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1920s Pickguard Question


zombywoof
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This is obviously related to the L3.  The pickguard on it is very cool.  Even has a 1903 patent stamp.  But obviously off gassing  can wreak havoc on the finish and metal parts including the frets,    I know as I have been there,    I do not even want to keep the guitar in a case for any length of time.  

Given that the guitar is 100 years old, I figure the pickguard, no matter how much camphor was added to the batch it was made from,  is living on borrowed  time..   So  the smart play is to have a repro made and put the original away.    But  I  would also like to save the thing.  I  have heard that spraying the pickguard with lacquer will help preserve it.  Is this true?  

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39 minutes ago, zombywoof said:

This is obviously related to the L3.  The pickguard on it is very cool.  Even has a 1903 patent stamp.  But obviously off gassing  can wreak havoc on the finish and metal parts including the frets,    I know as I have been there,    I do not even want to keep the guitar in a case for any length of time.  

Given that the guitar is 100 years old, I figure the pickguard, no matter how much camphor was added to the batch it was made from,  is living on borrowed  time..   So  the smart play is to have a repro made and put the original away.    But  I  would also like to save the thing.  I  have heard that spraying the pickguard with lacquer will help preserve it.  Is this true?  

I think you might find spraying lacquer over top will turn it brittle.   You have nothing to lose trying it.  

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So- the patent stamp. . . is that on the mounting bracket? The OP photo from the other thread cuts off the view of where the most elevated part of the pickguard comes closest to the lid of the case. Is there any damage to the case lining from off gassing in that area? With the elevated 'guard, you'd think it would be more prone to breaking down with time. I removed mine (incl the hardware), as it made a distracting noise from impact with the right hand when playing. 

As far as a coating of nitro to help preserve- hopefully it wouldn't be one of those situations where in trying to do the right thing, the wrong thing happened. It does make one wonder if in the era when pickguards were under the finish, if those pickguards showed any less deterioration.

 

Sorry to see the WM go. I coulda been a contender.

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1 hour ago, 62burst said:

So- the patent stamp. . . is that on the mounting bracket? The OP photo from the other thread cuts off the view of where the most elevated part of the pickguard comes closest to the lid of the case. Is there any damage to the case lining from off gassing in that area? With the elevated 'guard, you'd think it would be more prone to breaking down with time. I removed mine (incl the hardware), as it made a distracting noise from impact with the right hand when playing. 

As far as a coating of nitro to help preserve- hopefully it wouldn't be one of those situations where in trying to do the right thing, the wrong thing happened. It does make one wonder if in the era when pickguards were under the finish, if those pickguards showed any less deterioration.

 

Sorry to see the WM go. I coulda been a contender.

Patent date will be on the left lower towards the bridge.    

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I suggest you call Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, TN about how to preserve the pickguard.  Also ask about how and where to  best get a repro made from the original whike it’s still in good shape.  Just what I would do.  It’s worth a phone call.  Gruhn Guitars would know the best answer as they probably regularly deal with similar situations.

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff

 

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1 hour ago, slimt said:

Patent date will be on the left lower towards the bridge.    

 

There is a 1910 patent stamp on the tailpiece and a 1911 stamp on the pickguard bracket.   But there is also one stamped right into the edge of the pickguard,  This is the best photo I could get of it.  In full it  reads "PAT.MAR.30.03". 

L3-Pickguard.jpg

Edited by zombywoof
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2 hours ago, 62burst said:

So- the patent stamp. . . is that on the mounting bracket? The OP photo from the other thread cuts off the view of where the most elevated part of the pickguard comes closest to the lid of the case. Is there any damage to the case lining from off gassing in that area? With the elevated 'guard, you'd think it would be more prone to breaking down with time. I removed mine (incl the hardware), as it made a distracting noise from impact with the right hand when playing. 

As far as a coating of nitro to help preserve- hopefully it wouldn't be one of those situations where in trying to do the right thing, the wrong thing happened. It does make one wonder if in the era when pickguards were under the finish, if those pickguards showed any less deterioration.

 

Sorry to see the WM go. I coulda been a contender.

 

The deal actually will bring two Gibsons my way.  One is still in the shop and is supposed to be dropped off for me to check out as soon as it is done.  But to cut the deal and make it doable I had to include a couple of guitars needing no work and which could be turned over without any fuss or muss,    And unfortunately that included the WM-00. 

