Stay in Tune vol# 113
By Luthier Patrick Podpadec
The weather is finally starting to cooperate a little bit. I actually took off my shirt the other day to suck in a few of those beautiful sun rays that have been non existent for so long. It felt great! It still seems to be a little chilly in the evenings but my wife & I sat outside the other night around a fire and it was just fine. We are looking forward to planting the garden and more grass seed this year.
For years I have been lucky enough to have a good friend in the sign business. My friend Peggy has helped me so many times with making signs for different events . I'm sad to say she has decided to sell her business, but luckily I was able to have her make me a few last signs. I want to publicly say Thank You Peggy! for all that she has done for me in the past and to honor our long lasting friendship. She is a very dear friend indeed!
I have been working hard on a new "yard art" sculpture of a huge guitar. We recently had a very large maple tree taken down at our house and I have had a special mill brought in to cut a large "slab" of wood from it (47" wide by 9" thick by 8' long) I'm going to cut a large guitar out of it and mount it on the existing stump that remains in the yard. (I hope you should be able to see it from space.) I'm looking forward to having it put up and having my new sign put up around it. I don't think people will have a hard time finding my business any more.
As the spring moves forward so does my aspirations for all of the new things that I have planned for my shop . I hope to have some new helpers and start organizing my work schedules much better to accommodate the flow of repairs that keep streaming in. This week I have to replace a bridge that has fallen off of a classical guitar, touch up some finish on a few mandolins and set them up as well. I have two beautiful 1956 Gibson ES 175's in the shop right now. One is a "natural blonde" one and the other one has a gorgeous sunburst finish. There is also a newer Martin with the laminated back & sides that has had a piece of the lamination ripped off on the back. I have had more than a few of these Martins in my shop for repairs. The common problem seems to be that the lamination ( reminds me of Pergo flooring) comes loose from the kerfing. I believe the type of glue that is being used does not adhere well to the "plastic" finish of the lamination. I have used a two part epoxy ( which I don't always like using on guitars) to re glue the problem areas and have had good success with the repairs. Again, I don't like using epoxies because to reverse or take apart the repairs become extremely difficult.
There is also another guitar in the shop with a broken headstock. The owner said he opened his guitar case after several months of not playing it and "low and behold" the guitar headstock had snapped right off of the neck. That is a little bit unusual, but having seen the grain orientation of the neck I could see how it was possible. It's very important to have the grain of the wood not to "run out" in the area of where the headstock meets the neck. It is very thin due to the truss rod being cut out and can be a troublesome area. This is the reason that I have chosen to laminate my necks. The process of gluing up 3 or 5 pieces of wood strengthens' the neck so there is very little chance of it cracking in this area. Of course with a direct blow to the headstock with string tension reaching around 200 lbs . anything can happen, but your chances of a problem occurring are reduced. One repair that has been giving me a bit of a run for my money is a cello with a two cracks in the side upper bout. It was like someone had punched a hole in the side but it didn't go all the way through . The problem is trying to get a backer cleat for the cracks inside the small "F " holes. I am doing everything I can not to have to remove the back off of the instrument. this would potentially cause more problems that I prefer not to deal with. So far I have been able to get one of the cracks stabilized, but the other one is very close to the ribbing that holds the top on. This makes it difficult to align the crack properly. I have to customize a cleat with a " offset shelf" to accommodate the ribbing to be able to align the crack. It's not impossible just very frustrating. Once you glue it up there is no turning back. I have spent many hours already trying to get it right. I just have to keep trying until I get it. I only have a few hairs left on my head to pull out so I hope I get it soon. Well it's time to get back to all of the things that must be done and the sooner that I get them done I can sit down to figure out what it is that I have to do next. It just never seems to end . As always please stay in your lane and always "Stay in tune" and we'll see ya in two weeks!
Patrick from Liam Guitars/ Wood-n-Strings