#1
I've had this F-hole arch top and bottom Silvertone (# 367-12459 MADE IN U.S.A.) guitar since '85. It needed a lot of work then but I'm just getting around to a major rebuild.The headstock had split off on each of the sides in line with the middle of the post holes and the neck was in need of shimming, both of these I fixed at that time.
The neck is bent beyond truss management but plays well , it's just that the action COULD be better. The truss rod is some weirdo threaded shaft that sticks out above the level of the headstock so you can't put a cover over it. A half moon shaped key slips on the rod and is held in place by a groove in the headstock's truss rod cavity. This key has a square hole but there's no square on the rod shaft so the rod will rotate (not good, I think). It hasn't had a nut on the rod for 30 years or more. Until now. I don't know how the mechanics of such a truss rod arrangement is supposed to work and I'm not taking off the fretboard to find out.
It's a bolt on neck with no heel so I took it off and am currently back-bending it.
I got a set of Gotoh tuners for it and am making saddle and nut out of antler.
Gluing the separated 3-laminate top where they came loose at the tips of the f-holes.
Some refinishing on the headstock should finish the job.
Wish me luck!
Last edited by skido13 at Sep 4, 2016,
#2
A closer examination reveals that the fretboard is coming loose at the body end which is at least partly responsible for the neck "bend" so it's going to have to come off, put back on level and set up a working truss rod arrangement while I'm at it.
#3
OK, tried the clothes iron, heat, clamp and cool method. Neck came out nice and straight until I got two strings on. OK, let's take the fretboard all the way off since it was lifting at the body end anyway. Good thing I did. I discovered that the fretboard had been removed before and it was a botched job. The truss rod half moon metal piece that the adjusting nut rests against had been moved out of it's slot under the fretboard and a new slot had been cut in the headstock 1" behind the nut. I always knew something was wrong about it as the rod threads stuck out above the level of the headstock, confirmed when I found the original slot. The center slot wooden filler piece and fretboard had been glued on with what I suspect was epoxy as there are places where it didn't contact and the glue was hard, clear and glossy.
I have a floor model belt sander so getting the base neck straight should be no problem as the whole neck will fit on the belt.


The truss rod wasn't a truss rod, the original had a square shank (to prevent it from turning or twisting in the slot) which had been replaced with a long, long bolt. The threads didn't reach the half moon washer so that's why someone cut a new slot 1/2 inch behind the nut. I'm going to replace it with a dual action.
The neck attachment bolts had compressed the wood and pressed up against the fretboard causing it to lift so I'll need to get more dished washers and pile 'em up.
Last edited by skido13 at Sep 4, 2016,
#4
Double action truss rod


Installed after a little clean up on the slot with a 6mm router bit.
Last edited by skido13 at Sep 11, 2016,
#5
Got the neck back on the guitar and discovered that the neck portion that rests on the body Top (heel underneath) is so thin and weak that the neck bends where the neck joins the body. I changed the neck angle quite a bit so it doesn't rest on the Top and now the neck stays straight, no relief but no buzzing, I haven't adjusted the dual truss yet to put the relief in as I'm still working some things out. With the neck angle change the usual 'adjustable height' tall bridge/saddle is out so I'm inventing a lower fixed height bridge/saddle whereas the bone saddle will have a lip around the bottom which will fit into a recess in the bottom of the bridge and poke up right through a slot in the bridge. Therefor the bone saddle will be in direct contact with the Top and the bridge will just keep it in place and help spread the string force. The saddle will still slide for intonation adjustment
#6
That's a really cool project. It's very interesting how your restoration is revealing inherent defects in the design, plus the poor workmanship of the previous repairer. I wonder if the owner did the work himself, figuring the guitar wasn't valuable enough to spend good money on? It will be nice to hear it when it's finished, see how those solid woods "aged" and how the tone has improved. I think it would be very cool if it sounded amazing when all your work was done.
#7
I've had it together enough with two strings to check neck angle and saddle height to get an idea of the sound with the slotted bridge/saddle where the saddle rests directly on the Top. I'm impressed. You never hear about great sustain in an archtop but this is much increased along with a little more volume. The tone is deeper and will depend greatly on string choice, I'm thinking 80/20's Medium (12-54). The sound in front of the guitar is much different (better) than what the player hears.

#8
Preparing for nut filing, feeler gauges, rubber band, wood block underneath.


