I recently had the privilege of repairing and servicing several guitars belonging to Florence and the Machine's guitarist Rob Ackroyd which were brought to me by his tech Justin, including a Guild 6 string and 12 string, a Martin D35, and a luthier made Motor Avenue Belaire....here's the Guild 6 string which needed a bridge removal and re-glue..
...and the Motor Avenue Belaire..
A customer brought this beaten up Martin mahogany ukulele into the workshop and asked if I could salvage it. The back had a long split (patched by a bit of sellotape), the back had come away from the side, possibly due to water damage, and the sides had several large cracks that gave the impression that someone had stepped on the instrument at some point! The top itself was sound, as was the neck and headstock, albeit the instrument needed a good clean, and internally it appeared sound.
I said I'd need to give it some thought... one of the main problems was that access through the small sound hole to facilitate repairs was tricky as getting one's adult hands inside was nigh on impossible... the only other way was to remove the top/back completely, which I wanted to avoid.
First task was to remove the dirt and grime from the back and sides in order to see more clearly the extent of the damage.
First stage was to glue up the back where it had come away from the side. Secondly, and the trickiest part, was to correctly align the couple of splits in the side, which ran most of the length of the instrument. In order to get the split aligned I had to make a correctly sized spreader that could be inserted inside the instrument through the sound hole and wedged and positioned in such a way that there was a smooth join across the crack when clamped...this took a certain amount of cursing to get right! A couple of strong magnets placed in the correct position also helped. When I was satisfied I had the correct positioning during the dry run, it was then ready to glue up properly.
The final part of the repair operation was to repair the split in the back. Then onto cleaning the top and neck, and stringing up.
There was a slight ridge of broken lacquer around the repaired splits that were lacquer filled several times, levelled, sanded and polished to hide as best possible where there had been a repair...
The final result...I think it came out very well in the end:). Worth restoring as a vintage 1950's Martin uke has a reasonable value.
...to all my customers, a thank you for your custom this year and best wishes to you and your families for Christmas and the New Year. Here's a rare 1961 Gretsch Country Club with slimline body in Cadillac Green, together with a 1959 Fender Tweed Pro...pure rock'n'roll :)
This year I've had a number of Rickenbackers come through the workshop. Here are some cool looking guitars and basses...a couple of Ricky 4001 basses, a Ricky 360-12 and probably the coolest of the lot, a fairly rare 1973 Ricky 360.
Here's the Jetglo 4001...
Next, an Azureglo 4001..
A Fireglo 360-12...
The cream of the crop. A stunning early 1973 Fireglo Rickenbacker 360 with crushed pearl full width shark inlays, chequerboard binding, and early version of the high gain pickups. These appointments were only around for a couple of years or so in the early 70's, mostly disappearing from mid '73.
I've decided that if I could only ever own one guitar a strong contender would be an early 60's Gibson ES335, 345 or 355...in cherry red. This stunning guitar made it's way to the workbench for reseating most of the frets, a fret dress, new bone nut and a set up.
The local council are of the view that we not obliged to close under current rules. So we are opening up for business again on a drop off and collect basis only. Drop off can take place just outside the workshop in the courtyard and usual distancing and mask wearing rules apply. Just call or message me and we can arrange an appointment to suit.
Following Boris's announcement last night we are taking the decision to close the workshop to customers with immediate effect and until further notice. Whilst "repair" businesses may stay open, they must be providing an essential service. Unfortunately we don't feel the repairing of stringed instruments and amps falls under the definition of "essential". If we have your instrument already at the workshop for repair or servicing, these may still be collected, by appointment, on completion.
Take care everyone. Best wishes , Andy and Steve.
From 31st December South Somerset will move into Tier 4 restrictions. The workshop, as a business providing repair services, is permitted to stay open.
So, we shall remain open, however this is on the basis that handover and pickup of instruments must take place outside the workshop in the courtyard, with the usual social distance being observed etc. Customers will not be able to enter the workshop, however I'll carry out an initial appraisal whilst you wait ( usually takes around 10 minutes) as required.
A Happy New Year to all Fret & Nut's customers!
A bit like a vintage port and stilton, these two items go well together...a Custom Shop Relic 1960 Strat in front of a 1960 Brownface Fender Pro....yummy :)
Wishing all Fret & Nut's customers the best possible Christmas in the current climate ...here's to a better 2021 and perhaps even some live gigs!
