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-   -   Nardan No.65 Late 50s Early 60s MIJ Archtop (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=557045)

Arumako 09-07-2019 08:50 AM

Nardan No.65 Late 50s Early 60s MIJ Archtop
 
Hello AGF,
Came across this unusual MIJ archtop project guitar. Looked through the archives here. Found very little information and wanted to share a bit about it. This is an MIJ, late 50s or early 60s Nardan No.65 archtop guitar.

https://live.staticflickr.com/6553/4...fd7c2ac2_o.jpg

Nardan was a subsidiary of Shinko Shyouji owned by Mr. Hatsuyoshi Iwata. Upon his return from Japan's failed occupation of Siberia, Mr. Iwata decided to invest his corporate assets into guitar building. Nardan specialized in archtop guitars and built many guitars for Teisco, Zenn-On, and Maruha Instruments.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...74b991f87d.jpg

Apparently, guitars built for the local market were labeled "Nardan" and their exports to neighboring Asian nations were labeled "Nardau". The Nardan instrument company closed its guitar building operations in the 70s. Today, Nardan is operated by Mr. Iwata's grandson as a manufacturer of "Taishyo Koto" (miniature koto harps) in Nagoya. Their handcrafted archtop guitars are still highly sought after in Japan - the most popular model was the No.100 which was all solid wood and sold for 10,000JPY (approx. $1,000 today). They still pop-up on auction sites from time to time. This one is No.65 and is built with laminate back and sides and a solid spruce top. Probably sold for about 6,500JPY (approx. $650.00 today). Despite an inexpensive heritage, it's historical approbation at least demands a serious restoration assessment. Before disassembly, need to give her the once over. Six screws to keep the back connected to the neck block, hmmm...

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...de42117da0.jpg

Strange wavy construction (or destruction by dropping) of the butt-end of the guitar is causing misalignment of the tail piece

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...9183cc6154.jpg

Side cracks can be repaired with shims...

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...b27f821ab0.jpg

Nice bit of crushing near the butt-end - probably repairable...

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...96050a14ed.jpg

Now, how many tuning pegs should we try on? Fortunately, repairable...

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...fc3674e6b4.jpg

Okay well, let's take a look inside - off comes the back... The laminated back's arch is maintained with these curved ladder braces.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...5699777293.jpg

Yikes, some one's been in here before. Found 3 different types of adhesives. The original rice-based adhesive typical for Japanese builds of this era...very very brittle stuff. Some clear yellow epoxy, and some brown stuff. The epoxy and the brown stuff were added later probably to reinforce areas where the original adhesive came loose.

The top construction is equally surprising. Japan in the 50s was a country struggling to rise out of her depression after losing the war. Furniture manufacturers and carpenters started making musical instruments with familiar adhesives. The rice-based adhesives became very brittle after just a few years of use; hence the cleat reinforcements all over the braces and the kerfing.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...28093eb762.jpg

There's also a lot of kerfing failure along the top and back sides of this guitar. Will need to use shims here also.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...2daeff7ebd.jpg

All-in-all a challenging, but not impossible restoration, I think. Hope to be sharing more as my journey unfolds. Probably going to be a long and slow restoration. Thanks for letting me share!

jricc 09-07-2019 12:13 PM

look forward to seeing your restoration!

mot 09-07-2019 01:41 PM

I enjoyed the pictures and story. I have a broken leg on a dining room chair which I am considering and your guitar pictures have made me lean toward gluing the break back together and then remaking and staining a new leg if that doesn't work out.

Arumako 10-06-2019 11:41 PM

Nardan No. 65 restoration
 
Thanks for the comments jricc and mot. After some serious consideration, I decided to dig into the restoration. While maintaining the basic structure of the instrument, there were three areas that needed attention; 1). Restoring structural integrity of basic components; 2). Replacing damaged components (kerfing); and 3). Removing excess (cleats and bracing).