Edited by zombywoof
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22 minutes ago, zombywoof said:

 

There is a 1910 patent stamp on the tailpiece and a 1911 stamp on the pickguard bracket.   But there is also one stamped right into the edge of the pickguard,  This is the best photo I could get of it.  In full it  reads "PAT.MAR.30.03". 

L3-Pickguard.jpg

Cool.  My Style 0s and Style Us have the same markings as well.  While My F4 only has the Patent date with no dates. 

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That pickguard is neat, but I would get it off the guitar before its does damage. Photo-document it, make a tracing, measure the thickness, etc.

You know as well as anyone the damage an out-gassing celluloid pickguard can do to everything it touches or is close to, from corroding metal to destroying finishes and damaging cases.

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My 1922 ‘A’ mandolin still has it’s original pickguard.  Fwiw, I had kept the mando in an aftermarket case for many years, with no ill effects.  The last few years, it’s been out of the case & residing safely in the open - just because I like looking at it.  Either way, no off-gassing damage has occurred to the instrument.

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41 minutes ago, bobouz said:

My 1922 ‘A’ mandolin still has it’s original pickguard.  Fwiw, I had kept the mando in an aftermarket case for many years, with no ill effects.  The last few years, it’s been out of the case & residing safely in the open - just because I like looking at it.  Either way, no off-gassing damage has occurred to the instrument.

 

The camphor which was added to the celluloid before the later-1920s helped stabilize it.   The amount added though varied from batch to batch.  The end of the metal bracket underneath the pickguard on my L3 though has started to corrode .  hard to complain though as it has been 100 years, 

Edited by zombywoof
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1 hour ago, slimt said:

Cool.  My Style 0s and Style Us have the same markings as well.  While My F4 only has the Patent date with no dates. 

Yes, that is cool. And I take it that is what you meant when you said "on the left, towards the bridge. 

Good job with that photo, 'Woof.

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2 hours ago, zombywoof said:

 

The deal actually will bring two Gibsons my way.  One is still in the shop and is supposed to be dropped off for me to check out as soon as it is done.  But to cut the deal and make it doable I had to include a couple of guitars needing no work and which could be turned over without any fuss or muss,    And unfortunately that included the WM-00. 

It is all good- if I'd not dragged my feet making the road trip out to Ohio (when the previous owner originally posted his WM-00 here on the forum), I'd have never found the Natural-finished J-185 True Vintage from the Japanese run.

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37 minutes ago, zombywoof said:

The camphor which was added to the celluloid before the later-1920s helped stabilize it.   The amount added though varied from batch to batch.  The end of the metal bracket underneath the pickguard on my L3 though has started to corrode .  hard to complain though as it has been 100 years, 

ZWF, your comments prompted me to check my bracket, which is the original clip-type, and thankfully everything looks good.  Yes indeed, it’s so cool that many of these instruments have survived so well.  In fact, the body on my ‘A’ has no cracks, sinking, or loose joints, and the neck is straight as an arrow.  Pretty amazing!

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3 hours ago, bobouz said:

ZWF, your comments prompted me to check my bracket, which is the original clip-type, and thankfully everything looks good.  Yes indeed, it’s so cool that many of these instruments have survived so well.  In fact, the body on my ‘A’ has no cracks, sinking, or loose joints, and the neck is straight as an arrow.  Pretty amazing!

 

My  L3 is not quite in as good a shape.  A bit of top sinking so it has the "two hump" effect.  Playability,  however, is excellent. 

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46 minutes ago, zombywoof said:

 

My  L3 is not quite in as good a shape.  A bit of top sinking so it has the "two hump" effect.  Playability,  however, is excellent. 


can you put a adjustable on there if needed? 
there a pretty cool guitar. A very unique tone. 

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33 minutes ago, slimt said:


can you put a adjustable on there if needed? 
there a pretty cool guitar. A very unique tone. 

 

Good question.  But the answer is I do not know.  The bridge is 1 1/4" high which would be about as high as a standard  ADJ archtop bridge would go.   So you could lower the string height but not raise it,  What I have seen done is to cut a slot in the top of the bridge to accommodate  a saddle.   But right now it plays really comfortably,

And yeah, it does have a sound all its own that you are not going to get out of any other Gibson.  Certainly not everyone's cup of tea though.  

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ZWF, have you looked under the hood to see if there’s a slight center seam separation directly under the bridge?  Lacking any support bracing during this era (aside from the short horizontal brace by the soundhole), I’ve seen it happen on Gibson’s carved-top mandos from the downward sinking pressure - and due to the top’s thickness, the separation didn’t show from the outside because it hadn’t reached the outer surface.

