Guitar repair: Bringing a relic back to life!

Another one of those instruments that is stood up in a corner of a room and forgotten about. It had more dust and dust worms than the Sahara Desert has sand!

Just the thought of the amount of elbow grease I would need to put in to get this thing operational, was making me sweat.

The deal-clincher was when the customer told me that this was the first guitar to more than a couple of people, whose sentiments were attached to it!

I donned my hazmat suit and got working. Cleaning the loose dust off it, I tried to assess the instrument. The headstock read ‘Grason’ and though it did not ring any bells in my head, it was fairly apparent that it was a well-constructed, floating-bridge, f-holes, tail piece – through which the strings would thread, jazz-type guitar: the kind fairly popular in the India of the 80s. I put the instrument’s age down to between the mid to late 80s.

It had a zero fret, and my experience with such instruments has been that they almost always have a nice, low action. It also had a pickup, but it was non-functional. The customer did not care about the pickup and my brief was to try and just get the instrument in playing shape.     

And to do anything, I needed to first deep-clean the instrument. So, off came everything on the guitar. Each part was dusted and then cleaned with whatever cleaner worked best for that part.

However, I did take care to mark the bridge position before I took it off. I also marked the treble and bass feet of the bridge, so that I wouldn’t put it the other way around. It was one of those adjustable bridges completely made of wood, with the bits of brass hammered into the wood, acting like a compensated saddle. 

There was a very interesting facet of the instrument: the tail piece was solid rosewood! A casual look at it gave the impression that it was a moulded plastic tail piece, but when I took it off

The first thing I turned my attention to was the hardware on the headstock. I cleaned and oiled the tuning machines and all of them worked like a charm.

And then it was the turn of the fretboard

and bringing the fretwires back to life.

The body of the guitar was scrubbed and buffed, and then everything was brought back together as it intially was.

I strung up the guitar with the strings the customer had chosen

Here is how it turned out

I was very pleasantly surprised to find that everything functioned just right, the tuners held tuning, the intonation was very nearly right and the guitar played in tune.

The only sticking point was that the action was higher than was comfortable. With an adjustable floating bridge, this was no problem. I just dialled the height-adjustment screws on the bridge all the way down

and that problem was solved too.

I was pleased to note that the customer was very happy with the results.

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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