Stay In Tune vol#11
By Luthier Patrick Podpadec
I hope everybody’s been staying in tune lately. Things have been busy as usual in the shop in the past weeks. I’ve got in an older 60’s Gibson L-20 with a warped bridge that needs to be replaced. The bridge was actually a piece of plastic that had been bolted down on the body. You would think that the Gibson factory would have a bit more class than that, but apparently on this particular model of guitar they were trying to save a little money. Other than that obvious flaw the rest of the instrument was a very well built piece. It was made with a solid mahogany body, front and back and sides with a mahogany neck. I also got in a beautiful standup Bass that has the headstock scroll broken off. It was repaired once before, but has come apart again .I think that the original builder removed a bit too much material in that area. I believe that is the reason that it broke in the first place. It is going to be a very difficult repair to get it right this time. I will have to cut off the bottom portion of the scroll and build it back up with a larger piece of maple so that I can build up the area inside the pegbox so that it has a little more wood inside where the tuning machines are running through that section. I will have to recarve the flutes on the back side of the scroll after I graft the head back onto the neck. After I match up the stain color and French polish the scroll , I hope to have an almost invisible repair. In this type of repair it is much more important to make sure that the repair will hold up structurally rather than look astatically perfect.
I would like to share another interesting thing with all of the Voice readers about the latest news in my guitar “building” area of my business. I have just recently been accepted to join an elite group of modern guitar builders to participate in a project called the “Sitka Sonic Project”. This is a project that will entail 80 different builders to build a guitar using a “special top” ( wood that has been cut from a Sitka spruce tree from Washington state in 1998 and meticulously air dried. It has also been run through a special “stress relief” procedure, more on that later). This wood has also been “sonically” tested and the data has been documented so that when it will be tested again in the years to come the data can be monitored to see what changes have taken place in the structure of the wood. This test is being done in hopes to prove or disprove the theory that instruments sound better with age.
Patrick from Wood-n-Strings