nobody wants to work on a vintage Guild acoustic ???

chrisdb

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I recently was gifted a '64 guild M-30 that spent the last 50+ years sleeping in a closet.
It looks and sounds great and is undamaged, but needs some restoration due to it's age. Not surprisingly, the plastic on the headstock and pick guard has shrunk - separating from the head stock and squeezing a slight depression under the sound hole. The bridge is lifting from the back enough that the edge of a business card will slip under it. Also the action is so high at the upper frets that I believe it will need a neck reset.
I've been calling around to every repair shop that works on acoustic guitars in house within a 2 hour drive from Philadelphia and I get "I can't take your call now, please leave a message" or "I don't like working on Guilds, but call back next week if you can't find anybody else". How about "I got a conference call in few minutes, I'll call you back" (really? I thought Luthiers went into business for themselves so they didn't have to do Zoom meetings and conference calls.)
I did get an enlightening conversation from the "best" repair shop just outside of Nazareth, PA owned by former Martin Guitar techs "I stopped working on Guilds. I got a years worth of backlog repairs, and I can repair two or three Martins in the time it would take to do one Guild-I'd have to charge you a thousand bucks".
Jeesh...I'm ready to give up and do it myself. I work my own guitars and have a pretty good idea of how an acoustic guitar is put together having built one myself, but was hoping to turn this project over to a more experienced person.
Still looking for recommendations for a person within a couple hours drive who knows and likes older Guilds.
I don't really need another project, but on the other hand... I would get to buy some more tools....hmmm
 

GAD

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Neck resets can be challenging on old Guilds. It wouldn't surprise me to see a busy luthier choose to work on more profitable guitars.
 

chrisdb

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I don't doubt that... it seems like everyone I have talked to is begging off on this job. In it's present condition it's ok for cowboy chords and bottleneck but not much else.
I'm sure that taking a guitar apart is not the same as putting one together, but I am pretty much decided that I will make a careful start on removing and re-attaching the bridge that is lifted and see how that effects the geometry. I believe the neck will still need a reset, but I'll go for the low hanging fruit first... the neck removal seems to be to be the part of the process that is most vexing.
 
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fronobulax

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The difficulty factor gets discussed a lot and there are people I trust who can identify specific things about Guilds that can create difficulties for an unsuspecting luthier. My cynical take is that there are two reasons people refuse to work on Guilds. One is that they lack skill or confidence in their skills. The other is that they have enough other work that they can make more money with less effort by avoiding Guilds.

The Gold Standard around here is @Fixit - Tom Jacobs http://www.jacobscustomguitars.com/about/

He worked for Guild at Westerly, and has done a lot of work for LTGers. I cannot recall anyone ever saying anything negative about the quality of his work. The downside is he is in Florida so the guitar has to be shipped or you have to hook up with an LTG member who has been known to drive from Long Island to Florida to pick up and drop off guitars.

There are LTG members in NJ and Maryland who occasionally have commented about local luthiers so there is a chance they may repeat a recommendation. @Default?

If you decide to try it yourself you might consider starting a thread with pictures and asking for advice. @Christopher Cozad and @AcornHouse come immediately to mind as folks with enough build and repair skill that they might help you anticipate problems and devise solutions. I find @davismanLV often has very good advice on general woodworking topics and finishes. There are several other people who might justifiably feel insulted because I didn't mention them but since I don't recall what I had for breakfast this morning, maybe I can be forgiven?
 

Brad Little

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When I had the neck reset on my F50 earlier this year, my luthier (who I've used for about 40 years) said that it was more difficult than most guitars because of the bevel on the dovetail. It was very shallow and required much closer tolerance than a deeper one would. FWIW, he had let it be known years ago that he wouldn't do a Guild reset, but I guess our long standing relationship had him relent. He did say he wouldn't do another, so fortunately I don't have a need for one at the moment.
 

wileypickett

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Having called a bunch of local repair shops, all but one are not taking neck reset jobs. Not just on Guilds, but on any brand.

Maybe more people are having their guitars repaired during Covid, and luthiers are simply taking the quicker turnaround jobs?
 

