Some GammelGura have passed the shop without getting their blog posts, but I will try to catch up. One problem is that my memory is unreliable...
This guitar was a little special with extra pearl inlays, but it was also unusually heavily restored. When it was new, it had rosewood in the bottom and sides, but the bottom had been replaced with a new one in mahogany. The bridge had also been replaced with a replica, also made of mahogany. All the inlays were nice, cut out and engraved, not the mother-of-pearl crush that you often see on cheaper parlor guitars. The ebony fingerboard, mahogany neck and great looking tuners also indicate that it was an expensive guitar when it was sold.
During the renovation, I decided that the new back, fingerboard and the fine and well-functioning tuners had to remain. However, I made a new replica of the bridge in rosewood, mahogany is a bit soft. A piece of the top had also been replaced, or at least been refinished, as it was darker. There were also several cracks in the top, the sides and bottom were, however, crack free.
The bottom was taken off with some difficulty, as the soft mahogany and the lacquer on the outside easily cracks along the edge. The cracks that appeared were glued with hot hide glue. The bottom was braced with mahogany braces, they were well-made, so they stayed put. At the bottom was a pencil shift made by the previous renovator. The text was very difficult to read, but I think it says "The guitar repaired in 1975, (New bottom), Erik Algesten, Gunnarskog". In the top there were some cleats and pieces of the kerfing came off when I popped off the bottom.
In normal cases, I usually thin down both the bottom and the inside of the top if they are too thick. The top was thin enough and did not need to be thinned, the bottom had to be as it was because of the signature and the bracing in place. Maybe it was a bit thick for the best sound, though.
The top was braced as usual and all cracks were glued and given a cleat. Since the top had many cracks below the bridge, I also glued in an extra transverse brace behind the spruce bridge plate, nowadays, I skip it if the top is in good condition for the best sound. I had to give the brace under the fingerboard a stronger radius to push up the top, so I didn't have to make a wedge under the fretboard. To anchor the ends of the brace, two reinforcements were glued at the ends to the side. A K&K mic was fitted.
A replica rosewood bridge was made, the neck received a carbon fiber rod and plugs were fitted between the bridge plate and the underside of the bridge, some of the things that are always included in a GammelGura. I was a little fooled by the narrow and thin neck when I milled in the carbon fiber rod and had a knock through, light came in when I inspected the milled groove. Luckily, the hole was narrow and only a few mm. When I looked more closely, I saw that the neck was slowly tapering in thickness and was at its thinnest at the top near the nut. I have seen this neck shape on several similar guitars, probably to make the neck more comfortable to play. Going forward, I will double-check the thickness and neck width before routing the trench for the 1cm high carbon rod!
I didn't get a good tap tone from the top and thinned the braces a little too much in the pursuit of the perfect sound. It later turned out that the bracing was too weak with strings at tension, the top did not feel stable. It all ended with me having to loosen the bottom an extra time and replace the main bracing above the bridge and below the sound hole with stronger and higher ones. It was a valuable lesson, albeit a difficult one, now I know that I cannot make the brace above the bridge lower than 12 mm regardless of tap tone.
As usual, the frets on the fretboard were not quite in the right spot, so the fret slots were filled in, and new slots were sawn in the right place. The fretboard was also given a 16′ radius. When fretting with the last EVO Gold frets (which are now no longer manufactured) I used my new method of fretting the odd bands first and then the even ones or vice versa. You get more room for both the hammer and the clamps, but also a little less backward bending of the neck.
The nut intonation was measured and the nut and a segmented saddle were fabricated and adjusted. The guitar was strung with my standard, Newtone Heritage 0.12. You can also string it up with regular 0.11 strings, which give the same tension on the top and neck.
When the guitar was finished, I could tell that it didn't sound quite as good as a GammelGura usually does. I blame the hard renovation before. The top didn't have the right tap tone, and the bottom was perhaps a little too thick. Ebony in the fingerboard is also not as good as rosewood tonally in my opinion, but there is nothing nicer looking than a black ebony fingerboard. Maybe all the extra *bling* in and around the top was another minus.