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  #1  
Old 03-26-2013, 11:46 PM
Steven Bollman Steven Bollman is offline
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Default Refab an old guitars wood into a new guitar?

Im thinking of building my first acoustic guitar and I've been rummaging around on line for tonewood sources when this idea popped into my head. What if the 30 year old over-braced Hohner was dismembered and built into a new guitar shape. I'm thinking of building a Gibson LG-2 type guitar (smaller body). Anyone try this? Am I crazy?
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  #2  
Old 03-27-2013, 09:02 AM
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Kent Chasson Kent Chasson is offline
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I wouldn't say "crazy" but I wouldn't suggest it for a first guitar. It would be much more difficult than building from scratch and for most people, a first guitar is already difficult enough.
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:44 AM
gitnoob gitnoob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Chasson View Post
I wouldn't say "crazy" but I wouldn't suggest it for a first guitar. It would be much more difficult than building from scratch and for most people, a first guitar is already difficult enough.
That depends on how you build your first guitar, I guess.

Thicknessing the wood, bending the wood, and binding are the three areas most home shops simply aren't set up to handle.

My first "experiments" were to re-profile a neck and re-voice via brace shaving. Both MUCH easier than building from scratch. I still love and play that modified guitar.

I'm not familiar with Hohner, but a lot of those old cheapies are made with laminates and thick finish. Those are hard to improve.

Start with an old Harmony -- they're made from good materials and they're very inexpensive.
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:04 PM
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Kent Chasson Kent Chasson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gitnoob View Post
That depends on how you build your first guitar, I guess.

Thicknessing the wood, bending the wood, and binding are the three areas most home shops simply aren't set up to handle.

My first "experiments" were to re-profile a neck and re-voice via brace shaving. Both MUCH easier than building from scratch. I still love and play that modified guitar.

I'm not familiar with Hohner, but a lot of those old cheapies are made with laminates and thick finish. Those are hard to improve.

Start with an old Harmony -- they're made from good materials and they're very inexpensive.
My understanding of the question was that he was planning to take the guitar apart, change the shape, re-brace, and put it back together in order to reuse the wood. That's very different from modifying a neck and shaving braces. And a whole lot more difficult than building from scratch.

I think your approach is a good one for learning.
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Old 03-28-2013, 03:00 AM
Malcolm#607 Malcolm#607 is offline
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As a first build I agree it would be a challenge. Better to build a couple first and learn how they go together before pulling them apart.

I do think recycling older factory made guitars may well become more popular as time goes on and good tonewoods become more scarce and expensive. A lot of older budget instruments have some decent wood in them and were overbuilt in the first place.

I'm considering doing a Frankenguitar using an old Ovation neck grafted on to recycled parts from a couple of my less successful builds.
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:27 PM
Ned Milburn Ned Milburn is offline
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Rex,

Just to add some more info to the other posters' comments which are correct in their points.

If you were to try to reuse the top tonewood from the present guitar for a new guitar with different dimensions, you'd have to remove the old bridge (a job requiring skill in its own right) as well as all the inner bracing. Then, you would have to scrape the finish. And the new guitar would likely have different dimensions. Issues arising would be the coloration of the top wood will be different under the bridge compared to the finished surface. This would be difficult, if not impossible, to hide without thinning the top more than is practical.

Good wood is still easy enough to find. Hence I agree with gitnoob that modifying the present guitar could present an educational learning project, and with Kent that building a new guitar with the present wood is approaching crazy.

Contact Shane Neifer at High Mountain Tonewood. You can get good top-wood for your purpose for only 25 or 30 bucks a top.
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Old 03-30-2013, 09:24 AM
Jackknifegypsy Jackknifegypsy is offline
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Default Go ahead and do it

I've just spent the past 6 months buying 40-80 yr old guitars and re-fabbing them or in the event of failure, tossing them in the fire pile.

The lessons learned have provided a wealth of knowledge about two things:

1) luthiers, the professional ones, are likely underpaid,
2) every man must learn his limits.

re: specifically, I have taken a perfectly fine number of laminated tops and backs that are built with three thin 3 layers, and reduced them to 1 1/2 with a belt sander. This requires removing the bridges, or just belt sanding them right off with first layer and a half. No problem, as long as you have the upper body strength to man-handle the belt sander, and lock in the body against a fence. This where the overbuilt strength of the old guitars becomes not only useful but essential. I tried it on a solid wood guitar and that one wound up in the wood pile.

You can lighten the guitar by 35 % + _- by doing this, a huge advantage in itself. You can also reduce the footprint and mass of the old bridges by two thirds, giving the top more resonance. AND finally give them the intonation they were deprived of in the original manufacture, though that is something I still struggle with. The invention of the adjustable saddle that Kevin Pederson has patented should make this job much easier in the future. But for now it is Art work.


I think it's quite an adventure, and once you have successfully disconnected the body and the neck, Pressure cooker steamed apart the dove-tail joint on an old guitar, (you will get some minor burns thru this, no doubt) you will wind up whooping in celebration. It is the coolest thing, so to speak to have these two pieces, one in each hand that you can now Re-set to provide action that is near perfect, an event that guitar has never likely seen.

