Replacing a broken truss rod

This Gibson EBO bass had a broken truss rod, and the neck had too much bow in it.  Because we could hear it rattling in the neck near the neck pickup we had a pretty good idea it was broken at the anchor.  The first step was to pull the rod out.  Ron tapped against the nut until he could get ahold of it with a Robogrip and PULLED!  Once it was out he could use it and magnets to locate the anchor.   Next step was to remove the last 2 frets and drill down into the fingerboard to hopefully expose the anchor with the broken end of the rod still in it.  It worked!  He cleaned out the hole and removed the anchor.  Since the rod was long enough he threaded the broken end and extended the threads on the other end where the nut goes.  Next he cut a new anchor from a piece of bar stock, drilled and tapped it.  The repaired rod was then waxed, threads and all, and pushed back into the neck.  The wax is a lubricant to help it slide in and also helps lubricate the nut.  Then the new anchor was ground to fit perfectly in the neck and a mahogany block glued in place to keep the rod from moving.  Next step was to make the repair disappear.  Ron cut the hole in the fingerboard to a rectangular shape so the ends of the plug would be hidden under the frets.  He found piece of Brazilian rosewood with similar color and grain pattern, fit and glued it in place, cleaned it up and oiled it, put the frets back in exactly as they were, and……what repair?  Works just like new!


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An event!

Michele and her HepCat lap steels are going to be a part of the MN Music Summit this Friday, April 13th (a lucky day) from 1-5pm in the O’Shaughnessey Auditorium lobby. For more info click this link:

It’s about time for a slideshow!

A charango is a 10-stringed instrument that originated in the Andes and is traditionally made from the dried shell of an armadillo (hair and ears intact). Fortunately, they’re not made that way anymore!

I recently had the privilege of working on two charangos for local charanguisto Leo Lara, and these really were made the traditional way, so worth putting a lot of work into.

One of them needed only a little work, but the other one needed quite a bit. You can see some of the gory details in this slideshow.

It came to the shop because the action was too high to be playable and the peghead was broken. The peghead was a straight-forward glue job, so no problem. But since an armadillo neck can’t be reset to correct the action like on a guitar, we had to come up with another way. The fingerboard was much thicker on one end so we decided to remove it and make a wedge to fit under it in order to change the neck angle.

The first step was to measure everything and figure out how much the neck angle needed to change. Then remove the frets. Then remove the fingerboard using a heating element (that black thing on top of the heating element is just weight to keep it from moving around). Next make the wedge to the correct dimensions and glue it to the fingerboard. Then glue that to the neck, clean up all the glue and shape everything. Touch up the finish as necessary. Put frets back in, level and crown them (I used the same frets because they were in good shape and a different alloy than what we have). Then string and tune (at least an hour) and set it up.

It turned out great, and was a lot of fun to work on!

Thanks Leo and Kathy for trusting me with your instruments!

Check out Leo and Kathy Lara at

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Slideshow time!

Ron Repairs a Top Crack

It’s a gripping story!  Watch here.

This kind of crack is very common and almost always caused by lack of humidity. The very first thing to do is humidify the guitar until the crack swells shut. This could take a week or two. Then it’s ready to repair. Small cleats of Spruce are glued on the underside of the crack in between the braces. There is a lightbulb and a mirror in the body so Ron can see what he’s doing in there. His Popeye arm barely fits inside!

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Not another slideshow!!

Watch Ron repair a gong bass drum rim from the early 1900’s.

It’s coming apart at the joint where one end overlaps the other. It would have been made using hot hide glue, so that’s what it’s being repaired with. Hide glue works best when it’s hot because that’s when it’s stickiest. So Ron must have everything ready and move quickly!

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