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123davido 10-24-2020 02:50 PM

Hofner Congress restoration
The time has come to have a go at restoring my Hofner Congress. It is currently in three pieces. A body, a neck and a broken heal. At sometime the neck had snapped off the body leaving half of the heal still in place. It was then glued back on and three large flat head screws were driven down through the fretboard at the 14th and 15th frets and filled with some sort of glue/laquer. A lovely job.
I have been able to separate the neck and body and Ive gotten the screws out without further damaging the fretboard.A quick twist on the heal was all it took to re-break the glued joint with minimum tearout.
The plan now is to clean and re-glue the joint and drill out the 3 screwholes to accept three lengths of dowel. I would plug the tops but the holes are out of line and would not look good. I thought to route out a square of fretboard covering the holes and inlay a veneer of the same wood (rosewood,I think).
Does this sound like a viable plan? Im a carpenter not a luthier, so any advise would be appreciated. Thanks.

Steve DeRosa 10-24-2020 07:55 PM

As a carpenter you seem to have a plan, as well as a handle on the basics, but I'd definitely seek some advice from a luthier before proceeding; FYI there's a couple guys on this subforum who do this sort of restoration professionally - Brian Evans (aka MC5C) and Dave Richard come quickly to mind, among others - so you might want to reach out before reaching for the toolbox...

MC5C 10-25-2020 06:29 AM

I would probably do dowels with careful attention to grain, colour and orientation, the fretboard is not finished but often gets oiled. My 1957 Senator is indeed rosewood. Matching the colour and grain density would be hard. Your idea of taking out a piece of fretboard and putting in a block is a neat idea, if I understand your situation the holes are between the 14th and 15th frets, so pull those frets, rout, install the wood, match the colour, grain, etc, re-slot for frets and put the frets back in. My Hofner has an unbound fretboard making the replacement easier, but you also then have a seam on the fretboard edge to worry about.

123davido 10-26-2020 02:30 PM

Thanks for the replies. I am looking for a local luthier that I can actually show the neck to (and hope for some goodwill advice).
Im glad that the dowel idea is acceptable. Ive already been on youtube looking at 'How to make dowels'.Seems pretty straight forward. I have a load of offcuts of Maple,Cherry and Purple heart (from some end grain chopping board builds I did last year). Which do you think would be the best suited for the dowels? I think I need the best flex strength. The screws that were put in were about 6 or 7 cm long,crossing the break,which is about a third of the way down the heel. I reckon I need to drill out and install dowels at least that long.
I dont think I can salvage any rosewood from the fretboard unless i lob off a couple of CMs from the overhang on the end. I dont really fancy doing that,though I dont think itlll affect the playability of the guitar. It feels a bit barbaric. Im going to try and source a small bit of rosewood from somewhere.The colour and grain match aren't a big issue for me. Its such a small patch and it'll be a big improvement from how it looks at the moment
Today, I managed to scrape most of the old glue out of the break and scuff up the wood for re-glueing. I also built a couple of cauls ( I think thats the word) One shaped to fit over the fretboard and one to fit on the bottom of the heel. So I should be ready for the re-glue tomorrow.

ArchtopLover 10-27-2020 12:55 PM

Carpentry on guitars?

Originally Posted by 123davido (Post 6534227)
I dont think I can salvage any rosewood from the fretboard unless i lob off a couple of CMs from the overhang on the end.

I always thought doing carpentry on guitars was Luthiery? I could be wrong here, nevertheless, I definitely would not hack a piece of fretboard extension off in order to use it as a filler veneer for the screw hole damage. Small pieces of rosewood can be purchased quite cheaply on eBay, Stew-Mac or LMI. I would suggest a single piece of rosewood headstock veneer wood, only costs a few bucks, and you will have plenty left over for your next repair project. If the color is not right, the rosewood can be lightly stained for a better match.

hat 10-28-2020 08:27 AM

Based on the age, it's quite probable that the fretboard is Brazilian RW, not Indian. this can make quite a difference when trying to match woods. What about designing a nice pearl ( or other) inlay to cover the area in question? another option - although much harder to do - would be to slice a thin veneer off the underside of the fretboard extension, and use this as your filler piece. You could then replace the wood where you removed the veneer with something similar, w/o so much worry over it matching.

123davido 10-28-2020 11:37 AM

I was originally thinking of that ( taking some of the rosewood off the fretboard to patch the damage) but i think it would end in tears. I went to a local luthier today and showed him the neck. He also agrees with the dowel idea and is going to have a look for a rosewood offcut. He suggested fitting a triangular shape as there is one hole (off-center) at the13th fret and 2 holes on the 14th. A pearl inlay is an idea but I think it would look out of place due to the size and the fact that the fret markers are simple dots. It not a very decorative guitar.
He reckons the frets are good enough condition though might need a leveling.
I will have to pull the 13th out to give me room to work,as the damage from the front hole extends under the fret.
I glued up the broken heel yesterday and it came out well. I will have to match some paint to tidy the joint and find some sort of laquer or polish to cover the paint and try to blend everything in.
I had a go at dowel making today with partial success. I gave up in the end and spent the rest of the day sharpening my chisels! Ill get back to the dowels tomorrow.

