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Many guitars come through my shop, but here a few few that I have found most interesting for one reason or another.

Vintage Yamaha FG-110 - Nippon Gakki factory. Simon and Patrick SP-6 cedar

Japanese Sakura
SF-87

Art and Lutherie Cedar
Orpheus Archtop Vintage Ukuleles
Ibanez Lancaster 1930's Maxitone Banjo Ukulele
Ovation celebrity Tanglewood 12-string
Vintage Art and Lutherie Cedar Washburn D-30S

 


Yamaha FG-110


 

Before Photos

The Yamaha FG-110 is the cool Grand-Concert shape. You know, the I-wish-my-gal-looked-like-that shape :) It is in horrible condition and it has been painted a thick white with a brush! But I am sure that beneath that white muck is some beautiful wood and a wonderful tone. One of the best sounding guitars I have ever rebuilt was an old Nippon Gakki.

 





 
In The Process
I knew there was wood under all that white goop! It took a few coats of paint remover and a few of hours of sanding, but it revealed some pretty wood. It has a nice 1-piece spruce top and book-matched back. The top even has a nice rosette and some black/cream bindings. Someone glued in the nut and bridge saddle so I had to remove it with a Dremel. But so far everything seems in pretty good shape.

 




 
It is ReBorn!
With a new finish, neck adjustment, fretboard leveled and  re-crowned, and a cross headstock inlay. It looks pretty good and sounds great. It is a very bright and crisp tone.


 


Japanese Sakura SF-87

Before Photos

1971 Sakura from Japan. It is in bad shape. The neck is wobbly, frets worn and tuners missing pieces. A neck removal and re-set is the open heart surgery of guitars. It's time consuming and expensive. This guitar would not be a good candidate as this is usually saved for the most expensive guitars. But this is my favorite kind of project - saving the lowly! Without a new neck joint, this guitar is destined for the kindlin' pile.

This old guitar has a cool pearloid inlay on the headstock. The guitar top is spruce with some nice bear-clay grain. The tuners, if I can save them, are an old style open back. It has a very simple rosette inlay. The label is in Spanish and reads made in Japan ??



 

In The Process

I set up some clamps and blocks to try to force the neck dove-tail joint apart. After some time I managed to figure out that it doesn't have a dovetail joint - it was held on by wooden dowels. So I was pressing in the wrong direction. When I put force in the correct direction, the 39 year old joint came off without much effort

Rather than just glue it back with new dowels. I removed a couple of dowels and replaced them with threaded inserts. I drilled the other dowel hole all the way through the headblock so I could use bolts to draw it together. This is similar to how newer Taylor necks are joined.  This will be  much stronger than the original joint.



 

 

 

 


Simon and Patrick SP-6 Cedar

Before Photos

Simon & Patrick SP6 is a Canadian guitar made using great Canadian woods, including a cedar top. Unfortunately, this guitar shows what can happen when you are running between worship sets and your gig-bag zipper doesn't zip all of the way closed. This guitar slid out onto the pavement. Although it was only a short fall, it cracked and busted the top, rendering the guitar unplayable.

I'm considering taking super-glue to the zipper on my bags so that they will only open about 75% of the way and the guitar will have to be slid out at the top. That way it COULD NEVER slide out the bottom.

As you can see, there are several cracks and a chunk of wood missing.

 




 

 

In The Process

First I glued everything back in place and glued the cracks closed and tight. I am planning to patch-in a new piece of cedar. I was worried about the strength in that area since it is so close to the bridge, so I added a new brace that will cross the area with the cracks.
I made a new brace and installed it with a clamp on the end with the hole and pieces of wood wedged inside (there is a pic taken from inside the guitar).
While I was waiting for the glue to dry, I also reglued the bridge as it had lifted slightly in one corner.

Once the brace was set, I removed the pick guard and sanded the top so I could try to match the color and grain with the patch. I obtained a piece of quarter-sawn cedar to try the patch. The color is close, but the grain on the original top is much tighter. I am currently trying to get some cedar scraps in hopes of finding a closer match.






 
 





I received an assortment of rough cedar soundboard pieces from Larry at Valley Wood Luthier In British Columbia. You can check out his guitar tops at his Ebay Store   Thanks Larry!

I tried several pieces, but this top is proving to be really tough to match. I am now trying to come up with an design that I can cover the area using wood inlay.