Christopher Cozad

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I recently was gifted a '64 guild M-30 that spent the last 50+ years sleeping in a closet.
Congratulations.

It looks and sounds great and is undamaged, but needs some restoration due to it's age. Not surprisingly, the plastic on the headstock and pick guard has shrunk - separating from the head stock and squeezing a slight depression under the sound hole. The bridge is lifting from the back enough that the edge of a business card will slip under it. Also the action is so high at the upper frets that I believe it will need a neck reset.
For an inexperienced tech, it can definitely be challenging to address celluloid (plastic) that has first been attached directly to the underlying wood using solvent (lacquer, lacquer thinner), prior to the guitar being spray finished. The celluloid continues to flash off solvent over the years and is reduced in size. For headplates that typically translates to gaps showing around the edges and sometimes a little buckling. For pickguards affixed to soft Spruce it can be more serious. But Guild did not invent the technique. This is a common issue with instruments of the era.

Lifting bridges may or may not even need addressing. It all depends on what is causing the lift. It was/is common to spray the body, scrape away the finish where the bridge will be applied, and then glue the bridge down to raw wood, not finish (or vinyl sealer, shellac, etc). To create a clean appearance, it was/is common to restrict the scraping to an area that is inside the outermost dimensions of the bridge leaving a "border" of finish on which the outermost edge of the bridge rests. That "border" may be all of 1/32" or even 1/64" for a custom instrument, but that precision takes extra time to achieve. Your business card inserted between the bottom of the bridge and the lacquer on the soundboard should only slide in until it encounters the adhesive. I have seen borders as large as 1/4" on hand-assembled production line guitars. If the adhesive holds and that insertion distance does not increase over time, you may never need to address the lifting backside of the bridge. If the adhesive fails or the underlying wood fails (such as in the case of severe runout where the top literally tears loose), the issue would be serious and would need to be addressed. If the bridge is pulling up and away from what is probably a fairly wide border, so long as it is not due to brace failure (adhesive holding the soundboard to the X-brace, bridgeplate, tonebars, etc.) then there is little that can be done short of removing the bridge, increasing the area of raw wood exposure, and re-gluing the bridge. If it is needed, then it is needed. Glue typically doesn't bond well and/or may not stay well bonded to a lacquer finish, so a "bridge glue down" it is not necessarily a permanent solution. Most importantly, lifting bridges are not unique to Guild, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Neck resets on traditionally-constructed wooden acoustic guitars are relatively inevitable. Though this is largely dependent upon usage and environmental factors, it is true regardless of brand and neck attachment method. If you drive a vehicle hard, put many miles on it, subject it to excessive loads/extra weight, drive it in an area where environmental factors are a serious consideration, and/or simply own it long enough you will encounter "inevitable" costs.

Taylor techs offer a quick turnaround and relatively low price for neck resets, where the label is removed, the neck and fingerboard extension are un-bolted, two shims are added and everything is put back. As simple as that process may be when compared to a Martin or a Guild having a glued-on neck, Taylors still require neck resets.

The process of removing a glued-down fingerboard extension is the same for all acoustic guitars having glued-on necks. What appears to me to contribute to the mythology of "Guild neck resets are more difficult" is the lack of experience of the person doing the repair. What exacerbates some (very few) Guild neck resets is the amount of glue encountered. Historically, some dovetail joints had an unnecessary amount of glue applied (though this is not a Guild-only issue). Adhesive should only be applied to the side walls of a well-fitting dovetail tenon. Complicating matters, not-so-well-fitting dovetail joints may hold slightly more adhesive. Additionally, if extra glue squeezes back into the cavity between the end of the tenon and the mortise this will require a bit more attention to soften (I have only encountered one Guild to date that had this issue). Often overlooked is the fact that Guilds have a much wider neck heel than do Martins. Those heels are also glued to the sides, presenting a greater surface area of adhesive holding the neck on. Someone attempting a reset may have softened the glue in the dovetail joint but neglected the adhesive on the heel. The neck appears to be belligerent in its insistence on remaining in place. If a person who has reset one or more Martin necks encounters such a scenario, they may be prone to assume "Guild neck resets are more difficult."

