I had mentioned a few blogposts ago that guitar types or brands have a habit of coming in twos or threes. Remember?
Well, last week I worked on a Cort, and here’s another Cort – an AD810 – with a small problem.
Could you spot the problem?
Well, the broken headstock was just 40% of the problem, 60% of the problem was that the owner decided to play doctor with the instrument.
As a matter of principle, ONE MUST change strings on one’s guitar himself/herself, understand and be able to work the truss rod, be able to oil and keep tuning machines in good shape, be able to clean and condition the fretboard on one’s instrument. Headstock breaks, neck breaks? PLEASE, let people who know something about it, handle it.
Look at the first photograph again. This was the second break the instrument was suffering in the same region. The first break was U-shaped and closest to the 1st and 6th tuning machines. My guess is that since the owner managed to glue that up, he thought, he would be able to do this too.
Again conjecture, but follow the logic: Had that initial break been fixed professionally, maybe, just maybe, this break would never have happened!
To draw an example from medicine, you can always pop a Disprin for a headache, or a Hajmola if your tummy is acting up, but please don’t attempt open-heart surgery at home!
Looking at all that Fevicol caked and dried – on both mating surfaces – and I felt like holding my head in my hands. I did that, but when it did not join the break, I began thinking of the best route possible to mend the break.
It was difficult primarily because it was a perpendicular break. Any straighter and I would have sworn that it wasn’t a break but had been sawn through!
The first order of operations was to get the strings and tuning machines off the headstock.
Then the effort was to get (as much of the) the caked Fevicol off the two surfaces, as was possible.
Some of the dry stuff came out in chunks
But for the rest, I had to soften the glue first.
The pliers had to be put in to add weight to the headstock and to stop it from floating. Three hours later, it came out looking like this
Quickly, I set about picking the softened glue with
The little spots on paper is the softened glue.
Then it was the turn of the neck itself, to go under water.
And the process of glue-removal was painstakingly slow. After I had removed all that I could, I left both the headstock and the rest of the guitar to dry in the sun for a complete day.
Yeah! Literally, on the clothes hanger! Dried out, it may look as if it was completely clean. Clean, yes! Completely? No!
Then, when I went about dry fitting things, I saw that there was too much of a gap all around. There was material missing without which the two surfaces could never come together completely.
Despite the sinking feeling in my heart, I still decided to give it a try. I mixed up my magic potion – saw dust and wood glue – to a thicker-than-usual consistency
and applied rather liberally on the mating surfaces. I brought the two together and held them in place for as long as I could. When I left the joint, it held and the two pieces did not fall away.
It stood overnight and when I gingerly picked it up by the neck, the next morning, the headstock continued to remain glued on.
That ray of hope that shot through me got buried as soon as I applied a little bit of pressure. The headstock dropped away slowly, just like softened chocolate in a child’s hands. It was a heart-breaking moment for me.
The plan had been that had the joint held, I would have routed out channels in the neck to insert splines to hold the headstock and the neck together.
I repeated the cleaning process and got rid of all the mess that I had created, dried out the two parts again and handed them and the bag of tuning machines, screws, saddle and nut over to the owner.
What was truly heart-breaking was that this guitar, like the one last week, was excellently constructed.
Reading the specifications, I found that the top was spruce wood, while the back and sides were Okoume (mahogany). The fretboard and bridge, however, were Merbau. Though I know next to nothing about the wood, it looked quite like rosewood, and had good figuring on it.
For a guitar retailing under Rs 10,000, I thought this was a great guitar for the price, if only it had become whole again!