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 Post subject: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:00 pm 
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Mahogany
Mahogany

Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2016 7:22 pm
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First name: Nathan
Last Name: Peirson
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Has anyone ever repaired a Koa top with significant cracking? I know of a Taylor T5 that got sat on and it cracked the top pretty good. I also know that Koa can be kind of tricky in the gluing end of things. The owner took it to Taylor and they said the entire top needed to be replaced. The owner can't really afford the price at the moment. Any ideas? I'll get him to send a photo to me so I can post it.


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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:11 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
Posts: 9893
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
First name: Hesh
Last Name: Breakstone
Country: United States
Status: Professional
Top replacements are in many ways more expensive than building the top in the first place.

We've repaired Koa tops often with no issues but if it's so beat to hell and Taylor is recommending replacement that's very likely the only responsible.... option. Most pro shops will not willingly or knowing do lousy, corner cutting work. There are exceptions with all things of course.

Before anyone asks we don't and won't accept shipped in work either so my advice is offered with nothing to gain or wished for, just wanting to help.

Lastly factories don't have the same options as dedicated repair facilities meaning I would get an opinion from a trusted, talented Lutherie shop before I made any decisions and they would and will have to see it to understand what you have.



These users thanked the author Hesh for the post: nathanpeirson (Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:36 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:43 pm 
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Koa
Koa

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First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
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nathanpeirson wrote:
I also know that Koa can be kind of tricky in the gluing end of things.


I don't understand that - I have built several Koa guitars and have had no problems gluing either seams or anything else. In general I've used Titebond but I've also used CA for some rosettes and bindings (which is sometimes my choice for fine cracks). What can be a problem with koa is pore filling - particularly if its a highly flamed piece and the original builder used epoxy or CA to pop grain. Also, as you know, Taylor uses UV cataltzed poly finish - that can be almost impossible for us home repair guys to fix.

As I recall the T5 has a back access panel (however I've never seen one open) - does that allow you to get at the back of the top to cleat and to apply clamps when you do the repairs?


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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:47 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 8:20 am
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I have seen some old Martin's that had terribly cracked tops that were poorly repaired that still sounded great. For a factory (and even some professionals) to do the repair they would want the guitar to look as good as new, so weaving together broken pieces of soundboard and bracing is not what they would do on a relatively new instrument (all Taylor's are relatively new).
A cheap repair may make the guitar functional again but will probably look bad. Even if done by some professionals it may still look bad. The extraordinarily skilled repair people would likely charge more for the repair than a retop costs.
Being a thin line acoustic/electric the sound may not suffer much from gluing together the cracked soundboard.


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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:35 pm 
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Koa
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First name: Trevor
Last Name: Gore
City: Sydney
Country: Australia
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nathanpeirson wrote:
I also know that Koa can be kind of tricky in the gluing end of things...
Freeman wrote:
I don't understand that...

Koa is very similar to Aus. blackwood, and if it behaves like Aus. blackwood, I can understand it. Gluing new surfaces of either wood is no problem. However, blackwood oxidises (or something) on the surface, so gluing old surfaces can be problematic, moreso, it seems, than other woods. So I can understand why gluing an old crack where you can't generate a new surface may be problematic.

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http://www.goreguitars.com.au


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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 10:54 am 
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Mahogany
Mahogany

Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2016 7:22 pm
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First name: Nathan
Last Name: Peirson
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Here are some photos he sent meImageImage


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:33 am 
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Mahogany
Mahogany

Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2016 7:22 pm
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First name: Nathan
Last Name: Peirson
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I'll post smaller pictures next time. Still getting the low down on iPhone posts.


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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 1:20 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

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You might be able to work through the soundhole with a simple L shaped wooden "jack" to lever the wood back into place. Once everything is aligned properly you could wick in some superglue to hold it in place. Some people use super glue to touch up polyester finishes.
It will be hard to make the repair pretty, but it could make the guitar serviceable.


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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:51 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
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First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I repair a fair number of pretty inexpensive Mariachi instruments that get cracks like that. I've had pretty good luck pulling the cracks together and then taping them with surgical tape on the inside. I then wick thin superglue into the tape which sort of bonds the whole mess together. Obviously you would have to do this from the back, assuming, as I asked in an earlier post, that you can access it via the cover. Take all the electronics out of the way before you start. On the front you are going to have the issues I mentioned - trying to fill the cracks (probably with CA) and then the decision whether to try to fix the finish. I'll be interested in what people say about this - I have not had good luck "fixing" catalyzed poly finishes.