Another pic left to right > Squire Strat > Kay Effector > Walden D610T > > Fender GDC 100 SCE NAT > 1973 Yamaha FG200 (Made in Japan), bottom > "Sylvia" 1963 Silvertone archtop.
Last edited by skido13 at Sep 26, 2016,
#9
Some bridge/saddle combos I've been working on. The roughed out wild cherry bird shaped bridge one has a double rout, one halfway through and one all the way through, the saddle is flanged so the saddle flange rests on it for bridge pressure to the top and also goes through to also rest on the top.
The real shocker is what you see under the strings - brass tubing connectors. I thought "This is going to sound plinky dinky" but was amazed to find the tone mellow and even across the strings. Volume is a little low but sustain is impressive. I'll flat bottom them and probably slice 'em up into six pieces for individual intonation adjustments which the second, third and six strings need.



The neck is DONE! The dual action truss rules! It was an inch too long (which I planned, not wanting the brass coupler to press up under the fretboard at the nut) so I made a bracket to hold it down tight out of a piece of chrome exhaust pipe, works like a charm. The neck is shimmed to keep the tongue off the topwood so - no bending.
Last edited by skido13 at Oct 6, 2016,
#10
A little more progress: The wild cherry/antler bird piece getting painted coloring and finishing to represent (loosely) an eagle.
The brass ("oil-lite, brass impregnated with graphite)) under the strings has been flatbottomed, 1/2 flatted on top leaving a ridge for string take off and slotted for string spacing. Hardware on the way to make all components brass (thru bolt and acorn nuts.

What a great sound and excellent sustain! Volume is better than it used to be.
I have more brass stock ordered to make an electric style bridge/saddle in all brass. They already make similar for archtops but with those knurled height adjustment wheels on studs which I consider a bottleneck on all the tone properties. I'll be using brass saddles and adjustment screws already made and machine a fixed height brass bridge for 'em or develope a new height adjustment that keeps all the brass in contact with the wood.
The wood finish on the top has hundreds of small cracks (not the wood) so I'll give it a light sanding and clear finish the top, back, sides and back of the neck, keeping the patina and yellowed purfling.
#11
Sylvia's finished1
Been a while putting on a new coat of clear, Valspar 85058 Gloss Clear. Great stuff. 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500 all wet sanded, rubbing compound, polishing compound and NuFinish (yes, automotive). WOW! I kept the coloring wear, nicks and dings and yellowed purfling, after all, she'll be 60 next year.
I took pics but they are completely unsuitable, bad camera, incapable of closeups, bad lighting, everything.
I manufactured a completely new bridge/saddle out of brass stock. Brass rectangular tube with one wide side cut off for a bridge/carriage and slotted for saddle screws. 1/2" Brass square stock for saddles, cut into six pieces, shelved, ramped, drilled and tapped for 6-32 brass screws with brass washers and brass acorn nuts. Fully adjustable intonation, fixed height. The tailpiece and other steel stuff I stained with Minwax "Golden Oak" 210B. Looks like brass and retains the metal reflectivity.
Action is superb - 1mm E to 1/2mm e at fret #1, 3.5mm to 2.5 at the 12th no buzzing. Martin Acoustic SP phosphor bronze .013 - .056
The tone is full and rich,volume is good, sustain is excellent.
Next project, the Walden D610T with a cracked top.
#12
Lowered the action on Sylvia even more, 1/2 mm at the nut to 2.5 mm at the 12th, it's like playing on water, no buzzes. May have lost a little volume from the strings not having enough vibrating space above the fretboard. At this juncture the truss can be used to make minimal height adjustments with no appreciable affect on relief. Open D major sounds amazing, I'll probably keep it at that.
Last edited by skido13 at Nov 14, 2016,
#13
I reshimmed the neck for a much higher bridge, pretty much original height.  The bridge is now height adjustable using 3/8" brass coupling nuts under the bridge plate and brass plugs sticking up through a hole for each in the bridge base.
I redid the truss hold down plate adding two 10/32 threaded holes for machine set screws which stick up into cavities in the bottom of the nut which is now height and angle adjustable with an allen wrench through the bottom of the headstock!
Next project for Sylvia is a new (brass of course) tailpiece, stepped so that each string is the same distance to the tuner post.
No more plinky plink guitar, the tone is rich and full with amazing sustain.
#15
Did I mention the nut is brass?  So, final version is dual action truss rod, metal plate attached to the body end of the neck where the wedge goes into the receiver slot (the neck is really weak anyway and there was a lot of damage there), T-nuts under the fretboard to replace the original worn out screw holes, Bolts for the T-nuts, Brass bridge and saddles, intonation and height adjustable, brass nut height and angle adjustable.  They said it couldn't be done.
Sylvis sounds so good I can't leave it alone!
#16
Quote by skido13
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Sylvis sounds so good I can't leave it alone!


Imo Sylvia is now one of those, "Best guitar?", everyone is looking for. Enjoy!