"... I can repair two or three Martins in the time it would take to do one Guild-I'd have to charge you a thousand bucks."
Hmm... I am guessing that would depend upon the nature of the repair this person is conducting. Most repair issues and processes are shared between brands. But a bad experience or two coupled with some fear and superstition can all play a role in supporting statements like that.

...I would get to buy some more tools....hmmm
That is a worthy pursuit. What are you waiting for? :)

Edit: As mentioned by members fronobulax and drc, above, having an experienced Guild repairman such as Tom Jacobs in Florida look your instrument over, let alone make the repairs, is highly advisable.
 
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chrisdb

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Wow-- those posts go way beyond casual conversation and are very useful. I can't thank you enough for the concise explanations, insight and benefit of your experience... I'm certainly in your debt and will be taking a good hard look at what I have before I start taking action .
I have seen borders as large as 1/4" on hand-assembled production line guitars. If the adhesive holds and that insertion distance does not increase over time, you may never need to address the lifting backside of the bridge.
indeed, the gap under the bridge is about 1/32 deep on the backside and only occurs at the widest section of the bridge. I believe the. bridge may not be problematic, but the top was certainly moving underneath.. enough to snap an edge of the bridge off IMG_2677.jpgIMG_2676 2.jpgIMG_2674 3.jpg


I think this angle issue with the bridge is related to a belly bump in the lower bout but the bridge seems solidly attached. I have had good results flattening a lower bout with JLD bridge doctor on a couple acoustics but haven't tried that yet on anything precious.
That being said a straight edge from the neck is hitting the front of the bridge 3mm below the top face of the bridge and that sounds like a neck angle problem to me. I'm inclined to install the JLD bridge doctor and let the top settle down and measure again for a neck reset. I would think the geometry would be changing somewhat and I'm OK with taking a little more time to let things settle into place.
 

chazmo

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Oh... Ouch on that bridge, chrisdb. :(

Welcome aboard, by the way, and good luck with getting your Guild back in working order!
 

AcornHouse

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Wow-- those posts go way beyond casual conversation and are very useful. I can't thank you enough for the concise explanations, insight and benefit of your experience... I'm certainly in your debt and will be taking a good hard look at what I have before I start taking action .

indeed, the gap under the bridge is about 1/32 deep on the backside and only occurs at the widest section of the bridge. I believe the. bridge may not be problematic, but the top was certainly moving underneath.. enough to snap an edge of the bridge offView attachment 26156View attachment 26158View attachment 26159


I think this angle issue with the bridge is related to a belly bump in the lower bout but the bridge seems solidly attached. I have had good results flattening a lower bout with JLD bridge doctor on a couple acoustics but haven't tried that yet on anything precious.
That being said a straight edge from the neck is hitting the front of the bridge 3mm below the top face of the bridge and that sounds like a neck angle problem to me. I'm inclined to install the JLD bridge doctor and let the top settle down and measure again for a neck reset. I would think the geometry would be changing somewhat and I'm OK with taking a little more time to let things settle into place.
That’s not a simple bridge lifting, that bridge has cracked along the horizontal axis leaving part glued down, and part raising up. It looks like it’s severely dried out, but, also, Braz. RW (which this is) can be prone to cracking. It needs replacing, I’m sorry to say.
I’ll echo advice to get in touch with Tom ‘Fixit’ Jacobs, who can address all the issues. I wouldn’t advise learning on this guitar, especially as rare and coveted (by me, for one) as it is.
 

wileypickett

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Wow-- those posts go way beyond casual conversation and are very useful. I can't thank you enough for the concise explanations, insight and benefit of your experience... I'm certainly in your debt and will be taking a good hard look at what I have before I start taking action .

indeed, the gap under the bridge is about 1/32 deep on the backside and only occurs at the widest section of the bridge. I believe the. bridge may not be problematic, but the top was certainly moving underneath.. enough to snap an edge of the bridge offView attachment 26156View attachment 26158View attachment 26159


I think this angle issue with the bridge is related to a belly bump in the lower bout but the bridge seems solidly attached. I have had good results flattening a lower bout with JLD bridge doctor on a couple acoustics but haven't tried that yet on anything precious.
That being said a straight edge from the neck is hitting the front of the bridge 3mm below the top face of the bridge and that sounds like a neck angle problem to me. I'm inclined to install the JLD bridge doctor and let the top settle down and measure again for a neck reset. I would think the geometry would be changing somewhat and I'm OK with taking a little more time to let things settle into place.

