Washburn 1986 style 115 restoration

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.
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Chris Vallillo
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:52 pm
Location: Illinois

Washburn 1986 style 115 restoration

Post by Chris Vallillo »

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently acquired an 1896 style New Model Washburn guitar. From the description in Pleijsier's excellent book Washburn Pre War Instrument Styles, I have determined that this is a 112 size guitar (rosewood b/s and headstock overlay, cedar neck, 18 fret ebony fb w 3 pearl dots frets 5, 7, and 9, ebony flattened pyramid bridge, black bridge pins w pearl dots, ebony nut, top bound w white celluloid and rope pattern, rings and rope pattern around s/h, inlaid backstop). It seems identical to the later 115 I called PAM and recently X braced and posted about. Unfortunately, I hadn't determined that when I started this post and don't know how to edit the title! Sorry...
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It came in very poor condition, with the back split and lose, the sides loose from the top about 1/3 of the way around, heel block, and sides split, top seam separated and the entire instrument completely filthy! It also had a selection of what I would take to be 1930's era decals all over the top including a raccoon or 2, several locomotive engines, an airplane, a collie head and a rose. While I was initially considering whether or not to keep them, it looks like I may be able to clean off the guitar and leave the decals in place. I am violently opposed to "aged" guitars but do love one with real wear such as this.
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Though sustaining a great deal of damage, it looks to be restorable.
Last edited by Chris Vallillo on Sat Jan 26, 2019 2:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Chris Vallillo
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:52 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: Washburn 1986 style 115 restoration

Post by Chris Vallillo »

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It's typical of the era with a very simple ladder bracing. The original "bridge plate" is intact, though shows serious ware. I'm thinking that this is another good candidate for X bracing using the same bracing pattern I took from my own Washburn 1897 Style New Model 145. I reproduced the bracing from that guitar on the guitar I refer to as PAM (see my earlier Washburn 115 posting for details) and got excellent results.

If I were to simply repair this and leave it as ladder braced, it would an easier repair, but since I hope to fix, then flip this guitar, I expect the market would be more interested in a X braced instrument with Brazilian back and sides and adirondack spruce top. I'd be glad to her the community address this issue. I'm on the fence, but leaning towards the X bracing since it's a low end Washburn and I'm concerned that the simple bracing it has right now wouldn't be good for anything but nylon strings.

I'll post pics as I progress and as always, appreciate your thoughts and comments.

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Mark Swanson
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Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:11 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan USA
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Re: Washburn 1986 style 115 restoration

Post by Mark Swanson »

Hi Chris, Yes I vote for X bracing!
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Chris Vallillo
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:52 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: Washburn 1986 style 115 restoration

Post by Chris Vallillo »

Yes, I'm really leaning that way. Just wanted to get some other opinions before taking the leap!

Steven Smith
Posts: 193
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:01 pm
Location: East Tennessee

Re: Washburn 1986 style 115 restoration

Post by Steven Smith »

Given the relatively low value and the potential improvements I would X brace it too.

Chris Vallillo
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:52 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: Washburn 1986 style 115 restoration

Post by Chris Vallillo »

Yes, That's definitely the decision! I've been working on basic repairs of the guitar first and making modest progress. I've got to say, the wood is beautiful!

I pulled the back and glued up three major splits, one small one and the back seam cover. Hide glue. The foil is covering the original label to protect it during the restoration (I learned that lesson the hard way!).
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I've glued 2 loose back braces back in place and need to re-build a missing one.
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Then clamped a split end block for a couple days to gently re-align it then glued it. Again, the covering (wax paper this time) is to protect the original inked series number).
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Once I get the worst of the basic cracks, splits and separations dealt with, I'll work on the re-bracing.

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