1965 Gibson Country Western Restoration
This 1965 Gibson Country Western model was brought to us this fall with the owner wanting to have it restored to playing condition. It had been in the Virgin Islands during hurricane Irma and parts of the guitar had been submerged for long periods of time.
The fretboard was also separating from the neck and the truss rod needed to be replaced. The lacquer on the back of the neck was also chipping and mostly gone.
The headstock veneer also was separating from the instrument and experiencing heavy wear as well. We first removed this piece before getting to work.
We heated the glue holding the fretboard on so that could be removed easily. Using an iron is a great way to do this.
With the board removed, we then removed all of the frets and inlays. The inlays were saved on painters tape to keep them organized for reinstallation later.
We then begin steps to replace the truss rod. The truss rod channel needs to have the wood strip, cloth, old glue, truss rod and any rust cleaned out to make room for the new one and ensure a proper fit. This is done with the neck still attached to the body to make it easier to maneuver and keep upright.
After removing the fretboard, we could also see that the joint between the neck and body had become quite loose and needed to be fixed. We steam this joint to loosen the glue and separate the two parts to be cleaned. We will do some additional steps while the two parts are separate to complete the repair more efficiently.
Once the new truss rod is installed (shown here), we will glue the strip seen to the right of the picture into the channel. This block will eventually be sanded flat to match the neck before the fretboard is glued back on.
Inside the body of the guitar, there were issues with the braces. All of them were either loose, broken or missing. In this image, towards the brace in the back, you can see there is a crack in the guitar body. This crack actually ran the entire length of the body and needed to be addressed as well.
We were able to lift the remaining braces to sand away the old adhesive and glue them again but, had to replace the missing one. Here, the new brace has been made and jacks are holding it in place as the adhesive dries.
The guitar was also missing several of the center strips that fit between the braces. Here we have fashioned and installed new ones.
Once the fretboard had been cleaned up a bit and the inlays reinstalled, we used a curved sanding block to re-radius the fretboard. The block of wood on the left is acting as a fence to make sure the radius block stays on a straight path. Once finished, it will be glued back onto the neck.
When the neck is eventually reinstalled, it will be refinished. We prepare it for this process by scraping and using paint stripper to remove the old, chipping finish.
The neck is now being glued back onto the body. A modified radius block, similar to the one previously mentioned, provides the perfect tool to keep even pressure on the joint as the glue dries.
The neck then has a grain filler, or pore filler, applied to make the surface of the neck even. This will ensure that it will look and feel smooth once the neck has finish applied.
Now that the guitar is mostly reassembled, it is time for us to level the fretboard. Here, we se sanding paper stuck to a long, straight sanding beam.
New frets have been cut and are being glued in place. They will then be trimmed down to size, leveled and dressed.
The old face place for the guitar was not going to be reusable so we have a new one that will be installed on the guitar.
The new faceplate must be glued to the headstock, which can be seen here. Once the glue has dried, we will be prepping the guitar for the finishing process.
Here we have the face plate glued in place and the tuner holes have been drilled. We have also begun taping off the fretboard to protect it from the finish.
This neck is going to be finished as if it were brand new but, we will be using a vintage lacquer which will age much faster than normal. This will allow the finish to match the look on the rest of the instrument more quickly.
The rest of the body, except for the top, also had bits of the original lacquer beginning to chip away. Rather than strip and refinish the entire instrument, we sprayed over the problem areas to seal in the original finish. This allows the original finish, with all of it's imperfections and age to show through, while also keeping it protected.
To prevent the finish on the body from looking too new, we use a buffing pad on a random orbital buffer to dull the lacquer a bit.
In this image, you can see the difference between the two finishes on the neck and body. It should be noted that several of these images have shown the hole in the back of the body. This is where the original owner had placed an output jack that has since been removed. The current owner elected to keep it as a character mark for the guitar.
The last step for this restoration was a new bone nut. Here, it has been installed and the string slots are being shaped.
Now the guitar has been fully reassembled and setp. Here you can see the completely finished headstock with the new faceplate and bone nut.
Here is the body of the completed instrument. You can see the new braces inside and the new frets which are all looking great. The real beauty is in the original finish on the top of the guitar, though. It was in stable enough condition that we didn't have to touch it at all.