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1975 Guild F-212 Makeover

1975 Guild F-212 on the bench

One of my 1975 Guild F-212 12 strings needed a neck reset. This 12 string was very "average" in tone and volume, where nothing really stood out and made you say, "I *have* to play this guitar!"

It seems that, given enough time, many (most) acoustic guitars will present with raised actions, where the strings are uncomfortably high off the fretboard, discouraging their use. Saddle heights get shortened until they can go no lower without compromising the tone and volume of the guitar. And sometimes those saddles are taken down even lower where they appear almost buried in the bridge slot. And those guitars typically get quieter and duller. And the strings are still too high off the fretboard to play comfortably. And the guitars typically end up in their cases, like this one did, and they get ignored, just like this one.

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Inspection

One fateful day I pulled this 12 string out of its case and set on the work bench, thinking I should really tackle that neck reset. To the casual observer, this Guild would have looked to be in remarkably good shape for a nearly-50-year-old guitar. Further inspection, however, would reveal issues that could no longer be ignored.

Famous last words: "I'll just reset the neck and I can play this guitar again."

The dreaded neck block shift had occurred at some point in the guitar's recent history, shearing the soundboard along the bass edge of the fingerboard extension, from the neck heel and into the soundhole. Admittedly, I can't tell you when that event occurred, as I simply didn't notice it. It wasn't grotesque, but it was visible. Regardless of how it looked, I believe it was largely responsible for the raised action.

Well, that didn't go as planned, and things just became way more complicated. A neck block should never shift, and a soundboard should never shear. If either occurs, it is evidence of glue failure and/or insufficient structural reinforcement.

Soundboard shear along the fingerboard extension

Soundboard shear along the fingerboard extension

I have written extensively about this topic, and rather than repeat it all again here, you can read all about it in my article titled, Neck Block Shift and Soundboard Shear.

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Disassembly

I guess I'll begin with some disassembly, and we'll see how this progresses... {sigh}. At the very least, the bridge will most likely need to be completely replaced, as it is relatively thin, and does not make a great target for neck reset geometry. But, we'll see. Whether I re-use the bridge or not, it should lift off easily with a little heat.

Removing the bridge

Removing the bridge

The fingerboard is also really thin, well worn, and has a lot of divots in it. These shallow gouges are typically a result of some combination of repeated fingernail and/or string contact, and/or a softer fingerboard material. They don't technically impede playability as much as they are unsightly. They can be filled (under certain conditions) or the board can be leveled by planing or sanding. Over time, if enough material gets removed, eventually the whole thing will need replacing.

The old fingerboard

The old fingerboard

It was now time to take off the neck. I removed the appropriate fret and drilled an angled hole through the fret slot, hoping to emerge in the recess between the dovetail of the neck and the mortise of the neck block. I missed the cavity, burying the drill in solid wood. I tried it again on the opposite side of the fingerboard, adjusting the angle slightly. I missed, again! See why neck resets are so much fun?

Drilling into the neck block

Drilling into the neck block - missed it by *that* much

Refusing to be beaten, I moved back to the original side, starting the angled hole closer to the center of the fingerboard, and SUCCESS! I repeated a second successful hole on the opposite side.

4 holes in fingerboard

4 holes in fingerboard (the 2 inside holes were successful)

Guild Dovetail Measurements
  • Width of dovetail (at soundboard): 1-7/16 (36.5mm)
  • Depth of dovetail: 9/16 (14mm)
  • Length of dovetail: 2-15/16 (75mm)
  • Angle of dovetail: 7.5°
  • Width of holes (on fingerboard): 1-3/8 (35mm)

If I am steaming off a neck (as opposed to using a heat rod), I like to apply a small amount of steam to both sides of the dovetail, instead of concentrating all the heat and moisture on one side. The second hole into the joint provides for an egress for water, an inevitability as the steam cools and condenses once inside the guitar. If you can hold the instrument fretboard-side down while applying steam, you can prevent the pouring of water into the body - a definite no-no in my book. If you have one of those guitars with visible white rivulets of powdered residue running down the inside of the back and/or sides, you know what I am referring to.

