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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:28 pm 
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What does that mean to you? Do you make specific choices while building with servicing in mind? What tricks have you developed over time and what tips would you give about building serviceable instruments?

I attended the Northwoods seminar a few weeks back. Watching all the terrific presenters talking about repair and the mental and sometimes physical gymnastics needed to execute repairs was eye opening.

I've already decided to switch to hide glue for my next steel string builds. I'm excited about it and doing some tests in my shop. Warming parts before clamping them, what a rubbed joint looks and feels like (just for kicks, not for bridges laughing6-hehe ), can I stand to crank the heat to 85 in the shop... I'm testing 315 gram strength with the intent to use it for bridges, 192 for everything else. Practicing getting the top on a set of rims before the glue gels. Cussing a bit here and there.

Anyway, what tips would you give about building a serviceable instrument?

Brad

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:50 pm 
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I've gone to dovetails on the neck and basically conventional construction using mostly hide glue. No weird surprises for a future repair guy - or me if I'm still around.

As far as the hide glue goes - no need to heat your shop, just get a heat lamp and suspend it at whatever height works to keep the parts warm that you want to work on. I have my heat lamp on a piece of line and just move it up or down as needed. I also plug it into a timer that I have to reset every 15 min so I don't burn the shop down.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:03 pm 
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Really happy to see that Brad is thoughtful and dedicated enough to start this thread and be genuinely concerned with upping his game and value proposition by what I call.... increasing the serviceability quotient of his creations.

Good going Brad! [:Y:]

My advice is the very same advice that Rick Turner gave me and everyone else here over ten years ago and that is you ain't s*** unless you learn to do some repair work. I recall being offended that Rick even called our creations if we did not understand serviceability and learn repair work.... GLOs or "guitar like objects..." He went on to say that we are fooling ourselves calling ourselves Luthiers when all we are doing is putting together "model airplane kits." ;)

I was offended.... initially.... Then I met Rick and understood more and then I met Dave Collins and understood even more.

Rick AND Dave were right, if you really want to build a great guitar learn how to fix the instruments produced by others. The more the better, baptism by fire and high volume was my path.

So that's it, do some repair work, set-up every instrument that you get the opportunity to set-up, do bridge reglues, refrets, even neck resets. Install pick guards, pups, strap buttons an anything that comes your way that needs these things.

When you do you will quickly learn why many things that are considered better.... practices are so. From fretting on the finished instrument, neck on to using HHG where beneficial and appropriate it all makes perfect sense when you do lots of it.

Lastly I found building to be somewhat limiting in terms of advancing a skill set. I only had the opportunity to say glue a bridge on once I completed another guitar. That could be a month or several years. Lessons learned were in my case often forgotten because of the infrequency of doing these individual and common Luthier tasks.

Anyway building serviceable instruments will be a no brainer when you have to be the one to explain that someone's 4 year old commissioned Luthier... built instrument is not worth the cost of the repairs...... Experiences such as this change one when they have to be the one to do the death certificate on what was supposed to be a finely crafted Luthier guitar.

Thanks again Brad!



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:55 pm 
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While it might seem very creative and artistic to build.... A good repair person can take them apart, AND THEN put them back together seamlessly and usually improve on the OEM's quality. Bitter pill for some builders, but it's the absolute truth. Repair guys have more skill sets than builders.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:08 pm 
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It doesn't SEEM to be creative and artistic to build, it IS creative and artistic to build.



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:13 pm 
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My tip would be to absorb anything written or filmed by Dan Erlewine, Frank Ford and Rick Turner. There are many other repair people with great skills that have Youtube videos - Dave Collins has a few, Robbie O'Brien has tons and John Hall has a plethora of videos. There are many others.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:42 pm 
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I think that I've learned a lot about building serviceability into the guitar from reading things here on the OLF, so thanks to the repair people who share their wisdom. I often say that good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. Hopefully, our good judgment can be developed more from reading about the mistakes of other builders than from our own mistakes, but sometimes personal flubs can't be avoided.

Anyway, some of the serviceability points I have learned either the hard way or from reading here:

1. Don't finish the inside of the guitar, because it doesn't help slow down moisture transfer as much as you want it to, and it makes repairs harder.

2. Don't ignore or skimp on RH control.

3. Don't use irreversible or hard to figure out neck joints.

4. Don't use the wrong glue in the wrong place.

I look forward to learning much more from the repair folks who contribute, and again, thanks!



