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Author Topic: 1930's Regal Restoration  (Read 1392 times)
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« on: May 14, 2008, 01:32:42 PM »

I recently purchased a 1929-1934 Regal Concert guitar that is crack free, but in need of a neck reset. My friend and luthier agreed to let me use his shop and tools to do the work myself. He is there while I am working to guide me along. The guitar told me her name was Susie when I recieved her. She is Brazillian B/S, with spuce top, and a one peice mahogony 12 fret slothead neck. She is bound front, back, and finger board in ebony. Her measurements are 1 3/4" at the nut, 25 inch scale, 14" lower bout, 9 3/4" upper bout and just about 3 7/8" deep at the end block. So far I have removed all the frets, removed the bridge, and removed the neck. When I am done she will have a new pyramid bridge with corrected compensated saddle slot, a neck reset, I'll level the fingerboard and perhaps radius it just a smidge, then a complete refret and new bone nut, saddle, and pins. She is loud as all get outs now with all that is wrong with her and I believe I'll have a little ladder braced blues cannon when she is finished. Here she is:




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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2008, 01:56:58 PM »

Here is a look at the angle:



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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2008, 02:09:22 PM »

Now for removing the bridge. This went nice and cleanly. I heated an iron on a hot plate and layed it on the bridge to soften the glue. I then just slowly and carefully tried to get a thin knife started under an edge. Once I was under it was just a matter of creating a fulcrum with one knife and an eraser and then slowly sliding another knife along the bridge while keeping the heat on. You just have to go slow and you can feel the glue soften and the knife glides easily. Here are some shots:




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« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2008, 02:12:30 PM »

More of the bridge coming off and of the pyramid bridge blank. Once I removed the old bridge I needed to get my new blank layed out for drilling the holes. It is a fairly simple procedure in this case. I simply found the center of the old bridge and the center of the new blank. I clamped the old bridge on top of the new blank being careful to align at both the center scribes and at the back edges of the bridges. Once they were clamped in place I took a self tapping 3/16" drill bit and went through the old bridge holes into the new blank just enough to get pilot marks for the drill press later. I paid particular attention to keeping the drill as level as possible when marking the pilots. I unclamped the bridges and then measured to make certain I was correct. I measured from center to center of the outside holes and center to center of each individual pair of holes. I then measured from back edge of the bridge to the center of each hole. The first measurements were of the old bridge then I measured the pilot patern on the blank to make sure they all matched. The center to center measurements on the holes were perfect on the blank as were the measurements from back bridge to center of piolt marks with the exception of one hole. One was off by less than 1/2 mm from the back edge to the center hole but this isn't enough to cause any issues by the time the holes are drilled and reamed to fit unslotted pins.


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Mr_LV19E
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« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2008, 02:45:31 PM »

Very nice, and interesting. Looking forward to progress reports.   
    

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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2008, 03:06:11 PM »

                   I really like the specs, the age, the slot head,using a pyramid bridge. Man that's a cool git!
                I think you will have a very special instrument when you are done. Danny
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2008, 03:16:39 PM »

Now for the neck removal. This is where Murphy's Law came into play. While inspecting the inside I noticed a slight impression in the neck block. Getting some light down in there revealed the ghost of a past hack. Some one had filled a hole in the block with glue and wood dust and sanded it flat. I had to take a dremel type tool with a long three foot flexable shaft and use it to remove the glue and dust to reval whatever was underneeth. I defered to my friend Juniior and he worked the tool untill we could see the phillips head of a wood screw. We removed the screw and then had a decision to make. I had hoped to remove the neck and the fingerboard extension in one peice but given the screw job and the uncertainty of what was inside the dovetail we decided to cut the fingerboard clean at the 12th fret. This would allow clear view of the joint pocket as we removed the neck. We were afraid of perhaps some dowls being placed inside a poor dovetail which wouldn't allow the neck to come cleanly away from the block. First a razor blade was used to carefully seperate the fingerboard binding back to about the ninth fret. This gave room to move it out of the way enough to cleanly cut the fingerboard. I rationalized that since it was a bound neck once the job was finished the binding would hide the fact that we needed to seperate the extension from the rest of the board.
Once the cut was clean we began heating the extension in the same manner as the bridge. I got the extension off and I am glad we did it this way. The entire dovetail was a mess! Someone had half -CENSORED- laminated some shims and when they couldnt get the fit right they simply glued it up stuffed it into the joint and then run the srcrew through to pull it up tight. They then filled the gaps with wood glue and wood dust. It was a real mess in there. We put the guitar in the reset jig and started to steam. It took a lot more steam then normal to soften the mess up in there and to get the neck out and the pocket cleaned of debris. When it was complete I was left with a dovetail in need of reconstruction. I'll be cleaning the ragged edges up and laminating some mahogony shims to rebuild the joint surfaces. That will be a bit later. My camera batery died, so I didn't get shots of the removal jig and all that, but I took shots of the parts when I got home. Here are a few photographs of the finished removal. Note the mangled dovetail:




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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2008, 03:20:41 PM »

Few more:


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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2008, 03:32:29 PM »

When we were steaming the finish started to get milky white around the sides of the neck heel and on the back of the guitar around the heel cap. I freaked, but Junior said relax the milkiness will dissapate as she cools and dries and can be cleaned up to unnoticeable with the old school finishes. I was nervous but continued steaming until we got her apart. Following are a couple of pics of the milkiness: First one is a couple of hours after the removal yesterday and the second one was this morning after about five minutes cleaning it up. I used 1200 grit wet sandpaper, a liberal amount of water from a spray bottle and just enough pressure on the paper to move it in circles.



