As of today, Friday, March 27th, Ron and I are still at the shop working on stuff.  Unfortunately, as of Saturday morning, we decided to close, in compliance with the MN Stay at Home order.  Please know that we are doing our best to follow cleanliness and social distancing guidelines, and will continue to do our best to serve you.  Messaging and phone calls are encouraged.  651-224-4168


As of today, Thursday, March 26th, Ron and I are still at the shop working on stuff.  Unfortunately, as of Saturday morning, we will be forced to lock the door and only take appointments.  So if you want to drop off or pick up a repair, please call first.                651-224-4168

Thank you!

Please know that we are doing our best to follow cleanliness and social distancing guidelines.

Making a pyramid bridge

Watch Michele make a pyramid bridge for an old parlor guitar…..if you dare.

A pyramid bridge is one of the trickiest types of bridge to make (because of the pyramids).  This old no-name parlor guitar had an “ebonized” pyramid bridge on it, and the front of it broke off due to string tension and probably being a somewhat softer wood than ebony.  I made the replacement of ebony partially to avoid that problem in the future, but also because it’s traditional and just nicer.

 First step: select a blank of ebony, square it up, measure, mark, and drill the holes.

Then, using the original as a template, mark and cut out the footprint.

Next, measure and mark the thickness and the rough shape of the profile.  I do this using a dial calipers, a small ruler/straight-edge and a small square.

Some of the profile can be rough-cut on the bandsaw, beltsander and the spindle shaper, but most of the work is by hand.  A good very sharp chisel and various sanding blocks are the main tools involved.

The saddle slot is cut after the bridge is glued on because it’s precise location is necessary for good intonation.

Once the shaping is all done, then it’s sand, sand, sand.  All the scratches on all surfaces must be sanded out using progressively finer paper, all the way to 600, always with a hard block to avoid rounding edges.  Pyramid bridges typically have very defined points and lines.

Then glue it on, route the saddle slot, ream and countersink the holes, make and install a saddle, all of which I’m not going to cover in this slideshow.  But I will show you the finished product!

The actual making of the bridge took me about 2 hours.  Now you know why it’s such an expensive thing to make!


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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   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZrAfkyDfkE

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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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