Guitar repair: Another one hit by (falling) humidity – Part II!

Tis the season!

As promised, here is another instalment of repairs undertaken on another acoustic guitar plagued by the vagaries of the North Indian Spring.

This was a return customer, one whom I remember as owning the best kept guitar. And if you’re looking uncomprehendingly at the tuning machines, I swapped the not-so-good, factory-fitted ones, for these handsome 1:21 ratio machines. For those of you interested, here is the work done on it, on its previous visit. 

A facelift after taking ‘Irene’ out of a spot of bother

This time though the owner came in with the complaint of an “irritating  buzz that refuses to go away.” I merely smiled (and he must have thought senility was catching up with me) for I was expecting it. 

On his earlier visit, I had told the owner about bone bridgepins. This time, he had come also to get a set of those installed.

He also wanted the plastic end pin on his guitar replaced with a twin of the chrome strap button I had put in on his previous visit.

Yeah! That is how clean the man keeps his guitar. That is a reflection of my tuner you are seeing on the surface of the guitar!

But before we got to that, the issue at hand – the God Almighty buzz – had to be resolved. The buzz, as he pointed out, was across the board, beyond the 8th/9th fret. I looked at the fretboard and under string tension, it seemed a little too straight for my liking. I loosened the truss rod, tuned up the guitar but when I played it, the buzz was still there.

I hadn’t expected that and I must have unconsciously frowned, for the owner told me, rather apologetically, that the last time I had told him that there were a few high fretwires that needed to be tackled. Hearing that, I immediately caught hold of the fret rocker and went up and down the fretboard. 

Wherever you see a reddish fretwire, that area on it was raised. Seeing so many raised fretwires, I began wondering about the money that the owner would have to shell out, if I went about levelling, re-crowning and polishing them.

What I decided to do was to try and tap the fretwires a bit and see if they got seated. However, I did explain to the owner that this action could be a permanent fix and it could be a temporary fix – the fretwires may rise again after some time.

But thankfully, after I tapped the truant fretwires, they stayed in their slots and the customer was happy with the way his instrument was playing.       

After the owner left the instrument with me, I began work on it and decided to work on the end pin. As I pulled out the pin, I realised that there was a hole there that would first need to be filled before one could install a strap button there! No can’t do!

I intimated the problem to the owner and he understood, and I let the end pin remain, after all.

Before I began fitting the bone bridgepins, I decided to check on the tuning machines on the headstock. But all was snug and tight there.

Now for the bridgepins. I tried putting in the bone ones, but they would go in only a little more than half-way. I had to ream the bridgepin holes.

This is a slow process and you have to go slower. Half a turn more of the reamer and the bridgepin would be flopping around in the hole, half a turn less and you would have made no difference to the fit. Ream a little, check. Ream again, check again!

But the reamer made quite a mess of the rosewood dust. It was time to string ‘Irene’ up. The owner had brought these along and so these went on.

‘Irene’ played like a dream, and I thought there was just that wee bit of sustain more to her with these around.

This one went home cured, but I promise you, more are coming…!

Wait and watch!


Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me:

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