Well I've not posted anything for a while as the workshop has been rather busy since we reopened in May. I've had several vintage instruments requiring more involved repair and restoration work which have presented me with various challenges, alongside a whole host of other servicing and repair jobs. Some of these will be the subject of future more detailed posts. With all this activity I've rather neglected updating the blog recently ....so, as a stop gap, here's a nice pair of vintage Gibsons that customers brought in for some attention over the summer :)
Gibson ES125 - 1950's
A sweet deep bodied ES125 semi acoustic, probably from the early 50's. No visible serial number. The pickup would have been a black plastic covered P90 and this has been changed for a mini-humbucker. The original tuners have been replaced with Grovers and the control knobs have also been changed. A tune-o-matic bridge has been installed. Despite the non-original parts the guitar still has it's original finish and a lovely woody tone. This just needed a good clean and a set up.
Gibson ES335 -1966
This sunburst Gibson ES335 from 1966/67 came in needing repair to a number of loose pearl block inlays, a new bone nut, and a set up. This guitar was, at some time in the past, converted to left hand with the controls installed on the opposite side of the top, only later to be changed back to the original right hand configuration. This necessitated plugging the holes left behind with maple...a fair attempt was made by the repairman who did the work, but it's virtually impossible to match the repair finish on a top such as this. Otherwise the original finish, chrome covered humbuckers, and control knobs are still evident. Bridge and stop tail have been replaced together with the tuners and truss rod cover. The alterations and non original parts make this an affordable players grade vintage ES335.
We (myself and the amp repairman Steve with whom I share the workshop) are now able to work more or less as usual at our benches. Below are our arrangements to keep safe:
This guitar, and it's slightly higher spec'ed cousin the Yamaha SG 2000 were a quite popular choice in the late 70s/ early 80s, originally popularised by the likes of Carlos Santana and Bill Nelson (Be-Bop Deluxe) then taken up by a number of post punk/ new wave guitarists, in particular John McGeogh (Magazine/ Siouxsie and the Banshees), Stuart Adamson (Skids/Big Country), and Andy Taylor (Duran Duran). The SG range were produced in Japan from 1976. It was an alternative to the ubiquitous Gibson Les Paul, with slightly hotter pickups, and a substantial weight akin to a Les Paul Custom, It's since become a bit of a cult classic.
This model holds a soft spot in my heart as a tobacco sunburst SG1000 was the main guitar of John McGeogh, one of my favourite guitar players who was a big influence on the likes of John Frusciante (who also now plays Yamaha SGs), Johnny Marr, and Jonny Greenwood ...all of whom also happen to be some of my favourite players - strange that they are all Johns!
The original Yamaha Grover type machine heads and serial number on back of headstock (2xxx) date the guitar to 1977, so a fairly early one. The original frets had a fair amount of wear so I dressed these. The guitar had an old plastic nut, which I removed and made a new one from bone (shown in photo) as this guitar deserves better.
The original alnico humbucker pickups (which came without covers), bridge and stop tail piece are in place. The original volume pots did not work very well, despite a good clean, so I replaced them with good quality CTS pots for a smooth operation (keeping the old pots). The original push /push tone pots provide a coil split for a single coil sound - these worked fine so I left them alone. The volume and tone knobs were not original and did not fit the new pot shafts, so I replaced these with barrel knobs which look quite nice.
The body is solid mahogany with a maple top, the set neck is also mahogany with an ebony fretboard inlaid with distinctive pearl chevron inlays. The quality of the build is apparent when looking at the finishing details - the triple bound bound body and headstock and fancy headstock inlay.
The guitar still had it's original green velvet lined case.
This is a high quality instrument, in my view better than most guitars coming from Gibson during the 1970's (when their quality control was somewhat suspect). You don't see many for sale in the UK these days, but if you can find one, in my opinion they are still great value and you get a lot of guitar for your money. They also look super cool!
Due to the current lockdown situation the workshop is closed to customers for the foreseeable future. Please do continue to send enquiries by all means and I'll endeavour to give advice over the phone or via email. As soon as we're able to open up again I'll let you know. Meanwhile stay safe everyone. Best wishes Andy.