After cleaning, the structural integrity of the back needed to be restored in several areas by pushing epoxy into compromised areas with a small spatula and clamping.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...d5ff9901_b.jpg

The waist area of one side of the body cracked together with the kerfing requiring a re-shaping of the curve. An iron on low heat and a bit of water rolled over a coffee cup (with just the right dimensions) restored the arc. These laminated sides are very sensitive and laminated layers can pull apart with too much heat or moisture. Clamp and leave over night, and voila!

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...686f8679_c.jpg

Removed the cleats from the bracing and shaved the excess down. These guitars were built with exaggerated bracing heights and thicknesses (to maintain the arches in the top and back) that killed the overall resonance of the guitar.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...e9498c56_c.jpg

The more the work progressed, the more obvious it became - the kerfing needed to be replaced. To ensure the shape of the guitar is not compromised, the kerfing needed to be replaced one section at a time. Here's half (right side in the pic) of the back-side kerfing removed.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...d407d617_c.jpg

Because of the extremely fragile nature of the laminated sides, heat and water could not be used to remove the old kerfing. Had to use my trusty chisels to chip away at the old kerfing piece by piece. The new kerfing (maple) is wetted down for easy bending and clamped (but not glued) into place and left over night.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...eaa338a5_c.jpg

Once the new kerfing dries, it is glued into place (titebond) and clamped. Because the laminated sides are very flexible (but dangerously brittle), a white extension bar is placed to ensure accuracy of length for proper fit during final assenbly. Interestingly enough the width did not need any reinforcement bar.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...82a86df2_c.jpg

As of today, the kerfing for the bottom of the guitar has been replaced. The surface will need to be planed and sanded to match the back, and the same process will be applied to the top. The smaller structural issues are being resolved as the project moves forward. Still have a long way to go, but this will be converted to an acoustic/electric using K&K Twin Spot (for archtop) sensor pick-ups. Should get really interesting! Thanks for letting me share. Cheers!

mot 10-07-2019 07:33 AM

Thank you for the detailed update. Makes my broken chair leg look like child's play.

I had a broken violin years ago that I ended up trading for a working wooden clarinet. Your pictures make me wish I still had that violin to tinker with and try to bring back to life. The violin didn't actually have any broken parts. It had just sat so long in its case that the glue had broken down and the 100+ year old strings had pulled the top off. I think it was made somewhere in the northeastern US mainly because that's where I found it.

Wish I had pictures, but at the time I needed a clarinet more than a broken violin and jumped on the chance to ditch it.

Arumako 10-14-2019 11:02 PM

Kerfing Installed
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by mot (Post 6180673)
Thank you for the detailed update. Makes my broken chair leg look like child's play.

I had a broken violin years ago that I ended up trading for a working wooden clarinet. Your pictures make me wish I still had that violin to tinker with and try to bring back to life. The violin didn't actually have any broken parts. It had just sat so long in its case that the glue had broken down and the 100+ year old strings had pulled the top off. I think it was made somewhere in the northeastern US mainly because that's where I found it.

Wish I had pictures, but at the time I needed a clarinet more than a broken violin and jumped on the chance to ditch it.

Hi mot, Your violin sounds like it would've been an amazing project. 100+ years old, and all! I bet your clarinet made-up for it though. Wish I had the skills for brass or woodwind. My fingers seem to perform better than my lungs.

Was able to make a bit more progress with my archtop restoration. Installing new kerfing under the soundboard without taking the top off is somewhat of a challenging task. However, it's not impossible. Archtops with built in re-curves usually have flattened edges, but the sides of archtops like this Nardan are not flat, requiring the kerfing to match the undulations of the edges of the top. In addition, the edges of the kerfing need to be angled from about 3 to 7 degrees to fit flushly to the top. So, the new kerfing needs to be chiseled scrapped and sanded very carefully. In this particular case, the kerfing job was split into two stages to make fitting easier. Once the fit is verified, clamping the new kerfing is also a bit challenging...

