Stay in Tune vol #75
By Luthier Patrick Podpadec
We have come to mile stone in the writing of articles for the Voice magazine. This article marks the 75th piece that I has been published . I Thank the staff and owners of the Voice for allowing me the opportunity to share my musical muse through all of these years and for having the patience when I have not always been on the mark with the deadline. It is an honor for me to write and share my experiences from my shop. It seems to give me a better understanding of the process of repairs once I have tried to explain the procedures to someone by writing them down. By having to visualize the process in my mind, step by step to be able to explain in “laymen” terms it helps me to understand it even better myself. I can only hope that it makes sense to the reader too!
I have also been lucky to have some good friends that have been kind enough and patient enough to let me restore some of their “special “ instruments. This brings me to my good friend Mr. Bob Yocum. Many of you in the local area of this magazine's distribution may have heard of Bob. He is sort of a musical icon having played in many bands for the past 30 yrs or better. He is known by many as a fiddle player for his many years of playing in bluegrass bands, but he is truly a gifted guitar player and a excellent songwriter. He has recently teamed up with his new bride Mrs Lenora Yocum, in a duo known as “Spoon to Soon”. If you get a chance to see or hear them play please don't miss the opportunity. It will sure to be pleasurable experience. This latest musical endeavor has given Bob a chance to try out some of his songs out on the public ear. I'm glad to see that Bob's songwriting abilities, along with Lenora's sweet harmonies are being heard by many in the local area. And in my opinion is long over due.
Getting back to guitar repair, this story brings me back to when Bob had picked up a very old and very cool 1933 Zorzi style Kay Kraft guitar. For more pictures, information and a good example of this guitar can be seen by copying this web page http://www.vintageinstruments.com/museum/kaykraftdluxvenetianfulpage.html .
It was in very humble shape with a twisted neck along with a few other major problems such as a broken neck, a very twisted fingerboard with a few missing pearl inlays, a few cracks in the top, a sunken neck block and most of the very intricate “rope style” binding either fallen off or completely gone . Lucky we were able to retrieve most of it. Many yrs ago someone had taken a knife or some sort of sharp object and carved the words “ The Puppet Song” into the top of this beautiful instrument. It's not real deep, but deep enough that it would be very difficult to remove it without a major refinishing process. So it has been decided that it will be left alone so that everyone that sees it in the future can ask “What the #*^&*% was the person thinking when they did that?”
Well after many yrs ( about 7 to be exact, again I thank Bob for his patience! ) This instrument is finally coming to fruition. I had decided to discard the old twisted fingerboard and to start with a new high grade piece of Madagascar Ebony to create a new fingerboard. After carefully measuring and copying the inlays and removing all of the delicate rope purfling pieces which had broken into many 1 to 2 and 3 inch strips, I begun to rebuild a new fingerboard. Of course the new one will be much better and stronger than the old one which was a piece of maple, died black to look like ebony. It never had the strength to hold up to the years of humidity changes that it had been subjected to. I don't foresee the the new ebony piece succumbing to the same fate as the old maple fingerboard. After I reglued a nasty crack in the neck near the headstock, I will need to due a bit of refinish work to the glued area to shade in with a dark brown toner so that the repair becomes invisible. After I reattach the new fingerboard to the neck I will have to also refinish the edges of the binding/purfling on the fingerboard with a antique amber finish to match the original look that the body has taken on after it's many yrs of patina. (The yellowing of a finish after many yrs)
I find it very fun and very educational to do this kind of work for people. Again I'm lucky that my friends and customers bring me these type of projects.( not all of them take this long!) I keep telling Bob that it is worth the wait. In twenty yrs from now it will feel like a “blink of the eye”.
Well this brings us to close for this week's addition of “Stay in Tune” and I hope you come back to visit the next 75 issues that I plan to write
Patrick from Wood-n-Strings / Liam Guitars