GIBSON BLUE RIDGE CUSTOM
Cracks, Bridge Lifted, Bridgepin Holes Elongated, etc.
This 1970's Gibson Blue Ridge Custom had a couple of problems that appeared to be the result of storage in an uncontrolled climate and left for a long period with strings tightened. It had belonged to Kathy Miller's father, and she acquired it some time after he passed away. Kathy was quite upset with the manner in which it had been stored away in a garage by a relative after her father's passing, and decided to take possession of it and have it repaired. I am the lucky individual who had the privilege of working on this beautiful rosewood and spruce guitar. This series of repairs on this lovely instrument were started on February 28, 2010, and completed on March 7, 2010.
Below you can follow a photo trail of the initial evaluation, progress, and the end result.
WHEN FIRST RECEIVED FOR REPAIR...
(Feb 28, 2010)
ABOVE AND BELOW: Bridge lifting and shifted forward. Bridge pins were badly bent and difficult to remove.
ABOVE: Fretboard grooved from play at 1st, 2nd and 3rd frets.
ABOVE: A crack extended just along the pickguard from the soundhole.
ABOVE: When the bridge was removed, it was found that the pull of the strings over time--combined with lack of adequate support of a good bridgeplate, resulted in elongated bridgepin holes. This is serious damage caused by poor care and storage. When prepping for bridge re-install, all glue residue and debris must be removed. Surface will be reconditioned.
ABOVE: Photographed from the inside (using a mirror) the elongated pin holes can be seen. Also seen is the soft spruce bridgeplate that was apparently a bad past repair--filling the entire area within the x-bracing with too-soft of a wood to prevent the damage that eventually propagated.
REPAIRING THE CRACK (March 1 & 2, 2010)
The first undertaking was to repair the crack in the soundboard. It is important to address cracks with priority to insure they do not continue to propagate and grow larger.
ABOVE: Glue applied, and clamped. Glue does not stick to plastic cards.
ABOVE: Crack is repaired. Lacquer touchup later will further hide evidence of the crack.
INSTALLING A BACKUP BRIDGEPLATE (March 3, 2010)
I had to make a new bridgeplate. A soft (spruce) one had been installed at some previous "botched" repair, and was too soft. All the pressure from the string pull was on the bridge--which eventually gave up the fight and pulled loose. A solid maple or rosewood bridgeplate will prevent this kind of problem.
ABOVE: I made this piece of maple to glue into the space between the x-bracing to provide a strong bridgeplate that would no longer allow pulling of the bridge.
ABOVE: The maple bridgeplate ready to install. The wood taped to the bottom provides a clamping surface that spreads clamping pressure over the surface evenly--insuring a good solid and permanent bond.
ABOVE: Bridge plate has been glued in and is clamped in place until dry (waiting 24 hrs is the smart thing to do to insure full strength of the glue joint. Also noteable above is that I have plugged the elongated bridgepin holes. They will be redrilled later.
PREPARING FOR, AND REASSEMBLING THE BRIDGE (March 4, 2010)
Before reassembling the bridge, it is important to measure the exact location where it will be installed, to insure proper scale is maintained.
ABOVE: After tracing around the bridge, this area will be scraped away to allow a complete wood-to-wood bond when the bridge is glued in place. Also, it is imperative to insure the bridge is perfectly flat as is the surface it mounts to. This will insure the strongest bond, and a bridge that never pulls free. The best glue is carpenter's wood glue--such as Titebond.
ABOVE: After levelling the mounting surface, the bridge is glued in place, and clamps are applied to distribute evenly-applied pressure while the glues sets up and dries. Edges around the bridge where bare wood can be seen (see above) will be touched up with lacquer in the next step before redrilling the bridgepin holes.
POLISHING, BUFFING, REASSEMBLY and FINISHING (March 7, 2010)
ABOVE: After multiple lacquer touchups, sanding and buffing the repaired crack is barely visible.
ABOVE: New bridgepins, new saddle, and buffed and polished, truss rod adjusted, the guitar sounds great with the new D'Addario EJ-15 Phosphor Bronze Light strings.
COMPLETED MARCH 7, 2010