Using a jig that presses against the top rim of the body while simultaneously pressing against the heel cap (I think of it as my reverse steering wheel puller), I pushed the neck up and out of the socket it was glued into. And I experienced another misstep. Note that as substantial as the necks on these Guilds are, the neck heels can be surprisingly thin at the heel cap, not leaving much to push against.

Thin neck heel

Thin neck heel

In the days before CNC, guitar necks were made utilizing some combination of sawing, carving, sanding or routing. Fitting a neck having a heel to a body typically requires removing some of the heel material in order to arrive at the correct geometry. I have reset many a Guild guitar neck, and some necks have thicker heels than others. That may be due to deliberate design, or the neck was hand-made, and/or a batch of generally sized necks were fitted to a variety of less-than-consistently-glued-up bodies. This particular neck heel was very thin. Upon adding serious heat in the form of steam, and applying sufficient pressure to the end of the heel, guess what happened? The wood of the neck heel, right at the heel cap, compressed and curled, actually de-laminating slightly.

Neck heel wood has curled

Neck heel wood has curled

Now that it had curled, I had to make a decision. I could re-cut the heel and thin it even more. I could attempt to re-shape the heel, reversing the steam process, and risk greater damage to the neck. Or I could overreact entirely and re-make the neck. I opted to take the easy way out and re-make the neck! To be fair, I had thought about doing this for several years in order to significantly lighten the neck. As you may be aware, Guild 12 string necks of this era were constructed using twin steel compression rods. Apart from the discussion of the pros and cons of one-way adjustability, the steel makes for very heavy necks. This would also give me a chance to document the dissection of one of these necks, something I realized I had never done.

I carefully and painstakingly removed the neck and I lifted an entire section of the soundboard off with it, the section beneath the fingerboard extension. This can happen if I am being overly aggressive in trying to pry off the neck and have sufficiently released the fingerboard extension from the soundboard, first. But that was not the case, here. The shearing off of this piece of wood revealed severe grain runout in the soundboard (little or no runout would have prevented such shearing under these circumstances). If you look closely at the section within the red circle, you can see how sharply the grain angles downward, away from the surface.

Tearout

Tearout

If I was simply intending to reset the neck, I could make the necessary corrections, and glue everything back together. If I was simply intending to address the aesthetic issue of the neck block shift/soundboard shear, I might add a patch to the underside of the soundboard. I wouldn't, but some will do this, referring to this effort as "stabilizing" a crack. Once you understand what has actually gone wrong and caused the shearing, it seems a bit beyond naïve to think a small patch could stabilized anything.

I will not "simply reset" the neck. The old bridge along with the old fingerboard are simply too thin to be re-used and will be replaced. The soundboard shear is reason enough for me to replace the soundboard, but the degree of grain run-out I encountered under the fingerboard extension makes it absolutely necessary.

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Finish Removal

I definitely am going to refinish the guitar. There is a tinted lacquer finish on the neck and back and sides, hiding the underlying wood. What were they hiding? Even if the wood beneath the tinting is not perfect in appearance, I prefer to see the wood grain. I go over the sides and back with an oscillating sander to scratch the surface of the decades-old lacquer, which is now as hard as glass. I am extremely cautious with the sander to only touch certain areas. I am *not* trying to get down to raw wood with the sander, as there is too high of a probability that I would remove wood. The wood has already been carefully thinned to final dimensions, and removing any more would be dangerous. I pick up my scraper and begin the tedious task of taking the finish off.

Scraping off the old finish

Scraping off the old finish

There is often a surprise waiting beneath these dark tinted lacquer finishes; either a painful surprise as I discover exactly why someone chose to paint the guitar, or a pleasant surprise as I uncover really lovely tonewood. This guitar did not disappoint. Lo and behold, the underlying Mahogany is quite lovely. I can already envision a new finish on this guitar that showcases that Mahogany.

Mahogany Back and Sides

Mahogany Back and Sides

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The New Color Scheme

The Mahogany on the back and sides is really lovely, albeit a bit mis-matched. But there is insufficient justification for me to color a finish to cover the underlying grain. As a result, I will clear coat this guitar.