Before I tried a wood inlay to cover the patch, I replaced the badly worn rosette with a new rosewood and Paua abalone inlay.




 


The inlay to cover the patch was very time-consuming and detailed work. Each inlay took several hours. I used two different types of wood, including a highly figured walnut. One inlay wasn't enough

 

It is ReBorn!
I have spent more time on this guitar (many, many hours) than on any other guitar. It now has a new and unique look and it plays and sounds as good as any guitar I own....and it has so much custom work that it will stand out from the crowd.

The headstock has a Paua abalone inlay to match the rosette.

You can see the rosewood, walnut and ribbon sapele inlays.

I have installed a Fishman Classic 4T pickup with piezo and mic blend so it can be used on stage for worship.
 

It is ready to worship again!

 





 


Art and Lutherie Cedar

 

Before Photos

This is a great older guitar from Canada and is made from Canadian woods. This was a serious player's guitar. I have never seen fret grooves as deep as on this guitar's well used neck. It has certainly had a rough life...the top is cracked and worn and the bridge is peeling off.
Someone hacked in a undersaddle piezo pickup with an end-pin jack. It was an off-brand, but at least the cut is in a good place. I should be able to add a new pre-amp in the same location and cut out the old hole.



 


 

 

 

 

In The Process

The end-pin jack was an odd type that was pressed in and had no nut to secure it. I could not get it to pull out, so I ended up cutting it with a hacksaw.
Most guitar work should really be called "Creative Clamping". It usually take some clever clamping to get a bridge back down.
I opened the crack as much as I could by pressing down from the top and then forced in some glue. I cut a small piece of wood to wedge in the inside to close the crack. It took a little positioning and manipulation. but it closed tight









 
 

With the crack repaired and the top sanded, the painted-on sound-hole rosette was removed during the process.  I inlayed a new rosewood and mother-of-pear rosette.

I removed the damaged pickup and replaced it with a Fishman Classic 4-T. This is a nice pickup and the new 4-T has a built-in tuner. The original pickup had a very thin piezo, so I had to remove a small amount of material from the saddle.









 


 
When I got the instrument completed, it sounded ok, but it just didn't seem to have the midrange punch that I had expected. I took the strings off and inspected the bridge reinforcement inside the guitar. It is difficult to see, but it was badly worn and I didn't think the string ball-ends were seating properly. So, I created a home-made bridge plate.

I bought a piece of 1/2"x8" brass strap from OSH for $5.00
I cut it to the proper length, drilled holes corresponding to the bridge pins, then cut a small notch with a file. I installed it with some epoxy, using a couple of pins to line it up.

Wow - What a difference in sound!




 


 
 

It is ReBorn!
This was another project that took many hours, but it has been worth all of the effort. The guitar sounds great and plays well. The finish is much nicer, but still has the rugged old guitar look.
 

I finished it with the Reborn Guitars cross headstock and the sticker inside.

 

 



 

 

 


Orpheus Archtop

 

Before Photos

This is a vintage archtop, probably from the 50's-60's. I don't know much about Orpheus. The guitar was given to me by Pastor John at Temple Baptist Church in Sacramento. It has neck issues, electronic problems, badly worn fretboard and the tuners are shot.

The neck joint and back have separated so the action is too high to even play.



 

 

 



 

 

In The Process

I am trying a cheap way to fix the neck joint. I removed all of the hardware and set it up on the bench so that I could close the neck problems with clamps. I drilled a hole in the heel so that I can temporarily use a screw to pull the neck into the neck block. I used a short piece of old guitar string to force glue into the joints. Then I tightened up the clamps and the new screw in the neck. Once I see that everything will hold, I will replace the screw with a wooden dowel and sand it to the same contours as the heel.

 

 

 

 


Ukuleles!

I just bought 7 (yes, seven!) vintage ukuleles. They are Biltmore, Kay, Harmony (2), Rex and a campfire and banjo. Several of them are from the 1920's. It looks kind of cool in my shop - like the guitars had babies!

 

They all need quite a bit of work - cracks, missing bridges, bad tuners, bad necks, and loose tops and backs. I don't know much about them, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. Surely there is a Christian musician out there that is just panting to learn ukulele :)

I've been working on these ukes as I have time. It has been fun to learn more about these great little instruments.

