Guitar repair – Putting a heart into a collapsing Tronad – I

Once every four score and some repair jobs comes a challenge that tests your patience as much as your abilities. What pushed me to take it on was the fact that it brought back memories of my own first guitar, how I lost it, and how it all gave rise to the Lucknow Guitar Garage.

The job was so painstakingly laborious and slow that I have decided to divide it into two parts.

The young man who brought me the instrument was himself very talented and accomplished. He wished for his ‘first love’ to breathe again, and as that storm of emotions rose inside me, I knew that I must do this.

But it was in a pitiable condition.

The truss rod cover was missing

The bridge was lifting (it gaped much more than it seems to in the photograph)

It had no bridgeplate – no, I don’t mean that it was broken, but, in fact, it seemed that men at the factory had forgotten to put one in!!!! I know you can’t make out much from my crappy photograph but what I say is true. It was amazing that the guitar had withstood the wrecking tension of the strings for any period of time; 20 years was unimaginable.

It was as dust-laden as anything would be after years of standing around

The purfling was coming loose, which had been held in place by ordinary scotch-tape.

So, the first order of business was to take the bridge off. It came off easily but left a horrifying sight. So damaged and flimsy was the top that I had no option but to cut it out

What was left of the top underneath the bridge footprint was so flimsy, brittle and worthless that without a patch underneath to shore it up, it would never have stood against string tension. Also, since it did not have a bridgeplate, there was need to install one.

For the choice of wood for the bridgeplate, I thought hard and I thought long. Finally, I decided that putting in a maple patch into a guitar which will serve as a leave-at-home guitar and be sparingly played, would be a waste and rake up the cost too.

I decided to go with these

These look like ice-cream sticks but these are actually craft sticks – much sturdier than your usual ice-cream sticks. Yes, these can also be used as ice-cream sticks.

Both sides of each were first sanded and then their edges too, to roughen them up so that they would hold glue and stick better to each other. Three layers of these were stuck together, slowly

which finally resulted in this

These are the two sides of the bridgeplate. While the first one was the face which got stuck to the top, the second one is the face where the string ballends would rest.

But the bridgeplate was too big for the space in between the braces, and so, through trial and error, the right size was sawed and sanded out and stuck

Now, came the difficult part: recreating the top in the part that was missing. That too I decided to fashion out of the sticks.

Fitting in the last bit of the ‘top’ was more laborious than the entire bridgeplate. First, I cut out a dummy on a piece of card, refined it, tried inserting it into the gap, refined it again and again till I thought it was perfect.

Transferring the shape onto wood, I discovered that it wasn’t as perfect as I thought. More refining, more sanding till the piece fit in.

The little spaces all around were filled in too till I had something that looked like a top, on top of which, the new bridge could be glued.

Meanwhile, as I was working on the bridgeplate, I also moistened the top and clamped it down, so that it would stay straight. 


Once the bridgeplate was ready, it was carefully glued in

Next came the new bridge. I drilled out the holes and scored the back, but by just placing the bridge on the top, I knew that it was much smaller than the footprint of the original bridge.  The owner was okay with me painting the overshooting border of the top, in black, by hand.

But before I glued the bridge, I marked its position in tape.

Inside this boundary, the glue was smeared and the bridge glued on

Thankfully, with the amount of glueing that had to be done, I had the humidity on my side:

While the glue under the bridge cured, I got to the other smaller jobs.

The purfling on the side was glued in,

a truss rod cover was fashioned out of some pickguard material I had lying around,

the hardware on the headstock was oiled and tightened,

the zero fretwire (which had developed divots) was filed and polished,


and, the new saddle’s length was recorded.

Read about the rest in the next post. Until then…!




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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