I’ve never owned an ‘L’ from this era, but if they’re similarly constructed without bracing under the bridge, I’ll throw out a possible fix:

Using a super-thin piece of two-ply laminate birch (found in hobby & craft stores), fashion a bridgeplate-like piece to be glued to the weakened seam area (running primarily in the vertical direction of the seam, but also fanning out a bit horizontally).  Because of it’s thinness, the “plate” can be easily arched (using a pre-shaped form) to help restore some of the original carve of the top when glued into place - thus preventing further seam separation & providing a counter force to help prevent sinking.

Additionally, the “plate” is so thin that I’ve found no appreciable impact on tone (on mandos) - and in fact tone may be enhanced (depending on the tone you’re after) because the top will be more closely aligned with original specs.

(Edit:  Based purely on experimental tinkering!)

Edited by bobouz
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1 hour ago, bobouz said:

ZWF, have you looked under the hood to see if there’s a slight center seam separation directly under the bridge?  Lacking any support bracing during this era (aside from the short horizontal brace by the soundhole), I’ve seen it happen on Gibson’s carved-top mandos from the downward sinking pressure - and due to the top’s thickness, the separation didn’t show from the outside because it hadn’t reached the outer surface.

I’ve never owned an ‘L’ from this era, but if they’re similarly constructed without bracing under the bridge, I’ll throw out a possible fix:

Using a super-thin piece of two-ply laminate birch (found in hobby & craft stores), fashion a bridgeplate-like piece to be glued to the weakened seam area (running primarily in the vertical direction of the seam, but also fanning out a bit horizontally).  Because of it’s thinness, the “plate” can be easily arched (using a pre-shaped form) to help restore some of the original carve of the top when glued into place - thus preventing further seam separation & providing a counter force to help prevent sinking.

Additionally, the “plate” is so thin that I’ve found no appreciable impact on tone (on mandos) - and in fact tone may be enhanced (depending on the tone you’re after) because the top will be more closely aligned with original specs.

(Edit:  Based purely on experimental tinkering!)

 

From what I can gather,  the top carve is supposed to drop off from the upper bout when it gets to the soundhole.   So some of it is by design.   But I do thank you for the advice.  I have also seen mandolins  repaired by placing two sound posts directly behind where the bridge sits so like a fiddle.  I am hoping to get a chance to drop the guitar off  with my repair guy next week for a health checkup.  I will talk to him about it and see what he says.    Thing is this guitar really plays well as it sits.    And while I will always second guess the wisdom of letting the WM-00 go I like the sound of the L3 a  lot better.   I think part of the deal with the WM-00 was it was  the only newish guitar I owned and there was a certain amount of security in that.  

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On 6/12/2020 at 6:16 PM, bobouz said:

ZWF, have you looked under the hood to see if there’s a slight center seam separation directly under the bridge?  Lacking any support bracing during this era (aside from the short horizontal brace by the soundhole), I’ve seen it happen on Gibson’s carved-top mandos from the downward sinking pressure - and due to the top’s thickness, the separation didn’t show from the outside because it hadn’t reached the outer surface.

I’ve never owned an ‘L’ from this era, but if they’re similarly constructed without bracing under the bridge, I’ll throw out a possible fix:

Using a super-thin piece of two-ply laminate birch (found in hobby & craft stores), fashion a bridgeplate-like piece to be glued to the weakened seam area (running primarily in the vertical direction of the seam, but also fanning out a bit horizontally).  Because of it’s thinness, the “plate” can be easily arched (using a pre-shaped form) to help restore some of the original carve of the top when glued into place - thus preventing further seam separation & providing a counter force to help prevent sinking.

Additionally, the “plate” is so thin that I’ve found no appreciable impact on tone (on mandos) - and in fact tone may be enhanced (depending on the tone you’re after) because the top will be more closely aligned with original specs.

(Edit:  Based purely on experimental tinkering!)

 

I just talked with somebody who knows these guitars like the back of his hand.  He says the top on the L3 is perfect and exactly as it was built.  In fact, he describe the guitar as a "museum piece."   

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21 minutes ago, zombywoof said:

 

I just talked with somebody who knows these guitars like the back of his hand.  He says the top on the L3 is perfect and exactly as it was built.  In fact, he describe the guitar as a "museum piece."   

 

Excellect!!!  Glad everything is lined up proprerly.  Again, so very cool that a number of Gibsons from this era have survived the years in such good condition!

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