 
















 
 

Several of the ukuleles required that the top, back, and neck be removed. I would re-glue the braces and then re-attach the top and back, and re-set the neck. It's kind of a long process in waiting for the glue to dry in each step. While I was waiting I would build new kerfing, bridges, etc. 

 





 

 

 
They Are ReBorn!

Several of the ukes are already gone and the rest are completed, just waiting arrival of a case of new strings. I managed to get every last one repaired and playable. I'm happy that these
50-90 year old instruments will soon be back in the hands of musicians.

 

 



 




I am predicting that Ukulele is going to be the hip instrument for 2012!!!
There is a Ukulele Chord chart at left, so click it and get started!!

Want to hear how cool these sound?

Listen to Francesca-Battistelli

This is the Stuff


Ibanez Lancaster

My friend Scott Miller brought over an Ibanez Lancaster that he had for a while, but never played much. He said it just didn't sound good. I looked it over and discovered that the bridge saddle was in pieces, the first few frets were worn and the action was generally bad.  The bridge was plastic and was a fairly complicated compensated design. I decided to build a new one from a camel bone blank. I glued the original back together to use as a pattern and roughly sketched it on the blank.
I used a belt sander to rough-shape the blank and then used a fine bastard file to finish it. You can see that the saddle has 4 different intonation compensation areas. I created these on the new blank using a file.
The real trick is to get the intonation and action correct. I went ahead and strung the instrument and brought all strings to pitch. Here, I can measure the string height and check the intonation. Using a digital tuner, I check the note of each string at the 12th fret. It should be the same at the 12th fret as the open string. If it is flat, I change the angle slightly with a file to make the nut-to-saddle length shorter, and the reverse for sharp strings. I use a capo to hold the strings while I loosen the machines and remove the bridge pins. It may take a few iterations to get it perfect. Then, the last thing I do is remove material from the bottom of the saddle to obtain correct string height and get a nice, playable action. When Scott picked up his guitar, he couldn't believe it was the same instrument. A new bone saddle, freshly leveled fretboard and re-crowned frets with final action adjustment made all the difference!

1930's Maxitone Banjo Ukulele

I bought this old banjo uke in Lebanon TN for $20. It is a Maxitone with a Gumby headstock. These models were available in Nickel, Brass and Aluminum. This one is solid brass with a copper flange. As you can see, someone painted it with white house paint.   The original fret dot markers were missing, so In installed new mother-of-pearl markers that I purchased from Depaule Supply. These are easy to install with a small drill.    
   
Here you can see the cool "Gumby" headstock and old friction tuners. The goat-skin head was dirty, but still useable. The nickel hardware was tarnished but still usuable.

 

  I leveled the frets, re-crowned them and finished the fretboard with oil.  
The back of the head had some writing from by-gone days. It had apparently been owned at one time or another by Jos Rogers Jr. and later by Fred ?? James, Oakwood Street, Detroit Michigan.

 

  The bridge was missing so I made a replacement from pieces of scrap.  
I used furniture grade paint remover to help dissolve the heavy coat of white paint, but that just revealed a thinner coat of red paint. Sand paper and elbow grease removed the remaining paint.

 

  I cleaned up the nickel on the tuners and was able to make them all work. It would look like a new instrument with a new head, but I really wanted to keep the old head and the history written on the inside.  

  

I used a 400 grit aluminum oxide media in my sand blast cabinet to get the paint off the brass body and copper ring.   I am very happy with my $20 antique store find! It took about 8 hrs of shop work and a couple of hrs on the computer to make this happen.   
    

 

 

Ovation Celebrity

 
I have worked on several Ovation Celebrities. I think this is one of the nicest guitars on the market in their cost class. It is difficult for me to inlay a cross on the gloss black headstock, so I have been putting them on the 5th fret. The celebrity has small dot markers, so the cross is slightly wider and completely fills the dot's divot.

I leveled the fretboard and recrowned the frets. I'm glad I went through this step as there were a couple of high frets. This makes the difference in a guitar that plays good and one that plays great!

 

 

The Celebrity is a pretty guitar with nice electronics and a built-in tuner.