I guess the bottom line is, the guitar is toast and probably not worth the cost or trouble of retopping it. What do you have to lose by trying the tape trick?

edit to add - here is a picture of the inside of a semi hollow body where I've reinforced the f-holes with the tape and super glue. I can't see where it would hurt the sound of your T5 at all

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:02 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
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Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
First name: Hesh
Last Name: Breakstone
Country: United States
Status: Professional
Thats not a crack the top has been smashed inward and this model has no reasonable access to repair a top.

If you want it invisible and as good as new it's a retop. As Freeman rightly said other methods may get you a player again and what do you have to lose but the expectation should not be an invisible repair unless, of course, there is a new top put on it.

Folks who don't work in the trade and frequent hobby Luthier sites get a rather skewed view of what Luthiers, professional working in the trade with an established, brick and mortar business with all the expectations that go along with this, insurance...., financial wherewithal to be there another day, etc might do with this kind of repair.

If one plans on being in business another day we can't afford to do certain repairs because the economics are not there. Retopping any guitar and doing it well, refinishing it and making the repair invisible, remember our standards are or should be the pinnacle of the trade makes doing some of these unjustifiable. If for example someone charges a $80 an hour (a plumber charges more so too do auto mechanics and neither had has the investment in time to learn that a Luthier does) a repair like this one can exceed the cost of replacing the instrument. So unless the professional Luthier has lots of time on their hands and not so many paying clients with jobs that need to be completed and returned you won't see many busy shops even taking this one on.

On the other hand and we have repaired smashed in tops just like this prior if expectations are agreed to in advance that the repair may not be invisible and methods to repair the finish are used that don't include refinishing it someone may agree to do it for far less.

We do neck resets, bridge reglues, lots of crack repairs, binding repairs, bridge conversions (G*bson plastic bridge nixing), all manner of fret work, etc. A retop we would refer elsewhere because it would interfere with the work flow of our important daily stuff. I can go in on a Monday as I will tomorrow with nothing at all to do (everything is done) and several jobs will come in that I can complete the same day. They are far more profitable jobs for us and even set-ups can be one of the very most profitable things that we do and far more so than restoration work or certainly retooling an instrument. Half our business are smaller jobs competed and in and out on the very same day.

By the way we are having a very good month and will finish the month in the $14K range. You do the math, this is not typical for the industry for Luthiers who operate a drop-in, walk-in repair shop. We are not a store, we don't sell a thing and this number is all labor charges.

We are not hobby Luthiers and instead have to make enough to live our lives on from our business making some of the following very important for us.

If one charged for this repair as they should and did the whole nine yards and retopped the thing it might be a good $1,500 repair. This is to make it invisible and as good or better than new. We would not take it in and would refer someone wanting to pay that much elsewhere because again we can make more money doing many smaller jobs AND serve far more people with less risk in terms of someone changing their mind, getting a divorce, dying while waiting or any manner of things that often lead to Luthiers getting stuck with abandoned larger jobs.

Not a pretty picture that I am painting is it?

The other option is the hobby Luthier who can be capable of very good work and does not mind not charging very much (and skewing expectations with customers for the men and women who do work in the trade every day ;) ). We at times advise folks that one option is to list it on Craig's list as a "project guitar" and either sell it for very little or seek someone to fix it in their spare time. There is an old adage though about paying for what you get....

Anyway just wanted to set the record straight that the kinds of suggestions that you might see on this site and other hobby sites are not necessarily the reality of taking it to a professional Luthier who is established and pays the costs of the expected protections for both clients and their own business.

Lastly there is a peculiar and very common oppositional hazard that seems to get many Luthiers at one time or another and often results in them having to close up shop and go be a plumber. It's this notion that we have to be all things to all folks and do not have any rights to refuse certain, high risk jobs. The inexperienced or worse Luthiers will stick out their chest and proclaim that they can do it, they can do everything etc. A year later their line is disconnected and someone wants to retrieve a guitar that was never returned. Someone chased themselves right out of the trade attempting to be all things for all folks and ran into hurdles that they could not get past.