The new soundboard will be Bearclaw Sitka, having character to complement the strong visuals of the Mahogany.

I will bind everything (body, soundhole, fretboard) in Walnut. Purfling will be Maple (not stark white) and black.

Bridge, fretboard and headplate will be Ziricote.

Color Scheme

Color Scheme

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The Soundboard

I carefully removed the old soundboard, intending to preserve it, as it makes for a good reference top. There is very little difference between the soundboards of the 16" mini jumbos and the 17" jumbo 12 strings.

Old Soundboard

Old Soundboard

An "a-Ha!" moment has occurred. As I took off the soundboard, I noticed a tremendous amount of tension in the body. As I was completing the cut to remove the soundboard, the body of the guitar actually "sprang" open into a distorted shape (as opposed to simply staying put, in a rigid position). This amount of movement is evidence of the tension the soundboard was under whenever whatever force(s) caused the neck block shift and resultant soundboard shear along the fingerboard extension.

I selected a set of wood from a group of really stiff Bearclaw Sitka tops I sawed up ages ago. I thinned the plates, then glued them together. Once the glue had dried, I gave the board a tap. As I had hoped, this wood rings like a bell!

Bearclaw Sitka

Bearclaw Sitka

I have some lovely, old Sitka brace wood that I will use. The X-brace will be narrow and tall. I cut several pieces to size and shape them to follow the radius of the top using a router, a flush trim bit, and a template.

Brace Radiusing Jig

Brace Radiusing Jig

Having repaired, rebuilt, and re-engineered several of these Guild 12 string guitars over many years, I have developed my own bias, my own preferences for the bracing layout. This guitar will be no different, and I will follow the format I have proven to work, and work well.

I will apply carbon fiber tow beneath and atop the X-Brace. This effort significantly (as in, measurably) stiffens the bracing. Too stiff a brace will kill the sound. Too supple a brace will kill the soundboard. I achieve the proper stiffness through an iterative process that includes measuring the deflection of the soundboard under a particular load, removing brace material, and re-measuring. Over the years, I have arrived at optimal target numbers for that deflection depending upon the desired performance of the soundboard.

I tape off the soundboard to help position the X-Brace and to assist with cleanup of the glue. The braces along with the upper bout reinforcement are all bonded to the soundboard using Superbond epoxy. In addition to adding stiffness, using epoxy virtually eliminates glue failure issues, such as creeping or popped braces. These soundboards produce a bright and crisp response, and I can be confident of their performance over time.

Tape for positioning the X-Brace

Tape for positioning the X-Brace

First I carefully lay the tow in a bed of epoxy...

Carbon Fiber Tow

Carbon Fiber Tow

...then I rest the X-Brace on top of the tow, secure the braces using the fiberglass rods in my go bar deck, and wait for the epoxy to cure.

X-Brace Glue-Up

X-Brace Glue-Up

It is now time to add the bridgeplate, butting it up against the lower legs of the X-Brace. Traditionally, Guild used Rosewood bridgeplates on these instruments. I have had such success with my laminated Rosewood/Maple bridgeplates on these guitars that I see no need to alter my technique. I get both the bright response of a Maple bridgeplate and the more gnarly, hard-to-tear-up bridge pin holes of an oily Rosewood bridgeplate.

The so-called "Tone Bars" are braces that extend across the lower bout, touching the lower leg of the X-Brace on the "treble" side and terminating just short of the kerfing on the "bass" side. Guild used three braces for this purpose. While two are sufficient, changing the number of bars will change the sound, and I do not want to do that.

The "Finger Braces" extend from both lower legs of the X-Brace up toward the waist. The original soundboard tied these small braces into the sides. I have discovered better performance by terminating them short of the sides. This leaves only the four (4) ends of the X-Brace to rest upon the rims of the sides.