The upscale models like the
CC 24, has leaf overlays and multiple small sound holes. I restored this one for my wife. When I bought it, it had a huge gouge from the top down past the bridge, ending with a hole completely through the top. I patched the hole and made some overlays that matched the others to cover the scrape and repair. It saved the guitar and gave it a one-off look.

       
       
       

 

Tanglewood 12-string

 
When I purchased this guitar, it had a cracked top, bad neck angle and no tuners. The crack was an easy fix, but the repair was visible and rather ugly. Typically I cover ugly cracks with a wood veneer inlay. My arm will not fit into a soundhole,
so I made this tool to help reach the
output jack to the back of the guitar
and hold it while I tighten the nut.
On this guitar, I decided to try covering the cracks with a 24K gold leaf. It's my first attempt and has been a learning process. I got the tuning machines
installed and the lengthy process of stringing a 12-string. Just one final bench check before playing.
The guitar had no electronics, so I installed a pre-amp with piezo pickup. It has a 4 band EQ and built-in tuner. The first step is to make a trustworthy cut pattern. The finished guitar is nice. The gold
is unique and makes this instrument
a one-of-a-kind.
I match the curve of the pick-up body to the curve on the lower bout. I scratch the cut line with an Exacto blade. Close up of body
With a good visible line, it is pretty easy to cut with a Dremel. I then reinforce the inside with thin strips of hardwood. This also gives extra wood for a good bite with the screws that hold the unit in place. Close up of Gold leaf.
Here is the finished unit. I had hoped that when I installed the piezo beneath the saddle, it would raise the saddle just high enough to correct the neck angle. It worked perfectly.  Normally I have to remove material from the saddle. I used Taylor tuning machines.
The cross is sterling silver leaf.

You can hear a short bit of music
on this guitar at my
Reborn Guitars Facebook page.
 

I'm not much of a player, so don't laugh.


 

Vintage Art and Lutherie, Cedar

 
This is my favorite kind of project -The guitar is not playable and if I don't repair it, it's destined as junk. The wood inlays were a little rough in keeping with the flavor of the old guitar.
The guitar had many problems - holes in the top, rosette missing, buckled top, bridge pulling off, worn frets, no tuners, no nut or saddle. I added new tuners and a cross inlay on the headstock.
I repaired the top and added a new rosewood/Mother of pearl rosette. I leveled the fretboard and redressed the frets, added a new nut and saddle and Fishman electronics.
I covered the ugly repairs with some wood inlays. The project turned out a nice, one-of-a-kind guitar that sounds and plays great.
I clamped the top for about a month to flatten the bulge. Then I re-attached the bridge. I also installed a Bridge Doctor to help keep it flat. I took the guitar with me for 10 days of traveling around Louisiana. I left the guitar in Louisiana with Mrs. Lisa Sonnier at Bayou Cabins. That area is the heart of Cajun music and she will find someone that needs it and give it to them.

Click here to listen to Sam Broussard, guitar player for Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, playing my favorite Cajun tune, Jole Blon on this guitar.

       

 

Washburn D-30S

 
This beautiful guitar got stepped on while it was in a soft padded case. It resulted in a severely cracked top.  Most of the damage was in the bottom of the upper bout, but one cracked extended all the way to the front near the neck joint. To cover the repair, I added 24k gold leaf. First I taped off the design, then added the glue (called size) and let it sit several ours to become tacky. I placed the gold leaf in pieces until the entire area was covered. The leaf only sticks where there is glue and the rest just brushes off.
The cracks could be opened up by applying pressure from the inside out, so it would be easy to get glue into the right spot. Close-up of the gold leaf.
One of the cracks had lost a small sliver of wood. I added an onboard Fishman Presys preamp and pickup. I have used this one a lot. It has a great sound and a built-in tuner.
I cut some pieces of wood to wedge between the bottom and top braces on the inside. This gave somethiung to clamp against when I clamped the top. The weights on the side helped keep the guitar flat during the process. I didn't like the hard edge of my gold design, so I ended up sprinkling on some additional gold flakes.
 

After I removed the clamps, I sanded some of the roughness away, then filled in a small area with epoxy. Since I wasn't sure how strong the top would be, I added a bridge anchor that I build in the shop similar to a Bridge Doctor system.

The finished guitar looks really nice and I was surprised at how great it sounded, both acoustic and through an amp. I did a lot of work to the fretboard, nut and saddle and the action is perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

   
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