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:54 pm 
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doncaparker wrote:
I think that I've learned a lot about building serviceability into the guitar from reading things here on the OLF, so thanks to the repair people who share their wisdom. I often say that good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. Hopefully, our good judgment can be developed more from reading about the mistakes of other builders than from our own mistakes, but sometimes personal flubs can't be avoided.

Anyway, some of the serviceability points I have learned either the hard way or from reading here:

1. Don't finish the inside of the guitar, because it doesn't help slow down moisture transfer as much as you want it to, and it makes repairs harder.

2. Don't ignore or skimp on RH control.

3. Don't use irreversible or hard to figure out neck joints.

4. Don't use the wrong glue in the wrong place.

I look forward to learning much more from the repair folks who contribute, and again, thanks!

This makes perfect sense.



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:43 pm 
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Think as well about building to avoid the repairman. This stuff comes to mind, much from learning it the hard way.

Be obsessed with humidity control during the build, use only well seasoned wood, fit your bridges meticulously before gluing, test your truss rods before installation, use something like hide glue or tightbond in the slots when fretting, consider unslotted bridge pins to protect the bridge plate, study optimal bracing patterns for the upper bout to minimize the need for an early neck reset and obtain a final neck set that will allow some wiggle room for settling in and still allow adequate saddle height.

Hide glue on bridges, braces, and dovetails definitely makes later intervention easier.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:21 pm 
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OK Brad, you asked for it!

Hide glue:
I wouldn't worry about 315g. If a 192g hide glue joint fails, it will almost certainly be from something other than low gram strength. I think once you mess with 192g a bit you'll agree it's crazy strong.
What Steve said with the lamps.

If using a dovetail:
leave a big enough gap to get a steam needle in right under a fret. Just a thin coat of glue on the mating surfaces. The joint should work without it. The fingerboard extension is one place I think regular PVA is a good thing. beehive

If using bolts:
Make sure there's a place to put a strap button in a reasonable place without hitting metal. I believe threaded inserts that are just in the tennon are folly. beehive

Make the tail block thickness so it falls within the range of common output jacks.

Don't finish the nut in!
A few dots of glue on the end of the fingerboard not on the bottom will do. Few things are as uplifting (or unusual) as giving a little rap on a nut and having it come loose easily and cleanly.

Make sure the break angle of the strings over the nut will continue to be sufficient even after the board has been re-surfaced a few times and the frets taken down to .020"

Don't tuck your bridgeplate under the braces. beehive

I find it easier to do a quick clean re-fret on bound or pocketed fret slots. A nice even radius with no rolled edges helps too.

Plastic binding wraps around parts like Liquorice when building, but time seems to be unkind to it over the long haul. beehive ( Wood, Egypt, Eternity, bla bla..................)

I know they look cool but braces that come to a wispy feather edge can be a hassle. Easily damaged and requiring precise cauls to clamp them safely.

A bridge that can be clamped without heroic caul making is nice too.

There are lots of ways to do it but make sure the truss rod can easily overcome the pull of the strings. If the rod is working hard on day one, 40+ years of tension won't make it better.

Make the rod adjustable with conventional tools.

Don't use conical screw heads on wood truss rod covers, or use one that goes into the 1/64" of wood left over the rod.


Build with sufficient compensation. If it's marginal at the start it will only get worse. Other than some goofy old Martins, I rarely see over compensated saddles. the nut and saddle may get closer but they will never get further apart.

I don't believe 3/32" saddles are up to the task they are asked to do. Saddles and bridge slots that distort over time make future fitting problematic. the back edge of a saddle almost always breaks down a little giving even less room for compensation variation.
It's easy to veer off serviceability and into durability but a good responsive instrument will most likely have a bridge that rotates forward a couple of degrees under string tension over time. I can think of no reason not to angle the slot back a couple/three degrees in the bridge. It will look more vertical and be stronger. Unless I'm trying to fanatically duplicate a vintage bridge, I always angle it back a couple of degrees. you simply can't tell by looking.

Bridge pins that are parallel to the saddle give more room for saddle height variation.

There's a start.

Or at least a cathartic vent. :)

Oh yeah, if using color in your finish, put it as low as possible with clear coats over it.