None of this is directed at anyone here or anyone specifically. I speak on this subject, how to be and run a successful Lutherie business and this is part of what I talk about why many Luthiers fail and don't continue in the trade. Of all the common reasons for going out of business this one is the number one cause, trying to be all things to all people. Remember this folks, it's important if you ever want to hang out a shingle, you have to be willing to turn some jobs away or you will likely fail in the marketplace.

What is also often not understood by those who don't work in the trade is if we take it in, we own the job and you better have one hell of a good reason if you have to abort the work after this. Dying is usually an acceptable reason so is Mars colliding with Earth but short of that you have to follow through even if you are losing your shirt and your soul. Remember too we are working on factory instruments with varying degrees of serviceability when they were built.... surprises many happen and they are not always pleasant ones....

That's why the most successful Lutherie shops that I am aware of, the bigger, established names that are here for decades never shy away from suggesting that someone take certain jobs elsewhere at times. Where is that elsewhere you may ask? There are shops that have many Luthiers and train Luthiers too where the value of certain people's time in terms of expected production is far less.

Then there is that listing as a "project guitar" again as well and simply perhaps just getting a new one and calling it a day.

Sorry this happened to you OP and sorry again for the pedantic view of why some jobs may not be something that all.... Luthiers will be excited about.



These users thanked the author Hesh for the post: SteveSmith (Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:56 am)
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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:43 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 8:20 am
Posts: 2186
So..... "There's no money above the fifth fret"



These users thanked the author Clay S. for the post: Hesh (Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:11 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:54 am 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
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First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
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Everything Hesh says is true, but I'm not sure thats where the OP is coming from. Is he asking whether it makes sense to take this guitar to a luthier/repair person (like Hesh, who is in business to both fix instruments and make a living doing it) or is he asking whether it is reasonable for someone like himself to take on the project. I sort of assumed the latter. Nathan's profile shows that he has been doing some repair work - most notably a double bass - and I assumed he was asking about taking on this one.

I also realize that Nathan has not seen the guitar - its probably premature to go much farther with it. However I remember holding a T5 a while back and remember that it had a big access panel on the back with the battery box on it - I assume that gives access to the insides and all the wiring. We also know that being a Taylor the neck comes off very easily

Image

With that picture I would consider trying to repair that guitar as I described above. Unlike Hesh where he has to give his customers certain expectations I simply promise to do my best and warn them that there are certain things that can't be undone (like the finish).

There doesn't seem to be any wood missing from the damaged area (and obviously as little poking around as possible should be done) but I think Nathan should get the guitar, take the back panel off and see what the next step might be. If he expects to make money on it, forget it. If he hopes to learn and maybe salvage this nice instrument, go for it.

Keep us posted.



These users thanked the author Freeman for the post: Hesh (Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:13 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:25 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
First name: Hesh
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Clay that's a great expression that I may borrow if you don't mind and when I do you should know I'm very keen to provide attribution!

Freeman you really need to hang out a shingle and start making more for your efforts. I'm always impressed with your work AND your willingness to help folks. Good going. Wanna be our first franchisee away from Ann Arbor? ;).

That access panel is a bit of a game changer on this one I agree but I still suspect, and I could be wrong, that invisibility will require a new top. Koa is well known for crazy grain. This means removing the old top and shooting poly after installing a new top and doing so seamlessly. That's a big job and why it could even be north of $1,500 for a busy shop that promises invisibility.

OTOH with some minor flaws that are visible the existing top can be pieced back together and certainly as functional as it ever was. Who knows the cleats and repairs may even improve the tone...;)

Anyway Freeman you are correct as usual as to what the OP was looking for but I did offer an alternative after disclaiming why my shop would not retop this one. The hobby Luthier who is in that land between pro who you can sue..... in court and amateur who knows little and may be in for a rude awakening. Someone who does repairs, has experience but does so with little overhead and does not overly promise results which are yet to be determined. The "project guitar" thing is what we call it and there are folks who will take these on. Examples of past work would be recommended if the OP goes that route.

Your point that the OP could have a go at it themselves is a good one too. They will need things that they may not have though such as long clamps, rare earth magnets, glue proof cauls, the ability to take the thing apart where need be and the skills to touch up poly with CA. You're right that's all very doable if the standard is that the repair will likely show.

That's a standard that my business can't offer at times so we just won't go there unless it's "appropriate for the instrument" and VERY clearly understood by the steward and written on the sales agreement as well that the repair will not be invisible. CYA!


