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Monday, January 10, 2011

Featured Restoration (A Taylor Baby Story)

Dear All,

Every now and then, I will get some uncommon restoration job requests. These guitars bear certain unique identities that were like no other. It was not about price nor the superiority in the wood but the strong bond between the guitars and their owners. Some jobs were down-right economically not viable to be undertaken but these owners have insisted that prices were not the main concern although it is worth weighing. The overwhelming desire to have the guitar restored back to "the desired state" was the main challenge for me. It is ethical to remind the owners the impending investment and the expected outcomes. If owners are agreeable, the jobs get a green light to proceed.

While there are many websites in the internet that feature the quality of the restoration jobs, this feature article is all but for this purpose. I thought it is valuable to share with this unexplainable passion to anyone who cares to read this article, and passing the flame to more people who are playing guitars, stopped playing guitars, play guitars once in a blue moon, just picked up guitars and those yearning to do so.

Here goes,

It is a Baby Taylor, arrived with a cracked neck. After ten plus years on the road, inevitably the road wears were noticeable at various areas the Baby. The owner requested for re-glue of the neck, replaced new bone nut/saddle, set-up, clean up. There is an"off limits"area that ruled out any restoration jobs regardless if they are desirable or not. I'll let you savor the moments of this process until the last few pictures where you will be able to see the "off limits" area. You will understand immediately the reason.

Notice the glue marks, the crack line was glue marks (picture below) ... Baby Taylor's headstock is glued to the neck by means of Taylor's unique finger joint. The crack propagated from the joint ...

Glue is applied to the crack line

More pictures of the clamping process ...

My concern was the puny bit of glue to take on the string tension ... as it turned out, the glue dislodged and the crack re-appeared when I loaded the string tension upon the guitar. As such plan B was incepted. While it was not my favorite but it was a viable option, i.e. to reinforce the cracked area with another piece hardwood. A cavity is routed out from the crack area and a piece of mahogany was introduced into the cavity. (see picture below)

The reinforcer was glued in place
The piece of mahogany was glued in place. Again, another 24hrs of curing. Thank God for Titebond wood glue, things were made much easier.

Clamped for glue to cure
Once the glue is cured, time to sand the mahogany to flush with the neck.

Dremel ... carefully removing excess wood
Wah lah! Almost flushed!

Much excess is removed
The final sanding was done by hand. Scratches were inflicted onto the surrounding areas during the sanding process thus these scratches have to be removed by buffing.

Buffed ... most scratch marks were gone
An important thing I have learned was that all structural issues on the guitar must be addressed prior to other jobs like aesthetic upgrades or pickup installations. Finally the neck was reinforced, and with peace of mind I moved on to install the new bone nut and saddle. Once the new bone nut and saddle were installed, setting up and tune up follow. It was a great relieve that the mahogany was able to hold the neck together. Here're some pictures of the restored guitar.

The Finished Bone Nut
A closer look at the slots

Strings are seated just above the crown of the bone nut
The fitted saddle.

Bone Saddle
You may wonder now, what was the unique identity of this Baby Taylor? A friend to this owner has drawn an illustration of a toddler, munching away some food, who is the son of the guitar owner. That fully qualifies the "off limits" status. Does it not remind us that youth is invaluable and to cherish the food delivered to our tables daily? The illustration was completed with pencil ... on the top plate.

Enjoy the last few pictures to sum up the story!

Such detail touches
Nothing could drive me to clean the illustration away, it is sin to do that. From another angle ...

The full illustration
Finally, the Baby Taylor.

Yes! It is done!
If you got till this point, I really appreciate the time you spent. Stay bless!


  1. Hi where do you get the tools and wood from? Is it possible to get them in Singapore?

  2. Hi Vince,

    The tools are bought from LMI and StewMac. As for the woods, there is a wood merchant at Jalan Besar, near the 结葙桥 laska. They have all loose pieces, cut into various sizes, all up for sale.

  3. Nice work!! Keep restoring more guitars!!