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Thread: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

  1. #1

    Default Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    I am so disappointed in myself. I recently had built a guitar (from kit as i dont have enough tools) and a friend of mine saw it and asked if i wanted to fix his guitar and mandolin. The guitar is easy pickup install. The mando’s neck was busting at the seem and he asked if i could do that too. I researched and watched YouTube etc. And said sure it is a mitchell a-style mandolin thru the few youtube videos that exist on mando neck repair and reading i didnt see anything in regards to a bolt on neck or else it seemed rare that bolt ons were used, and from what i read it said an amateur could do it. I spend hours heating and steaming and working at this neck and when it finally popped off screws and all hidden under the fretboard, it ripped off quite a hit of finish and some of the veneer from the body and killed my dreams of being a home garage luthier. I am embarrassed and ashamed to even post the pics but i will leave the links as i need some opinions and advice. Should i just start shopping to find him a new mando. thanks in advance i will try to keep up with checking back for your responses. I shared photos both in ios and google format.

    https://share.icloud.com/photos/0ZOf...OUpN9V6yFWBwSA

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/d4BeW4VrraXGA8R5A

  2. #2

    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    OK, first thing, take a deep breath. It's nasty (very!), but repairable. And, if you want to be a garage luthier, here's your chance. First of all, figure out how to disassemble what's left and keep everything! The good news is this is all wood and you can replace it, glue it and repair it in any number of ways. If all the pieces are there and fit tight, you're golden. Also, you're about to learn a whole lot!

    I can't tell from the pics if the screws are under the fingerboard or under pearl dots. Either way, track them down and remove them. If you have to pull the fingerboard to access them, be sure to make 2 small drill holes to line up the board later. Determine how much damage was done to the neck block and repair accordingly. If it's damaged beyond repair, drill or chisel out the damage and inlay new wood. Re-glue the top tear out, and check the fit of the neck. Adjust as needed and re-attach. RE finish, look into drop filling with Superglue to fill the voids and shellac and french polishing for finish touch up. It sticks to anything and can be colored.

    In the meantime, you may STILL want to look for a replacement instrument, but if you really was learn... go for it!

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    From the looks of the glue residue it doesn’t look like a type that would respond to steam. To my eyes it resembles construction adhesive. Between the massive amounts of glue and the two huge screws, it looks to me like they never meant for that neck to come off. I don’t mean to come off as harsh, but the lesson to be learned here is, don’t delve into areas where you have no experience. The first rule of learning the art of the luthier is “PRACTICE ON SCRAP”. This is how most luthiers learn. They make all their mistakes tearing apart yard sale junk and other such basket cases. Your friend’s mandolin does not qualify as scrap. Well, it does qualify now. If I were in your shoes, I would bite the bullet and buy him a new instrument. Then use your newly gained basket case to practice on. Go ahead, try to fix it. What have you got to lose?
    Don

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Ginridge View Post
    OK, first thing, take a deep breath. It's nasty (very!), but repairable. And, if you want to be a garage luthier, here's your chance. First of all, figure out how to disassemble what's left and keep everything! The good news is this is all wood and you can replace it, glue it and repair it in any number of ways. If all the pieces are there and fit tight, you're golden. Also, you're about to learn a whole lot!

    I can't tell from the pics if the screws are under the fingerboard or under pearl dots. Either way, track them down and remove them. If you have to pull the fingerboard to access them, be sure to make 2 small drill holes to line up the board later. Determine how much damage was done to the neck block and repair accordingly. If it's damaged beyond repair, drill or chisel out the damage and inlay new wood. Re-glue the top tear out, and check the fit of the neck. Adjust as needed and re-attach. RE finish, look into drop filling with Superglue to fill the voids and shellac and french polishing for finish touch up. It sticks to anything and can be colored.

    In the meantime, you may STILL want to look for a replacement instrument, but if you really was learn... go for it!
    Thank u for your kindness, i have realized, mostly through making mistakes, how many variables there are that you dont even think of. At least at first anyway. Yeah the screws are not under pearl dots ill have to pull the board. If i may, what do u mean by drill 2 small holes to line up the board later??

  6. #5

    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Ginridge View Post
    OK, first thing, take a deep breath. It's nasty (very!), but repairable. And, if you want to be a garage luthier, here's your chance. First of all, figure out how to disassemble what's left and keep everything! The good news is this is all wood and you can replace it, glue it and repair it in any number of ways. If all the pieces are there and fit tight, you're golden. Also, you're about to learn a whole lot!

