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60's Melody Maker - repair or hang it on the wall?

If you have a string instrument of any kind that needs fixing, a mistake you made in building a new instrument that you need to "disappear," or a question about the ethics of altering an older instrument, ask here. Please note that it will be much easier for us to help you decide on the best repair method if you post some pictures of the problem.

60's Melody Maker - repair or hang it on the wall?

Postby ray carlton » Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:29 pm

Maiden post on this forum - I have a small repair and building workshop serving players in the local district.

Had this lovely old guitar left with me with a view to getting it playable - not really a financial proposition but the owner would like to play it and happy to pay the price for the repair and a refret / neck refin. He has an excellent set of hardware to go with it.

Back of the neck has seen the wrath of a woman scorned IMHO and I attach a couple of pics of the damage. Not sure whether I should attempt to fill with saw dust / glue or file a flat and glue a fillet of mahogany. Another idea is to build it up with veneers. Aesthetics are not to important to the owner and he just wants a smooth playing surface. The damage is quite deep and almost through to the truss rod on the right side. It is heavily impregnated with sweat and oil from years of playing after the damage was inflicted.

Any ideas would be great - thanks

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Re: 60's Melody Maker - repair or hang it on the wall?

Postby Barry Daniels » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:45 pm

Sawdust and glue is not an acceptable method for anything guitar related. And using veneers would not work well either.

The best approach would be to make the surface level so that you can cleanly graft in a piece of mahogany without having any voids. This would be challenging due to the size and shape of the damage and dealing with a curved neck.
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Re: 60's Melody Maker - repair or hang it on the wall?

Postby ray carlton » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:54 pm

Barry Daniels wrote:Sawdust and glue is not an acceptable method for anything guitar related.


Point taken - It confirms my feelings as to why it has been sitting ignored for a month. The budget is way short of a proper job.
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Re: 60's Melody Maker - repair or hang it on the wall?

Postby Brian Evans » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:50 am

You are going to respray the neck anyway, and it looks like an opaque finish (can't see through it). I would smooth it with bondo or epoxy with fairing filler, and spray it. I love old Melody Makers - I have a 1962.

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Re: 60's Melody Maker - repair or hang it on the wall?

Postby Mark Swanson » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:07 am

It's always best to fill with new wood. The marks don't appear all that deep. I'd file it back to clean wood and glue new mahogany in place with epoxy because it is the best at filling any gaps left- don't try to take the damage down all the way, it would be ok to leave a few of the deeper damage. Use epoxy, glue new wood down, shape it and re-finish.
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Re: 60's Melody Maker - repair or hang it on the wall?

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:29 pm

A light sanding would remove most of the oil and sweat and filling the dings and depression with bondo ( as Brian suggested) could make a less noticeable repair than removing more wood and replacing it with another piece. Mohawk makes a wood colored bondo that can be further colored with powder stains. Graining it similar to mahogany and adding the opaque finish could make an inconspicuous cost effective repair.
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Re: 60's Melody Maker - repair or hang it on the wall?

Postby Brian Evans » Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:51 am

Barry Daniels wrote:Sawdust and glue is not an acceptable method for anything guitar related. And using veneers would not work well either.


Interesting counterpoint to this argument that I came across while reading Fretboard Journal 38 this morning. Stephen Gilchrist, noted Anipodean mandoline luthier, was commissioned to do a deep deep repair of the first Lloyd Loar F5 mandolin that had a severely caved in top. He describes how he faired the cracks after structural repair was complete: "Gilchrist chose to fill the cracks with a mixture of (original) wood dust and glue, rather than inserting splices"

I personally often use sawdust and CA glue to fill splinters in fretboards. I use sawdust and shellac to grain fill. So I guess to me it depends on the situation.

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Re: 60's Melody Maker - repair or hang it on the wall?

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:07 pm

A tiny fill is OK but a large repair will look horrible. For one thing, alphatic resin glue fills will shrink which is more noticeable in a larger repair. And there is no way to match the grain unless we are talking about ebony.

Filling a light colored wood with sawdust and glue is akin to making a filler using particle board. Why would you ever want to do that? Replacement with solid, matching wood is so much better from a strength and visual standpoint, and not by just a little bit. Can you tell I feel strongly about this :-)
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