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 Weissenborn Restoration and Repair

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Tony Francis
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Nombre de messages : 67
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Date d'inscription : 02/02/2008

MessageSujet: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Lun 15 Nov - 13:29

Although not a rare guitar in Weissenborn terms, historically the Style 1 was the backbone of Weissenborn's musical empire, and still is today. In the same way Martin brought their unsurpassed quality across a range of models and materials, Weissenborn wanted to make his proprietary steel guitars available so the average musician could obtain such an instrument.

This gorgeous Style 1 was produced in the mid 1920s at the height of the Weissenborn Company's success, and features beautiful figured Koa wood, Spirit varnish finish and all the typical construction details we would expect to see on an instrument dating from this era.

When the guitar came to my shop for repair, it had not long left another where it had received a new bridge:



Face view:



Rear view:



Now clearly this does not appear to be the work of an expert, and its unfortunate but its not uncommon to see this kind of work on Weissenborn and related instruments. You can see the saddle was made so tall that it actually cracked the bridge. I couldn't tune this instrument to pitch without it threatening to tear right off.

Here you can see why you should NEVER use slotted pins on your guitar - more on this later:



The repair begins. Heat shield, Aluminum tape, and heat lamp:



The tape is used to come up and over the edges, protecting any finish missed by the somewhat universal shield:



After a few minutes under the heat lamp, the resins in the rosewood begin to bubble. I slide my repair knife underneath, and the bridge comes away without problem:



A close examination and the previous "repair" disaster begins to show. Here you can see what happens if you don't heat the joint sufficiently, or pay attention to grain runout:



The "bellied" or distorted top:



Another view:



The top distortion is of course the most likely reason behind the previous replacement bridge. In an effort to increase action height, the tall saddle was installed, much like how at old Martins they would shave the bridge instead of resetting the neck. The heart of the problem was never addressed and the tall saddle only compounds the problem on an already sensitive instrument.

One of my favorite luthiers, restoration icon T.J Thompson, recently developed a tool to reduce the belly in the old prewar Martins he is associated with, without permanent alterations to the guitar. Of course his tool would never fit a Weissenborn, but I thought it might be possible to take the same idea and custom manufacture one for Weissenborn:



Although they look simple, each tool part is machined as a matching convex / concave set:



They are headed up in my glue pot to 150 degrees:



The top is then dampened, and the hot cauls are clamped into place without delay:



The repair story continues tomorrow!
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bobem
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Lun 15 Nov - 14:21

kwa !? kwa !?
Can't stand this suspens anymore!... stress
That's a great post! Thank you! à bras
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Clem
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Lun 15 Nov - 14:54

Wow…

bobem a écrit:
Can't stand this suspens anymore!... stress

Il n'y a pas de suspense, comment tu veux que Tony Francis fasse autrement que restaurer superbement cette weiss? langue

Thank you for sharing this with us, Mr Francis. I am really looking forward for your explanation on slotted pins. victoire
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Mar 16 Nov - 9:38

Thanks Tony, great post kwa !?
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Tony Francis
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Mar 16 Nov - 13:06

Thanks everyone - super glad you like it!

With the top under clamps, my focus switched to the new reproduction bridge. Of course the original was Maple, not Rosewood like the former replacement, and so we begin simply with the wood itself. West Virginian Sugar Maple, the finest of which are cut from Mandolin billets.



For restoration work like this where the new must fit the old footprint perfectly - I will make several and pick the best one:



The finish process begins with Gamboge - a resin used by old time violin makers, but also interpreted by other greats such as Lloyd Loar and Weissenborn, under the dye:





Black aniline:





The new bridge will be french polished and distressed to match the old, but more on this later.

Internally the guitar needed several back braces re-glued, and just the X brace patch on the top.
Here you can clearly see the partially loose back brace:



Sticky sandpaper and a feeler gauge preps the brace to be re-glued. You don't want to remove material here, so much as clean out the old dirt and junk:



Different repair situations require different kinds of techniques. For this brace I am using a simple but extremely effective stick jack against the X brace to glue it back in position:



Another brace re-glued. In this case the new glue reactivates the old glue squeeze out:



Where there was no squeeze out originally, you can clean away the excess and without a trace:



Next comes the plugging / rebuilding of the top for the new bridge. Following the previous "repair", there were three critical details in my eyes both from a structural standpoint, but also musically speaking.

1. Repair worn bridge pin hole ball end damage. This is what happens as a result of improperly slotted bridges, or slotted pins. And quite frequently its a combination of the two such as with this guitar.

