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The Guitar Medic

By Appointment
Repair and Restoration
1898 Mandolin
Washburn D10S
Oscar Schmidt OF2
1900s Tenor Banjo
Yamaha FG-230 12-String
1970 Stella H927
1970 Harmony H165-1
Gibson Blueridge
1970's Conn F-11
Conn C-60
Conn F-2112
Gibson Classical C-1
Yamaha F325 Hole Repair
Yamaha FD01S
Ibanez Electric
Yamaha FG550
Yamaha FG300 Restore
Ovation Broken Neck
Yamaha FG300 Minor Repair
Framus 5/68 Restoration
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Yamaha FG180-1
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Yamaha FG180-1 Repair
This FG180-1 was sent from a Maryland owner--directly from the eBay seller. He wanted the ding in the back fixed, and the dings in the headstock minimized.  I removed the strings when I received it and proceeded through my normal detailed inspection; looking at inside bracing, examining all over for small cracks, and other anomalies.  I then took "as received" photos, which are below.

AS RECEIVED 04-28-2015:

Photo 1 As Received - General dull finish on tuning machines and pegs. Dull finish on headstock.

Photo 2 As Received - General dull finish on tuning machines and back of headstock.


Photo 3 As Received -- Shown to emphasized the yellowing of the metal on the tuners. Not sure if this is factory or original.

Photo 4 As Received - Back strap button is held in by a gum wrapper "shim".

Photo 5 As Received - Top of headstock is pretty beat  up. Will require filler and refinish.

Photo 6 As Received - Dullness of finish that is present on most of the guitar can be seen in this contrast. Some shiny some not.

Photo 7 As Received -- This is the ding the seller divulged and stated was not all the way through. However there is a distinct crack for about 3" on the inside that is the result of this ding, where wood is pushed up away from the ding.

Photo 8 As Received - Another view of the same ding.


Photo 9 As Received - This photo mainly just shows how dull the finish is on the guitar. It won't reflect the lights above the bench very clearly.

Photo 10 As Received - Not sure what this is but appears to be either a localized buffing, or a water spot. It is at the waist next to the pick guard.


Photo 11 As Received - The fretboard has a small chip at the edge in the first fret area (under the high E string).

Photo 12 As Received - The guitar was obviously played a lot (or at maybe played by someone who infrequently trimmed the nails on their left hand). Grooves in the fretboard are present, but are not severe. Scraping the fretboard will minimize the grooving, but it is not severe enough to address by filling (see FG300 restoration for example of filling fretboard grooving).

WORK STARTED 05-06-2015
I began by removing strings and tuners. Under the saddle was a small wood shim at the low E side. I took that out, and removed the saddle--which is all of 3/32 high at its highest point. I then got inside with a brush to remove "dust bunnies" that had accumulated inside, so that I could ensure that I could get a good look at the bracing. Bracing was found to be intact and in good condition. I noticed that the tuners had a yellowing to them, that didn't seem like the normal "gold" color associated with gold plated hardware. I wrote to the owner, and told him I was going to look into this. I didn't do much more this day.

WORK CONTINUING ON 05-07-2015 - I found that the yellowing shown above in the "AS RECEIVED" photos, #3 above, was easily removable. I at first tried alcohol, with limited success. I then took a wire brush, and the film brushed right off in a dusty cloud. I found I could scrape it off with my nail. Not sure what it was, but definitely some kind of residue that accumulated there.

On Sunday after preparing and cooking the most outstanding Kabobs on the grille (my wife's request), and after everyone left (around 5:30 pm), I finally had time to work on the guitar itself. Before doing anything, I removed strings,  Photos below show some work done on Mother's Day. 

05-10-2015 - I cleaned the entire area around the punched hole with alcohol. I use 90% alcohol to avoid the higher water content in the more common 70%. I then allowed it to dry, then applied Titebond "Dark" wood glue onto the surface. I worked this glue in with my finger to insure it went into every crevice, crack, and cranny. I then wiped away the excess. What you see above is the result.

05-10-2015 - Shown here, looking inside, I have used this tool from StewMac--it is a jack used to push up on a localized area. A great tool for this application. On the opposite end (not seen) it pushes against a brace--so the pressure is all on the flat wood beneath the pad show above. This pushed the punched hole out flush. But it doesn't stop there. Once pushed out, the glue was squeezed out a bit, so more cleanup of the excess glue. Then see the next photo.

05-10-2015 - After wiping away the excess glue that squeezed out, I applied pressure with a spreader clamp. But not before placing a block of wood against the outer surfaces of the guitar to protect the finish. The top piece has a piece of plastic between the wood and the punched hole--wood glue doesn't stick to plastic, so once the glue is set up, it will be easy to remove the pressure-distributing blocks of wood. This will occur later today or tomorrow.