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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:23 pm 
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Location: Southeast US
City: Lenoir City
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Zip/Postal Code: 37772
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One thing I've learned quickly in this repair gig is to not over promise what you can do or, more importantly, are willing to do. I just completed fixing a fender with a cracked body and badly chipped fretboard. I told the client that I could make it good structurally and that I could clean up the finish issues but the results would NOT be invisible. I also told him if he wanted a perfect finish I did know a guy who would do it. He went with the not-invisible and much lower cost repair :)

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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 7:31 pm 
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Koa
Koa

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First name: Freeman
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Steve, that is my standard line for almost any repairs involving cracks or broken wood.

Hesh, what I should do is open a shop next to you. Anything that scared me too badly I could send to you (and thats a heck of a lot that I send off to a couple of good repair folks near me) and any of the poor abused little pieces of junk that you don't want I could waste hours of my retirement patching back together. We could put a dumpster in between our shops for those that don't make sense for even me.

Nathan, the more I look at those pictures the more I think you should go for it. If you decide not to, my new shop will be right next door to Hesh. We might be across the street having a cup (or a pint).


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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:04 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

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"Clay that's a great expression that I may borrow if you don't mind and when I do you should know I'm very keen to provide attribution!"

Hi Hesh,
That -is- a great expression, one of the classics for fretted instruments, and if you can find the person who deserves the attribution, let me know. I've seen several different attributions, and probably all of them wrong (And also several different interpretations as to what it means)

Hi Freeman,
As amateurs we are free to accept challenges pros know better than to take on. But - I don't usually take them on with other people's instruments. For me "learning experiences" are best done on one's own stuff. I have acquired enough basket cases over the years to keep me occupied and dealing with people is not my forte (my friend calls me "the Hermit in the Hollow). :lol:
With that large access panel in the back you mentioned I think a structural repair would not be beyond an interested amateur.



These users thanked the author Clay S. for the post: Hesh (Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:24 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:33 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
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Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
First name: Hesh
Last Name: Breakstone
Country: United States
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Freeman wrote:
Steve, that is my standard line for almost any repairs involving cracks or broken wood.

Hesh, what I should do is open a shop next to you. Anything that scared me too badly I could send to you (and thats a heck of a lot that I send off to a couple of good repair folks near me) and any of the poor abused little pieces of junk that you don't want I could waste hours of my retirement patching back together. We could put a dumpster in between our shops for those that don't make sense for even me.

Nathan, the more I look at those pictures the more I think you should go for it. If you decide not to, my new shop will be right next door to Hesh. We might be across the street having a cup (or a pint).


The way things are going we might need a third Luthier soon. Our business is booming and every day we have to turn away shipped in work that results from Dave's videos. I just had to change our web site to highlight that we don't and won't accept shipped in work because our business model is highly dependent on face to face contact, having the client try things, educating them, setting expectations correctly with visual examples, etc. I'm very leery of not being able to see who I am dealing with because after all they could be a papa raper or momma stabber from the group W bench....;). Seriously though if you have any doubts if you're ready my friend I don't, you have bravely, skillfully and intelligently done some beautiful work AND you like helping folks. You would do great with a commercial operation!

It's a wonderful thing when more money starts coming in from Lutherie than going out and even more wonderful when at some point find out that you can be your own boss, get out of the bump and grind and do something that truly relaxes you for a living.

I love what I do now and even show up on days I don't have to at times to just get away from the normal stress of my life. Lutherie makes me think, plan etc and that takes my mind of other things. Having a client be very grateful and thrilled with the result is huge now to me too, nothing else makes me feel that happy.


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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:24 pm 
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Mahogany
Mahogany

Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2016 7:22 pm
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First name: Nathan
Last Name: Peirson
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I’m back. I have the guitar in hand. I have taken off the neck and removed the pickups to get a better look. Here are a few more pictures. I think I can re glue the crack. I have fish glue and original Titebond. Anyone prefer one above the other. I think the trick will be setting up some kind clamping/bracing system. I’m thinking wedges inside the body cavity or even a cam of some kind to put pressure from inside. Here are some new photos.ImageImageImage



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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:27 pm 
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Mahogany
Mahogany

Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2016 7:22 pm
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First name: Nathan
Last Name: Peirson
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
nathanpeirson wrote:
I’m back. I have the guitar in hand. I have taken off the neck and removed the pickups to get a better look. Here are a few more pictures. I think I can re glue the crack. I have fish glue and original Titebond. Anyone prefer one above the other. I think the trick will be setting up some kind clamping/bracing system. I’m thinking wedges inside the body cavity or even a cam of some kind to put pressure from inside. Here are some new photos.ImageImageImage



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The first photo shows the crack visible from the inside upper right. The next is a close up of the outside and the last is with the neck removed.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:12 am 
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Clay S. wrote:
So..... "There's no money above the fifth fret"


I've heard this attributed to both Tommy Tedesco and Chet Atkins.

