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  #16  
Old 10-12-2020, 01:06 PM
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Default Epiphone Blackstone project continues...

I had a chance this weekend to continue the repairs on my 1949 (not a 1954, as I had thought), Blackstone. After my Stew-Mac order was delayed by a few days, I placed a back-up order with LMI and bought two of their very expensive, but USA made, low profile truss rods (the adjuster nuts are 1/4" O.D., which is nice and compact). One of the rods, is a simple single-way and the other is a two-way adjustable type. These arrived via FedEx Saturday morning! So, after some real strong considerations about which rod to use and which way to locate the adjuster nut, I decided on keeping the adjuster mechanism nut at the modified headstock position and to use the two-way rod. I began by scraping the old glue off the neck/fretboard joint and then lightly sanding the surface. The old truss rod groove was then milled out to accept a maple filler strip. Once the new maple filler strip was cut to fit the cleaned out groove, it was fitted and clamped tight and then set aside for the glue to cure. After the glue dried, the filler strip was precision routed to LMI specifications and the headstock notch was modified to accept a 9/64" hex key wrench. Finally, an access hole for the adjuster nut was bored-out and the new truss rod was test fitted. Here are a few pics -

Thanks for letting me post on your forum. Let me know what you think.
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  #17  
Old 10-12-2020, 04:01 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchtopLover View Post
...I decided on keeping the adjuster mechanism nut at the modified headstock position and to use the two-way rod...Let me know what you think.
Since you went that route, you might want to go with a late New York-style, single-screw white/black/white truss-rod cover to match; here's an original example from a '53 Triumph:



- and since it looks like you'll need to go oversize, Kiesel (nee Carvin) carries something that should be close enough for your application:



https://www.kieselguitars.com/products/TC1W
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  #18  
Old 10-13-2020, 02:09 PM
RoyBoy RoyBoy is offline
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Great work archtop lover! You really took the time to do the job the right way, especially after it had been butchered. Luthier's Merc does have great stuff, I use their truss rods in all my builds. Their shipping is pricy but fast. Can't wait to see your guitar all back together.
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  #19  
Old 10-14-2020, 04:52 AM
Arumako Arumako is offline
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Wow! That's some great work ArchtopLover. The maple filler fits perfectly! Which adhesive did you use to secure the filler? Carry on! Carry on!
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  #20  
Old 11-16-2020, 03:28 PM
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Default The Project is moving forward.

After some delays I have made some great progress on this beautiful 1949 Epiphone Blackstone. Now that the truss rod slot has been refurbished and the truss rod installed, the top of the neck needed to be carefully inspected to see how much warpage was causing the upbow I was seeing before the project began. Using a straight edge ruler I measured a 0.040" "depression at the center of the neck. Thankfully, the upbow was nicely centered between the heel and the nut, so I am confident that any adjustment of the truss rod will place the point of maximum force exactly where it will have the most effect. After some thought about this project I decided to flatten the neck before the fretboard was reinstalled, this way, the truss rod would not need to be overstressed trying to correct such a large up-bow. At first I thought I would just sand the whole neck flat, then I caught myself and realized this would have been foolish, since I would be removing 0.020" at each end, compromising the neck at each end and losing some of the fretboard extension, since at the extension end, once the neck is flattened and the wood is removed, the neck gets shortened by about an 1/8".

So, the best solution was to do the real work and craft a maple shim, feather edged at both ends, with a center thickness of exactly 0.040". This wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, just time consuming at the machine tools, however, the results were well worth the effort. Once glued down using the back side of a 16" aluminum radius sanding beam, the top of the neck is now perfectly flat.

The photo is not so great, but you can see the flat sawn maple used and the four holes I had to punch in the shim, so that I didn't cover up my alignment indexing pin holes.
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File Type: jpg 1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-04-2020 008.jpg (41.4 KB, 107 views)
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Leonard

1918 Gibson L-1
1928 Gibson L-4 (Blond w/Ebony Fret-board)
1930's Kalamazoo KG-32
1930's Gretsch F-50
1934 Gibson L-7
1934 Gibson L-50 (KG-11/14 Body Shape)
1935 Gibson L-50 (Flat-back)
1935 Gibson L-30 (Flat-back)
1942 Gibson L-50 (WWII Banner Head)
1948 Gibson L-50
1949 Epiphone Blackstone


"a sharp mind cuts cleaner than a sharp tool"
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  #21  
Old 11-16-2020, 03:41 PM
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Default The fretboard gets some TLC

The next step in this project was to prepare the fretboard by routing out some damage done by the previous botched repair job by fitting and glueing in a maple filler strip. Once this was done I lightly sanded the bottom of the fretboard and then radius sanded the top nice and flat. A few of the fingernail gouges, at the first three positions, were too deep and I left these alone.