2. Plug pin holes. The previous replacement bridge had incorrect bridge pin arrangement, which had almost doubled each hole in size, making it almost impossible for the string ball ends to seat properly.

3. Re-glue damage from the previous repairers bridge removal attempt.

These reverse tapered plugs covered issues 1 & 2 in one single operation step. Each plug is cut to fit each pin hole exactly, and glued into place:



Plugs glued and leveled. The damage from original removal was repaired through a partial re-glue of the top, and also filleting slithers of Koa and hide glue into the damaged areas:



The top and new reproduction bridge fitted, and ready to be glued:





The final part in our repair story tomorrow!
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Mar 16 Nov - 13:24

Great post ! Thank you so much... bravo !

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Slide
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Mar 16 Nov - 14:24

'


Dernière édition par Slide le Ven 15 Avr - 11:14, édité 1 fois
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fran
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Mar 16 Nov - 15:47

bravo ! bravo ! bravo ! bravo !
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Marcello
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Mar 16 Nov - 18:35

bravo ! bravo ! bravo !
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Mar 16 Nov - 20:04

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arno
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Mar 16 Nov - 22:57

Thank's for this post !!! bravo !
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Mer 17 Nov - 10:52

You're the one Tony!!! Great job!!! bravo ! bravo ! bravo ! bravo ! bravo !
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Mer 17 Nov - 13:15

bravo ! bravo ! bravo ! bravo ! la classe la classe
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Tony Francis
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Jeu 18 Nov - 4:21

Thanks everyone for all your reply's, I really appreciate it! Im super glad you find it interesting!

The repair continues!

These are my reproduction pins that I had custom manufactured in Germany. They were made as a direct replacement for vintage Weissenborn's, as well as my modern reproductions. Unlike the originals however, these are individually turned, not molded, so I have been working on an antiquing process to better match the look of the original pin when used in restoration.

Scribing the pin heads:



After an acetone bath, they are have lost much their gloss, and developed a slight patina:



Because these are unslotted pins, the bridge must be slotted to fit each individual string. Before the 1970s this was just a standard detail. Nowadays you will only see this at high end acoustics. Here you can see the pin holes being reamed:



Setup complete, back to original specifications:



Inside you can see each string ball is seated how they should be, on the repaired bridge plate:



Weissenborn's bat-wing bridge is some of the highest quality bridge work performed at any guitar. Aesthetically it remained highly refined signature of his work through the production years, and is still one of the hardest and most critical details to get right today:







This is a great shot of the distressed french polish / varnish finish:



Following the repair, its hard to compare the sound of the restored instrument to how it came into the shop. I could barely tune it without fear of the previous bridge tearing off. Technically and functionally acceptable (more or less), but perhaps most obviously the previous (and no doubt well meaning) repairman missed the details that are so critical to the instruments voice musically.

I took these last few shots before the instrument was shipped back to its home in the US. A gorgeous sounding instrument.





Thanks for looking and please feel free to comment or if you have any questions.
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Jeu 18 Nov - 10:05

Tony Francis a écrit:
Unlike the originals however, these are individually turned, not molded

So original pins were molded....Silly question but, what were they made of ?? hmmm

Stressed varnish finish looks like an old painting : gorgeous !

Beautiful job once again ! bravo !

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Tony Francis
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Jeu 18 Nov - 11:03

Kia ora Vleb, thanks for your message and kind words.

Yes you are correct the original pins were molded, and they were made from Ivoroid - same as my new reproduction pins. The manufacturing process of molding two halves together leaves a seam in the middle (like a chocolate Easter egg).

Best regards,

Tony Francis
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Jeu 18 Nov - 11:42

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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Ven 19 Nov - 10:12

Thanks a lot for your post Tony, awesome job like ever bravo ! bravo ! bravo ! bravo !
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Ven 19 Nov - 12:52

Thanks Chris! - Nice Avatar! à bras
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Jeu 25 Nov - 18:35

bravo ! bravo ! bravo ! bravo ! bravo ! bravo ! bravo !

Excellent, as usually !
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MessageSujet: Re: Weissenborn Restoration and Repair   Sam 25 Déc - 17:02

Beautiful craftsmanship! My deepest regards...

I just begun with Weissenborn sliding! But for if i want to buy an original Herrman Weissenborn, where do i have to look?
Should it just be a case of luck if i find one or are there shops who sell the original beauties? Somebody a hint for me?
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