak point I had to build it up

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Given that it is now flying I have to finish the paint on the extension and body so it is not raw wood, photos to come. So I used the sandpaper pull through to even the sides up. Taping masking tape to the back of the sandpaper is a great tip (can't remember where I read that) as it stops the sandpaper ripping.

Harmony Monterey lutherie

And this worked very well

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Because of the change to the extension, I will have to finish the paintwork first, and the extra thickness means I have to do some more fitting as the extra means the pivot point at the body/neck has changed

Here I am starting the finish process, I am not concerned about perfection as it will hardly be seen

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Snapcase : Hey Laurie... I should have specified a bit more about the "flying" extension. It should look like this :

Harmony Monterey lutherie

The first part of the extension is glued to the top and the rest is floating allowing the top to ring better. (Like in your 1325 Monty) It could be completely "on the air" but the neck joint will be stronger this way. Further support isn't actually needed. Virtually every high-end archtop have the extension this way. Half glued, half floating. This is usually called "Cantilever" extension... Don't ask me why.

k1w1 : No Paco you weren't too late, I always envisaged it that way. I have done a little bit more and have had a disaster....more on that later.

OK, first the mistakes, I used the Frets.com calculation to determine the amount to take off, then got way too excited and took a little too much off, be careful with that, I found it slightly overestimated, no big problem, I just have more adjustment on the bridge.

BUT, if you use rasps or files make sure you file even, I found after a while I tended to "rock" the file, and this meant that I could get a tight fit but there was a gap at the heel, then found I had created a gap at the fret end. So shimming the tongue was a hit and miss affair.

Here is the mid point result

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Its a really slow process, you need to carefully replace what you take off at the heel extension on the tongue.

But OH CRAP, all the fitting of a tight joint (and it has been tight all the way through), sanding, removing ad nauseaum resulted in :

Harmony Monterey lutherie

The top has split, right down from the dovetail joint. Sorry about the photo quality. My initial thoughts are to shore the split up underneath and then refinish, any tips, hints or methods to do this greatly appreciated.

At present I am looking at a veneer under the split glued, and then refinish.

Snapcase : Ooops... I'm very sorry, Laurie. Birch plates are usually shaved pretty thin because it's a really heavy wood. This is why birch splits easily. The split is in a difficult point to reach, It seems to run along the treble tonebar, probably by the inner side.

Harmony Monterey lutherie

I hope you'll get a better advice, but I cannot figure out a way to repair it properly without removing the back to get access to it.
.......
I was thinking for a while about this crack. If it runs by the tonebar edge it might be difficult to get a good and stable reinforcemant. I'm not an expert, but I think cloth or linen it's not a good option here. Maybe cleats would hold it better, but not the typical diamond shaped ones. Something like this

Harmony Monterey lutherie

Spanish guitar makers ("guitarreros") call them "peones" or "zoquetillos". They can be glued to the bar and the top. Though this added mass and stiffness would affect top resonance somewhat. Fortunately the split is in a not so active top area. These "peones" in the picture are cedar though you can use spruce as well. Only light and resistant timbers. Avoid heavy tonewoods for cleats.

François : It's the worst place to work inside if you only have access through the f-holes... I don't know what I would do, either :
- to apply a glue-wetted linen from the inside, I would bend a long metal rod to shape, to help placing it at the right place. Lots of preparation with lights, mirrors if you want to do it right...
- perhaps, using the "peones" shown by Snap, I would try to glue to of them in place with the wire trick : two micro holes drilled in the top, a wire introduced in the hole, then through the "peones", some glue, a knot on the wire and you pull the wire to place it inside.. Sorry, difficult to describe with my lack of vocabulary...

EdBeaver : Don Teeter, the repairman who wrote two books, had a way whereby you can use the patch blocks by stringing a guitar string (.08 or less if possible) through them and running the string through the crack. Using these patches you can place them underneath the crack pull up on the string and bring the patch in line with the crack. Compress it against the top until it dries. You can use the f-holes to run the patch through. Do them all at once because you will want to clamp the sides together to bring the crack in line and compressed to itself.
Having done all this, I have had great luck with clamping the sides of the guitar to squeeze the crack together after gluing it. By using Titebond, I have managed to bring the cracks to almost original condition. Titebond makes a joint stronger than wood grain so it has held pretty well.
The other course is to run a spline in the crack and titebond it. The comes the touchup... another story.

Snapcase : Hey, Ed. It sounds like a good way to go. Thanks a lot.
Don Teeter, eh?. I want his books. Thanks again, Ed

Geo : Ed did you say you clamp the sides, use tbond in the crack, no cleats?

EdBeaver : I have done this...............on acoustic guitars.
Cracks are a funny thing sometimes it is temperature and sometimes it is stupidity.
If the wood has shrunk, there will be telltale signs like frets sticking out, binding overlaps, etc. In this case, a spline would be recommended.
If it is a "minor crack", ie too small for an .08 string to go through, then sometimes the best effort is to glue the crack back together and see if it holds.
Of the ones I have done, I have not gotten any back.
Good judgement is always an option.

k1w1 : Thanks for the ideas guys. No way I am taking the back off, too much for this guitar, and cleating and even linen is going to be very difficult as the crack is above the f hole and on the inside of the tone bar
But the cracks is very tight and I am fairly good on the finishing side of things, so I guess Ed I'll try your advice.
As I say the crack is tight,but I need to glue it as it will end up increasing, it is right on the bridge foot alignment, so as soon as I apply presure it will go right down the top.
Would I be best to try and wick glue into it and clamp, or etch a slight v in the crack and glue ?

Raz : try smearing a very thin scalpel blade with glue both sides and run it through the crack then clamp it.

EdBeaver : How about trying a bent aluminum rod or cold steel shaped as a hook with a rounded end or even small dowel drilled to act as a bumper.
Insert it through the f holes as a push rod to open the crack up. Be gentle.
Be generous with the Titebond and rub it into the crack. Maybe dilute the glue with water a little bit to allow it to run into the crack. Use your fingers to rub it in.
Once you are satisfied there is enough glue inside the crack, relive any pressure and use whatever pressure necessary to put the crack together as best possible. Clamp the guitar from side to side to put the crack together and make sure you do not shift the crack to ledge against itself. Match the crack and let it dry for a couple of hours. 8 hours is good before releasing the pressure. Overnight is better.
This should hold it. Let me know. Anything you put into the crack will only compress the wood and widen the crack so keep the wood's integrity to match by allowing only glue between the edges.
Let me know if this is feasible. A dry run is always a good way to avoid screaming because something does not fit.
Cursing allowed, Violence won't help and a good beer aftwerwards makes the whole process worthwhile.
PS : A good cleat at the point above the bridge might help prevent it running further. Don'e be excessive as to affect the tone, but it would not hurt to strengthen the grain at that point.

Snapcase : Cool, Ed. I need to fix similar cracks in a few of my guitars. I read about this procedure a while ago, but didn't remembered it. Avoiding to remove the back makes it a worthy way to try. Thanks a lot.


(january 2008) To be continued...

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