Other Guitars

My heart skipped a beat yesterday at the luthier’s….

1

After lots of hesitation, I took my PRS McCarty into the shop yesterday for a set up, fret work, and to replace the old graphite nut with a bone one. I got a black buffalo horn nut blank from his stock and that will be it. It's the same color as the old one and that was a major consideration, I didn't want a white nut on that guitar.

Anyway, as we are talking about the guitar, how I wanted it set up, etc., He is removing the strings, he takes off the truss cover and then without warning, uses a rubber hammer and with one stroke, off comes the nut. I was like a doctor that has to work on his own kid... It came off effortlessly and left a super clean slot. But don't do that stuff in front of me..

2

It's scary how fast those guys have to work to make a bare-bones living. If he was comfortable doing that in front of you he must feel pretty confidant.

3

Just like when the Doctor misdirects your attention then resets a dislocated joint or broken bone...

4

Check this dude ...some guys are scary good at this stuff

5

Check this dude ...some guys are scary good at this stuff

– DCBirdMan

wow ! he made that seem like there was nothing to it.

6

After lots of hesitation, I took my PRS McCarty into the shop yesterday for a set up, fret work, and to replace the old graphite nut with a bone one. I got a black buffalo horn nut blank from his stock and that will be it. It's the same color as the old one and that was a major consideration, I didn't want a white nut on that guitar.

Anyway, as we are talking about the guitar, how I wanted it set up, etc., He is removing the strings, he takes off the truss cover and then without warning, uses a rubber hammer and with one stroke, off comes the nut. I was like a doctor that has to work on his own kid... It came off effortlessly and left a super clean slot. But don't do that stuff in front of me..

– Parralax View

I agree. I have a very good tech here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area that I take my guitars to. he's so busy. I usually just leave my guitar(s) with him. I'm sure I wouldn't want to see the things that he has to do to work on my guitars either.

7

That is just totally amazing. As to the super glue, I'd have to hear that from Curt before I'd believe that was the best option. Thanks for sharing that.

8

Your story reminds me of the time I took my White Falcon into the shop when it had developed a bit of fret buzz. He determined that a fret had worked its way out a bit. He grabbed a hammer, looked at me and said, "You might not want to watch this" and smiled. Then proceeded to fix the problem.

My Falcon has played great ever since. But I will never forget the look on his face as he raised the hammer and the lump in my throat as he struck the blow.

9

Nice straightforward project. The crowning touches were having the new binding looking the same color as the original and the checking on the finish. This cutaway probably adds a few shekels to the value.

10

A couple of weeks ago I got a new old watch. About 90 years old, solid 18k gold (which is soft), with an unusual case with no lip or latch to open. You have to either pry it open with a blade, which is fine if done very carefully, otherwise it will warp or gouge, or do what I'd been doing, which is use my fingernails to avoid any possibility of damage. And due to it's peculiar design, closing it is even trickier. I took it to a shop only really wanting to have it degaussed to see if that might be a quick and easy fix for it running massively fast. Instead of just doing what I asked, the guy at the counter gets out his blade, pries it open, pops out the movement. Then he closes it after a remarking how it doesn't want to line up. The whole time, I'm politely saying that I just wanted it degaussed, and offering to close it myself. Then hands it to the mostly retired actual watchmaker who has to be in his 90s. He again does the same. At this point, I give up and just let him inspect it and do his thing. It had a drop of oil in the hairspring, degaussing wouldn't fix it. These guys knew what they were doing, but it was still quite nerve racking, especially when I wasn't asking for or expecting it to be handled that way.

11

It takes a lot of hand control to keep a dremel tool from slipping away to cut properly like that; that's guitar surgery.

12

Nice straightforward project. The crowning touches were having the new binding looking the same color as the original and the checking on the finish. This cutaway probably adds a few shekels to the value.

– Windsordave

To an old vintage Gibson purist like me, not sure I can agree that it "adds value".

Although he said the guitar already had issues, he didn't say what those were (how much the guitar was already devalued by damage or modification). The guitar looked pretty original and clean and correct to me. Sure, it's not a high-end model, but it would (and should) still have a certain amount of vintage value- especially if that P90 was original. There are people who still seek those 150's and 125's.

He said something to the effect that this cutaway would "go right past" a lot of people. Well, putting a florentine cutaway on a guitar like that is not going to fool anybody who knows vintage Gibson guitars. Other than the ES-175, there were no florentine-cut full depth electric Gibsons back when that guitar was made.

I hope nobody brings a non-cut D'Angelico to this guy, saying that they "need" a cutaway. Sorry, I just don't like it.

13

Some years ago, I had a friend bring me his early '50s Fender Esquire to look at the pickup and its high string action.

As we were talking, I looked over the guitar and noted that the truss rod was cranked pretty tight and the neck relief was extremely high and that it needed a neck shim to correct the neck angle. Being an early Fender, the neck was going to have to come off to access the truss rod adjustment and install the shim. Also that I was going to have to get into the electronics to figure out why there was no output from the pickup.

He went to use the restroom, and while he was gone, I got to work: strings off, neck off, bridge off, control panel off, jack cup out. About that time, he came back and absolutely freaked. "You've destroyed my guitar!" In the 60 minutes it took me to do the work, he still hadn't calmed down. It wasn't until I handed him a perfectly set-up Esquire with a new jack installed that he finally got it.

Since then, I prefer not to work on people's guitars in front of them. If I do, I explain completely what I'm going to do before I do it.