Next, the fretboard slots were cleaned out, and the slot tops lightly chamfered. Then, a full fret job was performed on the Indian rosewood board, using medium-wide, medium-high wire (a personal preference on my part). This was the first fret job I have done on a fretboard which had been removed and lying flat on a work table. Using a 9.5" radiused brass fretting caul, mounted to my drill press chuck, I was able to press-in all of the frets in less than 15 minutes. This modern process was such a joy to work to the end; I sort of wanted another fretboard handy to just keep going .

With the frets installed, the fret ends were nipped, filed and beveled. Now that the fretboard was fretted and prepared, I was ready to reglue the fretboard to the now perfectly flat neck.
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Leonard

1918 Gibson L-1
1928 Gibson L-4 (Blond w/Ebony Fret-board)
1930's Kalamazoo KG-32
1930's Gretsch F-50
1934 Gibson L-7
1934 Gibson L-50 (KG-11/14 Body Shape)
1935 Gibson L-50 (Flat-back)
1935 Gibson L-30 (Flat-back)
1942 Gibson L-50 (WWII Banner Head)
1948 Gibson L-50
1949 Epiphone Blackstone


"a sharp mind cuts cleaner than a sharp tool"
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  #22  
Old 11-16-2020, 03:50 PM
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Default Glueing up the fretboard

Using a set of four 1/16" wire alignment pins, glued into 1/2" wood dowels, I used LMI yellow glue to secure the fretboard to the neck, this way any future repairs will only need heat to loosen the joint. By inserting the pins into the 1/16" holes I drilled at the second and 13th fret, I was able to glue and clamp the fretboard along the full length with no slippage. Neat and clean.
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Leonard

1918 Gibson L-1
1928 Gibson L-4 (Blond w/Ebony Fret-board)
1930's Kalamazoo KG-32
1930's Gretsch F-50
1934 Gibson L-7
1934 Gibson L-50 (KG-11/14 Body Shape)
1935 Gibson L-50 (Flat-back)
1935 Gibson L-30 (Flat-back)
1942 Gibson L-50 (WWII Banner Head)
1948 Gibson L-50
1949 Epiphone Blackstone


"a sharp mind cuts cleaner than a sharp tool"
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  #23  
Old 11-16-2020, 04:11 PM
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Default Treat the frets right

Now that the fretboard has been reinstalled, and securely glued to the top of the neck, the frets were leveled, crowned and polished. This was also the best time to file and smooth the fret ends, before the binding was glued back on, this way I was not causing any damage to the delicate plastic binding during this process.

Next, the binding was glued on and scrapped flush to the sides and top of the fretboard. And finally, side dots were inserted using the traditional, 1940's era, Epiphone arrangement of using only one dot to mark the 12th position.
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Leonard

1918 Gibson L-1
1928 Gibson L-4 (Blond w/Ebony Fret-board)
1930's Kalamazoo KG-32
1930's Gretsch F-50
1934 Gibson L-7
1934 Gibson L-50 (KG-11/14 Body Shape)
1935 Gibson L-50 (Flat-back)
1935 Gibson L-30 (Flat-back)
1942 Gibson L-50 (WWII Banner Head)
1948 Gibson L-50
1949 Epiphone Blackstone


"a sharp mind cuts cleaner than a sharp tool"
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  #24  
Old 11-16-2020, 08:35 PM
Arumako Arumako is offline
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Wow, ArchtopLover! That is some great work. You're definitely taking me to school, as I will be following in your footsteps with my Nardan project in the next two weeks. Fortunately, no truss rod issues for me, though! Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to see the finished instrument!
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  #25  
Old 11-17-2020, 10:05 AM
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Default Working on the Dovetail Joint

Thanks Arumako for your comments. I am watching your progress on your Nardan No. 65 MIJ archtop and I look forward to seeing this lovely archtop sing again.

I am now working on the dovetail joint. I have chipped and scrapped all of the old hyde glue out of the joint and have begun the trial-and-error process of fitting the neck to the body. Once the joint was cleaned, and after the first slip-fit check, I noticed that the original factory fit was not very good. Because the fit is so loose, I had to glue a set of thin maple shims to the neck dovetail, in order to make up for age shrinkage or just a poor fit from the factory, nevertheless, the neck reset process is underway.

