Stay in Tune
By Luthier Patrick Podadec
For those of you that know me , know that my wife, son and myself are into animals . Dogs in particular. We have recently been blessed with a new addition to are family. He is a Mastif pup that we got from a rescue organization in Cleveland. He has turned out to be a special gift that we are so proud to have come our way. We have raised large breed dogs for many yrs, so this new guy fits right in.
Speaking of gifts, I will be offering (like I do every year) a great gift certificate ,valued at $79.95 for only $50.00 . This certificate is for a full setup repair, which includes a fret leveling and crowning along with all of the adjustments and a new set of strings to make any guitar play as good as it can. I have many customers that are overjoyed with their instrument after this setup is performed. It even makes them want to play their guitar more. So if your thinking of the perfect gift to give to your favorite musician this could be the one.
The guitars are still steadily coming into my shop to be repaired. This last week I have gotten to adjust and tune a new autoharp . This is an instrument that has fallen by the wayside in the last 30 or 40 years. Rosanne Carter made it popular in the late50's . It is a fairly simple instrument to play and it has 26 strings chromatically tuned and is played by pressing individual buttons to produce the appropriate chords . It is primarily used as an accompaniment instrument to sing along with. It's a bit difficult (but not impossible) to play a melody line on it. I think that some of the reasons that it fell out of favor with musicians is that it can be very time consuming to get it to play in tune. When just a few of the strings are a bit flat or sharp it can sound pretty bad. With the invention of the portable tuners that are available today, it is much easier to tune than it was a few yrs ago. I always get great pleasure when I see someone performing with one. When they are in tune they have a beautiful “harpsichord” sound that is unique only to a autoharp. (or a harpsichord of course)
Another gem that came into my shop was a 1959 Fender DouSonic electric guitar. Just the fact that it is still around is amazing by itself. I don't get the opportunity to see pre 1960 Fenders too often. It's got this unique color called Desert Sand. Apparently this was a common color for the duosonic before 1960. After 1960 the more common colors were Dahpne Blue and sunbursts. I even read on a vintage guitar website that underneath some of the sunburst finishes you can find that some of the duosonic guitars still had the desert sand color on them.
It came to me to have the nut replaced (missing) and a fret leveling and fingerboard cleaning . This particular instrument is in great shape, only possessing the average wear that an instrument would have after being played for 50 yrs. I replaced it with a bone nut to capture as much of that “warm fuzzy feeling” that older Fenders naturally produce. I'm not sure of the value, but most of the pre 60's Fenders I see list for over 10,000 dollars. (I wish it were mine)
The next guitar that came to me is a mid 90's Tele copy from either Japan or Korea. The cool thing about it is that it has a thru the neck body style and has two humbucker pickups instead of the single coils that were on the original Telecasters. The main difference in these instruments that are produced in Asia is that they generally don't put in very good electronics in them. This guitar had some very noisy (scratchy sounding) pots in it. I replaced them with some quality pots and “Wa La!” the noise went away. Most of the time these type of guitars are pretty well built. ( I'm careful when I say most of the time) The main problem is usually the electronics.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about guitars on ebay. Well I couldn't resist this old archtop that I saw, so I had to buy it. I knew going into it that this guitar had some issues, but I kind of let my”nostalgia gene” take over my better judgment. When it arrived I examined it and found it had all of the issues (and more) than I thought it should have. One thing in particular was that it had a piece of leather that was glued on to the bass side bout and a little piece on the top, nicely cut around the f hole. I thought originally (wishful thinking) that it was to somehow reduce the wear factor on the guitar do to the constant contact of the players right forearm. Well I was wrong!. It was there to hide a horrible repair that was done to the side that had been cracked pretty bad (still repairable though).The piece on the top was just hiding the finish that was worn off because of excessive playing. That was o.k. As far as I was concerned. Over all the guitar is a solid well built archtop with a lot of potential. It needs to have the neck reset, the frets replaced and the side crack repaired. Along with a crack (more of a separation of the seam) on the back that needs to be addressed. The guitar in general has all kinds of “Mo Jo” emanating from it. You got to love that part. I do think that it has the potential to be one of those great sounding archtops. It looks as though I'm gonna have to put this one away for a later date before I can find the time to fix all of it's issues. Well as always I bid you all a fair well and please keep that thing in tune!
Patrick from Liam Guitars