The repairs are complete, and the guitar went back home today. To my delight, it sounded better than I expected. I was amazed at how thick the old finish on the top was. I scraped it off with a plastic scraper after liberal applications of paint remover. In my opinion no guitar should have had this much lacquer on the top. I refinished it with french polish shellac, which is much much thinner, and if not subject to untoward abuse, superior to lacquer. We installed the pickup today and it had a very even and natural acoustic sound through my Roland Cube Monitor, which is a clean amp. Since the guitar had a bolt on neck, and the fingerboard extension fit tight to the soundboard, I didn’t use any glue in the final assembly. This means the guitar can be quickly disassembled and put into a carry on suitcase for air travel. My friend intends to modify a carry on bag for this. I’ll be interested to see how this works. Every musician who owns a fine instrument must sweat when they have to hand it over to the airline baggage handling department, wondering if it will arrive undamaged. Carrying it on board and stowing it overhead should be a lot less risky and stressful, in theory.
Restoring something of value and beauty is intense work but ultimately very satisfying when it works out well.
The old bridge was used after I filled the string grooves to gain a bit more height, but my friend is going to order a new bridge for it, complete with the ‘mustaches’. The original bridge did not have the correct amount of compensation (3.5mm) so it now sits crooked on the guitar. When the new bridge arrives then mustaches can be glued on to complete the correct look. Every gypsy has a mustache, no?