Last edited by david farmer on Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:31 pm 
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If anything - Rick's GLO moniker was a rant about hideous lack of accuracy of fretwork, wonky neck sets, horrible intonation, and completely random "setups". Creating beautiful tragedies. Stunning flower pots and wall ornaments. The highest grade woods appointed with stunning picture perfect woodworking, Beautiful inlay, and perfect finishes... Completely unplayable because the fret slots were hand cut in the wrong places.....

I have seen and played too many of those beautiful tragedies... They are so beautiful to behold - but so horrible in your hands...

That's not a glue problem..



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:40 pm 
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Quote:
Don't finish the nut in!

A few dots of glue on the end of the fingerboard not on the bottom will do. Few things are as uplifting (or unusual) as giving a little rap on a nut and having it come loose easily and cleanly.

Make sure the break angle of the strings over the nut will continue to be sufficient even after the board has been re-surfaced a few times and the frets taken down to .020



Praise the Lord for mentioning this, David. Even Gibson errs by finishing over the end of the nut. Looks really nice..... until the nut gets cracked or broken and replacement is needed. I can never make it look "stock" again without a lot of extra touching up - and that's expensive for the client.

Overdoing glue on the nuts is a big problem. It really sucks when fingerboard chips come out with the damaged nut. I've seen too many nuts superglued on with a lot of squeezeout. Just not needed, it's bad form.

The last.... Amen. Plan ahead for your guitar to have a lifetime of maintenance while being played. Unless it will be a display only collectible.....

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:43 pm 
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david farmer wrote:

Bridge pins that are parallel to the saddle give more room for saddle height variation.


Not sure I follow this, please explain David. Thanks

I am following this thread with a lot of interest, and while I have no desire to repair, Terence's comment of "build to avoid the repairman" certainly strikes a chord.
Thanks to all the repair people for pointing us in a forward direction.

B

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 5:33 am 
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An analogy that I've always liked since this was part of my life long ago... was that players, builders and repair Luthiers are not unlike NASA. With NASA we have the engineers who imagine and build the hardware. We have the physicists who do the math, also imagine and calculate what's needed to leave earth and at times come back safely. And we have the Astronauts who depend on both the engineers and physicists to keep them whole and safe as the Astronauts make history taking all of the above to new levels.

Players, builders and repair Luthiers all are very important, very necessary and equals in my view in making what we do important, fun, and fruitful.

How's that? Diplomacy was never a strong suit for me....;)

I do agree however that when I was a builder only serviceability initially was not at all on my mind..... Instead it was the race to create a better mousetrap which, by the way is for the most part very charted and well traveled territory. Every time I thought that I had done something new... I later learned that it was only new to me because I was ignorant to what others had done in the past.

Now I just do this for the money...... and with that said you can see that I'm not very bright....;)



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 5:42 am 
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Regarding finishing in nuts this is something that G*bson does do.... that I actually like and appreciate. I know that the "serviceability quotient" of this practice is lower because it requires scoring the finish to remove a nut. Flaky finish may.... well you know.... flake and not look great.

We have a bit of a rule of thumb at Ann Arbor Guitars for any nut that is finished in and G*bson is not the only one doing this. If it's a finished in nut, a relatively new instrument, etc. we prefer rather than removing the nut if the malady is a low nut slot to instead raise the slot with light cured, composite dental fillings. As such Hesh is known to ask Martins and G*bsons to say Ahhhhhh please.

The filling is harder than the original material including bone and will last longer. It's also an upgrade of sorts for this reason and desirable to touring artists who can't afford to have a low nut slot 2,000 miles from the only Luthiers that they trust.

Theoretically if there is never a need to change string spacing a nut may never require removal if we have the option to service the individual slots as light cured dental fillings affords us. However because most of the Lutherie world beyond Frank at Griffon who came up with this practice and us at A2G are not known to be dental office tooled up for this practice I would agree that finished in nuts suck.

I had a poodle many years ago who had one finished in nut too. It never seemed to bother him he still humped legs anyway.... dang puppy mills....



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:00 am 
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The first book I had on guitar building way back in the day was David Russel Youngs book. Most of you are probably familiar with it. Anyway one line in the book I will never forget is when he was talking about his neck joint which was simply a butt joint epoxied right on to the body. He went on about how great these new space age glues were and so on and refereed to building future serviceable instruments as 'tinker toy philosophy.'

I've yet not been able to repair a guitar that have had some pretty awful problems including cheap Asian imports with mystery glue. I'm kind of sort of with Young on this one. I build guitars according to my own philosophies developed over 25 years now to sound good. The guy in the future can figure out how to fix it, heck they'll even cure cancer by then :D

Having said that I don't do anything stupid like epoxy a neck on to a body and generally follow all the best practices that David Farmer suggested. I'd also add that finishing in a neck is problematic too.