I've grouped these guitars together for the high quality and detail of their finish/construction, the woods used, or classy design/aesthetics... the Martin and PRS are custom higher end models, the Dean a mid range model.
Martin Davy Graham OM Model (Custom Edition)
PRS McCarty Private Stock
Dean Custom Series
Further to my last post, I'll be available during the day for free bench inspections on instruments. Does your guitar not play as well as you think it should? Is the action too high? Strings buzzing? Or have some other annoying issue? Feel free to bring your instrument along and drop into the Fret & Nut workshop and see me for a free bench inspection and assessment of it’s condition, and what work might be necessary, or recommended , to get your instrument playing as well as it can again, without obligation.
Having spent the best part of August decorating, moving equipment and benches, and organising where things go... the new workshop will be up and running from Monday 2nd September. In addition to this, on Saturday 21st September, Flax Drayton Farm workshops have an open day. Please do come along and enjoy the various activities, listen to some live music, and have a look at what the creative businesses here are up to...more details below ... Fret & Nut and Steve's Amps are the third workshop on the left.
Flaxdrayton Workshops Open Day ( Press Release)
This September come join the extraordinary arts and social enterprise hub at Flaxdrayton Farm in our Workshops Open Day.
** Free entry! **
Flaxdrayton Workshops are opening their doors to the public on Saturday 21st September from 11am to 4pm. Visitors can explore the fascinating history of this Victorian farmyard, along with an exclusive peek into the 18 thriving businesses and workshops nestled in the beautiful Somerset countryside; each working to make their corner of the world a better and more interesting place to be.
This historic Victorian farmyard has been in the Blake family since it was built in 1858. Francis and his wife Jane, the current generation, took on the farm in the mid 70’s, first farming organically, then, following a substantial fire in 1993, gradually converting the buildings with great care into its current vibrant community of 18 small businesses (there’s just two units currently empty and available to let).
Come to the Open Day and you can:
Taste and buy wonderful fresh produce from local food producers, including:
Cider and apple juice
Bread and bakery products
Fruit and vegetables, eggs and preserves
Sports nutrition, healthy snacks
Purchase restored antiques and memorabilia and other up-cycled collectibles
See wood carving, upholstery and furniture restoration in action
Sign up for discounted sessions – photography and Body SMART fitness
Tour the metal gaming miniatures workshop and follow a game in action
Play with Imagine Learn & Create’s “Club Tropicale” – crazy golf, photo booth, fortune telling, coconut shy, splat the (tropical) rat
Enjoy live music from John Adamson, Plum Jam and Toadflax in the farmyard and try out the outdoor dance floor
Refresh yourself at our “pop up” café, selling tea/coffee, pasties, cakes, mocktails
Find out about the history of what was a model Victorian farm 160 years ago, and its story since.
All profits are going to The Refugee Council, Somerset Wildlife Trust and Prostate Cancer UK.
Flaxdrayton Farm is just ½ mile from the A303 between South Petherton and Norton-sub-Hamdon.
For more information, please visit www.flaxdrayton.co.uk, ring 01460 241062 or email email@example.com.
Our tenants (clockwise around the farmyard)-
Angel Eyes Sarah Wallace New-born, maternity and family photography
Veelyn Ltd Lynda Styles Antiques, collectables, craft Items, memorabilia & up-cycling
Fret and Nut Andy Hann Guitar set up and repairs
Steve’s Amps Steve Rowse Valve amplifier repairs
Julia Thompson Ethical jeweller and silversmith
Take Art Ralph Lister Arts charity for Somerset communities
Arttus Ken Peterkin Period interiors and furniture, restoration conservation and consultancy
iOme Fitness Charlie Fardon Fitness studio, yoga/pilates
Bower Bakery Peter Hill Artisan baker
Blackdown Greenroofs Ian Banks Green roof supply and installation and all related roofing/podium needs
Navtor UK Ltd Richard Northover E-navigation solutions, products and services
John Adamson Wood carving
Marc Wood Fine joinery and furniture bespoke Joinery
JJ’s Nuts Andy and Debbie Cox Nuts, nibbles, herbs and spices
Imagine Learn and Create Jess Hyslop Art and craft tutoring for those and create with learning disabilities
SHQ Miniatures Heroics & ROS Pete Edwards Ian Armstrong Metal gaming miniatures
Hackney Studio Wendy Heath Painted furniture and upcycling, pedicure and reflexology
Upholstery Studio Linda Whatley Upholstery, furniture repairs, dress making
All contact details can be found at www.flaxdrayton.co.uk.