123davido 10-29-2020 03:41 PM

Good day today. I pulled the frets from 12,13 and 14 to give me some room to work. Then I cut the dowels from purple heart,drilled out the old holes and fitted them.Then when that was dry,I drilled out the tops and fitted plugs of meranti.Everything should be dry tomorrow and I can trim the plugs back. Then Im ready to work on the inlay.
Still waiting on the rosewood though.
I also sanded back the repaired joint and put a bit of sealer on it.Its going to be fun trying to match the slight sunburst effect under the heel.
I also finished my chisels and tidied the workshop!

123davido 10-30-2020 01:06 PM

No luck finding any rosewood. I went to a local cello builder and he cut me a piece of??? ,reckoned it would do. Its a bit more orange than the fretboard but,to be honest, Im beyond caring. I just want to keep going and get the guitar back on the road. So, I routed out a square from the fretboard and glued in the mystery wood.I think it went well, a few chip outs which I reglued straight away. We'll see tomorrow for sure. I was thinking to stain it with coffee grinds to try and bring it closer to the original.Ill have a go.It cant hurt.
Thinking forward to re attaching the neck. How to reset it? Is there a golden measurement when I lay a straight edge along the top of the frets to the top of the bridge? It a floating bridge with 2 wheel adjusters.Thanks.

123davido 11-02-2020 05:59 AM

Well,its been a busy weekend. I got the inlay fitted,though I had no luck staining it.So I have a big orange square twixt the 12th and 15th fret! Never mind, its a lot better than three huge screws.I got the frets back in and leveled them all with a spirit level and some 180 grit. Everything was pretty reasonable except the 12th,which was quite a bit lower. I crowned them all as best I could polished them up and oiled the fretboard.
I measured up the line of the frets to the top of the bridge and came to about 6mm over, so I set it to 1mm over ,marked the heel and took some wood off. I was very happy to end up exactly 1mm over. I glued the neck up and clamped it in place,leaving it overnight. I then radiused the bottom of the brige against the curve of the archtop to get that sitting snug and also radiused the saddle to the end of the fretboard.
When the glue was dry I wet sanded everything and polished it up. I have to say it came up lovely.I didnt bother trying to match paint and touch up the heel and other chips. That can be done later if I get the urge.
Machine heads on,tailpiece,bridge and strings and its done.The action is fantastic,its holding its tune and it feels and looks great. The neck feels very chunky but Im used to playing a strat so Im sure its just a case of getting used to it. The sound is very???. Not sure how to describe it. Boxy? Tinny?
Not very warm. Its my first archtop,maybe they all sound like that. Plus it was an economy model back in '58/'59. Plus its strung it up with old strings!!
Anyway,I am very happy not only with the result but also with the fact that I did it myself with no experience and no special tools. Another historic guitar brought back to life.

Arumako 11-02-2020 06:45 AM

Congratulations 123davido! Restoring guitars really is satisfying isn't it! Especially a guitar of your vintage. You'll definitely get used to the chunky neck... after awhile, you might even like it. Any chance of posting pics of the restored instrument?

MC5C 11-02-2020 11:56 AM

I'm sorry I didn't reply to your earlier post - the rule of thumb is the straight edge should rest on the frets and be 1" over the top of the guitar at the bridge location. When you get strung up, the string height would then be 1 1/8" over the top with 1/16" action height at the 12th fret. That's what my Hofner Senator is set to, and it creates a decent, not excessive break angle at the bridge. Of course it also depends how low you set the neck into the body, and other things as well. If you get creative you'll be able to blend the colour of the insert with stain of some sort. Good job getting it done! Also, Hofner doesn't always do this but some others do - a special inlay is common between the 14th and 15th fret. Customizers put a customer name there, etc. Kind of a distraction in your case, draw the eye away from the colour mismatch.

123davido 11-23-2020 07:44 AM

Thanks for the replies. I took some photos with the intention of putting them up here but Ive just had a look at whats involved in posting photos and Im not going to get into that.
The neck seems to be holding its shape after a couple of weeks in an apartment with central heating. The heel joint also seems solid. So, I think I can call that done. (still haven't changed the strings though).

Ive already started the next project. A very cheap electric bass thats also been knocking around here for many years.It all works fine but the neck is bowed to the extreme and the truss rod is toast.
I guess thats outside the limits of the 'Acoustic guitar' forum,so if anyone can point me to a nice electric bass forum,Ill head over there.
Thanks for putting up with me.

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