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My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:11 pm
by Eric Seneca
First, thank you for allowing me to be a member of this group. Over the past 20 years I have been playing guitar off and on. My family would visit with my great-grandmother while I was growing up and my grandfather and uncles were always playing guitar together. I never had much interest in it until my grandfather passed away. At 18 I decided to teach myself and I have been struggling with it ever since. I am not that good at it, but I play it the songs my family played when I grew up just for the memories.

I remember my grandfather played an Alverez guitar given to him from one of his sons at the end of his life. When he died, a different son got to keep his guitar and brought it back to California in 1989. Fast forward 20+ years and this past May my uncle came for a visit with a gift for me. That gift was my grandfather's last guitar. The guitar has more sentimental value than any monetary value and I will keep it till the day I die.

When my Mom told me about the guitar, I got excited again to play, I have not played for a couple of years. I really go excited to play his guitar again. Then I opened the case to the guitar. The years have not been kind. I found a number of problems, but nothing that I think cannot be fixed.

The pick guard is cracking and instead of replacing it, someone added some glue. you can see the waviness in the guitar. Generally it is just dirty from years of use. The saddle had fallen apart and was fixed with grey tap other things I could not identify. There is some discoloration

To me I do not care about the value of the guitar and do not want to refinish it. I want all the dings to stay in it because it is a well travel and played guitar. My uncle is a preacher and I know he used it almost every weekend at church events. I know some of the dings where put there by my grandfather.

Thing is, I know I can bring it to a music store and someone will clean up these issues, but I really want to try and do this work myself. I would like to get some advice on where to start with some of the issues. I have been doing woodworking for over 20 years making everything from small trinkets to beds. I have a shop and a lot of experience refinishing wood. I know guitars are more sensitive than a chair that can be refinished. I do not want to use any strippers or start sanding anything without understanding the best method to approach.


I have attached some pics, I would like to get your advice.

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The saddle fell apart when I tried to restring the guitar. I found duct tape in one of the pegs and when I tried to remove it, the peg fell through into the body.
IMG_1786.JPG (38.96 KiB) Viewed 5579 times

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The back has some discoloration by the heel where it looks like the finish has been rubbed off over a number of years
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The pickguard is coming up in spots, has cracked in spots and is wavy in spots. I think it needs to be removed and replaced because I do not want it to crack the sound board.
IMG_1783.JPG (39.27 KiB) Viewed 5579 times

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 11:07 pm
by Gordon Bellerose
Before you do anything, the smart thing would be to do a really thorough inspection and evaluation. From the pictures it looks as though the guitar is in decent shape, even with some small dings and obvious repairs like the bridge and pickguard.

1, The first thing I would do is an evaluation of the neck; most importantly the angle to the body. If the neck needs to be reset, it may be more involved work than you would be comfortable with.
My method of checking the neck angle is to run a straight edge on top of the frets down the center of the neck, to a position where it is over top of the bridge. There should be approx. 1/16, of clearance in between the bottom of the straight edge, and the top of the bridge, where the saddle is located. I'm sure some of the other guys will have a similar or even better method.
Next I would make sure the neck has no twists, bad bowing, or cracks, especially near the headstock.
Also, check to see if the neck is solidly glued to the body.

2. Secondly I would determine if the truss rod works. Loosen it off first, and then try to tighten it, to see if the neck moves at all. The straight edge will help here also. Remember, lefty loosey, righty tighty.

3. It seems as though the bridge may need to be replaced. If one of the holes is large enough for the bridge pin to fall through, you may have to.
Is the head of the bridge pin the same size as the rest? Maybe it was replaced with a smaller one at some point??
I suppose you may be able to drill it out, plug it and re-drill, but it is probably easier to simply replace it. Any attempt at plugging and re-drilling may be visible forever.

4. Check inside the guitar to see if it is structurally sound. Are all the braces still glued tight? no cracks in the body anywhere? all the binding still intact?
A dark room, with a light inside the guitar may show any cracks if the light shines through.

5. Check the tuners. Do they turn smoothly? Are they tight to the headstock?

6. Lastly check all the frets. Are there any loose? Are the fret ends sharp? Are there any with deep impact wounds, from the guitar falling, or something falling on the guitar?

After all of that, :-) you can make a better decision as to how to proceed. Some of the repairs you may do yourself, depending on your level of skill. Others you may not want to attempt.
The most important thing to remember is that there is no shame in saying "I don't know how to do this". We've all said that plenty of times in our learning. READ, READ, READ. There is a lot of good information here, and on YouTube. If you see something that you question, ask those questions.
The final thing I would say is to buy a garage sale guitar, and practice on it. ALWAYS PRACTICE ON JUNK!!!

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 11:44 pm
by Mark Swanson
That guitar is in pretty good shape. Do not refinish it! That is usually never done to a guitar unless there is no alternative and your guitar is in decent shape. Just fix the small things. New pins, saddle, and pickguard. Look it over inside and out and make sure no glue joints have come apart. Make sure the bridge is still attached all the way around. Then we will help you fix it, one step at a time. Gordon just made a lot of good starting points!

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 2:58 am
by Eric Seneca
Thanks for the advice. I started looking at the guitar as advised. I did a really good visible inspection.

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:35 am
by Jason Rodgers
Can you take those string remnants out of the bridge and give us a close-up, straight on picture of the bridge?

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:41 am
by Eric Seneca
Jason Rodgers wrote:Can you take those string remnants out of the bridge and give us a close-up, straight on picture of the bridge?


