Guitar repair: Was it any use, repairing this?

Ever since I repaired a guitar and removed a ding in its top – one which the owner had fond memories of –  I have made it a point to only do as much as I am asked to. Yes, I point out problem areas during the initial inspection and whatever else I notice while working on the instrument, but to do or not do I leave to the owner to tell me.

While pointing out the problems, I also tell them how the unresolved issue is going to affect their playing/instrument’s health. And after that it’s the call of the owners to use their wisdom and decide whether they wish to get the problem rectified or not. After all, it is their instrument and their money!

There was this Hertz that I tended to recently.

There was a hell of a lot wrong with the guitar. For starters, it had a crunched (plastic) saddle and a broken (plastic) nut. If you can’t see it, the portion of the nut after the ‘e’ string has got knocked off.

And if you can make out, the saddle is curved as it sits in the slot. It wasn’t the fault of the saddle but the slot itself was curved.

There was quite a handsome belly behind the bridge area

The bridge itself was lifting from its extremities: the markings on the paper show how deep the paper went in

The bridge was cracked through

The fretboard (and the bridge) was dryer than tinder

All the strings on the treble side had been wound from the outside (and not inside). Go back up and take a look at the third photograph (the one showing the broken nut). See if you can see the strings wound from the outside.

And though the owner had pulled out the instrument out of a soft case in front of me, the guitar was as dirty and as grimy as an instrument left out in the open for a couple of years.

The owner’s explanation was the same as I have been hearing for a few months: instrument in one city, owner in another, lockdown, two years…And after I had pointed out the problems, the owner chose to get just the crack in the bridge repaired. He did not wish to have the the bridge glued down, nor did he want the belly tackled.

Who am I to argue?

I knocked out the nut and as I pulled on the saddle, it refused to budge. I had to pull it out with a pair of pliers

Can you see the curl in the saddle now?

Anyway, since both the nut and the saddle had to be replaced, I put in a bone set.

Then I set about filling the crack and sanding the fill flush.

Cracks in the bridge appear primarily when the bridgepin holes are not wide enough for the pins and the strings. So, after repairing the bridge, I took a reamer to the holes and worked it just a wee bit.

Once the saddle had been cut down to size, something needed to be done to stop it from being pulled forward due to the curve in the slot. A portion of an old plastic card was most useful.

Now that the instrument was ready to be strung up, I took some warm water and gave it a bath (probably the first of its lifetime).  I got the muck off it, polished up the body, cleaned the headstock, cleaned and snugged-up the hardware on it and cleaned the fretboard, oiled it (and the bridge).

Here’s a final look at the bone nut and saddle under string tension

After it was finished, I just wondered what and how the owner would play with that high action due to the lifting bridge and the belly bulge. I felt as if the owner’s money and my effort had been put to waste. If the owner was so attached to it, he could have just cleaned up the guitar and hung it on a wall. Why get one-third of the problem sorted with two-thirds of it left to plague the guitar?

I just hope nine-10 months down the line the guitar doesn’t return to me with the bridge ripped out of the top, where I have to repair the top for damages caused by the bolts holding the bridge to the top!!

Those white, pearly dots next to the bridgepins hide bolts and if seen from inside, one would be able to see the nuts holding them too.

Now, the fun part!
I called up the owner a day after he gave me the guitar, asking him to come collect his instrument and he landed up exactly a month and two days later!! Oh, he was unwell, he was out of town, he had asked his cousin to pick it up…



Because of this experience, I am forced to inform prospective customers that henceforth, Lucknow Guitar Garage will accept instruments for repair only on full advance payment of the expected cost of repairs. This, of course, will be an estimated cost. Whatever the difference is – either way – will be taken care of at the time of delivery.

Also, I have only a small space and cannot store instruments for months on end. If customers are unable to collect instruments till three days after the date of delivery, a charge of Rs 100 per day will have to be paid, at the time of delivery, fourth day forward.

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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