This last weekend after the memorial service, my grandpa gifted me with two guitars he picked up at a yard sale for free. “They aren’t much,” he cautioned, “but all they need is some new strings and they’d work for a student or you can resell them or something.”
Love you, grandpa, but they needed a tad more than just new strings… 🙂 Thankfully, I like tinkering with instruments, and was grateful to have a small project to keep my hands busy.
Unfortunately, these poor instruments were used and abused. 😦
It really frustrates me when I come across instruments that have obviously not been treated well. I was raised to respect items of value, especially something as delicate and expensive as a musical instrument. Didn’t matter whether it was worth $50 or $500 or more — it deserved gentle treatment!
Whomever owned these poor instruments did not follow the same code as I. The one that still had strings was not only strung with steel strings instead of the nylon it was made for, but the strings were crossed over the headstock to the wrong tuning machines. (Can you tell I was appalled?) They had used a twisted wire to raise the saddle, which had weakened the delicate device so it broke in my hands when I removed it from the bridge. The other guitar was missing its saddle in addition to its strings. Add to both a layer of grime, chipped varnish and binding, and assorted dents and dings, and they become a very sorry picture indeed. Many may have pitched them in the trash at first look, but a careful inspection revealed no serious cracks in the construction, smooth fret edges, and decent resonance in the soundbox. They are not pretty, but I believe they are rescue-worthy.
Time for some TLC. I have strings and saddles on order, and while I wait for those to arrive, I gave each guitar a quick “bath” (a wipe-down with a damp rag, quickly followed by a hefty polish session with my guitar chamois). I used a razor blade to smooth the sharp edges on the worst of the chips in the finish and I adjusted the tuning machines so they didn’t rattle. Today I used some special gasket glue to fill the worst of the spots where the binding was missing — it’s a weird little experiment, but I wanted something to seal the holes to keep the guitar’s side and back from separating right there. Husband helped me re-crown a couple frets that turned out to be flattened, and so now we wait for the rest of the parts.