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  #1  
Old 09-07-2019, 08:50 AM
Arumako Arumako is offline
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Default 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.



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.



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...



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



Side cracks can be repaired with shims...



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



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



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



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.



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



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!

Last edited by Arumako; 09-07-2019 at 10:44 PM.
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  #2  
Old 09-07-2019, 12:13 PM
jricc jricc is offline
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look forward to seeing your restoration!
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  #3  
Old 09-07-2019, 01:41 PM
mot mot is offline
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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.
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PS If you don't want to invest in yourself, why should anyone else even bother to try?
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  #4  
Old 10-06-2019, 11:41 PM
Arumako Arumako is offline
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Default 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.



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!



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.



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.



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.



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.



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!
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Old 10-07-2019, 07:33 AM
mot mot is offline
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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.
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PS If you don't want to invest in yourself, why should anyone else even bother to try?
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  #6  
Old 10-14-2019, 11:02 PM
Arumako Arumako is offline
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Default Kerfing Installed

Quote:
Originally Posted by mot View Post
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...



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.



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



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!
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Old 10-15-2019, 08:53 AM
upsidedown upsidedown is offline
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Thanks for sharing the story and repair as it progresses. I'm enjoying it and looking forward to any and all updates.
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  #8  
Old 10-15-2019, 04:10 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arumako View Post
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...



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.



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



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!
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  #9  
Old 11-01-2019, 10:35 PM
Arumako Arumako is offline
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Default 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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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



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.



Still got a ways to go, but making steady progress. Thanks for letting me share AGF!
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  #10  
Old 11-09-2019, 04:33 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Great to see this update! Can't wait to see this finished up.
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  #11  
Old 12-16-2019, 03:42 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Any progress????
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Old 09-13-2020, 09:51 AM
Arumako Arumako is offline
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Default 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.



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!
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Old 09-15-2020, 05:10 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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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!
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