    I can't tell from the pics if the screws are under the fingerboard or under pearl dots. Either way, track them down and remove them. If you have to pull the fingerboard to access them, be sure to make 2 small drill holes to line up the board later. Determine how much damage was done to the neck block and repair accordingly. If it's damaged beyond repair, drill or chisel out the damage and inlay new wood. Re-glue the top tear out, and check the fit of the neck. Adjust as needed and re-attach. RE finish, look into drop filling with Superglue to fill the voids and shellac and french polishing for finish touch up. It sticks to anything and can be colored.

    In the meantime, you may STILL want to look for a replacement instrument, but if you really was learn... go for it!
    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    From the looks of the glue residue it doesn’t look like a type that would respond to steam. To my eyes it resembles construction adhesive. Between the massive amounts of glue and the two huge screws, it looks to me like they never meant for that neck to come off. I don’t mean to come off as harsh, but the lesson to be learned here is, don’t delve into areas where you have no experience. The first rule of learning the art of the luthier is “PRACTICE ON SCRAP”. This is how most luthiers learn. They make all their mistakes tearing apart yard sale junk and other such basket cases. Your friend’s mandolin does not qualify as scrap. Well, it does qualify now. If I were in your shoes, I would bite the bullet and buy him a new instrument. Then use your newly gained basket case to practice on. Go ahead, try to fix it. What have you got to lose?
    Yeah i feel pretty irresponsible atm, and have already been on the hunt for one, probably going to buy him a couple drinks and see how he feels about a frankenstein mandolin, break the news to him and determine my move from there. But practicing on yard sale finds is for sure good idea

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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    Quote Originally Posted by gratefulch1p View Post
    . If i may, what do u mean by drill 2 small holes to line up the board later??
    Pull a fret at the nut end and the bridge end of the fingerboard and drill a small hole thru the fret slot for a locating pin to position the fingerboard when re installing. Do this before taking it off obviously, haha. Hole size should be a tight fit for the pin so get the pin first then the bit to drill so there is no movement of the board when you glue it back on.
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  8. #7

    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    Quote Originally Posted by gratefulch1p View Post
    If i may, what do u mean by drill 2 small holes to line up the board later??
    Take a very small drill bit and drill a hole at the upper and lower sections of your fingerboard (but not in any overhanding area). Go through the fingerboard into the neck just a bit (don't drill through the neck!). Use these as guides when you re-glue the fingerboard. You can align the fingerboard in it's proper location by inserting a wire or small nail of the same diameter into each hole, through the fingerboard and into the hole in the neck. This also keeps the fingerboard from slipping as you glue and clamp.

    I find that using the gigantic rubber band from Stu mac, I can wrap the fingerboard and neck for even pressure.

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    Registered User jefflester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    Rather than buying him a replacement Mitchell ($180), you could give him say $150 and he can decide whether to buy another Mitchell or use the money towards an upgrade.

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    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    This is the type of thing that all working luthiers have to deal with every day while they rarely get any proper thanks or compensation for.

    Don't stress over it. You wrecked a $150 mandolin, not the family BMW....

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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    I think offering him some cash to use for an upgrade is a great idea. That Mitchell is not a terribly good mandolin. That neck joint is a case in point. Your friend would be substantially better off with a Kentucky 150. Either way, new instrument or cash equivalent, I would say just chalk it up to tuition in the School of Life.

    Again, I don’t think that neck was ever designed to remove. Look at everything you would have to do to remove it if need be. First you would have to remove the fretboard and takeout those ridiculously huge screws. Then you would have to figure out out to weaken the bond created by those giant globs of mystery adhesive. The OP used steam and that basically did nothing. If moisture or heat won’t release it then what pray tell? I submit that the factory that produces instruments with the Mitchell label (a Guitar Center brand I believe) had no intention of the instrument being repairable. That’s why they’re inexpensive. They’re disposable.
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  15. #11

    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    This is why everybody and their dog has comprehensive hold-harmless documents: from the lawn-moving service to the surgeon.
    About the mystery adhesive; does look like construction stuff. If the OP wants to experiment with some sort of a fix, I think a small, coarse wiire wheel in a drill would get the goo off without too much of the wood underneath. The big screws? Maybe leave them as is, and enlarge the mating holes where they pulled out, and don’t bother trying to get the fretboard off. Whatever caused the initial problem is likely further into the body and might be worth investigating. A couple of threaded screw inserts in whatever’s still solid, and bolt it all together more or less aligned.
    Then, like the proverbial rattlesnake soup, throw it away.

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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    You kind of have to take a step back here. The mandolin already had an issue, it didn't look as bad as it does now but if it hadn't already been messed up he wouldn't have asked you to try and fix it. It's not a super expensive mandolin but was it playable when you started? Probably not so the value just went down. You built a kit guitar. You have some experience with that. If you're up to it build one of these for him/her and offer to cover half the cost of the kit.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Saga-AM...4AAOSwsY1dJjmg.
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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    I agree with Mike. A used Mitchell mandolin isn't anything to lose sleep over, working or not, IMHO. The Saga kit would be a big step up for him and good experience for you.

