Train wreck F-20

GuildyAsHell

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Hi all,

This is my first post. Very glad to have found this forum.

When I’m in my hometown I will often visit the shop of my guitar teacher from high school to catch up and see what he’s got. Occasionally I rescue something he doesn’t want to put a lot of work into. Most recently when I was just about to leave, he asked if any of my luthier friends could fix a total wreck of an “old Guild”. I swear I had a psychic moment and thought “I hope it’s a Hoboken F-20.” It was. Unfortunately it had been kicked in during a robbery. It needs a new top, side repair near the end block, a refret, and likely much more. I asked what he needed out of it and he said $50.00. I had just bought a couple packs of strings from him and had $48 left in my wallet which was close enough for him. Long story short I’m having Steve Chipman of vintageparlorguitars.com fix her up to my specs. I’m not going for an original restoration, but more of my idea of how I’d want one of these. Maybe sacrilegious to many of you, but it is what it is. He’s charging an absurdly reasonable amount for all the work it needs, now I just have to explain this to the wife…
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adorshki

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Welcome aboard, Guildy! Wow, lips style headstock. Checked the s/n list and looks like a '58.(!)

Kudos to you for wanting to revive it! So sad about the top. Guild tops were always just a cut above the competition.

Do have any other Guilds, or is that the first one?

Oh, re the narrow nut idea: Be sure she understands you're talking about the guitar. 🙃
 

GuildyAsHell

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Welcome aboard, Guildy! Wow, lips style headstock. Checked the s/n list and looks like a '58.(!)

Kudos to you for wanting to revive it! So sad about the top. Guild tops were always just a cut above the competition.

Do have any other Guilds, or is that the first one?

Oh, re the narrow nut idea: Be sure she understands you're talking about the guitar. 🙃
Thank you. I had a Westerly Collection OM-120 until recently. Great tone, couldn’t bond with the neck.
 

AcornHouse

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The side damage doesn't look too bad, fortunately. Definitely needs a new top. Is all the back binding gone?
 

GuildyAsHell

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The side damage doesn't look too bad, fortunately. Definitely needs a new top. Is all the back binding gone?
Yeah it’s gone and the top binding is shrunken and broken. It all needs to be replaced I think.
 

kostask

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Top binding would have needed to be replaced along with the top anyway.

Re-topping the guitar is the only way forward. The break near the tail block should be fairly easy to fix after the top is off, and re-binding the top and bottom isn't that hard. New top, and then the back and sides are going to need to be refinished.

Story of how it got this way is fishy. It would not have had the finish damage all the way around the sides with just a kick. looks more like somebody El-Kabonged it.
 

bobouz

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Yikes! Well, we definitely enjoy projects & rescues around here, so please keep us posted as the story develops.
 

GuildyAsHell

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Story of how it got this way is fishy. It would not have had the finish damage all the way around the sides with just a kick. looks more like somebody El-Kabonged it.

I would venture a guess that the finish damage was already present and unrelated to the top damage and that the perpetrator didn’t view it as worth stealing, so kicked it or something. He said that another guitar had been damaged as well.
 

F312

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I'd think of putting a torrefied Adirondack top on it.
 

walrus

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Kudos for bringing it back to life, that could be a very cool little guitar!

Looking forward to the continued saga!

walrus
 

GuildyAsHell

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I'd think of putting a torrefied Adirondack top on it.
The luthier doing the work specializes in vintage parlor guitars. He will often “Frankenstein” several guitars into one. In a good way. We haven’t nailed down what the options are as far as going for originality, or “making it my own”. So it could end up with a top from a 30’s guitar, or it could end up with a new top. I’m not even shipping it to him until June 1st and he thinks he will be done with it by the end of October. There will be pics along the way so I will post updates as they happen. I’m pretty excited about this whichever direction it goes.
 

davismanLV

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I think it's great you're going to the expense and trouble to restore this old guitar and since you paid $48 for it, it's yours so do it however you like!! This will be fun to watch. See if you can get him to chronicle the work with a few photos! We love this stuff!! (y)
 

mavuser

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very cool piece. I own a 1970 F-20 that was re-topped by Guild, at the Westerly factory in 1980, and it is by far my favorite F-20 I have ever played or heard. So, have faith that this F-20 will ride again! the neck and headstock on yours look clean, and for me, that is the trophy of the instrument, and "where all the money is," so to speak.

my only real contribution here is to suggest simply contacting the current Guild company, and try to order an Oxnardian F-20/M-40 top? You could also inquire with our own Tom Jacobs, of Jacobs custom guitars, about a new top (I saw he just built a gorgeous Martin 00 copy from scratch)...but it sounds like your luthier from Vintage Parlor guitars likely has a handle on it. good luck and keep us posted!
 

adorshki

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Along the lines of what Mavuser said, I was gonna ask if you had a "sound" in mind or are you gonna let the luthier suggest ideas? (If not both). Do you want to try to recreate the F20 sound that's already got a strong following, like Chris's (Mavuser)?

If you want it to sound like a Martin have 'im put Martin-style bracing in it, and a Martin-thickness top.

"If it was me", I'd go for as close to a factory reproduction as possible, because Guild paid a lot of attention to their top bracing designs and topwoods, which are the real heart and soul of an instrument's voice. (Forgive me if you already know this stuff)

So I'd have 'im measure the old bracing as accurately as possible, and suspect it was just their standard-grade sitka, but might have to move up a grade these days to get the nice tight grain that gives bracing strength. Or Guild moved to adi bracing in Tacoma, allowed 'em to use slightly lighter bracing because adi's a little stronger than sitka by weight, and made for more resonant tops.

The top would also have been standard grade sitka of the era. Your luthier should be able to make a suggestion as what to would be closest these days.

Bear in mind Guild's wood needs were small enough to be able to inspect and grade (or reject) wood pretty closely, and regarding the quality of their tops from the late '70s to close of Westerly in '01, their "standard" grade might well have been graded AA by other makers, thanks to a guy named Willie Fritscher:
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And a nice essay on bracing:
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I have no reason to doubt Hoboken was any less selective in their wood buying, and if anything were even more precise in their craftsmanship? They were true artisans, even with an entry level F-20.

Hobokens also have a rep for light resonant builds, so matching the original top thickness is also important if retaining the back/sides. Heck I'd even try to match the original kerfing as closely as possible.

So, just food for thought. And Tom Jacobs BTW also actually worked at Guild in late '70's (or was it early '80's?) and has a special place in his heart for 'em. He's also an expert at restoration. Just in case for some reason it doesn't work out with your local guy.

Whatever happens, please keep us posted, and again, welcome aboard!
 
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