After a normal work day doing my day job, I went upstairs and reheated some Kabobs from yesterday, and ate dinner. At about 8 pm I went to my shop, removed the clamping and inside jackscrew, and the hole did not move. It stayed just how I left it. So I put some glue into the inside where the crack was, and put the jackscrew back in place. I then mixed a small amount of 2-part epoxy, and added a drop of red mahogany stain, mixed it well, then applied it to the repair spot--working it into the crevices and depressions, and smoothing it on top. This needs to dry for about 12 hours. The manufacturer says full strength in 1 hour, but experience has told me to be patient, and go for more. I've worked epoxy in 4 hours, and that isn't long enough. So I'm always going with my gut on this--no value in getting in a hurry.

5-11-2015 - After removing the spreader clamp and cleaning away the excess glue, I allowed the glue to cure another 12 hours. I dabbed some red mahogany stain into the pits, wiped away the excess, then mixed the 2-part epoxy discussed above, and worked it into the various surface cracks and pits. I leveled it and let it sit to dry.

5-11-2015 - Another view of the same area--showing the applied epoxy, setting up. I will let this sit for about 20 hours before beginning to level it and work it smooth. I may opt to first fill the divots in the headstock before beginning to level this.  In this photo you can see the light (maple) strip in the center. There were three small dings it that strip (see blue arrows) which I removed by using water--dripping it into them and allowing it to sit all day. Dings are basically compressed areas of wood--where the cells get crushed. Wood absorbs the water, and makes the cells of the wood swell--pushing out dings naturally.

The leveling of a repair like this is tricky. It has to be done with much patience. Getting in a hurry will result in gouges or scrapes to the otherwise unflawed finish around the repair area.  So masking has been applied as a first defense barrier. If when filing (coarse file) the file gets too close to the surface of the guitar, the tape gets the first lick.

5-12-2015 - Masking protects surrounding areas during the filing and leveling of the repair area.

5-12-2015 - File has to be as parallel to the surface as possible. I never intend to hit the tape, but inevitably will. That's why it is there.


5-12-2015 - It is a slow process, and the epoxy builds up in the file. So it has to be not only turned over, but cleaned out from time to time. This is a slow process.


5-12-2015 - Here you can see progress being made. The file leaves a dull finish, but after it is level, I will use 220, then 320, then 1000, then 1500, then 2500 grit paper to achieve a smooth surface. Buffing will achieve a glossy surface, and a layer of wipe-on poly will mask it even further.

5-12-2015 - Almost there. Added a small amount of cyanoacrylic glue to fill in the small hairline cracks.

5-12-2015 - Finished levelling and applied a thin coat of wipe-on polyurethane (Min-wax). As expected, the divot will not be 'invisible", but it will not be very noticeable.

The hole is almost gone. I had to compare today to the beginning. So below you'll see photos "Before" and "After"--even though I still have more coats of poly to apply.

BEFORE 4-28-2015 - As received. Hole punched nearly through layers of laminate. This presents a particularly challenging repair due to laminated wood. It is the BEST practice for patching holes however.

AFTER 5-13-2015 - As I stated when I started, this type of damage is difficult to completely hide when repaired. This one is no exception. This is simply as good as it gets.

The work cannot continue, until I clean the guitar. There is a film all over it, that I'm unsure of. It looks almost like heavy nicotine, but it has no odor. Below is a white paper towel that I soaked with alcohol to remove this film. This is after the 3rd paper towel used to wipe off that film. After doing this, I put plastic polish on the surface and it shined up very nicely. Not sure what that grime is, but it appears to be the same thing that is on the tuners.

WORK CONTINUING ON 05-22-2015 - I took a few days off to work on a Ukulele, and a violin case. On 5/22 I returned to this guitar. I cleaned the huge nicks in the headstock with alcohol, let them dry good, then filled with a tinted epoxy (tinted red mahogany).  After it cured, I finished it down flush to the surfaces.

5-22-2015 - The evening before, I filled the end and cavities with mahogany-tinted epoxy. This was actually applied at about 12:30 AM, and allowed to cure until about 4 pm on Friday the 22nd.

5-22-2015 - Another view of the filled gaps.

5-22-2015 - Began the process of flushing the material. I could not see the small pit when I began finishing the material excess out of the way. The labor to fix this minor flaw would far outweigh the benefits.

5-22-2015 - After sanding and coating with a couple of coats of polyurethane, the headstock is beginning to look like it should. A few more coats with light sanding in between will make this repair complete.