Waldron Dreadnaught

waldron_dreadnaughtThis is a Waldron Dreadnaught acoustic made by boutique luthier, Goode Waldron, in the 1980’s or 1990’s. The guitar was expertly made in a style similar to a Martin D-28. However, the guitar’s previous owner stored it for many years in a less than ideal environment where it experienced extreme swings in temperature and humidity levels resulting in:
• The neck separating from the body
• The bridge lifting
• And a 5-inch “winter” crack on the back of the guitar.

The guitar’s present owner was a close friend to Waldron who passed away in 2008. The owner was heartbroken to find it in its current state of disrepair and wants to restore the guitar to playing condition in honor of his friend.

The repair is started off with rehydrating the wood by simply placing a small bowl containing a small, water-filled sponge inside the guitar. All openings were sealed using a balloon and some tape. After about a week, this introduced enough moisture back into the wood for it to close the gap of the winter crack. At that point, I glued the crack and installed some support splines so the crack will not open again in the future.

Getting the neck off the body proved to be quite a challenge. After steaming the interior of the neck joint, the glue dissolved easily, but the neck refused to separate. After many days of deliberation, I finally decided to remove the fretboard tongue; this revealed several wood screws holding the neck on.

After cleaning the old glue and make a few minor fitting adjustments, I found there was no way to achieve a clean, snug fit; the dovetail was just too loose. I attempted to glue some shims in place to help with the fit, but the gap at the heel of the neck was almost 1/4 inch. The shims would never had lasted the test of time.

So I decided to take a page out of a dentist’s handbook…using a straight bit, I routed away the angles of the dovetail joint on both the neck and the body. I then glued in freshly-routed, custom fitting, wood blanks to fill body’s neck pocket and cover the neck’s joint.

The plan is to now re-route the joints so they are again a snug fit.

Next up is:

  • Re-routing the dovetail joints and resetting the neck
  • Re-gluing the bridge
  • Leveling the fretboard and re-fretting the neck
  • Making a new nut and saddle
  • Set up & deliver :)
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’92 Ovation Collectors Series

This 1992 Ovation Collectors Series showed up at the shop with a break in one of its sound holes in the epaulets. Ovation was the best to work with as they sent a replacement epaulet at no charge. Our client was thrilled!

Step one was to install a backer, then install the thin broken piece of the soundboard. Once those two pieces were ready to go, it was just a matter of using a Dremel tool to reshape the sound hole circles.

Then installing the epaulet and shaping it to match the original.

All that is currently left is to touchup the clear lacquer.

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Martin D-3532

This 1984 Martin D-3532 came into the shop with some loose braces. Check out the illustration and photos to see how many braces have lost their hold on reality… or at least the soundboard.

During the initial inspection, we found that the guitar strings have worn the bridge plate down so much that they are beginning to wear through the wood. Left unattended, they will eventually wear all the way through to the top of the guitar’s soundboard (not a simple or inexpensive repair). There are a couple
ways to take care of it.

Option 1: Replace the worn bridge plate.
This involves heating up the current bridge plate and carefully removing it. Then making a new bridge plate and glue it into place.

Option 2: Install a bridge plate patch.
This involves making a custom patch that is glued directly on top of the bridge plate over the worn string holes. New string holes are drill once the glue cures. The strings will then rest on this new patch (and not the existing worn plate). I typically suggest this option for less expensive guitars.

This Martin however is a good candidate for replacing the bridge plate. And since it already has a lot of loose braces that need to be re-glued, replacing it with a stronger bridge plate and fresh glue is the safest option.

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Les Paul Studio

While checking my messages this other day I found that I had missed a call from my friend Wes at Guitar Center. The message said that they had received a USA Les Paul that had been damaged in shipping. Apparently the neck had popped out of its joint.

I have been keeping an eye out for a decent “project guitar” and this one fit the bill.

Once I was able to take a closer look I found it was the best case scenario for neck joint damage. At first glance it appeared there just was not enough glue to hold the neck in place. Once I got the neck off, it was a bit more than just the lack of glue (although that was a problem.) The neck tenon (the part of the neck under the fretboard that is custom fitted and glued into the neck cavity on the body of the guitar) had been shaved too thin. No amount of glue was going to hold this neck for long.

I glued some mahogany shims into place on the sides of the neck tenon. After letting it sit in the clamps overnight, I shaped the tenon (with new shims) using a chisel and file into a snug and perfect fit. Before applying glue, I did a test clamp making sure the neck angles were correct (they were). I then applied the glue and re-clamped everything allowing it to sit for a couple of days while it cures.

After taking the clamps off of the neck, the next step would be to touch up the finish. However, I was extremely anxious to find out if I had a “the bomb” or just a dud. So I went ahead and threw some strings on it and did a quick set up. An hour went by in a blink- it didn’t suck.

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PRS CE24 Trans- Blue

This PRS CE-24 came into the shop with a dead volume potentiometer. After discussing it with the client we decided to replace all of the electronics (all less than superb components) with high quality Switchcraft and CTS components from RS Guitarworks located in Winchester, KY. I’ve known about these guys for a while, but this was this first time to try their products.