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...574d1412_c.jpg

The larger clamps don't allow for necessary clamping space. The white bar acts as a support for bars cut to size from bamboo chopsticks (good flexing capabilities). The ends of the chopstick bars are grooved to push against the white cross bar and the clothespins on either side prevent the chopstick bars from slipping. It's also very important to make sure the kerfing doesn' start to slide up the sides.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...c4e5c7d7_c.jpg

The kerfing job took precision and many hours, but here it is after both the top and bottom kerfings have been applied.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...65058046_c.jpg

The bottom kerfing will need to be shaved and sanded to match the guitar's back, a much easier job when the matching back is completely off. Some areas under the braces need to be reinforced with adhesives, and side braces will need to be added. K&Ks Twin Spot acoustic pick-up will be installed before closing the box.

Adhesives will be applied to stabilize the neck joint. The frets will definitely be upgraded. Might install and resurface the fret board altogether. Clean-up the rear of the head stock. Clean-up and re-store lacquer finish. Install new bridge, saddle and nut. Still a long way to go, but making stable progress! Thanks for letting me share!

upsidedown 10-15-2019 08:53 AM

Thanks for sharing the story and repair as it progresses. I'm enjoying it and looking forward to any and all updates.

rockabilly69 10-15-2019 04:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arumako (Post 6187023)
Hi mot, Your violin sounds like it would've been an amazing project. 100+ years old, and all! I bet your clarinet made-up for it though. Wish I had the skills for brass or woodwind. My fingers seem to perform better than my lungs.

Was able to make a bit more progress with my archtop restoration. Installing new kerfing under the soundboard without taking the top off is somewhat of a challenging task. However, it's not impossible. Archtops with built in re-curves usually have flattened edges, but the sides of archtops like this Nardan are not flat, requiring the kerfing to match the undulations of the edges of the top. In addition, the edges of the kerfing need to be angled from about 3 to 7 degrees to fit flushly to the top. So, the new kerfing needs to be chiseled scrapped and sanded very carefully. In this particular case, the kerfing job was split into two stages to make fitting easier. Once the fit is verified, clamping the new kerfing is also a bit challenging...

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...574d1412_c.jpg

The larger clamps don't allow for necessary clamping space. The white bar acts as a support for bars cut to size from bamboo chopsticks (good flexing capabilities). The ends of the chopstick bars are grooved to push against the white cross bar and the clothespins on either side prevent the chopstick bars from slipping. It's also very important to make sure the kerfing doesn' start to slide up the sides.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...c4e5c7d7_c.jpg

The kerfing job took precision and many hours, but here it is after both the top and bottom kerfings have been applied.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...65058046_c.jpg

The bottom kerfing will need to be shaved and sanded to match the guitar's back, a much easier job when the matching back is completely off. Some areas under the braces need to be reinforced with adhesives, and side braces will need to be added. K&Ks Twin Spot acoustic pick-up will be installed before closing the box.

Adhesives will be applied to stabilize the neck joint. The frets will definitely be upgraded. Might install and resurface the fret board altogether. Clean-up the rear of the head stock. Clean-up and re-store lacquer finish. Install new bridge, saddle and nut. Still a long way to go, but making stable progress! Thanks for letting me share!


This is a great thread to follow. You're doing a great job!

Arumako 11-01-2019 10:35 PM

Little Improvements
 
Thanks for the kind comments upsidedown and rockabilly69. Been making progress on small repairs and improvements here and there before closing the box and just wanted to post some updates accordingly as each of these small steps are pretty important to ensure overall functionality once the guitar is re-assembled.

As progress is made, I'm finding that both the previous repair attempts and (very uncharacteristic of Japanese builds of this era) the original build were less than admirable - perhaps built by an apprentice or a prototype? Certainly not representative of the craftsmanship inherent in typical Nardan builds.

