Restoration of a defective jazz guitar from the 50's

This battered piece of music history was brought by a friend. Rather with a pitying look, but still too good to throw away, I kept it for several years and thought about it. Recently I had enough time and took care of the jazz guitar. On the head and inside there was no indication of the manufacturer. From the construction and the materials used, I estimate the manufacture to the early 50's.

Ceiling break away neck Detached Sides

The varnish is clearly nitro, the glue used was hide glue! The entire body is solid, both back and top and reinforced with small wooden rhombuses against cracks. Since the body had come apart at the seams as well as at the top, I disassembled it. 

Frontal view ceiling Soil removed Open body

Since the fingerboard was decorated with pearloid, which was missing, and the neck was also bent, I decided to rebuild the good piece under modern aspects rather than simply restore it. This included a completely new fingerboard, a steel rod, a new headstock including inlay and electrical amplification using Attila Zoller pickup and piezo pickup in the bridge. 

Binding and new head veneer Headstock finish

Mother of pearl block inlays on a bound palsisander fingerboard. 

New fretboard inlays and binding Detail fretboard

Inside The carcasses showed that a fret was too small, so I replaced with a lime stripes. The steel rod was milled and inserted.

New fret, truss rod, fingerboard

The complete varnish was removed with sandpaper. The base was glued back onto the ribs with hide glue. 

Gluing of the floor Neck and body before painting

Before painting, the fingerboard and glue surfaces must be masked. 

Corpus during painting

The painting is done in three steps. First, both the neck and the body are primed. After an intermediate sanding, colored varnish is sprayed on with a fine spray gun. The color mixture must be strong enough to achieve the desired shading with the first coat of varnish. Start with a light first shot, followed by dark brown and finally black. The gun is held away from the center of the body when spraying. 

Sunburst Body Front Sunburst Body Back

The ribs and the back of the neck are also shaded. The third step is the application of the top coat. About 6 more thin coats of varnish are necessary for a high gloss finish. 

Lacquered frames Side View Body
Tinted neck
Rear tinted neck

After removing the adhesive strips, the neck looked like this: 

Lacquered neck base Paint before polishing
Neck back before polishing

Once the varnish is dry, the high gloss is created with wet sandpaper and buffing wheels. A final check of the string position with the neck in place. If everything fits, the neck can be glued in place.

After attaching the electrics through the f-holes, mounting the tailpiece and tuners, the guitar now looked like this. It is really fun to bring such an instrument back to life. You can really feel the years and the experience from the era! 

Finished guitar on the wall