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« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2008, 10:35:41 PM »

Susie didn't have a hard wood bridge plate. She just had a flat spruce brace that goes across the top kerfing to kerfing. The brace didn't sit directly under the bridge. It was shifted forward past the pin holes by about a half inch. In addition the strings were cutting further forward through the brace. Something had to be done and I saw no way to get the brace off without taking the back off and I couldn't just glue a hard wood strip over the pin holes, directly on the brace, because of the brace's position. Instead, I cut a couple of about 1/4 inch thick pieces of maple. I laminated a 1 1/2" by 5" strip onto a 3 1/2" by 5" strip and left them to dry overnight. Then, using the old bridge as a template I cut the pin holes in my rough bridge plate. The double thickness end allowed me to make up the difference in height between the top of the guitar and the spruce brace. I now had a bridge plate I could slide up to the rough edge of the brace and have solid, level glue surfaces on both the guitar top and the brace. Then I took a finger plane and just kept thinning the bridge plate to remove as much extra weight as possible, but still reinforce the area. I know this sounds confusing, but the photographs will illustrate what I am saying.  Though the bridge plate looks like it is twice as thick in the laminated section, it isn't. I used the finger plane and sand paper to bevel the bottom peice of maple down to just a feather thickeness in this area since it didn't need to be a level surface for gluing. The only area that is thicker than 1/8" is the area right where the pin holes are actually drilled. All in all, when final shaping was complete, the bridge plate ended up being 4" by 1 1/2"  Once I had the bridge plate formed, I put the new pyramid bridge blank in the drill press and drilled the pin holes. Following are pictures of my little homade maple bridge plate and the pyramid bridge and new bone pins just sitting on  the top of the guitar. I'll go to Junior's probably Wednesday and glue the bridge plate and the new bridge down.






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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2008, 08:39:23 PM »

I decided I wanted to make the bridge plate a bit smaller and lighter so I continued shaping it and thinning it down. Susie was pretty loud and responsive and I didn't want to add any more weight than necessary to reinforce the pin holes. I took the bridge plate down to 3 3/8" by 1 3/8" and thinned the bottom side of the plate some more. The plate is considerably lighter than yesterday. I'm hoping that since the strings will now be resting on the maple, rather than the soft spruce brace, there will be better transference of the strings energy to the top. The maple will be glued to the top as well as the brace, which runs the length of the top, so I'm hoping the improved transference will offset the slight addition of weight added by the bridge plate. I have some photographs of the bridge plate sitting on the top of the guitar to illustrate the position of everything under the guitar and how the bridge plate makes up the difference between the spruce brace and the top. There is also a photo showing how the strings were cutting forward through the brace and the top so something needed to be done. I just hope it doesn't alter the tone too much.

NOTE: Prior to gluing the plate I decided to err on the side of too light and reduced te plate considerbly in both thickness and overall size. I tapered the angle from back to front on probably about a 30 degree angle and the plate was much thinner and lighter.

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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2008, 04:03:43 PM »

Well, I got the bridge surface area chipped back carefully under the spots where the new bridge was slightly oversized. Then I back filled some areas that were missing a little spruce from the original bridge removal and sanded the areas level. I forgot to take pictures, but, I notched the bottom of the bridge in a crosshatch pattern to make certian that I got a good bond with the top. I used the Stew-Mac bridge clamping caul and one clamp and it worked out well. I had good squeeze out all the way around and I cleaned the glue up with damp paper towels and Q-Tips. The next morning, I took the clamp off and used a round file to clean out the glue in the pin holes and fit the pins in nicely. The photographs show the work nicely. Now, it is on to trying to get the dovetail rebuilt properly and loose fitted to get ready to actually begin the neck reset.

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« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2008, 04:06:27 PM »

Few more photographs:


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« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2008, 06:04:42 PM »

This is so cool! Thanks for letting us participate vicariously! I'll be eagerly watching this thread. Maybe an MP3 of Susie when you're all done?

Deb
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« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2008, 05:31:08 PM »

Hope Susie gets better soon.
Looking forward to see her well
Keep us posted
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"Guitars can seriously damage your health"

1977 American Fender Strat
2005 Larrivée L-05
2004 Amalio Burguet 3F flamenco spanish guitar
Many various other guitars gone,  ...hopefully to a good home.

http://guit-ar.com. Guitar drawings and artwork by Juan Ponte
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