Also, shout-out and thanks to Steve DeRosa for his suggestion on the Kiesel Guitars truss rod cover plate. I placed an order this morning for a new TC1W style, white, 3-ply, plastic, Carvin style cover plate.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 1949 Epitphone Blackstone Repairs 11-07-2020 003.jpg (51.6 KB, 98 views)
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Leonard

1918 Gibson L-1
1928 Gibson L-4 (Blond w/Ebony Fret-board)
1930's Kalamazoo KG-32
1930's Gretsch F-50
1934 Gibson L-7
1934 Gibson L-50 (KG-11/14 Body Shape)
1935 Gibson L-50 (Flat-back)
1935 Gibson L-30 (Flat-back)
1942 Gibson L-50 (WWII Banner Head)
1948 Gibson L-50
1949 Epiphone Blackstone


"a sharp mind cuts cleaner than a sharp tool"
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  #26  
Old 11-17-2020, 10:34 AM
MC5C MC5C is offline
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Interested to see that you applied the binding after fretting and dressing the ends of the frets, since the more popular way is to bind the fretboard first, install the frets over the binding and then dress. I found that interesting because that's clearly how the frets on my '46 Epi Zephyr were done. The binding is definitely proud of the ends of the frets, no overlap.
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1935 Dobro model 25 resonator
1943 Paramount (made by Kay) mandolin
1946 Epiphone Zephyr electric archtop
1957 Hofner Senator archtop
1962 Gibson Melody Maker electric
1963 National Dynamic lap steel
1996 Landola jumbo
1998 Godin Artisan TC electric
1998 Epiphone SG electric
2010 GoldTone PBR-CA resonator
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2016 Evans archtop
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  #27  
Old 11-20-2020, 09:14 PM
Saxonbowman Saxonbowman is offline
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This is coming along nicely!
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  #28  
Old 11-21-2020, 06:09 PM
Dave Richard Dave Richard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MC5C View Post
Interested to see that you applied the binding after fretting and dressing the ends of the frets, since the more popular way is to bind the fretboard first, install the frets over the binding and then dress. I found that interesting because that's clearly how the frets on my '46 Epi Zephyr were done. The binding is definitely proud of the ends of the frets, no overlap.
I believe most manufacturers installed the frets, to the edge of the fingerboard, then applied the binding. Some, like Epiphone, left no nibs on the binding, some, like Gibson, did leave nibs. On Epiphone necks, the binding is usually nicely rounded to meet the fingerboard edge, making for a very comfortable feel. That's not possible on a Gibson neck, with the nibs. I no longer fret over the binding, after realizing how much I preferred the feel of a vintage Epi neck.
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  #29  
Old 12-02-2020, 05:33 PM
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Default Completing this Project

Over the past few weeks I have continued to make excellent progress and I have completed the repair of this wonderful vintage 1949 Epiphone Blackstone archtop.

Setting the Neck

Once the yellow glue had dried and the dovetail shims were trimmed, scrapped and carefully sanded, then carbon paper checked for an even fit, it was time to glue up, clamp and set the neck. For this application I have been using Stew-Mac fish glue for the past few years now. I am very happy with the performance of this adhesive. It has a nice long set-up time and this adhesive responds very well to steam-heat type of neck removal techniques once it has cured. It also wipes clean with a damp cloth.

The fish glue was applied to the dovetail joint contact surfaces only and not to any part of the neck heel or body of the guitar. One long quick bar-clamp was used to pull the neck heel into the body, and two smaller quick bar clamps were used to squeeze the dovetail into the joint. A neck-to-body alignment straight edge was taped to the side of the neck (along the binding edge) and to the body. This way I was 100% sure the neck was dead-straight to the center of the body while the glue set. I didn't take any photos of this step.

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 001.jpg

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 002.jpg

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 003.jpg

Cleaning and Polishing the Top

Once the neck joint glue was cured overnight, it was time to clean and polish the top. This vintage Epi has a beautiful sunburst lacquer finish and my objective here, was to just clean it up and bring out the clarity and stunning grain pattern of the carved Adirondack Red Spruce top. I strongly believe that a vintage guitars original finish should be respected and all of the scratches,dings and dents be left alone (for the most part, bare wood being the exception). In other words I never overspray or apply heavy touch up. In this way I keep as much of the vintage aged character as possible. Only where there is significant bare wood showing, will I apply a light coat of finish.

To clean and polish the top I have found that a light, wet-sanding of the finish produces the most satisfying results. By keeping the 3M sanding pads wet (tap water and a drop of dish soap), and using a swirling motion by hand, using no power tools, removes the dirt, grime, dull and faded surface, without causing any damage. Note that I have placed cotton rags into both F holes to catch any drips.

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 004.jpg

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 005.jpg

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 009.jpg

Profiling the Bridge Foot

Probably the most important detail involved in setting up an archtop acoustic guitar is making sure the string bridge foot is accurately and precisely profiled to match the curved shape of the sound board. In this case it was obvious the original bridge foot was only roughly profiled, and never got the sort of time and attention that really makes all the difference in volume, tone and sustain in these vintage archtops.

To begin, I located and marked the baseline position of string intonation using two pieces of masking tape placed at the farthest edge of the lower bout and then pencil marked the tape.

