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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 3:54 pm 
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Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
Back in April my mother went to an auction house and won an Epiphone 12 string guitar. I won't say how much but I would have passed on it. She's been known to make questionable purchases as she did not know what she was bidding on. Well, it turned out to be a 1970s Nolin era FT-160N Texan with laminated construction and an electric-style bolt on neck.

The other day she came to visit and I laid eyes on it for the first time and it is in pretty sad shape. The neck block has slipped causing the fingerboard extension to dig into the top, ripple the soundhole and as yet the integrity of the upper transverse brace is unclear. In addition, the bridge is lifting and the guitar shows signs of severe heat stress through finish checking, a belly bulge and impressions in the top that hint at the locations of the braces underneath. The neck angle is such that it could probably serve as a nice bow for archery. The string height at the 12th fret looks too be over an inch, the neck angle has to be greater that 20 degrees and the fingerboard plane looks like a ski jump.

I told my mom that it's a really sick guitar but she has challenged me to fix it. The question is: where to start?

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 10:26 pm 
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I know it's the weekend and this will probably wait until the fall but how involved could this repair be? Is the joint on this guitar even glued or does the whole neck block need to be forced back into place and epoxied?

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:55 am 
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Not epoxy.....

Others know a lot more about repairing guitars than I do, and it's hard to say what one might do without actually having the guitar in hand, but:
I'd be tempted to remove the neck and bridge, and then see about possibly removing the neck block so the gluing surfaces can be thoroughly cleaned and prepared for new glue.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 10:32 am 
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Believe me. I'm not a fan of using epoxy either since I paid someone else to flood my college beater's neck joint with the stuff to keep it going. The joint is now solid but he did a sloppy job of it.

The thing is that the neck block in this guitar is HUGE. Twice as big as a Martin, but otherwise the design itself is flawed because a Google search of this brought up numerous hits. One person documented a fix using epoxy and additional shoring but the repair looks like overkill to me. The Martin A frame joint looks elegant in comparison. I've also seen boutique builders employ some pretty neat tricks but I don't think they'd apply here because this is essentially a joint better suited for a solid body electric guitar IMO.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:55 am 
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My mom came to visit and brought the guitar with her.

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She meant well but it needs a LOT of work.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 6:25 pm 
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It's clear that the guitar has not been properly humidified. This has caused the dishing and bridge lifting. I suppose the repairs that you choose, will depend on whether you want to restore the guitar, or use it as a project. The bridge is not only lifted, but it's cracked. I'm assuming that you are going to repair rather than restore.

I've repaired a couple of guitars. I would start by humidifying the guitar properly to see if the dishing between the bridge and soundhole will diminish, and see if the bridge will lay down. You'd be surprised how much humidification corrects a lot of defects. Once this is done, you will see what really needs to be done with the top. Has the top developed cracks and if so, where are they located. It's typical for cracks to appear on either side of the fingerboard extension. Do you want to save the top, or replace?

Nothing can be glued until the old glue is completely cleaned, so keep that in mind as your planning your repairs. I've repaired braces in guitars, without removing the top. It depends on the location, and condition of the braces. Needless to say, if you decide to replace the top, make new braces based on the bracing pattern of the original top. You can always find inexpensive top sets; they usually called student grade or special purchase sets. I've used these sets and they have an excellent sound.

The neck block is an entirely different matter. Without laying eyes on the guitar, I'm assuming that the neck block on this guitar is like others, ie. it provides a gluing surface for the top and back. When you say slip, I figure it's come loose somehow. I think you're looking at removing the top and neck, to reglue the block (or make another block). Depending on the condition of the top, you may want to make another, solid wood top.

The bridge appears to be cracked on or just above the upper bridge pins. I would totally replace the bridge.

All of these things will come off with the application of heat. I have an old clothes iron that I use to remove fingerboards. I use a hairdryer to heat the edges of the top/bottom, to remove them.

I'm sorry, I don't know your building experience; it may exceed my experience. However, if you're new to building, this is a great learning opportunity.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 8:14 am 
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Well, there are no cracks in the top and no cracked braces as far as I can tell so far so I'd rather not pop off the top if I can help it. It seems to have settled a bit since the humidity has been nearly to 60%. I just need to see if there's some way I can align the block correctly and maybe shim it underneath to get it oriented correctly.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 7:11 pm 
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nkwak wrote:
Well, there are no cracks in the top and no cracked braces as far as I can tell so far so I'd rather not pop off the top if I can help it. It seems to have settled a bit since the humidity has been nearly to 60%. I just need to see if there's some way I can align the block correctly and maybe shim it underneath to get it oriented correctly.

It's good that you don't have to deal with a top replacement. Even with the increased humidity, I would put a guitar humidifier in the soundhole, or in a pinch, a wet sponge in a sealed plastic container with holes in it, and allow the humidity to do its magic. You may have to rewet the humidifier frequently, as the wood soaks up the water vapor. This will correct a lot of the top warping. The bridge should come back down completely and the dishing will pretty much disappear.

It sounds like you have a plan with the neck block. I tested Duco cement and found that it will stick to old glue, as well as itself. Fish glue will stick to dried Duco, but I'm not sure if it will stick to Hyde or wood glue. John Hall can probably tell you. These are alternative glues, that are possibilities for that neck block.

From the look of thr photo, I would replace that bridge too, which isn't a big deal. Good luck with the repairs.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 6:11 pm 
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I think I'm going to try and fix this one. I found a sort of tutorial over at the Gibson forum of a repair that somebody did back in 2008 or so and it looks like something I could do. If anything, I think the guy went overboard. Not because he used epoxy but because he added additional internal bracing to a guitar that probably already sounds like a cardboard box stuffed with wet socks.

http://forum.gibson.com/index.php?/topi ... oken-neck/

First, several observations about the adjustable bridge:

1: there is a crack running along the back six pins. It looks fixable since it's far enough from the slot but I may opt to just try to replace it.

2: one of the wings is lifting and the rest seems that it could come away from the body with just a little heat

3: I pulled the metal base of the saddle and lo and behold but what did I see at the bottom of the trench but the finished spruce soundboard beneath. Somebody please tell me that they didn't glue the bridge on top of the finish? I wouldn't put it past Gibson though.

So I'm tempted to craft a replacement bridge. I have several rosewood blanks to choose from and I need the practice for my scratch builds.

In the meantime, I also took the neck off and had a look at the block from over the pocket. As the tutorial indicated, the block had separated almost completely from the soundboard (it's a huge block BTW) and about halfway from the side. The strap button was screwed directly into the block so it kept the block from completely separating from the side.

I know the right thing to do would be to remove the back but the binding isn't even separated. Unless somebody here wants to talk me out of applying epoxy to a 40 year old $100 guitar I'm going to forge ahead.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 8:07 pm 
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I'd love to talk you out of using epoxy, but I doubt I could do it. Anyway, this is your project, not mine.

About all I can think to say is that while epoxy may fix this guitar and it won't matter, if you want practice "doing it right" so you'll know how to proceed when you get a really good guitar to fix, you won't learn that by using epoxy on this one.

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Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.


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