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Tom ( tpbiii ), can you help me??? Gibson HG-00??


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Tom, I think you had a Gibson HG-00 and had it "CONVERTED" to spanish style from slide……did you have to scallop the top braces and voice the top, or did you just have to do a new nut and saddle? I'm just wondering how much work is involved to get one into playing condition? Any help from Tom, or others who have this guitar and have it converted…thanks…Rob

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I have a friend who had one and had the neck re-carved. Even though the bracing in the HG-00 is fairly heavy, he did not mess with it. Figured there were too many variables involved so just left it alone. If I recall the conversion was not cheap though. Probably ended up having more in the thing that he would have laid out for an L-00.

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I'll tell you what I can.


We do indeed have a converted HG-00. It was one of the first vintage guitars we acquired -- long, long ago. It was already converted when we got it. In the past decade, we have had three Hawaiians converted -- a pair of 37 00-18H Martins and a 35 Gibson Roy Smeck Radio Grande.We also own a few more. The HG-00 is on the far left.




Here are our HG-00 braces -- obviously untouched.




So here is the overall picture.


Things that absolutely have to be done:


Change the nut and saddle -- this usually does not leave you with a playable guitar, be you could get lucky.


Things that often must also be done -- guitar dependent:


Set the neck.



Things that are often done:

Change the bridge so it will have a compensated saddle or compensate the existing bridge. IMO, this is not as important as people think, but we do it. It is most important if you play up the neck a lot. Saddle angle is always a compromise, so there is no correct angle. That having been said, notice that the 00-40H in the center does not have a compensated saddle. Well, that guitar once belong the Norman Blake, and it was his favorite guitar from about 1995 to 2005. He used in enumerable shows, on CDs and on his flatpicking DVD. I never heard any complaints about its intonation.

Radius the fingerboard: This is relatively easy if a refert is being done, and the fingerboard needs some work anyway. IMO, it is a matter of taste and I personally don't care. I did have it done to one of the 00-18Hs, and it turned out fine -- but personally it does nothing for me.


Revoice the braces. This is obviously done if you want to change the volume or sound quality of the guitar. This seems to be quite popular with some of the CA dealers. I guess if you have only one guitar and you want to modify its sound to fit you, this makes some sense -- but there are very few luthiers who can do it with consistent predictable outcomes. This is usually done to make the old boxes conform more to the broad popularity of Martins and later Gibsons -- and their smoother, softer sounds. I would never do it -- if you want that sound, buy a new guitar IMO and it could destabilize the guitar. Our HG-00 is really loud and its pure raw tone makes it a quintessential blues box -- IMO, you should never change that and if you do, you will never get it back.


Thin the top: Always a bad idea IMO.


Reshape the neck. Some necks are almost unplayable, marginally playable, or fine. I am not at all sensitive to neck geometry, and I hate to carve on the old necks so I pretty much have never done it. But if you can't play the guitar, you have to do something.

Replace the neck, keeping the old one: This is kind of the ethical high round -- that way the instrument can be returned to its original Hawaiian configuration if desired. On a rare valuable instrument that makes some sense -- that is what we did for the Roy Smeck Radio Grande.


All for now,


Good luck,



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I have a '37 HG-00. I didn't convert it and neither did my luthier. He got it with some cracks and fixed those before he sold it to me.


My conversion appears to be simple. All they did was change the nut and saddle. They re-slotted the original bridge to allow for a compensated saddle, but I have seen a few around that didn't even do that. I could snap some pics if you want, but I only have an iphone camera to work with.


Everything else is original. The neck has never been reset. It is a chunky V profile "better than a truss rod," as my luthier says.


The bracing is heavy compared to a L-00, but I don't think it's the sort of thing you really need to have voiced. It is still a lightly-constructed instrument by modern standards.


By odd coincidence, my neighbour also has one which was played a lot harder in its earlier life. It's less original, too. I might check in with him to see how it was done.

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