I was particularly intrigued by these components listed on their website:

500K RS Short-Shaft SuperPot®– We designed these pots in conjunction with CTS. Used for the volume controls in the kit, these pots have a custom taper that gives you a noticeable difference between each number on your volume control. You can finally roll your volume down to 2 or 1 and not loose any clarity, even in the neck position!! Mil-spec construction and a smoother resistor path make this the best pot to ever be used in the guitar.

RS .022 GuitarCap®– The GuitarCap® is the first and only capacitor designed specifically for the guitar. This part is the only capacitor in the world that meets our stringent quality-control standards, not only because of its construction, but because of how great it sounds in the tone circuit (more info on their site.)

The RS Guitarworks parts are not cheap. The Premium Modern PRS® Style Upgrade Kit that we ordered costs $69.45 plus shipping. While the kit does include CTS and Switchcarft parts and their $15 custom made capacitor for the tone knob, you are still paying a premium compared to similar components from Stewart-McDonald, Luthiers Mercantile or Allparts.

After installing the components, I can say that there is a significant increase of quality tone in the guitar. The taper on both the volume and tone knobs is very smooth with very little dramatic drop-off. And that $15 capacitor is rather nice sounding, too. Even with all of the high-end rolled off, there was still some nice presence to the tone that makes it very warm without being mushy. It’s not for everyone or for every guitar. But the buttery roll-off of the volume and tone pots are quite evident and adds precision to these controls that you don’t often find in guitar electronics.

Would we buy their components again? Bottom line: Yes.

On a side note with this particular project, we noticed that while the electronics cavity had been coated with shielding paint, however, the inside of the backplate was not coated in anyway. So we added some shielding tape and ensured that the tape connected with the guitar’s ground.

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Fender CD220SCE

This acoustic has recently made it into regular rotation during it’s owner’s gigs. While it’s a fine guitar with some very nice burl ash back and sides, he wanted to improve the overal tone and sustain. So we replaced the plastic nut, saddle and bridge pins with custom made bone. The reason I use bone is because it a much denser material than plastic and transfers vibration much more efficiently. The more vibration that is transferred from the strings to the soundboard, the more rich tone and sustain the guitar will have.

I started with a bone blank, took measurements with a micrometer, then had at it with a belt sander, various files, sandpaper and ended with a polishing wheel.

For the saddle, the existing saddle slot in the bridge had a less than level bottom and the walls were a bit uneven. So I decided to widen the slot by about 1/64 of an inch to correct these imperfections. I then cut and shaped the saddle to perfectly fit the new slot dimensions.

Next up were seating the new bridge pins. They had a bit larger radius than the factory plastic pins. Nothing that a quick 2 or 3 turns with a reamer couldn’t fix.

For the nut, once it was cut, shaped polished and glued into place I needed to add the string slots. To determine the exact placement of the slots requires some precise measurements and some basic math. Sounds easy, but being dyslexic, I like to triple-check the numbers before making the first cuts with the files.

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Taylor 414CE

This acoustic came in with some phantom rattles that our client was having trouble identifying. Once we had it on the bench, we checked for the obvious culprits: loose braces and loose wires.

After a thorough inspection, all of the braces looked to be in good shape. All of the cabling seemed to be nicely tied down, too… except for one tiny 4 inch wire that was touching the soundboard.

The conundrum is that you never want to attach a double-stick-tape wire-tie to the soundboard. This is the piece of wood that vibrates the most to generate your guitar’s volume and tone. Attaching something to it will change the vibration patterns – not good.

So we kept the solution simple. We cut a 3 inch long piece of foam and slit it down the center. We then coated the inside of the foam with some rubber cement and wrapped it around the offending wire. This will keep the wire from rattling with out having to actually glue anything onto the soundboard.

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This Epi DOT came in for a basic setup and a simple neck repair.

There was about a 3 inch long crack along the fretboard that needs some TLC.

It was a simple crack that was easily repaired with som cam-clamps and wood glued. After the repair was complete we performed a thorough set-up. The fretboard was extremely dry so we hydrated it with some synthetic wood oil.

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Fernandes Dragonfly

This guitar had been sitting on the sidelines for a while and needed some TLC before it’s owner was to take it back on stage.

It was missing an output jack plate as well as some suspicious wiring on the existing output jack. This “economic” output jack was a weak link in the signal chain and was replaced with a well-made Switchcraft component.

The frets had some significant divits in the first and second positions that needed to be leveled and dressed. Also, many of the fret-ends were pulling up that needed to be re-seated (using a compression fretting clamp) before we started leveling.

The saddle heights did not come close to matching the radius of the fretboard, the intonation was way off and the fretboard was dry as a desert and needed to be oiled- so a thorough setup was in order.

The repairs and set-up were finished just in time for the guitar to hit the stage one more time.

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Guild JF30-12

This Guild JF30-12 twelve-string guitar has been a little hot under the collar. And by that I mean it has experienced some serious heat while on a recent trip to Southeast Asia.

The bridge was pulling up from the heat exposure and three of the internal braces had become unglued for the same reason.

The bridge was easily removed using more heat from a watlo silicone heater. Before re-gluing the braces, a planed piece of oak was clamped to the top of the sound-board to help reshape it into a flat top from the concave surface it had evolved into.

Gluing and clamping the braces required a bit of forearm acrobatics and contortion to reach inside the the ever shrinking sound-hole as clamps continued take up the valuable real estate.

Next step: re-glue the bridge.

More pix coming soon…

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