Sure, I will do that tonight and post the image. I just got a new saddle and strings in the mail yesterday. I also was waiting for my peg puller to come in. The last time I pulled pegs with plyers, it did not turn out well. I looked at the peg the feel through and it looks chewed up. I am also going to look at the bridge support with a camera tonight, I will post that picture as well. Appreciate the help.

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:42 am
by Rodger Knox
When you're using the straightedge to check the neck angle, it should rest on top of all the frets, with no gap in the middle or at either end. You may need to adjust the truss rod to get the neck straight. If you can't get the neck straight using the truss rod without string tension, there could be a problem. If the neck has a little backbow without string tension and the truss rod loose, that could be OK, string tension will pull a little of that out. You do need to be able to get rid of any forward bow with the truss rod without string tension. Also, it would be good to know what kind of truss rod it has. I believe it's a single action rod, but it could be a double action rod.

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:44 am
by Eric Seneca
Rodger Knox wrote:When you're using the straightedge to check the neck angle, it should rest on top of all the frets, with no gap in the middle or at either end. You may need to adjust the truss rod to get the neck straight. If you can't get the neck straight using the truss rod without string tension, there could be a problem. If the neck has a little backbow without string tension and the truss rod loose, that could be OK, string tension will pull a little of that out. You do need to be able to get rid of any forward bow with the truss rod without string tension. Also, it would be good to know what kind of truss rod it has. I believe it's a single action rod, but it could be a double action rod.


Ok, I will check that tonight. Does the truss rod just use an Allen wrench or does it need to be something special?

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 1:58 pm
by Gordon Bellerose
Look under the top, ahead of the sound hole. You should be able to see what kind of tool you need to adjust the truss rod.

Another thing that came to mind after your second set of pictures, is that this guitar has a pickup.
You will have to determine what kind of pickup it is.
If it is an under saddle strip, is it still there?
Or is it the kind of pickup that is glued to the bridge plate?

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:20 pm
by Pat Foster
I had one of those in the early 70s. They were quite good guitars. I hope you have good memories when you play it.

Pat

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:20 pm
by Eric Seneca
Gordon Bellerose wrote:Look under the top, ahead of the sound hole. You should be able to see what kind of tool you need to adjust the truss rod.

Another thing that came to mind after your second set of pictures, is that this guitar has a pickup.
You will have to determine what kind of pickup it is.
If it is an under saddle strip, is it still there?
Or is it the kind of pickup that is glued to the bridge plate?


Ok, I will check for that tonight.

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:44 pm
by Eric Seneca
What my untrained eye found tonight.

1. The neck has no visible bow. A yardstick sat across all the frets without any issue. It look pretty straight to me.
2. The pickup seems to be in the saddle
3. Bridge looks like it has some indentations from the strings over the years.
4. Check under the pickguard and it looks solid, no cracks
5. No cracks in any of the support bracing

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:46 pm
by Eric Seneca
Pat Foster wrote:I had one of those in the early 70s. They were quite good guitars. I hope you have good memories when you play it.

Pat


Thank you, it is the only item I now have from my grandfather. My grandmother was flooded in the recent floods and most of the things that was slated for me were lost. This will be a great keepsake and I will play it, not just put it in a case.

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:51 pm
by Eric Seneca
One more look at the fret board

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 4:17 am
by Beate Ritzert
Maybe it is time to just replace the missing parts of the bridge and put strings on it?
As the guitar had been played often before it got to rest its setup should have been at leas reasonable. So i would use strings of the same gauge as rests You showed us.

BTW: the remark on the bracing did not mean "check for cracks in the braces" (which are rare) but actually "check for loose glue joints" (which are not so rare).

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:17 am
by Eric Seneca
Beate Ritzert wrote:Maybe it is time to just replace the missing parts of the bridge and put strings on it?
As the guitar had been played often before it got to rest its setup should have been at leas reasonable. So i would use strings of the same gauge as rests You showed us.

BTW: the remark on the bracing did not mean "check for cracks in the braces" (which are rare) but actually "check for loose glue joints" (which are not so rare).


I checked for cracks in the wood as well as glue separation. I did not see any on the exterior or interior. I think except for what seems to be somewhat minor issues with the bridge and pickguard and some cosmetic issues I would like to clean up, this is a playable guitar.

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 4:36 pm
by Gordon Bellerose
Eric,

It's hard to see in the pictures what the gap between the yardstick and the top of the bridge is.
I am assuming it is in the area of 1/16.
I would simply buy a new set of strings, and a set of bridge pins. The bridge pins come in two sizes that I am aware of, so you will want to measure the holes, and buy the appropriate pins.

The pickguard can be removed. There is an excellent thread on how to do this, in the Repair section.

Good luck, and welcome to the forum!

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 5:10 pm
by Pat Foster
Eric Seneca wrote:
Beate Ritzert wrote:Maybe it is time to just replace the missing parts of the bridge and put strings on it?
As the guitar had been played often before it got to rest its setup should have been at leas reasonable. So i would use strings of the same gauge as rests You showed us.

BTW: the remark on the bracing did not mean "check for cracks in the braces" (which are rare) but actually "check for loose glue joints" (which are not so rare).


I checked for cracks in the wood as well as glue separation. I did not see any on the exterior or interior. I think except for what seems to be somewhat minor issues with the bridge and pickguard and some cosmetic issues I would like to clean up, this is a playable guitar.


Just to add what Beate wrote, checking for braces that may have separated from the top or back is often done by sliding—or more accurately, trying to slide—a feeler gauge between the brace and the top/back. A .005" gauge works well for this. In many instances, brace separation can be invisible to the eye.

Pat

Re: My grandfather's guitar

PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 5:16 pm
by Eric Seneca
Thanks for the advice, I will check out the thread and recheck the bracing with a gauge.