Claescaster

Tag: fish glue

Morris W-50

Morris W-50 1970's Made in Japan

I recently got myself a Morris W-50, my third Morris and it sounds as good as the other two. Solid spruce top and it looks like the back and sides are solid Brazilian rosewood and quilted maple. It was pretty beat up when I got it from Guitar Hiro in Madrid with plenty of dents and a cracked back but now I’ve fixed it up a bit and it’s playable again. It’s a nice Martin D-42 copy with snowflake inlays and the typical Martin volute where the head and neck meet. Nice inlays all around and a beautiful 3-piece back with flamed maple and rosewood. I guess it was made around 1976 since they changed to hexagon inlays in the 1979 catalogue and then renamed them from W-50 to TF around 1983.

Morris W-50 1970's Made in Japan
Morris W-50 1970's Made in Japan
Morris W-50 1970's Made in Japan
TF Morris W-50, Made in Japan around 1976

Morris catalogue Japan 1976Morris Japan catalogue / catalog 1976
Morris Japan catalogue 1976

Morris W-50 1970's Made in Japan
There was a bit of work needed on this guitar. The back was cracked in the binding just below the heel which made the whole neck tilt forward causing a pretty high action. I cleaned out the crack, someone had put some super glue in there, filled it with fish glue that I let really sink in and connect with the neck block, clamped it and left if for 48 hours. Now it seems really solid and the action got so low that I had to make a new higher bone saddle for it. There was a lot of dents and marks on the back of the neck so I filled them with nitro lacquer and sanded it smooth and buffed it up with metal polish, here you can read more about how to repair lacquer damage. The only thing left now is to ad some gold machine heads so I ordered a set of open back Schaller ST6 this morning and will fit strap button and an endpin jack tonight.

Morris W-50 1970's Made in Japan
I recently changed the machine heads on my 1970’s Japan made Morris W-50 to Wilkinson WJ28NGD open gear in gold and I couldn’t be happier

Moridaira (Morris Guitars)
Founded in 1967 by Toshio “Mori” Moridaira, the Moridaira factory produced high-quality guitars, including the infamous Morris badged guitar. Moridaira also produced badged guitars for Hohner including Coronado, Futurama, H.S. Anderson, Lotus (some) and Sakai.

Morris W-50, Morris W-40, Morris WL-35 Made in Japan
The whole family, Morris W-50, Morris W-40 and Morris WL-35

How to… remove a bridge

Levin / Goya 163 individual height adjustable plastic saddles
The old plastic saddles before I removed the bridge on my Goya Model 163 from 1968.

I recently had to remove my first bridge on an acoustic guitar, after removing my first neck it just felt like a natural next step. It turned out to be both harder and easier than I first thought it would be. I needed to do this for two reasons, first because the bridge started to come loose, it felt like the glue had dried up and started to fall apart. Second, I wasn’t too excited about the extremely low individual height adjustable plastic saddles, as Levin calls them, that the previous owner had left me. They were too low to adjust and made some strings sound muted and dull. I watched a Youtube clip before I started with Julyan Wallis, who happened to be working on a Levin guitar as well, and learned a few good tricks. He was heating up the spatula on an normal clothes iron and that way managed to loosen the old glue under the bridge. It worked extremely well.

Goya 163 bridge removal
I heated up the spatula on a normal clothes iron and touched it with my fingers to make sure it didn’t get too hot, I was scared to scorch the lacquer. As soon as you loosened the corners and worked your way around the whole bridge you can keep the tip of the spatula quite hot if you are quick to get it in under the bridge and not resting it on the lacquer. This could have been such a smooth and and easy job if I would have realised earlier that that saddle screws went all the way through and was actually screwed in to the top as well, something that kept the bridge secure even when all the glue was loosened. I tried over and over and even managed to damaged the lacquer in two places in my desperate attempts to get the bridge off. Since I couldn’t get a grip of the saddle screws, two was filed down smooth and the others were too low to hold on to with any pliers. I had to heat up a screwdriver on a candle, I should probably have used the clothes iron, and then melt the tip in to the saddle and that way get a grip and unscrew them. Once all the saddle screws were out the bridge came off straight away. It could have been a cleaner removal if I had realised that the saddles were attached to the top but still, I’m pretty pleased with the result for being my first time.