I recently had the privilege of doing some work on two vintage Fender basses belonging to Howard Bates. Howard was the original bassist in Slaughter and the Dogs formed in Wythenshawe, Manchester, in 1975, one of the first wave of punk bands to sign with a major label. They supported the Sex Pistols on their legendary gig at Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall in July 1976. This concert, more than any other single event, spawned Manchester's punk scene.
One Stephen Patrick Morrissey was briefly a member of the band, prior to later forming the Smiths with Johnny Marr. Billy Duffy (later of The Cult) was also a band member for a period in an incarnation of the band known as The Studio Sweethearts.
Anyhow, both basses had seen plenty of action, in particular the 62 Precision. Both had very worn frets and needed complete re-frets and new bone nuts. Whilst taking the instruments apart I took the opportunity of checking the parts for originality.
First up, the 1971 Fender Jazz bass ...
Neck plate "F" stamped and serial number indicating 1971. The neck is faintly stamped with a 7 and A..... Many Fenders of this era have incomplete codes, or are missing altogether. There is nothing to suggest the neck is not 100% original to the guitar. The headstock sports the 1970's solid black logo.
The frets are pretty worn ... generally frets which are less than around 30/1000th inch high cannot be fret dressed any further as there is not sufficient metal left to be crowned. The worn frets are heated (to minimise chipping to the fretboard) and removed. In this case most frets came out very cleanly, except for a couple of minor chips at one end of the neck. These odd chips are repaired, and the rough edges to the fret slots made level and smooth.
The slots are slightly bevelled and cleaned of any debris. The depth of the slots is checked to make sure the new frets will seat down fully when installed.
The fretboard is now fully prepped and ready to re-fret. The new frets have been radiused, cut to length, and placed in a wooden block in order. As this is a bound fretboard, the frets have to be measured carefully and cut to fit within the binding.
The new frets installed and the ends bevelled before fret dressing. The worn bone nut needs to be removed without disturbing the neck binding, which it was!
The neck is mounted on the neck jig for fret dressing - levelling, crowning , sanding and polishing the new frets. I've cut a new bone blank to match the 7.25" radius of the neck, and carefully measured so it fits snugly between the neck binding. The nut slots are then cut to the correct spacing and depth, and the nut lowered, shaped and polished.
The finished nut, which looks rather nice I think...I used unbleached bone (which is not bright white) to give a vintage look.
The neck pickup was stiff and difficult to adjust as it was being pinched by the celluloid pick guard which had slightly shrunk. The pick guard was removed to make some minor adjustments, revealing that somebody had at some time in the past, routed the body for another pickup and then filled the hole left behind. The pots were original, dated 23rd week of 1967 (Fender had purchased a large stock of pots then so it's not unusual to find instruments made in the early 70's with these earlier dated pots).
The new frets after fret dressing....
Here's the 1962 Fender Precision, which has had the original finish stripped back to bare wood, probably in the early 70's. Despite this, the bass sounds wonderful, just as you would expect a pre CBS Fender to sound.
The frets are very worn and flat, with insufficient metal remaining to carry out any more fret dresses. These are not the original frets - there was evidence of many chips and gouges on the fretboard from where the last re-fret was done, unfortunately not very expertly. The bone nut is also very worn and will be replaced.
Taking the neck off, it's apparent the bass was refinished green at some point, but through the layers of paint there's an indication that the original finish was probably Fiesta Red. The neck plate L19xxx indicates the bass was made in 1962, and the neck is dated in pencil 10 or 12/61 so October or December 1961.
Once the frets were removed it was easier to see the chips and file marks made during the previous re-fret. The worst areas are repaired as best as possible prior to re-fretting. It is usual to level the fingerboard prior to re-fretting however this is not particularly advisable on vintage fretboards, especially old Fender Brazilian rosewood fingerboards like this one which can be quite thin.
In this case the old frets looked like they were nearly through to the maple neck underneath, luckily once the old frets were removed it could be seen there was sufficient wood left for installation of the new frets. It helped that this was a slab board neck, used on Fenders up to mid 1962. These were subsequently replaced by thinner veneer like rosewood boards in 1963.
The frets installed and bevelled, prior to dressing.
The original celluloid pick guard has shrunken pulling screws inward, cracking the celluloid in places and gripping the neck in the neck pocket. Some adjustments were required to ensure the neck could be aligned properly. The non original screws were replaced with vintage correct aged nickel cross head screws. When I removed the old screws one corner of the pick guard just fell away... a spot of super glue solved the problem.
The pots are not original, one dates from 1977, the other unknown. Otherwise pickups and electrics are original.
The set up is completed ....
As a luthier, and also a vintage guitar enthusiast, I'll be posting articles about guitar repair, guitar construction, and also vintage instruments