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:51 am 
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I worked as a machine repairman and when assembling anything, I always assumed that I was the guy that was going to have the task of taking it back apart. It makes one very attentive to tolerances. Same motto applies to instrument building. I am gonna be the guy that services this instrument.



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 8:28 am 
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Mr. McKenna's post reminded me of the newer Mustangs modern maintenance problem. With the wide V8 shoehorned between the narrow fenders, no room is left for the hands of the mechanic. This is why engine work is so expensive on Mustangs these days. Ford engineered the motors into a cradle, which is lowered out of the raised vehicle to change spark plugs, replace water pump, etc. Needless to say, service is quite expensive on the newer 'Stangs as compared to the older ones.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:45 am 
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Bri wrote:
david farmer wrote:

Bridge pins that are parallel to the saddle give more room for saddle height variation.


Not sure I follow this, please explain David. Thanks

B




Typically, with a line of pins running 90 degrees to the instrument centerline and an angled saddle slot, the bass side limits how tall the saddle can be before it threatens to break something. windings can also run up onto the saddle when the pin is too close. The treble side will give up the break angle gost and start buzzing early when the saddle gets low because it's so far away. When all the pins are placed an appropriate, even, distance from the saddle, the usable range is much greater.

There is a lot of room for artistic expression on an instrument without compromising function.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 10:01 am 
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For a good lesson in what not to do, I would suggest getting an old Asian import junker and taking it apart, keeping in mind what it would be like to repair it as you progress.

Pat

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 10:12 am 
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jfmckenna wrote:
I'd also add that finishing in a neck is problematic too.


+1


I'll go out on a limb and say spanish heel construction should go the way of the Edsel. beehive
I see lots of unnecessary, premature classical burials. (yes, I know they can be fixed and no, I don't think they inherently sound better)

The amount of resources, including human effort, that go in the bin from unserviceable neck joints .................... gaah



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 10:58 am 
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If its impossible to restore to original - then make it serviceable. I have it on good authority that the saw is "The Great Equalizer" with respect to creative neck joints.. It will separate Spanish heel necks.. It will separate Gurian style pinned necks...it will separate epoxy and urethane glued necks..

The router and plane make quick work or bridges glued with superglue, epoxy, and urethane.....

And lets be totally honest here.... This is traditional fare for the repair luthier...

Look at the fabled Stradivarius instruments... Only 1 violin has the original neck/neck joint. All the rest were converted from the nailed butt joint to a dovetail joint and were unceremoniously equipped with a much longer scale length than original... Nobody is crying....


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:22 am 
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Quote:
For a good lesson in what not to do, I would suggest getting an old Asian import junker and taking it apart, keeping in mind what it would be like to repair it as you progress.


Preach it, Brother Pat! I started my education as a repair guy by buying cheap Asian crap, tearing it apart, and putting it back together so it worked. I did this for a couple years before I even worked up the nerve to touch a Gibson, Fender, Martin, etc. To this day, I am quick to offer a 10 or 20 dollar bill for cheap guitars of any kind - electric or acoustic, just for the amusement and occasional educational moments of taking them apart to see how it was done. I am 40 years in, and still trying to learn something new.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 6:43 pm 
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Charles Fox builds his guitars with a removable panel at the heel. Easy to reach in and work on any aspect inside the box.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 7:49 pm 
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Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 6:14 pm
Posts: 438
First name: Mike
Last Name: Imbler
City: Wichita
State: KS
Zip/Postal Code: 67204
Country: usa
Focus: Build
I'm building my first steel string after 5 classicals, and so far the bolt on neck I'm doing is really appealing. I see a lot of advantages in building as well as serviceability.

I almost did a spanish heel on this one as it is what I am used to, but I think I'll use a bolt on for my next classical. And I might even put a truss rod in it. Some famous builders are doing that now.



david farmer wrote:
jfmckenna wrote:
I'd also add that finishing in a neck is problematic too.


+1


I'll go out on a limb and say spanish heel construction should go the way of the Edsel. beehive
I see lots of unnecessary, premature classical burials. (yes, I know they can be fixed and no, I don't think they inherently sound better)

The amount of resources, including human effort, that go in the bin from unserviceable neck joints .................... gaah


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