Additional Braces

Additional Braces

You may have noticed that, up to this point, there is no soundhole visible. Traditionally, the soundhole is cut in the soundboard and any purfling, rosette, or binding work is added prior to flipping the soundboard over and adding any bracing. Because I add reinforcement to the upper bout in the form of two (2) layers of Mahogany (being careful to achieve three (3) separate grain directions), I *can* cut the hole first, laminate the veneers, then re-cut the hole through the veneers, and I will do this on builds where I am not binding the soundhole (see photo).

Soundhole

Soundhole cut first, then laminated

For soundboards having bound soundholes, I have found it preferable to first add the X-Brace, then add the veneers, then add the additional braces, then flip the soundboard over to the face side and address the soundhole.

I am appointing this F-212 with Walnut binding instead of plastic, and that includes the binding around the soundhole. Using Paua shell and wood purfling, I approximate the look of the plastic rings used on the original soundboard.

Soundhole

Soundhole

With the soundhole complete, and before I can add the tow to the top of the X-Brace, I will carve the brace(s), reducing unnecessary material. To determine how much material to remove I suspend the soundboard on the four ends of the X-Brace and, using a weight and a dial indicator, I am able to measure and target the deflection I am looking for. Once the braces are carved, I add the tow to the top surface of the X-Brace.

X-Brace Tow

X-Brace Tow

Once the epoxy has cured on top of the X-Brace, the soundboard has stiffened up again (significantly). I continue the iterative deflection test process, in combination with "tapping" the soundboard to hear the response, and remove the rest of the material from the Tone Bars and Finger Braces until I am satisfied.

Carved Tone Bars

Carved Tone Bars

The soundboard is now complete.

Soundboard Complete

Soundboard Complete

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The Body

Perhaps the most well-known of the Guild 12 string guitars happen to be jumbo body styles from the 1960s and 70s, though Guild has offered 12 strings using their dreadnought body shape, as well. The largest of the Guild 12 strings, no longer offered, was the F-612. With an 18" lower bout, this beast could be referred to as a "super-jumbo."

From "The Guild Guitar Book" by Hans Moust:

  • F-112 (introduced 1966): 15-1/4" wide x 4-1/2" deep
  • F-212 (introduced 1964): 16" wide x 4-7/8" deep
  • F-212XL (introduced 1968): 17" wide x 5" deep
  • F-312 (introduced 1964): 15-7/8" wide x 5" deep
  • F-412 (introduced 1968): 17" wide x 5" deep
  • F-512 (introduced 1968): 17" wide x 5" deep
  • F-612 (introduced 1972): 18" wide x 5" deep
Note: In 1976, the dimensions of the F-112 changed to 15-3/8" wide x 4-7/8" deep. In 1969, the dimensions of the F-212 changed to 15-7/8" wide x 5" deep, and in 1976, the dimensions of the F-212 changed (again) to 16" wide x 5" deep.

The body of the F-212 I am rebuilding, which I will refer to as a "mini jumbo," is still quite heavy. Weighing close to 3-1/2 lbs, it is a testament to the Guild legacy of this era of being built using more wood than is technically needed to structurally support the guitar. The extra wood actually contributes to the unique sound of the Guilds of this era but, by the time you add the neck fitted with twin steel compression rods and 12 metal machine heads - oof!

Guild 12 strings can be heavy guitars to hoist. Both my F-212 XL and F-512 from the same era weigh in at 6-1/2 lbs. And that is after adding lightweight tuners. There are a couple of tuner options out there that add almost another 1/2 pound to the guitar. By way of comparison, my own 17" jumbo guitar bodies, wider, deeper, and longer than this Guild, weigh as little as 35 oz, nearly 1-1/2 lbs less than the mini jumbo Guild body. It adds up.

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The Arm Bevel (Interior)

I build very few guitars without arm bevels these days. An arm bevel addresses both a comfort and a health issue. A sharp edge pressing into the underside of my forearm is painful, especially over extended periods of time, and can lead to problems with the wrist and fingers - no thanks! The first guitar I ever played having an arm bevel caused me to take notice of my posture. I found myself resting my arm comfortably on the instrument and, as a result, I wasn't adding that extra tension to my neck, my upper back, and through my shoulder, in an effort to keep the edge of the guitar from digging into my forearm. I was able to sit up straighter, as I wasn't hunching forward as much in an effort to "throw" my arm up and over the body of the guitar. This is much more noticeable with wider, deeper bodies, but it is beneficial for guitars of all sizes.

