The dismembered body!

“I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel…”
― Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

Having permitted a respectable 30 year gap to open since attempting to create a new guitar from the corpse of another,  the concluding weeks of 2016 seemed without rhyme or reason the perfect juncture to revisit the project.  As will be evident to those following this woeful tale my old Shaftesbury copy of a Gibson Barney Kessel was in a particularly sorry state. Its restoration to anything approaching original condition was a daunting undertaking.  A brazen attempt to unring a bell.

There was no trepidation this time around,  the neck and body had long since separated, natural decomposition of the glue causing the dovetail joint to surrender its grip.  It seemed wise before splitting the body into composite parts that time would be well spent stripping and sanding the surfaces of the guitar.

As time passes we are unaware of subtle changes in our lives and it quickly became apparent that the interim 30 years had not been kind to my old paint removal wingman, Nitromors.  Rendered impotent by health and safety compliance the modern product was no match for the polyurethane paint and this led to an immediate problem.  Aggressive sanding was now required and given that the body was constructed from relatively low grade laminate, topped with a gossamer-thin maple veneer, my electric sander gnawed unopposed through to the substrate.  In the photograph below, the keen eye will note a visible discolouration on the left hand Florentine horn of the guitar top.  This was a problem stored up for the future.

 Once inside with the notorious Oregon pine removed I found a flimsy mahogany tail block and what appears to be a maple neck block.  A thick coating of overspray on top of the neck block and the inner surface of the guitar back is also visible in the photographs.  This arises from the application of an amber nitrocellulose spray, part of the original sunburst finish, having blasted in through the pickup mounting slots.

The grey and black overspray is a mix of primer and top finish from my previous attempt to refinish the guitar.  Evidently in this case it had found a way in via the f-holes and naturally had to be struck from the record with the rest of the evidence from three decades before.

The old kerfing was removed and came away easily.  It had been fastened with hot hide glue and after 40 years was somewhat losing its grip.  Something to be mindful of for those  approaching that tender age.

The old neck and tail blocks

New neck and tail blocks were fashioned from pieces of mahogany purchased for that purpose from Keystone Guitar Tonewoods for Luthiers.  Keystone sell an internals pack for acoustic guitars which includes provisions such as basewood kerfing, maple bracing and the aforementioned neck and tail blocks.


New neck and tail blocks in place

Titebond Liquid Hide Glue  secured the blocks whilst quick grip clamps held them in place.  If I may offer a note of caution to those inspired to follow my example, liquid hide glue is not as reliable as hot hide glue and it needs to be fresh.  I had a minor disaster using liquid hide glue that was over a year old.  It and I both came unstuck.

I took a break for a week or two at this stage to allow the glue joints to cure and to await the arrival of a few sets of these excellent little spring clamps. The requirement for which will become clear in my next blog entry.


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