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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Featured Restoration (A Dad's Guitars)

Lightning never strikes twice … think again.

In February 2011 one of my clients brought to me 2 acoustic guitars. When they arrived, it was cleared that they were in desperate needs for restoration. The only unusual thing about the guitars is they don’t belong to my client. Instead they were his Dad’s old guitars that were docked at some corners at home for years. We know what can happen when our jogging shoes were left unused for years, right? Surely I have stressed the amount of jobs needed to get them back onto the road. That didn’t deter him and the jobs were undertaken.

In brief, both guitars underwent bridge re-gluing, change of saddles and nuts, change of bridge pins, polishing of the metal parts, set up, clean up, total re-buffing, etc. Among the two, my client took a liking for one of them and more attention was accorded as I was instructed to “zhng” one of the two. Life is like a box of chocolate … a few months after both guitars were back on the road, my client switched his attention to “the other one”, the “not zhnged” one to be precise. How many times did we missed the essence that was right before our eyes, right? As it turned out, “the other one” became the favor of all time. Below are the pictures of both guitars.

The Zhnged One

"The other one", with the original bridge

After that, we have met on several occasions for other restoration jobs. He has sung praises of “the other one” but not long after, the box of chocolate theory struck again … The joy ended when the bridge of "the other one" has given way to stress, a crack line appeared along the row of bridge pin holes. See pictures below.

Crack line cuts across the pin-holes

Bridge's Full View

Upon inspection, the bridge has not lifted except the bridge was cracked. It was rather unusual for such thing to occur. The likely causes were bending stresses and also its long service period of more than 2 decades. His attitude towards restoring his Dad’s guitar was unrelenting. He has requested for a bridge replacement. It would have been so easy if it was a Martin, Taylor, Gibson, Ibanez, Yamaha or Crafter as locating spare parts of such big brands was easy. However it was not like that for “the other one”. The “batman” looks bridge was not a regular shape. For weeks I tried many places in Singapore to get some leads but the effort was proven futile.

My recommendation was narrowed to getting Jeff Yong to duplicate the bridge. Timing was of essence for it to work. Firstly, he is located in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and then was a hectic period for him because of the Montreal Guitar Show he will be attending. He was busy with preparing his guitars for the show then. To make it work, I have to travel to KL to get it done. In his workshop, crafting a bridge wasn’t difficult but I have to be there to do it. Another hurdle was the mounting cost for all the time and effort spent in completing the job.

After some explanation to him regarding the expected investment to make it work, he has given the green light to proceed. Jeff carried out the major cutting and left the finishing parts to me. It has taken a few hours to duplicate the bridge. Of course I have to travel to KL to get it done … how is this for serving the community? Just kidding, I didn’t mind going to KL to meet my “Si-Fu” because there are plenty of things to learn from him. The picture below shows the original bridge (Rosewood) above and the new bridge (Macassar Ebony) beneath .

Above, Origin (Rosewood). Beneath, New (Macassar Ebony)

Once the new bridge was brought back to Singapore, the rest of the steps were pretty regular and straightforward. I will let the pictures talk instead.

Sanding away the glue residue

Areas where sanding don't work, chisels can do wonders

Re-glued and clamped

New bridge glued

The new bridge with new bone saddle, after strung up

It is finished AGAIN!

As cliche as it sounds, everyone deserves a second chance. Don't we yearn for it when we are at our lowest or broken? It is only when we know that a second chance is impending, we then find strength to recover, renew and rejuvenate.

"But those who wait for Yahweh will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run, and not be weary. They will walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

1 comment:

  1. Nice and excellent work bro... Love this post! Keep on restoring more guitars!!