Our good friend Rose scored this sweet little number on Ebay, and even though it was in dire need of a tune-up, it had the mojo factor working for it. Luckily, she brought it to our shop for the aforementioned tune-up!
This happens to be a 60’s 3/4 Silvertone guitar, minus the usual Amp-In-Case option. The action was mile-high, the pots were scratchy, and in general the guitar needed a good checkup.
Here’s a quick run-down of what I did to make this instrument play its best:
1) After taking off the strings, I set the bridge aside for cleaning with the rosewood saddle separated from the metal base plate. The bridge plate especially needed attention, being in contact with rusted-out screws. Nev-R-Dull did the trick!
2) This guitar needed its frets leveled and crowned pretty badly. I removed the neck as the body’s small size and shape made this procedure slightly cumbersome. Plus, these guitars didn’t have truss rods, so there was no easy way of perfectly straightening the neck without some creativity. I rigged up a sort of fulcrum-based system that allowed the neck to be straightened with slight pressure exerted upon it. It worked pretty well!
3) I unscrewed the pickguard and carefully peeled back the protective paper surrounding the electronics. I sprayed a liberal dose of contact cleaner into each pot and bent the hot tab of the input jack back into place. I made sure to re-seal the wiring harness.
4) The tuning machines felt snug, so I oiled them lightly. While I was at it, I also oiled the metal nut to prevent string binding during tuning.
5) Before I restrung the instrument, I decided to “cure” a common illness suffered by guitars with straight rosewood bridges: string placement. On this guitar, the simple act of strumming could have disastrous consequences, moving the string out of alignment and thus, out of tune.
Purists might think this decision harms the originality of this guitar. I would tend to agree, but this notion treats the guitar only as a monetary investment. Rose bought this guitar to play it hard and often, and in order to make her instrument as enjoyable as possible I chose to ramp (or groove) the saddle. A side effect of this choice is a more pleasant action, with the grooves a few millimeters lower than the rest of the saddle itself. This made all the difference.
With a fresh set of heavy strings installed, and the intonation set as well as one can approximate with such a bridge, this guitar absolutely rocks. A guitar like this can make you think, “Who needs a bridge pickup?!” It’s a garage rock time machine!