Friday, March 6, 2015

The guitar project

While I am working on my plane till project, a old friend of mine dropped in with this guitar in parts. Its a cheap Korean made guitar from the late 70s (we think) which he picked up at a flea market for $3. Why so cheap? A few braces are broken, the bridge is removed (poorly with damages) the fret buzzed, the tuners are removed and the nut need replacing. The neck had been previously reset but poorly. Most of the parts are there and we scrounge around to find the missing bits.

He is a musician, I am a woodworker, so we thought it would be a neat project to try to turn it back into a playable instrument.  First order of business was to removed the neck. That was fun, took a lot of heat, steam to get it out but we succeed. Next we assessed the broken ribs, and figured that we could fixed them from inside without removing the top (phew) so I first made 4 cam clamps for this job. That in itself was another fun and quick project.

Then we re-glued the neck, but we discovered a hump in the neck after ward and the neck did not seat quite properly.

Either we put too much glue and it pooled at the bottom of the dovetail or our clamping arrangement left something to be desired!. Off the neck came back out. That hide glue is like magic stuff, fully reversible.

Cut a new nut and installed it. Oh did I mentioned that this is a 12 strings guitar? Heck of a lot more complicated to cut our teeth in (puns intended) but heh, that's what we got.

Next we rehearsed our clamping choreography and tried again, this time we figured out that we had to make a thin shim under the neck to make it flat. Bandsaw and handplanes to the rescue.
Truss rod was tweaked after to make our neck straight.

We temporally installed the bridge back on (tape and strings pegs in) put in the two outer string on to check our alignment and action.  So far so good, we then glued on the bridge using a liberal amount of hide glue to make up for the missing wood under the bridge.

The strings were then installed, and we ran into a few snags. The tuning pegs on this cheap guitar are not metal but plastic with a nickel plating on them, we broke two trying to tuned it grrr.
Will have to find new tuners or salvage parts to repair them. That would make it a lot easier to tuned than by using vice grip pliers on the stem :-)

Now we wait a few days to let it acclimatized to the stress of those 12 strings and see what happens
There is a tremendous amount of pull exercised by these strings.
The action look good, can't wait to hear it come alive again.
Next step, a good old Nova Scotia kitchen party :-)

Full disclosure, a luthier I am not, just a woodworker.  We are reading books to figured it out as we go. So if you are a luthier, try not to laugh to hard :-)


  1. I want to see how you made those cam clamps.

  2. Ok, that was very easy and quick to make. I'll see if I can make up a post on that.
    All with maple scrap, bit of cork coasters, and nails which I cut for the pins. The hardest part is to cut the mortise in maple on narrow pieces, so after I made one by hand, I cheated and used the woodshop mortiser, much more faster. Once I cleaned the mortise chisel, sharpened, polished it, set it up etc :-) You would think that people would clued in that by the burned marks on the chisel it must have been smoking and sticking like crazy??? Some people in any woodshop club, just don't seems to care about the equipment, either that or are totally clueless!