In opposition to those opposed to it, I say go at it.

(And consult Charles, Arie, Git, Nove Scotia and the other fine gentlemen here that are eager to offer their techniques to you; Something I will not do since I don't really know much that I didn't learn from them with the excepton of the belt sanding technique which would make them shudder in disgust).

Last edited by Jackknifegypsy; 04-01-2013 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 03-30-2013, 12:00 PM
gitnoob gitnoob is offline
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"In 1966 a young Richard Hoover got the notion that he could somehow improve the tone of his old Harmony guitar by fiddling around with its insides. So he took it apart and, more importantly, managed to get it back together. His first attempt at guitar surgery didnít make his Harmony sound better, but it did instill in him the desire to build guitars of his own."
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  #9  
Old 04-09-2013, 05:56 PM
JohnRII JohnRII is offline
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Okay, so I've read the responses and have a few questions. It seems inevitable after reading various articles over the past few years that there is a decreasing supply of quality rosewood and mahogany for building new guitars. So what if you have an older guitar (~33 years plus old) from a name brand manufacturer with solid back, sides and top? Let's say that through use and time, it's become a 'beater' guitar. Now the back and side wood is beautifully figured and is most likely East Indian rosewood. The Sitka spruce top is dinged and scratched. Couldn't this guitar be de-constructed and a new or refinished top with different bracing, new neck,fretboard,headstock and bridge be assembled to the back & sides? Can the older back and side wood be sanded down to bare wood again and new finish applied? While making these changes, I'd also want to install a wider nut and stainless steel frets. Or is all of this just a big expensive headache and way too costly to entertain?
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  #10  
Old 04-10-2013, 10:14 AM
Jackknifegypsy Jackknifegypsy is offline
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No, to the last question.
Yes, to the previous one.
Yes, to the previouser one.

This of course all depends on how much you like ----and are able=====to work with your hands, and have all the tools you need as well. Most woodworkers wouldn't find that challenge impossible and a great way to learn about some basics of Luthiery.
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:52 AM
gauchita gauchita is offline
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When I first started making guitars, I would often dismantle my earlier attempts and reconstruct them . I have a number of small steel strung guitars, that started out as a classical guitar. So it is defiantly something that can be done . For anybody to do it, would depend on the motivation . I don't think you would save much money and you would probably need to have more knowledge about guitars, than a complete beginner.Old wood is actuly harder to work and is prone to be brittle. Also, to dismantle an old guitar and reconstruct it , using a mix of new and salvaged wood will take as much time as a new build . I think it's great to play a guitar you have made yourself . But I also think for a first attempt you might be more successful starting from scratch .
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  #12  
Old 04-10-2013, 11:02 AM
gitnoob gitnoob is offline
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For me the attraction is working with pre-thicknessed, pre-bent, pre-aged, high-quality woods.

For $100-200 you can buy an old Harmony guitar. For that price, you get a one-piece solid mahogany back, nice sitka spruce top, "hardwood" neck, Brazilian rosewood fretboard and bridge, Waverly tuners, and they come apart easily. They are just crying out to be rebraced, and they sound great once you do.

Sometimes the wood is even nicer than you'd expect.

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  #13  
Old 04-10-2013, 01:01 PM
Jackknifegypsy Jackknifegypsy is offline
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Default Git....

Couldn't have said it better, and some of the ones I've been buying don't even cost a hundred, with shipping.

Try the pawn shops in a major city (ies) for deals.

Just got one in today, ye Olde Silvertone, removed the braces in the back, reduced to one, the lower part of the lower bout, the longest one; the top and back both belt-sanded to remove the finish and 1/16th of the entire top and 3/32 of the back, with 40 grit down to 220 within two hours.

Drilled the holes for the strings thru the top, using the tailpiece to spot the holes, to anchor them under the bridge plate, and thru to a pinless bridge: i use deer bone pieces, drilled with 3/32" bit, about 5/16" square, that i slide over the string to the ball end. Already, without anchoring the bridge, it sounds 200% better than when it came in the door. Louder and far more sustain.

Have to see if I can salvage the fretboard, since all the frets need replaced. In removing the first one, a half inch of rosewood fretboard, 1/16th thick came with it and the brittleness of the board needs to be dealt with. Now 'soaking' it in a pre-stain treatment bath, to penetrate the fibers and see if I can stop the chip outs. If not, then a new fretboard.

The soaking and waiting a few days helped immensely in all but eliminating chip out.

Last edited by Jackknifegypsy; 04-13-2013 at 04:35 PM.
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  #14  
Old 04-10-2013, 03:14 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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I've got an old classical that is plenty generously proportioned to make into a 000 when I get around to it. It's probably worth at most $300, but it was free to me. It's got lovely bear claw spruce and solid rosewood back and sides that are singing their siren song to me...

I do have a lot of instrument construction experiance, so I'm not worried about the project. I'm retired, so I can work it into my hectic schedule.
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