Goya 163 bridge removal
I painted the wood where the finish had come off and then added a bit of nitro lacquer to seal it. Since I had to burn the tip of the saddles to get them out I thought the best I could do in order to save as much material as possible was the flip them over and reshape the bottom instead. I used a normal hand file to shape the saddles, I made the tip both higher and wider to get a better grip with the pliers when I adjust them. Once the shape was good I rounded them off with my fret crowning file. I glued the bridge back in place with fish glue and a couple of clamps and let it set for 24 hours. It worked pretty well, the tone is better and I can now easily adjust the string height like Levin intended 46 years ago.

Goya T-18

Levin Goya T-18 1966
My beloved Goya T-18, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966

When my Goya T-18 arrived from the US back in September I didn’t really know where to start. It had an amazing tone, actually every time I pick it up I think it’s my best sounding guitar, but it needed work. The action was way too high, there was three deep really annoying dents on the back of the neck and the pickguard was loose. Last weekend I actually got to work on all three problems and I managed to get my Goya up and running and now I struggle to put it down.

Levin Goya T-18 Made in Sweden 1966

Levin LT-18 / Goya T-18
Goliath size: Body width: 400 mm, body length: 505 mm, body depth: 95/120 mm
Fingerboard width: 43 mm, scale length: 630 mm
Spruce top, flame maple back and sides, 4-ply bound top, single-bound back
Mahogany bolt-on neck with adjustable truss rod
Single-bound ebony fingerboard with bass side pearloid block inlay
Nickel plated individual Van Gent tuners with metal buttons
Ebony bridge, natural finish and ten year warranty

Marketed by U.K. distributors as Super Goliath Model 1855

Goya T-18 1966 / Levin LT-18
First I had to try to fix the three deep dents in the back of the neck. Since they went through the original finish down to the wood I actually added some water first to let the mahogany swell a bit and that way make them less deep. After a couple of days I added the first layer of Nitrocellulose lacquer with a toothpick, just one drop at the time. I had to repeat the process quite a few times to get it even, the lacquer sinks when it dries. Next step was to get rid of the edges with a razor, like mentioned in my previous post, and then sand it even. I used 400, 800, 1500, 2000 and 2500 grit and then added a layer of  Carnauba wax and a lot of elbow grease and then buffed it up with a fine microfiber cloth. I guess because of the thickness of the original finish my repair blended in really well and it’s even hard to notice.

Goya T-18 1966 / Levin LT-18
The pickguard was loose so I decided to remove it completely and then glue it back again. I cleaned off the old glue with a razor blade and made sure that both the top of the guitar and the back of the pickguard was smooth and even before I glued it back with my trusty old fish glue. I added some pressure with a clamp, I had a little block of wood on the inside and half a wine cork on the outside for not ruining the finish.

Goya T-18 1966 / Levin LT-18
The main thing that was needed on this Goya T-18 was a neck reset to get the action down. I was pretty worried about this and that’s why I have put it off for so long. I have never done anything like this before and I wasn’t even sure what I could use to loosen the two bolts on the inside, these Levin / Goya guitars have used a combination of glue and the Levin bolt-on neck system since the early Sixties. It turned out that a normal Philips screwdriver no 2 fitted perfectly, they are square in the base of the tip. Once the bolts were off I tried to remove the neck completely but without any luck, well the heel came loose straight away but not the fretboard. I tried with heat, steam and all sorts of magic but it didn’t budge and since I didn’t want to do anything too drastic and ruin the guitar I left it. Then I read on a Swedish guitar forum that you could leave the neck on and just lift the heel, get a bit of sandpaper in under, add some pressure and then pull. That way you would get some material of the heel off without removing the neck completely. The guy in the forum mentioned that he had done 40 pulls on both the left and the right side so I did 30 on each to be on the safe side. I fastened the bolts and strung the guitar up again and it worked, it actually worked really well. I played it for a couple of days and then decided to sand off a bit more, so I loosened the neck again and did another 15 pulls on each side and now it’s perfect. Crazy Swedes, coming up with such a quick and easy way of resetting a neck on an acoustic guitar. Thank you Levin for thinking of me 47 years down the line.

