Rebuilding an ol Strad-O-Lin?

  1. MushCreek
    I just dragged Nana's old Strad out of the closet, and plan to repair it. The bad news- much of the glue is loose, and it has a 5" crack in it. The finish is pretty rough as well. A few questions-

    Did they use hide glue? Do I have to remove the fingerboard and neck to remove the top? Any advice on that? Is there any point to trying to re-glue and repair without completely disassembling the instrument?

    The tailstock looks odd. There is no part of it hanging over the body- just the vertical portion with hooks for the strings. Is this a complete tailstock, or is something missing? It looks like it should have some sort of cover. Thanks for any input!
  2. bmac
    Congratulations, you have a nice mandolin. often a mando out of an attic has bad glue or maybe it was badly repaired in the past... For whatever reason it can be repaired and reglued. Do Not take the front off!!! Instead remove the back.... You will have complete access to the front from the interior with the back off. You will likely find loose parts inside which can be cleaned and reglued. The crack should not be a problem either. You should be able to scrape out any dirt with an old E string but do not remove any wood from the crack. You probably can glue the crack to prevent further growth, but some folks use a cleat on the crack as well, to prevent any further movement.

    Yes they did us hide glue. Don't remove the fingerboard nor the top... work from behind as I suggested. If you are uncomfortable using hide glue you can use Elmers glue. it is soluble in hot water and the excess can be cleaned off easily. You only have to remove the back... That will give you complete access to anything you want to repair inside.

    Your tailpiece is missing its cover... You can get replacement covers on Ebay sometimes or you can buy a generic replacement clamshell tailpiece. Yours probably originally had a "Cloud" tailpiece cover whitch slid on... These covers are often lost but you can sometimes find originals on eBay.

    regarding the finish on the instrument... These were not particularly well finished originally and on one of mine I had to remove all of the finish... The good news is that they used some pretty nice wood on many of them and they can look good with a clear finish if you don't want to try to duplicate the original finish.

    to remove the back use hot water and a very thin and small spatula... I use an artists flexible "painting knife" which has a very strong but thin flexible blade... do not attempt to pry the top off as you will break it!!! Let the hot water and the knife do the job.

    You will almost certainly find the repairs quite easy and the most difficult part will be reglueing the back to fit preperly against the sides Have maybe ten of those cheap plastic clamps from Kmart. either spring clamps of C clamps will work... the clamps must open slightly over 2" if I recall. If you run into any problems just ask. Several of us have done these repairs and restorations.

    Bart McNeil
  3. bmac
    just a note on the inside:
    If you find that the brace just under the f holes is at all coming loose it might be a good idea to clean and reglue it as if it comes loose it will allow the top to sink and make the insstrument unplayable.

    Bart McNeil
  4. MushCreek
    I have another thread going on the main build and repair sub-forum, complete with pictures. A little inspection with a mirror shows the main brace to be both loose and broken, probably from the same event that cracked the top.

    I've done a little repair work, and used to spend a lot of time with one of the world's top archtop guitar makers, designing and making a lot of his special tooling. He can probably give me some advice as well, but I do understand how stringed instruments are made. I've made him tons of spool clamps- I can quickly make a bunch when it comes time to re-assemble.
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