Yikes!

I've had very good success with Bridge Doctors too and wouldn't hesitate to recommend one, once the bridge issues have been dealt with.

For a guitar as compromised as this one I'd recommend NOT cranking the BD too hard initially. I'd hydrate the heck out of the guitar, and slowly tighten the BD over a two or three week period.
 

chrisdb

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I keep all my guitars in my basement music room. Humidity is usually 50% (+/- 2%) and the dehumidifier. kicks on at 56%.
I'm hearing lots of voices telling me to get professional help (some inside my head, some outside) so I'm putting my own restoration plans on hold and letting the guitar rest unstrung with the case open on a worktable until I hear back from the pro.
 

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Investing in some luthier manuals is always good, even if you don't do the work yourself. They help you judge what a luthier is telling you. They also empower you to suggest or ask about alternative repair options. I have a manual with a write up on Guild necks. I have lent it out. Must ask for it back! If I remember correctly, the manual concurs with what Christopher Cozad said above - it's not an impossible job - its just a different job.

I wonder if Epiphones have the same neck "problem." I have read that Guild was a guild of Epiphone employees who had fled Gibson-Epiphone. Are the build techniques/styles similar?

My favourite luthier has sometimes (where it seemed appropriate and feasible) approached neck and/or top bulge issues (if things seem stable and structurally sound - as in my rare vintage guitar has been sharp and its action too high for the last 30 years and it hasn't changed much in that time) through the fretboard - thicker new fretboard, shaved to get alignment with bridge saddle right - frets slots cut to match the new scale length presented by the change in distance between the saddle and nut. It is not a particularly invasive process, and the original fretboard is retained so that if at a later date one wants to put it back and approach the neck and/or top by other means it can be done.
 

Westerly Wood

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I just find it amazing someone wound keep a M30 in a closet for over 50 years. Makes me think of what the story is here. Grandpa bought Johnny a M30, Johnny played it once then liked baseball way better. Mom out M30 in closet. There it say behind old sport coats and winter jackets.
 

chrisdb

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I just find it amazing someone wound keep a M30 in a closet for over 50 years. Makes me think of what the story is here. Grandpa bought Johnny a M30, Johnny played it once then liked baseball way better. Mom out M30 in closet. There it say behind old sport coats and winter jackets.
he is an artist . He thought it was a beautiful guitar and bought it without. knowing... or ever learning how to play it. I think he realized after all those years that he was never going to learn to play and gave it to me.
 

Guildedagain

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A thing is a thing.

A guitar is a guitar.

A car is a car. I work on some, but not others.

You work on guitars, or you don't. There's always easier money to be had doing routine bread and butter jobs on inferior instruments, like inferior cars.

I always marveled how old Mopar iron never had to go to the shop, and even though everyone talked fertilizer about the sound of their gear reduction starter sound - later very happily copied by the Japanese, now the standard on most engines - and working at a shop this old timers tells me "if it wasn't for Chevys and Fords, he'd die in the poor house".

But deeper that this, as a keen observer of vintage mechanical contraptions, there's always a very large group willing to not work on a certain breed or brand, whether it be Guild, or a Triumph - because of Lucas* electrics - or anything out of the norm enough to where they're not familiar with it, constantly botch the work, and then blame the car/bike, or the instrument.

*Lucas, Prince of Darkness" was the old joke, but as someone who put unmpteen miles in the saddle of way too many old BSA thumpers, Matchless, Triumph, Norton, and my treasured '66 Triumph GT-6, all such great reliable trouble free miles, I say hogwash about Lucas electrics, all I saw was people blaming their lack or care and skill on a rather great and inanimate object.

At any rate, you found the right place here, Tom Jacobs, and others, it's only time and money ;]
 
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