Restoration of a write-off archtop

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.

Re: Restoration of a write-off archtop

Postby Nathan Dodd » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:56 pm

The headstock has at some time sustained a knock and there is a chip out of the plastic facing.


While there were no holes drilled in the soundboard for pots thankfully a makeshift jack plate was attached over a crudely 'drilled' hole on the side of the body. this has been filled and sanded flush.


I removed the old binding and took off the soundboard with a razor saw in order to fix the issue with the braces and to fill the hole left from the pickup aperture (again, described with all it's trials and folly above). further to this i also packed the crack to the f-hole and put a very small spruce patch over the area which succeeded in closing the crack and reinstating the integrity of the top.


I applied apposing force and heat to the neck to correct the back bow in readiness to install binding and re-radius the fingerboard to 12 inches. I have also removed all of the frets.


Because I want the guitar to be more reminiscent of a n L-5 than it already was i had never been happy with the amount that the fingerboard encroaches on the soundboard as these Hofners have 22 frets and a large toe beyond the frets at the top of the fretboard. I have therefore, maybe controversially cut the length of the fingerboard back to 20 (maybe 21 i can't remember) frets and reshaped the underside of the neck/fretboard to accommodate. I just prefer it that way myself.

Nathan Dodd
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:56 am

Re: Restoration of a write-off archtop

Postby Nathan Dodd » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:00 pm

On to steaming the heel block out of the neck block. i bought a hand held steamer, some injector hose and a football pump needle and constructed a steaming device. it didn't exactly go swimmingly. the heel block finally popped out after some technical difficulties surrounding the connection between the hose and the needle which was finally resolved only to find that the neck block had a vertical crack and had come away from one half of the back upon removal. fiddlesticks.


so after waiting over a week for the wood to dry back out we are finally at today's juncture where the heel block is being glued back together and back down to the back of the body. luckily both halves of the neck block remained glued in place to the sides and the sides remained glued to the back so there was little alignment to be done only some... novel clamping solutions.


I am leaving the heel block to dry back for a little longer to ensure that any swelling has subsided before reattaching it to the rest of the neck.

the next stages will be to reattach the top, carry out channel routing for binding back and front and to the neck, to complete the radiusing of the neck, scraping back the rest of the finish and then refinishing the whole thing. at this stage I am debating whether to create an L-5 style pick guard or whether i should plumb for something with a more modern edge.
Nathan Dodd
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:56 am

Re: Restoration of a write-off archtop

Postby Thomas Wentzel » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:06 pm

Nice story, you show lots of patience to a guitar many would dismiss! How'd that little Hoover work as a steamer?
Thomas Wentzel
Posts: 32
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:21 pm


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