Depending on whom you believe, it was either Otto von Bismarck or Mark Twain who said: "People who like sausage and believe in the law should never watch either being made".

The same goes for guitar repair. If you've never done it yourself, you probably don't want to watch.

Incidentally, forty years of working on guitars has taught me that super-glue should never, ever be used on a guitar*. You'll find plenty of YouTube videos and web pages that say different, and probably more than a few here who would say different, but I cringe every time I see it, thinking about the next person who has to work on that guitar.

  • The "super-glue and bone dust (or baking soda)" nut slot repair being a possible exception.
14

That was completely captivating. They should have a channel devoted to guitar making, repairs, and restoration. I'd watch it for hours on end while my wife watches HGTV.

15

Yeah If you thought someone knocking the bone nut off with a mallet was frightening you should watch someone refretting your guitar with a fretting hammer. When I worked at Larrivee they could do a guitar in minutes and you see these hammers swinging up into the air BANG BANG BANG pounding the frets in. I can't really see how that guiatr is really beat and has so much damage as to have 'no value' though. Looks like most old guitars unless they've never been played.

16

Depending on whom you believe, it was either Otto von Bismarck or Mark Twain who said: "People who like sausage and believe in the law should never watch either being made".

I always thought Bismarck and had never heard the Twain attribution. According to Wikipedia, it was neither. Rather, John Godfey Saxe, an American poet.

17

At Larrivee we used Super glue to fill finish imperfections all the time when we were buffing. It's all we used! But I can see not wanting to use it for assembly. It's kind of brittle too.

18

Depending on whom you believe, it was either Otto von Bismarck or Mark Twain who said: "People who like sausage and believe in the law should never watch either being made".

I always thought Bismarck and had never heard the Twain attribution. According to Wikipedia, it was neither. Rather, John Godfey Saxe, an American poet.

– Afire

When I was in college, I heard several variations of the quote. The Political Science and History professors usually attributed it to Bismarck, and the Literature professors usually attributed it to Twain.

Thanks, it's nice to have an actual attribution for that. I also like John Godfrey Saxe's version better:

"Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made."

They just don't build sentences like that anymore.

19

At Larrivee we used Super glue to fill finish imperfections all the time when we were buffing. It's all we used! But I can see not wanting to use it for assembly. It's kind of brittle too.

– Toxophilite

The problem is that it's brittle when you need it not to be and is not brittle when you need it to be. Anyone who has ever tried to remove a nut from a guitar that was installed by slathering it with super glue knows the damage it can do.

The problem is that people will use it for just anything on a guitar:

Tuner seems like it's slipping? Pump it full of super glue!

Control pot loose? Pump it full of super glue!

Strap button screw loose? Pump it full of super glue!

Floating bridge base moving around? Stick that sucker down with super glue!

That's just the tip of the iceberg of cyanoacrylate-related horrors I've seen, and the source of my earlier statement.

20

When I was in college, I heard several variations of the quote. The Political Science and History professors usually attributed it to Bismarck, and the Literature professors usually attributed it to Twain.

Thanks, it's nice to have an actual attribution for that. I also like John Godfrey Saxe's version better:

"Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made."

They just don't build sentences like that anymore.

– Timthom62

I can't tell y'all how much I love --love!-- the literary quotient of the folks here.

21

The problem is that it's brittle when you need it not to be and is not brittle when you need it to be. Anyone who has ever tried to remove a nut from a guitar that was installed by slathering it with super glue knows the damage it can do.

The problem is that people will use it for just anything on a guitar:

Tuner seems like it's slipping? Pump it full of super glue!

Control pot loose? Pump it full of super glue!

Strap button screw loose? Pump it full of super glue!

Floating bridge base moving around? Stick that sucker down with super glue!

That's just the tip of the iceberg of cyanoacrylate-related horrors I've seen, and the source of my earlier statement.

– Timthom62

Man, I've had that issue with superglued cheap plastic nuts! I bought a custom neck off of eBay from a guy in Brooklyn for my Jazzmaster. He made it to my specs; .85" deep at the first fret, C shape, 24.75" scale, tung oil finish, skunk stripe, everything was great! When I tried to pop out the nut he put on there it was superglued. I went from thrilled to bummed in one second. I eventually got it out but it was a hassle and a half.

23

I can't tell y'all how much I love --love!-- the literary quotient of the folks here.

– lx

Well, you have to admit that the Saxe quote is just one darned fine sentence. Not like those flimsy sentences they throw up these days that won't even stand up to a good reading without coming crashing down in a jumble of dangling participles, leaving a trail of stranded prepositions and orphaned dependent clauses in their wake.

No sir, Mr. Saxe was a craftsman who would never stand for such shoddy work, you can discern this in just that one sentence. It is a sentence meant to be read and savored, and built to last. It is the grammatical equivalent of one of the pyramids.

24

While that new cutaway is a work art in the work itself, I'm not certain I would do that to a guitar that doesn't have a Florentine cutaway. I have one that does, an Alvarez and more than one tech has told me that it contributes to the loss of volume and tone that I experience with that acoustic guitar.

As to the super glue, I had a fairly large "Budweiseritis" ding on the bottom bout. He made it absolutely invisible with the super glue drop method. However, all I could envision was superglue dripping down the side of the guitar.. That one, I didn't witness...

25

I gotta agree with Jim up there. Yes, it was a "budget" guitar from the 50/60's, but it didn't need a cut-a-way. I found it almost sacrilegious watching it. Yeah, it was well done. yeah, it looked nice when finished, but it was just SO WRONG to do.


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