Buying an acoustic guitar with ‘issues’ needn’t be too much of a risk if you’re handy and prepared to get stuck in. Huw Price snapped up a promising-looking contender from the internet and set to work
From the outset I want to say that the guitar we’ve chosen to be this month’s patient, a Recording King, is a great guitar. Essentially it’s a pre-war style Martin replica with solid mahogany back and sides, a solid sitka spruce top, a one-piece mahogany neck with a soft V profile and open gear Grover butterbean tuners.There’s also herringbone purfling, ivoroid binding and ebony for the fingerboard and bridge, and I was also surprised to discover that the finish is nitrocellulose and bone is used for the nut and saddle. Recording King’s attention to detail is more than evident from the open-ended saddle slot and the slot-head tuner screws.
The specs might read like that of an expensive, high-end US-made model, but the ROS-626 sells new for around £600. I managed to pick this example up on Ebay for about £225 because it had some issues. After a week or so of procrastination, mostly because I was enjoying the guitar too much, it was time to address the fingerboard cracks, re-glue the lifting bridge and make a new saddle.TOOLBOX
- Three bridge clamps
- Palette knife
- Titebond Original glue
- Jeweller’s saw
- Metal polish
- Ebony dust
- Stanley knife blade
1 - Cracking Up
The fingerboard cracks – which, to be fair, the eBay seller had photographed to make them look worse than they actually were – consisted of several long, hairline cracks running the length of the fingerboard, and they needed to be stabilised.
The cracks were too fine to force in regular PVA wood glue or epoxy, so I resorted to medium viscosity superglue. Superglue is ideal because it wicks straight into cracks and it doesn’t need clamping. After the first application I scraped the board flush with Stanley blades, rubbed some ebony dust into the cracks and applied a second dose of superglue.After the second scraping the cracks had all but vanished, leaving a beautifully smooth fingerboard. I followed up with some 1400 grit micromesh and some lemon oil and the board felt better than new. The factory had dyed the ebony for a uniformly black look; the scraping revealed the grain plus some natural brown tones, and to my eyes it looked a lot more attractive.