I will be adding an arm bevel to this 12 string. This feature makes for a more comfortable player experience, especially on wider, deeper-bodied instruments. I have no knowledge of this ever being done on a Guild. Perhaps this is a "first?"

Once the soundboard is removed, I need to cut the curve into the side of the body to accommodate the arm bevel. I rough out the curve with a saw, then use a template to guide a router bit, resulting in a very accurate and smooth line.

I cut a Basswood block to fit the contour of the body and glue it into place inside the body. This block has a dual purpose: it forms a lightweight ledge that will support the soundboard and it provides a base material that I can shape into a bevel.

I add wooden braces to the sides in four (4) specific locations. I also bevel the tail block, removing unnecessary material where the soundboard will rest. Short of replacing the tail block entirely with a laminated equivalent, this step is the next best thing to eliminating that unsightly telegraphing of the rectangular outline of the block, visible in so many soundboards over time.

(If you were wondering about that "notch" in the arm bevel block, I have removed material to receive the lower leg of the X-Brace, as it will no longer extend out onto the rim of the lower bout, but will rest on a shelf.)

Arm Bevel Block

Arm Bevel Block

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The Upper Bout Interlock

The purpose of adding lamination to the upper bout is primarily to strengthen that critical section of the soundboard that we intend to remove 12-1/2 square inches from by cutting a large hole clean through it. To fulfill my goal of unifying the neck, neck joint, and neck block with the soundboard, forming an immovable unit, I "notch" the upper bout to receive the thicker upper bout section of the soundboard, locking it into place. This notch begins at the point where the upper arms of the X-Brace rest, and extends up and across the neck block, lessening the height of the sides by the depth of the lamination I have added to the soundboard. Once glued in place, this interlocked unit of neck block, back, sides and soundboard eliminates any possibility of neck block shift and/or soundboard shear.

Upper Bout Interlock

Upper Bout Interlock

Gluing the soundboard to the body is a matter of fitting two puzzle pieces together. It should not involve wrestling parts into place that must then be clamped in order to avoid unsightly gaps. Doing so will introduce unwanted tension into the guitar. Instead, an iterative process of fitting, trimming, and fitting again is necessary until the soundboard and body mate perfectly.

Soundboard Attached

Soundboard Attached

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The Side Port

After the soundboard was attached and trimmed, I decided to add a simple Side Port. These ports demonstrably improve the player experience, and have no deleterious effect on the audience experience. Frankly, I think they should be added to all acoustic guitars. Once again, I am unaware of this feature ever being added to a Guild, so this may be another "first."

Rather than just cut a hole in the side in the upper bout area, I prefer to add a reinforcing block of wood to the side. It would have been ideal to have added the reinforcing block PRIOR to attaching the soundboard, as access to the inside of the guitar is easier. But this is the same process I use when retrofitting/incorporating a Side Port into a completed guitar, so it is not a big issue. In addition to strengthening/supporting the thin side in the area around the hole (which a piece of veneer laminated to the side would also achieve), I believe a wooden block can improve the visual interest/aesthetics.

After determining where my Side Port will be positioned, I fashion the wooden reinforcing block and carefully glue it into place. Once the glue is dry, I drill a hole through the side and block, removing the majority of waste material. I mount a jig to the upper bout and, using a router fitted with a template guide and downcut bit, I trace around the Acrylic pattern mounted to the jig to complete my Side Port.

Side Port

Side Port

Using the house construction analogy, the foundation has been laid, the framing is complete, the drywall is installed, taped and sanded. I am now ready to start to start the trimming out phase, adding binding and purfling.

Side Port

Body with Soundboard

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The Binding

When I bound the soundhole I committed to the decision to use Walnut for the binding. Yes, white plastic binding is traditional and yes, plastic is easier to apply and yes, plastic is even more forgiving should you happen to bump an edge against a hard surface. But I prefer to look at wood binding. And, while it is perfectly acceptable to simply wrap a piece of wood around the rims of the instrument and be done with it, if I take the time to laminate one or more veneers to my binding wood of choice first, prior to ripping off strips of binding, I am able to apply a more embellished binding/purfling combination to the sides, making for a dressier look.

