Stay in Tune
By Luthier Patrick Podpadec
In the last issue I talked about how the weather played havoc on guitar necks and how many of them may be needing truss rod adjustments. Well, the weather hasn't been much better lately with temperatures in the 90's and humidity levels in the high 80's. All I can say is try to stay cool and use your better judgment about playing outside .I'm not saying to avoid playing music outside in these temps, but just to be careful about leaving any instrument lying in the hot sun for any length of time. Especially in the car
I thought I would tell you about a few of my latest weekly repairs. I've been lucky to have had a good friend of mine, Jerry Tyler, bring in his guitar for an overall. It seems as though all of the years of hard rock-n-roll has taken it's toll on the electronics in his G&L strat style Legacy guitar. After looking at all of the past repairs that were done and the shape that the pots and switches were in we decided that it would be best to just replace the pickups and switches, pots an wiring . I have shielded the whole guitar and replaced everything with top of the line parts. I'm always glad when a player decides that his guitar is worth an over haul. The rest of the guitar is in very good shape besides a good fret leveling and fine tune adjustments. I can't wait to put it all back together and see the expression on Jerry's face when he plays his “new” guitar. After years of playing the pots were worn out and the one tone control just kept going around and around. The switch was worn out and didn't feel very true. I replaced it with a very high end German made switch and there is a world of difference in the feel of it. He was complaining about having the pickups making a humming noise .This could have been due to the few different guitar techs having a shot at it and somewhere along the line the shielding had been compromised. This I why I decide to start from scratch instead of trying to trace down a faulty ground. I could have chalked up more time just trying to find the problem in the many old solder joints than it would take me to wire the whole thing with all new parts and shielding. I'll let you know in the next issue how it all came out.
Another guitar that came into my shop was a beautiful older Guild G-37. It is a dreadnaught shape with a laminated arched back. I've always been impressed how well the backs retain their shape without having any bracing attached . I have played a few of these types of guitars through the years and all of them have produced very good tone. This particular one is with maple back and sides. It came in to have the nut replaced because the old one was cracked and needed to be addressed. There was also some excessive wear on the frets that I was able to file out. After a good fret crowning and fingerboard dressing it will play like it was new again.
I also picked up a inexpensive (I hate to say cheap) electric mandolin that the top had severely caved in. It was no surprise because the magnetic pickup was placed right below where the fingerboard ends and the manufacturer had cut the hole right through the main X bracing. This left absolutely no support for the top. With the string tension on it the top had sunken dramatically. My vision is to remove the back and replace the x-bracing by widening the angle of the braces so that they are located on either side of the pickup hole and add a transverse bar (a brace that connects the two main X braces) . I will try to place this right under the hole where the pickup lies. After this is completed, I will replace the back and rebind it and touch up the finish work and be done. This sounds like a lot of work for a 125.00 mandolin. Believe me it is. This type of repair could easily run up to 250 to 300.00 dollars. Some would say it is not worth it, but considering that I was given the instrument and I just could not bear to see the thing go in the trash can, I felt it was worth the experience that I will gain to perform the repair. As you can see now, being a repairman has this “thing” that comes with it . It seems that everything I see that is broken I have to fix it. Some call it a curse. Oh well, I guess it could be worse. So with that in mind if you have any old instruments that are laying around and you think they are beyond repair, please think again and don't be afraid to give me a call. Many times I can repair them at a far lower price than imagined or maybe we can trade them in for other things too! Either way, please call me with your repair needs 440 474-2141
Patrick @ Wood-n-Strings/ Liam Guitars