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 011.jpg

Next, the bridge was disassembled and the bridge foot was mounted to my archtop bridge foot profiling alignment tool. Once this was done, the vertical alignment was set by adjusting the height of the roller-bearing contact bar to the soundboard top.

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 013.jpg

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 014.jpg

Once the vertical alignment was set, I marked the bottom of the bridge foot with white pencil so that I can monitor and control the progress of wood being removed.

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 012.jpg

Now that the foot has been prepared for profiling, I selected a coarse 80-grit sandpaper for the fist few passes. Using low-tack frog tape, the sandpaper was attached to the top, centered at the position of string intonation. The centerline of the body was marked at the top and the bottom positions of the sandpaper, as a visual indicator to make sure I have not veered off to one side or the other while sanding.

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 015.jpg
1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 016.jpg

Keeping the sanding strokes as short as possible, ideally no longer than the width of the bridge foot, the exact profile of the top was matched to the bottom of the foot in short order. Although not shown, this process was repeated two more times, once more with 150 grit and then finally with 220 grit sandpaper.

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 018.jpg
1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 019.jpg
1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 020.jpg

Repairing Headstock Truss Rod Slot Damage

Next, the headstock needed some detailing. In the process of installing the new truss rod, wood was removed under the nut position while milling the truss rod slot. I installed the bone nut temporarily and then filled the damaged area behind the nut with a glue/ebony dust paste. Once this patch had cured, the defects were chiseled, filed and sanded roughly level. Note that I used a piece of teflon fret dam material behind the nut so that the patch would not stain the bone nut.

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 022.jpg
1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 023.jpg
1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 027.jpg

After the major damage had been covered up with the wood-dust/glue paste filler, I used a combination of CA glue and black stain to fill, scrape, stain and then polish the area just behind the nut, keeping some scratches and minor defects in place so that the repair looks "vintage".

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-25-2020 001.jpg
Attachment 47758
Attachment 47759
Attachment 47760

Mounting the Trapeze Tailpiece

Now that the headstock truss rod slot damage was repaired I turned my attention to the bottom end of the guitar. Using a precision 2 degree tapered reamer I carefully reamed the end-pin hole and fitted a new bone endpin. I then reattached the repaired and modified original tailpiece to the tailblock. Although the tailpiece was repaired by the previous owner, I considered this repair a workable and acceptable alternative to a cheapo new Chinese made replacement. The hand-made brass tail hook is nicely made, with an aged dark patina that is not at all distracting from the vintage beauty of this instrument; so, for now, it stays put.

1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 025.jpg
1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-22-2020 026.jpg

String Up and Set Up

I chose a set of D'Addario PB mediums, 12-53's, strung up and set the intonation using a Korg electronic tuner. As can be seen in the photos the neck angle is slightly over-set. I am measuring about 1-3/16" for a bridge saddle height above the soundboard.

Attachment 47763
Attachment 47764
Attachment 47765

Fabricating and Attaching the New Pickguard

Using the old replacement pickguard that came with the guitar as a profile template, I crafted a new, traditional style pickguard using the 0.090" brown tortoise material available from Stew-Mac. This stuff is very expensive, but it is a very good match to the pattern and look of 1930's single ply pickguards. I did not take any photos of the fabrication process. This could be a project for a repair thread maybe at a later time. Once the pickguard was finished I used 0000 steel wool and dulled the gloss finish. It looks more like a vintage aged part this way, rather than a shiny distraction.

Attachment 47769
1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-25-2020 012.jpg
Attachment 47771

She Sings Again!!!

As I believe I have noted earlier, this is the first vintage Epiphone archtop I have owned. I have read a number of comments on this forum that have spoken about how extraordinary these instruments are and how spectacular they sound. Of course, until you actually play an instrument, it is always difficult to fully grasp another musicians ear for tone, projection, perceived loudness, etc. However, in a short few short words, this noise machine is everything I have read about and more. It is hard to explain how different it sounds from my room full of Gibsons. This Epi is loud, brassy, clear, with projection that is more like a punch in the face than the warm plush mellow sound my L-50s produce.

Enjoy the final photos. I'm still waiting for the new Carvin style truss rod cover plate from Kiesel Custom Guitars, but for now I'm making noise and loving the feel of the wonderful soft D shape neck and the ability to dial in perfect string action with a new 2-way truss rod.

Attachment 47774
1949 Epiphone Blackstone repairs 11-25-2020 015.jpg

Last edited by ArchtopLover; 12-15-2020 at 10:15 AM. Reason: Nine image attachments at the beginning of the reply are broken and need to be replaced.
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  #30  
Old 12-02-2020, 11:33 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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great work, that guitar has a new lease on life!
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