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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    Your buddy knew what he was getting into. You tried. You missed. I would not go any further with that one even for a learning experience (take a look at Condino's avatar!). Throw the metal bits in the scrap box and move on. Ask him what he wants for the instrument...let him determine what he thinks is fair. Keep the friend.

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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    From another thread, if you act in the next few hours...

    Maybe a way to make amends for under $50. Not a very good instrument, but you could follow Rob Meldrum’s setup instructions. NFI.

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    Registered User Ed McGarrigle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    Maybe go halves on the Saga kit.
    He gets a better mandolin and you get better experience

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    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    No. No. No......You do not owe this person anything.

    They knowingly brought an instrument that you have no experience or knowledge with...translation: "My mandolin is $#@%ed up and this guy will do it for cheap, instead of bringing it to a professional..."

    Turns out...you didn't really know anything about it and things did not go so well. This should be a lesson for both you AND the owner. Again: you do not owe them anything here. You made an attempt in good faith and it failed in an area that you have zero knowledge or experience. You would expect the same results if he took his BMW to a lawnmower shop. DEFINITELY DO NOT buy a kit mandolin and waste 300 more hours trying to make up for your buddies piece of junk $80 mandolin! Save your guilt for places that matter....

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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    FWIW, I bought my Mitchell mandolin a year ago at a decent shop for $56. I traded it in at another shop a few months later and got $75. They aren't great value, but it was fun to learn on, and made me appreciate the 3 (upgraded) mandolins I've gotten since. If your friend really likes playing, he should upgrade.
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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    No. No. No......You do not owe this person anything.

    They knowingly brought an instrument that you have no experience or knowledge with...translation: "My mandolin is $#@%ed up and this guy will do it for cheap, instead of bringing it to a professional..."

    Turns out...you didn't really know anything about it and things did not go so well. This should be a lesson for both you AND the owner. Again: you do not owe them anything here. You made an attempt in good faith and it failed in an area that you have zero knowledge or experience. You would expect the same results if he took his BMW to a lawnmower shop. DEFINITELY DO NOT buy a kit mandolin and waste 300 more hours trying to make up for your buddies piece of junk $80 mandolin! Save your guilt for places that matter....
    James, That is why I suggested what I did....better to keep a friend than lose it over 50-150 Dollars. Let the other guy decide what is important.

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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    I am puzzled by the photo showing a threaded bolt from the underside of the fingerboard extension. It just seems like an odd location for a bolt. I would think a bolt, if used, would be horizontal from the heel. I guess neck dovetail joint methods are lost on many of the econo brands.
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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    No repair content.
    I thought I was the only person on the planet to have a Mitchell. When I started making noise about playing a mandolin, my wife and daughter bought me my first as a Christmas present. As luck would have it, the local acoustic shop had no starters, they found one at GC, a Mitchell. I still have it and when on extended trips I bury it in a suitcase, surrounded by clothes. Airlines can do their thing and I don’t worry. It sounds thin, intonation is tolerable, but it keeps my fingers in shape. Back home it goes into the closet awaiting it’s next adventure, and my other mandos sound soooo much better (and they all were found in Cafe classifieds)
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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    I was once told the only difference between the apprentice and master was the skill at hiding their mistakes! Great chance to learn.
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  29. #23
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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    Quote Originally Posted by jim simpson View Post
    ... puzzled by the photo showing a threaded bolt from the underside of the fingerboard extension. ...
    Actually two diagonally-spaced bolts, once you get the mess mentally digested.

    (Just my amateur two cents!):

    This arrangement is SO odd, so non-standard, so off-the-wall, that this may have been a one-off factory "fix" of their own screw-up. (Hey, if I were a factory worker that could add 2 quick bolts before the fingerboard went on, rather than be docked pay for having trashed a completed body, you bet I'd take the extra 30 seconds to do so!)

    Does Mitchell normally build 'em this way? Probably not many folks know, and those who do would care even less than this Cafe audience does.

    Which has me thinking that a professional luthier would either have had similar results OR would have resigned early on! As so few luthiers are called on to perform surgery on Mitchells, there would be little "common knowledge" that could/should have been applied.

    Having done gratis work on friends' instruments myself, and having made (correctible!) mistakes, I side with the OP's objective of preserving the friendship first. But armed with the knowledge of the many fine folks here, it shouldn't be too dificult to convince said friend that his Mitchell was a ticking a time bomb!
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    Default Re: Help please!!!! Messed up pretty bad

    I’ll bet that’s the way all the Mitchells are built. This is no one off. Cheap, easy, and stable, at least until something goes wrong.
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