125th Anniversary Washburn

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Diane Kauffmds
Posts: 3274
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm

125th Anniversary Washburn

Post by Diane Kauffmds »

One of my clients asked me to take a look at a numbered limited edition Washburn, made for their 125th anniversary in 2008. The problem started soon after he bought it new. The bridge started pulling off, and it never projected very much. The bridge was glued back under warranty, but it just never sounded very good, rather muted.

The owner noticed the bridge pulling off again, and brought it to me. I told him that it should be warranted, but he didn't want to send it back. Plus, a crack started from the lower right side of the bridge, across the grain outward by about 3/4".

The first thing I noticed was the belly. This guitar has a severe bellying up problem. My first thought was a bridge plate problem.
My client uses light strings, so he's done nothing to cause this, plus he's very careful with his guitars. They are kept in their cases, with proper humidity control, while not being played.

After taking off the bridge, I found several issues:

1. They didn't glue the bridge down properly. There wasn't enough glue.

2. The top is laminated spalted maple. The maple had started cracking because it was never glued to the spruce entirely. This was true all around the bridge area, so there was a gap between the lamination.

3. The bridge plate wasn't glued entirely to the spruce top, leaving a gap between the plate and top.

I guess they had a glue shortage or something at Washburn....

But, all of these elements have conspired to cause this belly. As you probably guess, belly bulges are expensive fixes. My client was leaning towards selling the guitar, so he wants the obvious fixed, but not the bulge. I've agreed with the caveat that it needs and should be fixed. It will have to be fixed if it worsens at all. My fixes may not hold should the belly worsen. He completely understands all of these conditions.

As a benchmark, I put a long level on the belly, just below the bridge, and I measured the gap between the guitar top and the bottom of the level, on each side, on the inside purfling. I've made note of the measurements for future reference

The repairs:

There were several layers to glue. I started by working cold hide glue under all of the spalted maple, clamping it down. Once the glue was set, in order to fix the separated spruce and bridge plate, I used my inlay tool to route out the spruce, down to the bridge plate. I was definitely right about this, because only a tiny area was glued and the routed spruce popped out.

I made a new spruce insert. I worked the hide glue as far as I could between the top and bridge plate, then glued the doner spruce in. I topped it with the cleaned bridge, and glued the bridge, creating a sandwich. I tighty clamped everything. I let this one sit for 4 days clamped, since there were so many layers.

The one thing you cannot really make disappear, is a cross grain crack. This was the thinnest veneer I've ever encountered. It's paper thin, so any amount of sanding just widened it.. After thinking through several solutions that wouldn't work, I came up with the solution of "hiding in plain sight".

When you have a lemon, make lemonade. I embraced the crack, and using a fill stick, colored it black, to enhance it. Then, I traced it, and turned the tracing over to mirror image it, copied it to the opposite side. Since the top is a bookmatch, this would look like spalting.

I cut the tracing into the top with an xacto knife, and used the fill stick to blacken it. I'm still in the process of putting finish on it. I have to make sure that you can't feel anything in these spots, or it'll defeat the purpose.
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Diane Kauffmann
Country Roads Guitars
countryroadsguitars@gmail.com
TEETERFAN
Posts: 356
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2018 12:43 pm
Location: Kansas City, MO

Re: 125th Anniversary Washburn

Post by TEETERFAN »

Pretty clever mirroring the crack! That is a gorgeous grain on that guitar, unfortunate about the sound. It will no doubt sound better without all those dead spaces between the parts and layers.
Kevin Doty
Kansas City
Diane Kauffmds
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm

Re: 125th Anniversary Washburn

Post by Diane Kauffmds »

I forgot to post about the sound...

After I did everything but the "hiding in plain sight" thing, he dropped off a Gibson. He played the Washburn.

It sounds totally different. He may not sell it now. Everything not making contact meant a lot of the vibration got lost instead of exciting air molecules in the guitar, therefore it sounded muffled.

Not anymore.
Diane Kauffmann
Country Roads Guitars
countryroadsguitars@gmail.com
carld05
Posts: 180
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:19 pm
Location: Forest Ranch, CA

Re: 125th Anniversary Washburn

Post by carld05 »

Great save, Diane!
Diane Kauffmds
Posts: 3274
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm

Re: 125th Anniversary Washburn

Post by Diane Kauffmds »

Thank you. I was rather surprised at the big difference in sound. I saw him yesterday, when he picked up his Gibson. He played the Washburn again (I'm still applying finish), and he's really shocked at the sound difference. I'll be done with it this week. I'm waiting for the finish to harden.

I'm still concerned about that belly, but the measurements have been consistent for 2 weeks, with the strings on, and in tune.
Diane Kauffmann
Country Roads Guitars
countryroadsguitars@gmail.com
MaineGeezer
Posts: 1727
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:14 pm

Re: 125th Anniversary Washburn

Post by MaineGeezer »

There is no chance it's just a tight top radius by intent, I suppose?
Don't believe everything you know.
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
When things are bad, try not to make them any worse, because it is quite likely they are bad enough already. - French Foreign Legion
Diane Kauffmds
Posts: 3274
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm

Re: 125th Anniversary Washburn

Post by Diane Kauffmds »

MaineGeezer wrote: Sun May 21, 2023 3:48 pm There is no chance it's just a tight top radius by intent, I suppose?
It's a very good question, but no. It's asymmetrical, plus there's the beginning of a depression just above the bridge. It just developed in the past couple of months since the bridge started pulling up again according to the owner.
Diane Kauffmann
Country Roads Guitars
countryroadsguitars@gmail.com
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