Levin / Goya catalogue 1965Levin / Goya catalogue 1965
The Goya T-18 was top of the line back in 1965 and cost $219.50 new, I wish they still cost that.

Fish glue

Fish glue
My newly glued Levin LT-16

My dad’s old Levin LT-16 has quite a few crack, well it had, because now most of them are fixed. I tried to figure out what type of glue would be best for repairing wood cracks and all the articles I read said the same thing, warm hide glue. The only problem is that I didn’t feel too intrigued by the idea of having to have melted horse hoves and other animals parts on the stove so I was desperately seeking for an alternative. Then my new found guitar building friend Roger in Sweden told me about fish glue. It has the same awesome properties as warm hide glue but can be used cold. It took some time to locate someone selling fish glue but eventually I found die-moebelwerkstatt, a German eBay seller specialised products for furniture restoration. I got myself some Canadian fish glue made from a recipe from 1870 and it’s amazing. I practised on my Francisca Montserrat and some other old guitars that had cracks in them before I dared to touch my Levin. It has gone pretty well so far, no major difficulties, but I wished that the glue pulled a bit more. I read that the special thing with warm hide glue, and apparently cold fish glue too, is that it is pulling the wood together when it dries, hence why it is so good for cracks and similar repairs. It might be my glue that is a bit old, or just the recipe from 1870 not being the best, but I wished it pulled a bit more. It still works really well, way better than I expected. I feel a lot safer now, not only when it comes to buying old guitars that might have a crack or two, but to dare to use mine because if I happen to crack them I can always repair them with my fancy new fish glue.

Goya T-18

Goya Model 163, Goya T-18, Levin Model 13, Levin LM-26, Levin Model 65, Levin LT-16
The Levin family, Goya Model 163 (1968), Goya T-18 (1966), Levin Model 13 (1950), Levin LM-26 (1959), Levin Model 65 (1941), Levin LT-16 (1966)

Last week I received my latest project, a lovely Goya T-18 made in Sweden by Levin in 1966. It sounds really nice and works great for cowboy chords but there are a few things that needs to be sorted before I can play her properly. First of all there are two dents on the back of the neck, it almost seems like the lacquer has melted or reacted with the the leather flap for the accessory department in the case. It came with what seems to be the original hard case and who knows, maybe she has been stored in there for decades. So these dents or groves needs to be filed with lacquer and evened out, let’s see how that goes. I also need to re-glue the pickguard, but that shouldn’t be too hard as soon as I receive my fish glue that I’ve ordered from Germany. The Van Gent machine heads looks almost new and it could be the original nut and saddle but not bridge pins. There is a few marks on her but overall she is in really good state for her age. The lacquer on the top has cracked a bit but that seems to be standard on these late 1960’s Goya T-18, but not on the Levin LT-18 so they must have used different lacquer for them. The big thing that needs to be done is to try to reset the neck. I have never done anything like it but since these are quite cleverly bolted on maybe it wouldn’t be impossible, if I just find the right square key to loosen the bolts inside. The Goya T-18 sounds a lot bigger and fuller than my dad’s old Levin LT-16 which could be down to the size more than the materials, I’m not sure. She sounds bright but still with a lot of bottom which I like, I actually think this is my best sounding acoustic after my Morris W-40. I’m trying to get the biggest Levin collection in Spain, well I might already have it, who knows.

Update: December 6, 2013
I finally managed to get my beloved Goya T-18 sorted and now it plays beautifully

Levin Goya T-18 Made in Sweden 1966

Levin Goya T-18 Made in Sweden 1966
Levin Goya T-18 Made in Sweden 1966