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Letter: Note to Future Repairers of His Instruments

Letter: Note to Future Repairers of His Instruments

by Bob Gleason

Originally published in American Lutherie #101, 2010

Tim —

For the past thirty-eight years I’ve been repairing stringed instruments and building a few along the way, too. Occasionally, I’ve run into difficult repair situations. Some natural, like the freak wind gust through the window that blew a Martin 000-41 body off my bench, which resulted in my introduction to doing abalone purfling work. Some man-made, like the first Taylor guitar that was brought to me for a neck reset. No one told me there was a bolt under that label on the neck block. I’d never seen a solid wood guitar with a bolt-on neck. I thought bolts were for banjos! I steamed away like mad on that neck until I managed to break the heel off and discovered the bolt. Any experienced repairperson has a few interesting stories to tell.

Today things are getting worse, from a repair point of view. We have bolts, screws, epoxy, superglue, many kinds of white and yellow glues, gorilla glue, synthetic materials used throughout, water base finishes, quite a few concoctions of oil finishes, truss rods of all kinds, myriad electronics, woods from all parts of the planet, real shell, fake shell, semi-fake shell, photo finishes, stainless fretwire, laminated wood that looks like solid wood, instruments that are constructed with materials that were previously only found in the sink cut-out dumpster of the local cabinet shop, real bone, fake bone, and all sorts of other animal parts to name a few. Repair work is getting a little tougher these days!

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