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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:52 pm 
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Mahogany
Mahogany

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State: West Somerset
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Hesh I do appreciate your common sense approach. Almost any damage can be repaired but is it worth it? And for anyone trying to make a living is it economic?

There is so much BS around in the guitar build / repair world that your approach is refreshing. In particular a clear distinction between the amateur world (like myself) and the professional is so important.

Dave


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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:06 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Location: Alexandria MN
A bunch of powerful repair magnets inside and out might align it. Possibly the guitar tuner crack repair clamp could play a role.

Image

I love the paper tape superglue splint technique. Brilliant!

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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:24 pm 
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Cocobolo
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First name: David
Last Name: Riedmiller
State: WI
Country: United States
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Status: Amateur
"The way things are going we might need a third Luthier soon. Our business is booming and every day we have to turn away shipped in work that results from Dave's videos. " (Quote from Hesh)
Hesh, as soon as you decide to take on someone, let me know. I just dug out my suitcases and dusted them off!! (Although I can't yet call myself a Luthier). Maybe I could start with sweeping floors?

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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:23 pm 
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Mahogany
Mahogany

Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:41 pm
Posts: 71
Location: Coquitlam, BC
First name: Kerry
Last Name: Werry
City: Coquitlam
State: British Columbia
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I know this is sidetracking this thread but Hesh started it ;-) Some of this is stuff I feel strongly about.

He makes some good points about us amateurs and how we can help or hurt professionals! I am officially 36 days from retirement and have been a hobby builder for 6 years or so... I plan to dive into this with a more seriously when I have time BUT I don't expect it to pay the bills! There are lots of Pro builders in town and my goal is not to undercut them but also not to end up with a bunch of guitars sitting around the house (must maintain marital happiness).. I think I can fill a niche that is not well served currently and I can charge a decent price, bearing in mind at this point at least I have no real history in the trade. I also in past years was a fairly serious underwater photographer, published in books and magazines but still not depending on it for a living.. I was very careful who I dealt with and what I charged. I have given images to Non-profits for free and charged for profit organizations for the same images in line with industry standards.

I don't do repairs except to my own work, It's way too stressful for me to work on other instruments but I think Hesh and Freeman give some good points as to how the amateur and Pro can live and work in harmony. I actually could see me attempting "hopeless" repairs that have been abandoned as uneconomical, first of all not mush stress there if you set expectations right and you are not taking food out of people like Hesh's mouth and it keeps those of us who do this purely for fun engaged and having fun.

I'm going to try and walk that line in my building where I build and sell what I build but at a price reasonable for the quality and effort put in but not so expensive as to be out of the realm of what a part time retired guy building guitars should charge... We will see how it goes...

Kerry

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 Post subject: Re: Koa top crack
PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:16 pm 
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Mahogany
Mahogany

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First name: Nathan
Last Name: Peirson
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Time to come clean. I am not making money on this or offering my services for monetary gain at this point. The guitar belongs to a family member. The other instruments I've been working on belong to my employer (I work in Theatre). I have the time, energy and desire to do the work hone my chops and have additional skills at my disposal. I am 64 (cue Beatles). I have done cabinetry, fine woodwork and prop building for 34yrs. I currently have a Sinker Redwood top/Black Walnut sides and back guitar in the wings (still building tools.), 2 carved top mandolins, one Adi top/Maple B& S, the other Douglas Fir Top/Padauk B&S and an Octave Mandolin, Sitka top, Mahogany B&S. I believe you should never stop learning, honing skills and producing something that makes music. The Lord knows this world needs it. I appreciate this forum and various others I inhabit. The community is warm, intelligent and willing, all leading to good teaching/sharing. Thanks to all and keep the ideas coming.


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