First, the old adhesives holding the neck block and top needs to be freshened up. The joint needs to be cleaned up with thin strips of sand paper with backs reinforced by clear packing tape (if the sandpaper tears and leaves residue in the joint, adhesion will be severely compromised). With the guitar facing down, the neck is pushed down gently while glue is pushed in with a spatula and wiggled gently. Clamp down, once everything is set.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...a17e566d_c.jpg

Re-gluing this while there is some flexibility in the overall assembly is important. The flexibility allows Titebond to move deeper into the joint to ensure a stronger bond. Once the side braces are installed the overall rigidity of the assembly won't allow for any wiggle.

The shape of the butt-end of the guitar was corrected when the old kerfing was removed, and this centered the tail block nicely. Of course, that means the tail piece position and strap button need to be re-positioned. The first order of business is to fill the old strap button. An old broken birch drumstick was cut and shaped like a dowel to fill the hole.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...e96eb099_w.jpg https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...6b754fab_w.jpg https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...0feee29a_w.jpg

Once the glue dries the ends need to be filed/sanded down. Taking a file directly to the inside of the tail block is fine, but the outside needs to be covered with masking tape to ensure the finish is not scratched to oblivion.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...f9ac699a_w.jpg https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...50c03cd9_w.jpg https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...36d36797_w.jpg

Decided to use K&K's Twin Spot passive transducer pickups. Although the output levels of these transducers leave a bit to be desired, the tone and voice are pure and can be shaped with a pre-amp or mixing board. I really like the simplicity of these units. The output jack acts as the strap button as well; so a new hole needs to be drilled in the center of the tail-block. A half-inch spade bit is used. It's nice when the back is off because the spade bit can be drilled from both sides to ensure no tear-out.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...37ed4cbd_c.jpg

Just need to be really careful and drill slowly. The density of the birch drumstick dowel/filler and the actual tail block wood is so different. After drilling the center guide hole, I realized how soft the tail block wood was. In addition, it was probably too green when the guitar was built 50 years ago, and as the wood seasoned, the shape of the block changed significantly.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...b7be16b4_c.jpg

Before final assembly, the back is positioned as a dry run, and the angle of kerfing is checked to ensure the fit is perfect. Imperfect areas are marked with pencil, the back removed, and kerfing filed down. This is repeated until the accuracy of the fit is verified.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...28283737ea.jpg https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...e9922a284a.jpg

Finally (for now), the bridge is shaped by fitting a piece of 120 grit sandpaper between the top and the bridge.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...fd55f8b6_c.jpg

The bridge must be moved in exact parallel motion with the top to ensure the bottom of the bridge and the top meet flushly. Although it's simple, the process is quite time consuming. If the fit is not flush, full resonance will not be achieved. Here's another dry run to verify fit before everything is assembled.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...ff73eea7_c.jpg

Still got a ways to go, but making steady progress. Thanks for letting me share AGF!

rockabilly69 11-09-2019 04:33 PM

Great to see this update! Can't wait to see this finished up.

rockabilly69 12-16-2019 03:42 PM

Any progress????

Arumako 09-13-2020 09:51 AM

A Very Little Progress
 
Gosh, it's hard to believe that this project has been on the shelf since November of last year! So much unprecedented things happening all over the place. I really hope everybody is staying safe and doing okay through this strange and unusual season in history. Things have been so very hectic; but I couldn't get rid of the itch to make a little progress on this project; so, I dusted off my work bench...

The easiest thing was to get the label glued back into place. I was originally going to replace the label by printing a new one; however, the original label peeled off quite nicely...completely dried out and brittle, but the back of the label was reinforced with a layer of plastic tape which was in-turn secured to the back with CA glue.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...59e4cd88_w.jpg https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...62448e71_w.jpg

For this project, I opted for the K&K Twin Spot piezo pick-up. Really excited to be using K&K products for the first time. Heard a lot of good things about them. The black bottle to the right is a bottle of dry Loctite which is applied to the threads of the output jack to ensure the screws don't loosen-up as the guitar is being played.

