Spanish style building repair?

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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Max Debelleix
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:00 am
Location: France

Spanish style building repair?

Post by Max Debelleix »

Hi everybody.

One of the guitars i made at the guitarmaking school has serious problems.

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How would you tackle this one?

Basically, it's a steel string, based on a sj200 shape. Built with a Spanish heel. I would need to reset the neck, i did a lousy job from the start anyway. Using a solera, and not being too conscious of the final action height.

I guess, i need to open the back, to do the neck reset. Or, may be i could just unglue the upper bout? But in that case, how do i fix the cracks?


Well, thanks a lot guys and gals.

Joshua Levin-Epstein
Posts: 233
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 7:58 am
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Spanish style building repair?

Post by Joshua Levin-Epstein »

http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier ... eset1.html

Here is an article by our host, Frank Ford, on resetting the neck on a steel string guitar built with a Spanish heel. He mentions several options but the one he employs is the way to go. Some people use a Japanese flush cut saw in place of the bone saw.

Those cracks can be addressed by rehydrating the guitar (Garbage bag and automotive sponges), align and glue the cracks and reinforce with cleats.

Mr Ford: http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier ... crack.html

That back crack might need some convincing to align. Google is your friend.

Joshua Levin-Epstein
Posts: 233
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 7:58 am
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Spanish style building repair?

Post by Joshua Levin-Epstein »

oops, forgot which forum I was in.

Frank is not our host here.

Max Debelleix
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:00 am
Location: France

Re: Spanish style building repair?

Post by Max Debelleix »

Thanks a lot Joshua.


Well, it has been a long time since i saw Frank Ford's neck reset. I have known that site, may be for 20 years.

And i'm sorry, but i won't do this. I don't care about refinish. That is not a problem with french polish. The guitar is all assembled with titebond. The purflings are ugly. I lost lots of depth of cut with the router because of the back's arch.

I think i gonna remove the back anyways. Like that i'll deglue the braces, stick it back together properly. May be sand a fair bit, to remove some of the arch, which has caused problems right from the start. The lengthwise arch is something like 1/2" May be more. And the back braces got flattened because of this. I might add a center strip. Like that i can compensate for the widening of the upper bout, when i gonna squash the body lengthwise.


The big question is, how do i remove those bleemin purflings? Steam and knife? Route? Wait till these fall appart?

Thanks again.

Max.

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Bob Gramann
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Location: Fredericksburg, VA
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Re: Spanish style building repair?

Post by Bob Gramann »

Max, If you do want to avoid removing the back, I understand the old school way to reset a neck with a Spanish foot is to release the glue at the foot and for a couple inches on either side of the heel block, slip the block in until the neck angle is correct, and reglue it. Of course, this will require shortening the back and recutting binding and purfling rabbets. I haven’t ever had to do this, so I have no experience with slipping the heel block (all of my resets have been on dovetail joints or bolt ons). Titebond will easily release with heat (but the heat will mess up your finish). With a little luck, you will only have to undo some of the binding. Personally, I would take apart as little as possible to minimize potential damage. Fixing the crack could be done through the soundhole unless your forearm is too big (sometimes I get my spouse to stick her arm in there for me). You will want to clean the melted Titebond off of the surfaces before you reglue.

I have done a few retoppings. For those, I rout off the bindings and just replace them when I’m done. No reason not to do the same for the back unless the bindings are irreplaceable.

Max Debelleix
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:00 am
Location: France

Re: Spanish style building repair?

Post by Max Debelleix »

Thanks a lot Bob,that's more along my line. The good thing about this one, i have built it! :D

Carl Kaufmann
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Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 5:35 pm
Location: Mystic CT and Block Island RI

Re: Spanish style building repair?

Post by Carl Kaufmann »

Looking for help in replacing the top of a classical guitar. It is 22 years old, and its Western Red Cedar top is collapsing. It has developed waves and a deep hollow in front of the bridge-- clear signs that the builder (that would be me) made the top too thin and did not brace it strongly enough. It is a Ramirez pattern with the fingerboard slightly elevated with a wedge. Construction was in the conventional Spanish manner, with the neck first glued to the soundboard, the rims next fitted to the soundboard and the heel and neck blocks, and the back put on last. As is typical for a Classical, the sides pieces slide into slots cut into the head block. I do not see any way of flattening or saving the old top with new bracing. What I am thinking -- tell me what you think -- is that I should go back to ground zero and make a new top, replacing the old with stronger stuff (European spruce ?) and stiffer bracing. To do this I would have to remove the fingerboard (Rosewood), and cut away the old top with a router, leaving the body as it is with the sides and heel and tail blocks intact. Then make and install a new top, bridge and trim. A lot of work to be sure, but do you see a better answer?

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Barry Daniels
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Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: Spanish style building repair?

Post by Barry Daniels »

If the hollow is caused by braces coming loose, I would try to reglue them first before replacing the whole thing. It might be salvageable.
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Clay Schaeffer
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: Spanish style building repair?

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

I would be inclined to saw through the wedge and remove it, leaving the fingerboard and neck intact. Replace the top, slipping it under the fingerboard, and then replace the wedge.

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