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JERRY ACKLEY'S CONN C-60
Jerry Ackley's C-60 Conn classical guitar restoration is the topic of this page. Jerry's guitar was an early prototype, built with solid rosewood sides and back, and solid spruce top. Neck material is unknown, but is suspected to be mahogany. Jerry was the first employee of the Conn Guitar Company, launched by the C.G.Conn Company (now Conn-Selmer) in the fall of 1970 (see more on the Conn Acoustic Guitars page << click to go there). He was the individual who launched operations for the Conn guitar business, contracted to Tokai-Gakki for the first models, and oversaw the successful first two years of the guitar business at C.G. Conn in Oak Brook, Illinois. This prototype C-60 Classical instrument differed from later models. One difference that can readily be seen is evident in the unique headstock (an early concept, much different from the later distinctive Conn headstock).
Jerry's C-60 fell into disrepair over the years. But even in the state of disrepair (cracks in tonewoods, bracing loose inside, etc.) it still sounded pretty amazing. So I undertook the task of restoring to as close to original as possible. Below is a photo history of this restoration process.
The first photos shown are ones of the "BEFORE" condition. It should be noted that a former repair had been attempted by an individual of the Conn company who was not familiar with wood instruments. That individual (with the best of intentions) sought to fix the instrument by coating the inside with silicone. Jerry himself undid part of the damage caused by the well-intentioned brass instrument repairman, but much was still needed to address the cracking and the remaining silicone that had found its way between the back wood and bracing. Action, at the time of the repair, was good...fortunately no issues with the height of strings above the soundboard, so no work on that part of the guitar was needed beyond repairing cracks.
 
PHOTOS HAVE, FOR SOME REASON, BEEN LOST. I WILL TRY TO FIND THE PHOTOS TO RE-POST. THIS GUITAR WAS AN AMAZING REPAIR. THE BACK WAS ACTUALLY REMOVED COMPLETELY, AND BRACING REMOVED, CRACKED WOOD REPAIRED, BRACKING REPLACED, AND RE-ASSEMBLED. iT CAME OUT QUITE WELL--WHICH, IF I CAN FIND THE PHOTOS, WILL BE SELF-EVIDENT.

BEFORE PHOTOS:
ABOVE: On the left is simply a photo of the headstock of Jerry's C-60 Prototype--an obviously different headstock design from the ones used on the first production models, shown on the right.

ABOVE: Some of many cracks in the body of Jerry's C-60.


ABOVE and BELOW (NEXT SEVERAL PICTURES): Body cracks and joint separation.


BELOW: A FORMER CRACK OR COMPLETE BREAKAGE OF THE NECK. THIS APPEARS TO BE DONE PROPERLY, AND WILL NOT BE FURTHER TOUCHED.

BELOW: Cracks in the fretboard. This is due to two possible things: 1) extended storage in dry environment (dry-cracking), or 2) the use of wood that was not fully dried to the proper retained moisture content (10-20%) before it was used.

BELOW: In the below photos, silicone can be seen under the bracing. The first two photos were taken when I began attempting to remove the silicone before finally deciding that I needed to remove the back of the guitar. Then the next several show the extent to which silicone had leeched under the bracing and had to be removed before continuing. The silicone is partcularly noticeable in the lower photos--where it can be seen in several places as white colored against the dark wood.


BELOW: After removing the back, the "channel" (the recessed area where the back was glued) needed to be prepared for re-gluing of the back in place. Below left shows before this cleaning out, and the photo on the right shows after preparation for re-gluing.



RESTORATION PROGRESS

Not many photos were taken of the repairs and restoration as it progressed. In the following photo, the guitar hangs after final crack repairs and back re-joining. The halves of the back were completely separated except for a small area where the back purfling joined the pieces together. This separation allowed for cleaning out the silicone before attempting to glue the halves back together. Silicone was under the original back graft strip, so it had to be removed completely. Although the original was made of mahogany, the replacement was made of East Indian rosewood to match the back.


BELOW: Here in the next several photos, can be seen silicone being removed from the

BELOW: This photo shows the guitar hanging while drying after the final repairs of cracks. There are a couple of personal messages to Jerry regarding the guitars hanging to the left and right of the C-60:

JERRY - IMMEDIATELY ABOVE IS THE PHOTO I SENT THAT DIDN'T ARRIVE WITH MY EMAIL TO YOU.


12-25-2010

While my wife prepared a couple of dishes to take to her mother's home for Christmas dinner, I immersed myself again in Jerry's C-60.


BELOW:

The back glued back onto the guitar. Here can be seen clamps and tape holding the back into place while drying. It went back together beautifully--having planned ahead and cleaned out the cavity where it fit, and cleaned and flattened the rosewood back. This guitar has an amazing future ahead! This step will sit until 12/26. Then it will be examined with clamps removed, and glue may be added to bracing, and to kerfing areas to insure solid joints. Then, on to the next step...finishing and stringing it. As of 12/25, this guitar is estimated to be 3 days from being completed.


12-27-2010

On 12-26, I did remove clamps and tape shown in the photo on 12/25/2010. However, I mostly blended and cleaned off excess glue, and smoothed the back joint. So on 12/27/2010 the finishing took place. I continued finishing around the perimeter of the outer back edge, and used stain to darken some of the repair areas. I then masked off the sides, top, and neck, and applied two coats of lacquer. I then removed the masking, finished the edges, and installed D'Addario EJ-45 (Normal Tension) strings supplied by Mr. Ackley. The finished guitar is shown below both before and after installing strings.