Everything is looking to be in good order. I should be able to glue the back into place next weekend. That will be followed by a re-radiusing of the fret board, installation of new frets, new fret board bindings, freshening up of the age-old lacquer finish, new tuning machines, final assembly and testing. Still a ways to go, but it's good to take a few steps forward! Stay safe everybody!

Mandobart 09-15-2020 05:10 PM

Thanks so much for not only the patience for this loving restoration but also for documenting and sharing it with us! I'll surely stay tuned!

Arumako 09-25-2020 08:29 PM

A Difficult Assembly
 
Thanks for the kind comment Mandobart!
Per my previous post, the time to close the box has come! For this application I decided to go with Titebond Genuine Hide Glue. A lot of folks have had mixed results with this stuff, but I've never had a problem before; so, grabbed a fresh bottle and tested the adhesive properties (just-in-case). With the original alignment and assembly being what it was, and my experience level being what it is, getting proper alignment for this project using normal procedures and tools was going to be challenging at best.

Additionally, the humid and cool local climate is a bit worrisome. Since the back fit was not naturally flush to the side, I decided to glue the back to the neck block first. This would ensure best alignment without resorting to building a custom mold. It'll also enable me to verify the reliability of the glue (it's a fresh new bottle, but I noticed the date was over 12-months old!). After gluing and clamping the back to the neck block, the assembly was cured for 72 hours. Now, I'm ready to continue...

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...b508518c_w.jpg https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...ff4775df_w.jpg

Notice the gaping mouth at the butt end of the guitar. It's floating about 3cm. While the force required to keep the back adhered to the tail block is not enourmous, this will stress the glue quite a bit. Definitely will need extra working time and clamping time. To get the extra working time, the genuine hide glue is warmed to about 60 degrees C. This gives me an additional 10 minutes of work time, but the pay-off is longer clamping times.

The chopstick stick in the output jack weighed down with a 2 lbs. clamp is there to pull the butt end of the back into alignment by about 3mm. This will also stress the glue joint a bit. A hodge podge of clamping methods were used to ensure proper alignment.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...3463e273_z.jpg

You can see how the alignment is off at the butt end of the guitar. This won't even be noticeable once I shave the back to match the sides and add binding.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...23dac9fd_z.jpg

After 72 hours the clamps were removed and the tubing re-applied. The assembly will reman in this condition for one-week.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...481c487a_z.jpg

Whew! Gotta run some errands, so...I think that's it for now. Hopefully, onto the neck and fret board next week! Man, I hope this thing stays together when the tubing is removed!

Arumako 09-27-2020 08:04 AM

A Break in the Weather
 
Had a surprisingly warm and dry day today, and the Titebond Hide Glue has cured really nicely. Still leaving the guitar wrapped in tubing, but was able to make a bit of progress on the neck by removing the frets. These frets are probably the original frets from the original build. I'm sure you all know this already, but I noticed the inconsistent position of the fret barbs. They aren't built into the wire but made by pounding the tang with a screw driver. Old school stuff...

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...4444d700_z.jpg

Used a soldering iron to heat the frets and they came out really clean. Oddly enough, this guitar's fingerboard was completely flat with no radius at all. Never heard of such a thing on an archtop. A nut end view of the fret board reveals an interesting laminated construction. A very thin (10th of a millimeter) rosewood veneer on top (hence no radius!) of a 1.5mm maple laminated with another 2mm layer below. No doubt measures to keep costs down.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...6a3685ee_z.jpg https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...ec7e44f7_z.jpg

Just for fun, thought I'd try to see what a 12" fret board radius would do. Thought there might be a chance of using the maple layer underneath the rosewood veneer. Achieved the 12" radius in the picture above; unfortunately, radiusing down to the maple will cut into the layer under the maple. The maple grain is discolored anyway, so the fret board is going to be swapped with a solid piece of rosewood. Debating whether to stay with the gypsy jazz style fret board marker at the 10th fret or to change to the standard 9th fret position...decisions, decisions! Great fun this is...


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