Making Binding

Making Binding

The F-212 was a very conservatively appointed guitar, perhaps a bit on the sparse side for my taste. A Chesterfield logo on the headstock, side position dots, a 3-ring plastic rosette, and a little bit of plastic purfling around the soundboard are all the acoutrements you will find. The fingerboard has no inlay. The sides and back have no purfling and feature plain plastic binding. I am not attempting to cast aspersions on the veracity of plastic binding and purfling. Newer plastics are more dimensionally stable over time than the cellulose of old, and allow for some rather intricate purfling combinations, as anyone who has paid close attention to the Guild double-line edge purfling will attest. There is no requirement to pre-bend it, as there is with wood binding. And it is relatively inexpensive. And it looks really nice. I get it.

Guild Binding and Purfling

Guild black & white plastic Binding and Purfling

Of the 17,500 serial numbers available in 1975 (from 112804 to 130304), my two F-212s were just 850 numbers apart, and yet they were appointed slightly differently:

Rosette Purfling

Rosette Purfling (Two different 1975 F-212s)

Edge Purfling

Edge Purfling (Two different 1975 F-212s)

You may recall me mentioning that the body sprang open when I removed the soundboard. Further inspection revealed that the body is rather misshapen on this guitar, which makes cutting the binding and purfling channels more difficult (it's easier when both front and back plate are perfectly parallel to one another.

The 12 string featured in this article is the one having the wider purfling. My guess is that either someone made a mistake when cutting the purfling channel(s), and fixed the mistake by cutting them deeper (ask me how I would know), or that misshapen body issue may have been a common enough issue that someone already knew to cut deeper purfling channels to "accommodate" (hide) it.

Rather than fight the alignment with a router and end up with uneven binding, I am cutting the channels by hand, using a graver and a chisel. Razor-sharp tools are a necessity for this task.

I intend to dress this guitar up, a bit. I have already started a theme at the soundhole, in homage to the original design. I have no plans to copy either the original or one of the more appointed siblings, such as the F-412. Those instruments are all bound with plastic and I want a different feel for this guitar, so I will carry that same look I created at the soundhole around the edge of both the front and back plates. Having integrated purfling into the binding, I am anticipating a very dressy look, but not overstated. I don't want this F-212 to look "too plain," and I don't want it to look "too bling-y." Somewhere in-between will be nice.

The builders whose F-212s (and F-212 XLs) I have seen across the span of time have all done a really great job of mating the sides at the tail block, avoiding unsightly seams. Rather than add the classic "wedge" shaped trim that you see on the F-412 and F-512, I am going to leave well enough alone and just bind the front and back edges.

Around the edges, purfling sits between the binding and the edge of the soundboard. One approach to purfling sizes the purfling to match the depth of the binding. For example, if the binding was 1/8" wide x 1/4" deep, and I wanted to add thin, 1/64" strips of contrasting light/dark colors, I might choose to cut those purfling strips to be 1/4" deep, just like the binding. With this approach, my purfling channel and my binding channel become one and the same channel. The purfling is really just a veneer/laminated layer of the binding. When using this approach, I must pay careful attention to how far I cut into the soundboard. If I go too far in from the edge, it is possible to cut my soundboard off from the kerfing ledge it is resting on.

The second approach, and the one I am using here, calls for cutting a shallow channel, more shallow than the thickness of the soundboard, deeper into the soundboard, away from the edge. This allows me to create a "wider" purfling ring around the guitar without risk of severing the soundboard off of the body. My purfling is then made up of teeny, tiny little strips of wood that rest on their own ledge.

Hand-cut Purfling Channels

Hand-cut Purfling Channels

Once the purfling channels are cut, I can cut the channel / rebate / "rabbit” for the binding. The binding extends deeper down onto the sides than does my purfling, which will sit up on its own ledge and be pinched between the binding and the edge of the soundboard.

