Yesterday Brent came in with his grandfather’s instrument, having acquired it some years ago. When he opened the case we could see that it would be no small task to bring it back to fitness, but I for one was thrilled at the prospect of making this small-bodied acoustic playable!
A ’64 Gibson LG0, this guitar has certainly seen better days; kept in closets most of its life, this guitar has seen the worst of climate changing from hot to cold and humidity inconsistencies galore. Its original finish is almost entirely lifted from the wood, casting a greenish-yellow hue over the entire instrument; no less than five cracks have formed in the top and back- the sides are surprisingly intact- and the internal bracing is liberated as well. The original plastic bridge is lifted and cracking, the fretboard is dryer than dry and its inlays are no longer flush with the fingerboard. Any finish that remains bonded to the wood is muted and dull, and there are numerous dings and scratches all over it. “This is going to be great!” I yelled internally.
Brent’s a super cool guy and he wanted this family heirloom to at least play as it did when it left the factory. This guitar was marketed as a student model, but even so these are usually great players and fun to have around. It may never look as pretty (at least, without a refinish) but Brent’s not that worried about looks, just tone. Tone? Yeah, we can handle that.
The first task, as we told him, would be waiting. What I mean is this guitar is dry, and there’s no way I’m going to start re-gluing braces and repairing cracks with wood as thirsty as this. The moment I’ve joined the break, there’s the threat that the guitar will soak up the ambient moisture we so closely monitor in here, and then we’ll have another break on our hands. So, the best thing for us to do is let this guitar sit for at least a week and re-acclimate to proper humidity levels.
So, we’ll be waiting. And waiting. And waiting. But, this is the only way to do it; to rush this job now is to introduce more problems down the road and we don’t want that happening. We gave Brent an estimate of at least 4 weeks, maybe 5. Who knows? Maybe it’ll take a lot less, but in this case I’d rather have more time to work than less. This process will be slow-going, but I plan on updating the blog regularly to show our progress on this one. It’s gonna be great!
Here’s the run-down of repairs for this guitar:
- Re-humidify, moisturize, wait
- 5 (at least) cracks: 1 top, 4 back- check for more
- Re-seat internal bracing- most of these are loose
- Carve and install a new Rosewood bridge- plastic isn’t the best for tone!
- Back is creeping away from the sides
- Cut and install bone nut and saddle
- Oil/clean tuning pegs
- Reign in fret ends/ dress or polish frets
- Install strings, setup and enjoy!
Like I said, I’ll be posting updates as things progress, so I’m anxiously awaiting the day where I can strum a chord on this weather-beaten relic. Stay tuned; good things are afoot. See you in a week!