On 1st August 2019 Fret & Nut will be re-locating to a new workshop at Flax Drayton Farm which is located in rural South Somerset, only half a mile from the A303, 5 miles from Crewkerne and Ilminster, 10 miles from Yeovil, and 16 miles from Taunton. The workshop is bigger and has an improved layout, and I shall be working alongside my friend Steve Rowse who repairs musical instrument and hi-fi valve amplifiers. This will create a "one stop shop" for all our customer's guitar and amplifier repair needs across Somerset, Dorset and Devon, and further afield.
Here's a link to Steve's website - http://www.stevesamps.co.uk
The workshop is called "The Engine Room" and here are some pictures.
As a result of this move I will not be taking on any new repair work from around mid July until (probably) the beginning of September whilst we sort everything out. I'll keep you posted!
The Fender Mustang bass, introduced in 1966, was originally marketed as a "student" bass with it's short 30" scale. It's easy to play, especially suited for those with small hands, or for guitarists used to smaller necks. It nevertheless packs a fair punch and has been used by several notable players...Bill Wyman ( Rolling Stones) , Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads), Trevor Bolder (Bowie) and Colin Moulding (XTC) spring to mind.
Here we have a sweet vintage Fender Mustang bass that I took apart to verify originality, check the set up and generally give a good clean..
The bass has the original Olympic White nitro cellulose finish which has crazed all over and has various patches of wear and dings that one would expect with a well played instrument that's over 50 years old. The body finish is nicely set off against the original red tortoiseshell pick guard.
The neck plate number , with a Fender "F" stamp and serial number 1977xx corresponds with a 1966 or 1967 instrument. The neck has not been cleaned in years, as evidenced by the ingrained dirt in the maple ... this will take some elbow grease to remove!
The transition logo on the instrument doesn't help dating the neck in this case as this logo didn't change to the all black logo until 1976 on the Mustang Bass (so this just indicates the neck is pre-1976)..for definitive dating, the neck needs to be removed. Someone has added an additional string tree for the E and A strings in the past, somewhat unnecessarily - this can be removed and the hole filled and retouched.The original cloverleaf tuners are in place and work well. The original bone nut fell out when the strings were removed, so just needs re-gluing in place. It looks rather worn but in facts functions perfectly. The frets are also in good condition and look to be original.
Removing the control plate reveals the original cloth covered wiring, capacitor and original pots ( although they are somewhat corroded and so not possible to read the dates on the back of them). The original pickups are dated 6-20-67 so this would confirm the bass is a 1967 rather than 1966 instrument. Again all the wiring is untouched. It has the original bridge plate and individual intonable saddles. A finger rest was originally located on the treble side of the pick guard, however this has been removed and a (non - original) thumb rest installed on the upper part of the pick guard. The original screw holes are still there so a finger rest can be reinstalled back to it's original position if required.
Removing the pick guard, the pickup cavity is unaltered. The neck pocket shows the pinholes and unfinished area where the body was originally supported during the spraying process. The neck date 17 May 67 B affirms that the neck is 1967 and original to the body.
Here's the bass in it's original orange lined case , the nut re-installed, and having had a good clean!
I've collated photos of several rather nice arch top / semi - acoustic guitars that have been through the workshop for various repairs or set up work in recent times. Included are - a Blonde Epiphone Broadway Archtop, a Blonde Eastman Archtop, Sunburst Epiphone ES175 semi, and a Sunburst Epiphone Joe Pass Archtop.
Epiphone Broadway Archtop
Epiphone ES175 Semi
Epiphone Joe Pass Archtop
As a luthier, and also a vintage guitar enthusiast, I'll be posting articles about guitar repair, guitar construction, and also vintage instruments