Hand-cut Binding Channels

Hand-cut Binding Channels

I am incorporating a transitional arm bevel into this guitar. This feature “eases” the sharp edge where your forearm tends to lay across the soundboard. The design alters the established edges of the upper bout on the bass side. I have to create a new path for the purfling, separate from the binding, to unify the modification in the edge. The binding follows the side, and the purfling moves in farther into the soundboard, away from the edge. The bevel will be formed between the two.

Arm Bevel Purfling Path

Arm Bevel Purfling Path

I pre-bend the wooden binding using heat, primarily because it would definitely crack if I didn't, and because I do not want to introduce tension (spring back) to the instrument (which is exactly what I would get if I forced and cemented a stiff piece of wood into place around all those curves.

I reduce the height of the binding in the area that will follow the curve I had cut into the side. This height reduction allows me to bend again the already bent binding to follow the curve.

Binding Modifieds for Arm Bevel

Binding Modified for Arm Bevel

Dreaming about the benefit of having three hands at a time like this, but making the best of the two I have, I fit the binding and the multiple strips of kerfing into place, each on its respective ledge, holding everything together with strips of tape, and push-pins where necessary. This is an advanced form of chewing gum and bailing wire, and we luthier types take it very seriously.

Nostalgic memory moment -

  • Me: "Honey, can you come here for a few minutes? I need your assistance."
  • {Pause}
  • Me: "Honey! I need you right now."
  • Honey: "Coming."
  • Me: "Can you put your finger right there? That would really help me."
  • Honey: "Where?"
  • Me: {motioning with chin, elbow, or knee - I don't remember what was available} "Right there."
  • Honey: "Here?"
  • Me: "Yes, perfect. Now I'll just..."
  • {...Horrible realization...}
  • Me: "What's all over your hands?"
  • Honey: "Probably a little chocolate. I was making cookies when you said you need me RIGHT NOW!"

Arm Bevel Binding

Arm Bevel Binding

Binding Glue-up

Binding Glue-up

CA glue is wicked down into the purfling, binding, soundboard, side and even kerfing materials, forming a cohesive unit that becomes the decorative, protective edge of the body of my guitar.

New Wooden Binding and Purfling

New Wooden Binding and Purfling

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The Arm Bevel (Exterior)

I am aware of three approaches to the arm bevel. The first is the "bent" or "molded" top, where the soundboard is literally bent to conform to the contour cut into the sides. I have seen this on instruments made by and musician and former luthier Mike Doolin.

Doolin Bent Top Arm Rest

Doolin Bent Top Arm Rest

The second approach is credited to Grit Laskin, Canadian luthier and inlay artist. His stylish arm bevel appears to be cut into the guitar, and is almost an independent feature.

Laskin Arm Bevel

Laskin Arm Rest

The third approach, and the one I am incorporating a variation of here, is the Everett "transitional" arm bevel. This style of arm bevel presents the appearance of simply being a wider section of the binding, having no visual interruptions, and no sharp points to run your arm into.

Everett Arm Bevel

Everett Arm Bevel

The base of the transitional arm bevel is the basswood block that you would have seen earlier in the article, under the section titled, The Arm Bevel (Interior). Over this base I incorporate both the purfling, which follows the edge of the soundboard, and the binding, which follows the contour cut into the side. The wooden block is then shaped by hand to form a bevel. Glue is then applied to receive the veneer.

Shaping the Arm Bevel

Arm Bevel Shaped and Ready for Veneer

I glue on a Walnut veneer, then blend the veneer into the binding to complete the arm bevel.

Completed Arm Bevel

Completed Arm Bevel

Arm Bevel and Side Port

Arm Bevel and Side Port

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The Neck

I have repaired and modified many a Guild neck, but this will be the first one I have constructed from scratch. The design of the neck is pretty much dictated by the original. This neck will feature a 3-piece lamination, a Guild staple. I had briefly flirted with the idea of a 5-piece neck, but abandoned the notion after viewing a mock-up. While the original Mahogany neck had a Maple stripe down the center, a Walnut stripe will be more pleasing to look at on this guitar.

