Beside construction I also restore guitars. Over the past years I had the opportunity to work on many traditional guitars like Selmer, Favino, Busato, Di Mauro, Castelluccia. I think it is important that your guitar
is restored by a luthier that is specialized in Selmer style guitars and has a wide range of experience.
The photo (Januari 2009) shows a rare collection of vintage guitars that all came in my workshop for
repairs at the same time (left to right Busato, Selmer, Di Mauro, Favino and Catelluccia)
> Clarity up front
A lot of my customers own old, often expensive guitars with a big emotional value as well. I start to discuss the preferred repair/restore work together with the customer. To give you an example: it’s is a big difference if you want to replace a certain part of a guitar, or you want to restore the existing part. Replacing old or damaged parts for new parts can decrease the value of a vintage guitar. My first goal is to keep the guitar as original as possible. Secondly, the guitar should be playable and have the best sound possible. Once there is an agreement about the work to be done, it will be noted down in a ‘restoration form’ together with the costs. If a customer agrees to the approach (repairs, costs and timeline) restoration can begin.
> Repair restore options
The work on these guitars varies from making a new bridge and set-up, to completely rebuild the guitar. In principle everything is possible, but is depending on the condition of the guitar. The work to be done is written down in a ‘restoration form’.
- replace the bridge
- installing a piezo pickup or other system
- replace the tailpiece / tuners
- modify the guitars set-up (action, intonation)
- re-fret the fret board
- repair/replacing fret board
- repair/replacing the neck
- repair cracks in the top
- repair/replace broken headstock
- replacing sound braces on the top or back
- repair/replacing binding
- repair/replace back/sides
- touch up or replace finish
- improve the overall sound of the guitar (working on the top/braces)
> Some stories to give you an example of restorations I did:
The photos show you a Busato with the back removed (photo busato 1). This guitar had a big dent around the sound hole (photo busato 2). Both slots where made to hold a pickup. The guitar needed re-bracing of the first brace (between sound hole and neck block) (photo busato 3, 4 and 5), steam bending the wood to remove the dent, and repairing the cracks in the top. The guitar came out great. Good playability and a big vintage tone. (photo busato 6)
The second example shows you a Busato D sound hole guitar. The fret board was removed and a new one was installed and
re-fretted. (Photo busato 7 and 8)
> DI MAURO
The third example is a Di Mauro. New bridge and moustaches were fitted. The fretboard was flattened and re-fretted. Position dots were replaced and the neck heel joint re-glued (photo di mauro)
> SELMER 657
Selmer 657 was owned by a gypsy family in Germany. They played the guitar almost every day when disaster struck. The guitar was in its case in the trunk of a car, when an accident happened. The car was damaged severely, and the guitar as well. It came to me in thousand pieces held together with tape.
Although severily damaged, I could see that the guitar was an authentic Selmer. It had been in fairly original state before the crash, although there was some previous work visible on the top (crack repairs). Now, the sound board was completely broken in two, just above the sound hole, from left to right. The back had several cracks and twisted fractures. Many people would consider this as a total loss. However, the owner of the guitar and I decided that it was still worthwhile to try to reconstruct the guitar using all the bits and pieces available. Again, to keep it as original as possible. I worked many painstaking hours glueing all the parts together making fixtures and holding fixtures to restore its original shape. During this restoration I developed a love-hate relationship with this old instrument though.
Then finally the day came I could put the strings on the guitar and started to play the guitar.
I remember well sending an e-mail to the owner telling him that a miracle had happened. Unbelievable the sound of this guitar! Good bass, punchy treble, a Selmer at its best. When the customer arrived to take it back with him, I had some mixed feelings. This one had settled in my heart and I would have loved to keep it. But the owner of course did as well, so it left me…. the fate of the luthier.
> SELMER 430
This guitar arrived in my workshop in its original case (photo selmer 1). It appeared to be a very rare Selmer from the transitional period. The guitar had only 3 braces which caused the top to dent heavily around the sound hole (photo selmer 2, 3 and 4) (read more Learning from Selmer). The back was removed, the dent was removed, an extra brace added. The job was done successfully (photo selmer 5).
> Don’t wait too long !
The photo shows a guitar made by Jacques Favino (photo favino) with damage on the top and around sound hole edge, caused by
the flat pick. This kind of damage is often seen when no scratch plate is used. The wood of the damaged zone is often very thin. Sanding is no option. The only thing to do is to conserve the wood by sealing it of with lacquer and add a scratch plate.
Don’t wait to long restoring your guitar!