Guild Style 3-Piece Necks

Guild Style 3-Piece Necks

Additionally, I am altering the width of the center stripe, increasing it from the stock 1/8" to 5/32", just enough to give the stripe a bit more visual prominence. This wider center stripe is not without precedent, mind you. See this image of the back of the headstock of an F-212 from 1968:

1968 Guild F-212

1968 Guild F-212

I have used Mahogany that is wide enough to avoid having to glue on extensions ("ears" or "wings") to the headstock. Like the original, this new neck is not scarfed; it is a continual piece of wood from end-to-end, band-sawn out of my laminated block.

Roughed-out Neck (Walnut vs Maple)

Roughed-out Mahogany Neck (Walnut vs Maple stripe)

Unlike the original, there is no danger of snapping the neck at the headstock due to the method of reinforcement I use. A carbon fiber D-Tube from DragonPlate sits in place of the old twin steel compression rods, and prevents the neck from bowing, either forward or back. An added benefit is the stability it lends to one of the weakest sections of an acoustic guitar: the thin neck at the nut. I have an entire article devoted to the topic. Go to my article » DragonPlate D-Tube Neck Beam - Truss Rod Alternative

Neck fitted with D-Tube

Neck fitted with D-Tube

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The Headstock

Instead of veneering black plastic onto the face of the headstock, which is what this 1975 Guild F-212 originally shipped with, or black fiberboard, which is what my 1980 Guild F-412 shipped with, I am adding a Ziricote faceplate with the same Maple/Black wood/Maple lamination beneath it. I am inlaying the Guild Chesterfield logo to mimic the original. Here is a "practice" sample, using Mahogany as the inlay material set into a piece of Rosewood. I am thinking of combining wood and Shell for the inlay... we'll see.

Guild Chesterfield Logo (Mahogany in Rosewood)

Guild Chesterfield Logo (Mahogany in Rosewood)

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The Fretboard

The new fretboard is Ziricote, as are the matching bridge and headplate (headstock faceplate). The F-212 was so very conservatively appointed, featuring a simple plastic rosette and plastic binding. The fretboard was no exception, as it was unbound and only featured small plastic side dots. Having bound the body of the new guitar with Walnut, I find it necessary to continue the binding around the fretboard.

I prepared a billet of wood, cutting it to size while trying to encase the figure in such a way as to both showcase the stunning grain patterns as well as provide a visual reference on the fretboard at the 5th fret (should I decide not to add any inlay).

Guild guitars, at least from the 1970s and through the end of the Fender ownership era, use a 650 mm scale (aka “Classical” scale, or 25-5/8″). These instruments are often misrepresented as being 25.5″ scale. I assure you, they are not, though the difference between the two would be difficult to detect for the average player, even using a tape measure.

After cutting the new fret slots, I then cut the shape of the board, making allowances for the binding. After the binding is glued on, I radius the board. My first Guild came with a 12″ radius, and it was so comfortable to play. On my acoustic necks, I have experimented with everything from 9″ to 20″, including compound radii. I am making this board 12″ throughout.

New Fretboard (No frets, yet)

New Fretboard (No frets, yet)

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The Finish

This Guild gets a CA finish. I use a formulation from GluBoost specifically designed for the the task, called Fill N Finish. As the finish is applied by hand, it is more comparable to a French Polished Shellac than to a sprayed-on NitroCellulose Lacquer. But that is where the similarity ends. Unlike Shellac, the finish builds quickly. Unlike Lacquer, a guitar can be completely finished in a day or two.

CA Finish - Gloss vs Satin

CA Finish - Gloss vs Satin

The finish dries glossy, but when I level sand it, it dulls slightly. The degree of gloss is then controlled by the amount of polishing I put into it. Here is the body of the guitar at just below semi-gloss level. I can stop here or take it on up to a high-gloss.

CA Finish - Body-at Semi-Gloss

CA Finish - Body at Semi-Gloss

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The Bridge

See "The Fretboard" above.

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The New Guild F-212

Almost there...Coming soon...

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