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Is it possible to revive an old guitar?   You are logged in as Guest
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FelixH

 

Posts: 29
Joined: Apr. 19 2018
From: London

Is it possible to revive an old guitar? 

I recently acquired a late 60s Manuel Reyes blanca which after restringing didn’t meet my expectations in terms of the sound it produces. When played hard I can get a good flamenco sound and decent volume but it sounds a little flat when played softly particularly the bass. I am going to experiment with string brands but I fear that it may be the result of years of heavy playing and a few repairs (2 small cracks on the back, one crack in the side and a crack between the top that goes down to the sound hole)
All of them have been repaired prior to me owning it I suppose it is not something that can be ascertained without an inspection in person but I’m wondering is if any luthiers on this site have any experience with older guitars and if something can be done to restore some of its original characteristics.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 22 2021 19:52:57
 
agujetas

 

Posts: 60
Joined: Mar. 9 2021
 

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

I doubt the cracks will have much effect on the sound. Perhaps you just don’t like the guitar? Even though Reyes is legendary, not every guitar he made will be exceptional. Just like any other builder. Did you not test the guitar before you bought it?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 22 2021 20:09:20
 
Ricardo

Posts: 12948
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

Have you added humidity? Sounds like an old dry guitar has been exposed to too much water. If that is the case, carefully dry the guitar out over several weeks time be decreasing the amount of water gradually. It will brighten up. Check for frets poking out or cracks along fingerboard.

If the above does not apply than it could require the opposite, it might be dry with neck warping or top sinking. In those cases sometimes humidity will straight things out, bring down action and response becomes better.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 22 2021 20:11:07
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
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RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to Ricardo

Ricardo, dry it out? Did he say it was humid where he is? You want to help him crack his guitar more?

0P-

Reyes guitars from the ‘60’s have a reputation for being inconsistent, some great, some cardboard. Not all of them are exquisite, but some of them are a lot like Santos Hernandez’ guitars whom he idolized at that time.

Cracks on the sides or back are not likely to effect the sound quality a lot, but if they are repaired inside with oversized patches or solutions to keeping the crack closed it can maybe have an effect.

The crack down the center seam of the top is where you should focus attention. If you have a cell phone with a flashlight function turn it on and slip it into the guitar with the flashlight facing towards the top. Turn off the lights in a dark room or do this at night. The top should turn transparent and you’ll see the braces. The braces should look like thin shadow traces in the top. Brace shadows will be about 6mm wide, look to see if there are bigger shadow areas that indicate cleats or patches under the crack.

If these cleats or patches are really large or too thick they could mess up the sound of the guitar.

Another thing to check is if the saddle is properly seated in the bridge slot. If the saddle has ever been tampered with or fits badly in the slot the guitar won’t sound up to full potential and will be under responsive. Lots of old flamenco guitars have messed up saddles because flamenco players can’t help themselves and have to mess with stuff they should keep their pesky mitts off of.

Check saddle first it’s usually the culprit. Check center seam repair.

What year Reyes do you have?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 23 2021 3:14:54
 
FelixH

 

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Joined: Apr. 19 2018
From: London

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

Thanks for the replies, the guitar is from 1967. The crack in the side has been repaired with quite a big patch and the crack between the sound hole and rosette was quite a bad one that seems to have come loose and been reattached. Also sone of the binding on the back seems to have come slightly loose and I did try shining a light around it to see if any light cane through but it didn’t seem to, I will try again tonight more thoroughly.
I live in London England so humidity isn’t really an issue for most of the year.
I tried to upload some photos but the files were too large.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 23 2021 15:04:43
 
FelixH

 

Posts: 29
Joined: Apr. 19 2018
From: London

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

Forgot to mention that the action is fairly high by the time you get to the top, not unplayable but higher than the rest of my flamenco guitars so the saddle may have been tampered with at some point.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 23 2021 15:08:30
 
Morante

 

Posts: 1758
Joined: Nov. 21 2010
 

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

There are people in Londres who know how to work on guitars. Take it to someone who knows. It is probably worthwhile restoring it, but it is too late for home remedies.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 23 2021 16:11:48
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
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RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

We’d love to see it.

Make the photos smaller at picresize.com

https://picresize.com/

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 23 2021 16:56:58
 
RobJe

 

Posts: 725
Joined: Dec. 16 2006
From: UK

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

Whatever you do to a guitar it will retain most of the qualities it was born with. If it feels stiff under your fingers (more to do with the guitar than the strings) and is quieter than others you have played you won’t be able to make dramatic changes to this. Don’t waste a lot of money on trying different strings. At best different strings will make minor and subtle changes.

You mention high action which sounds alarm bells to me. If this guitar has had extensive repairs some (like cracks) will be obvious but there are others that you might not notice. It is possible for example that someone tapered the fingerboard at some stage to try and restore the action because of changes in the basic geometry over time. It would be worth taking your guitar to a luthier who understands (preferable builds) flamenco guitars and ask for some advice on the action.

I am old enough to remember when news of Reyes guitars came to London in the early sixties. My teacher told me about an ‘Exciting young luthier in Cordoba’. The guitars were championed by Pepe Martinez who brought numerous Reyes guitars to the UK when he made his frequent visits to give concerts and lessons. In the 1960s Reyes was still experimenting a lot, making guitars with five fan struts as late as 1964.

I have played a lot of Reyes guitars (none of them later than 1986 though). From my personal experience it is not unusual to find a Reyes that is relatively stiff. Most of the Reyes guitars I have played have been on the quiet side. All of them have been perfectly balanced across the strings All of them have had a sweet, musical (struggling for the right word here) tone.

One further thought. When you buy a new guitar you might want to change something about it. But perhaps the guitar would like to change something about you. Play it a lot and see if your playing develops in a way that gets the best out of your new friend. It’s a bit like marriage. Divorce is available as a last resort.

Rob
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 23 2021 17:07:54
 
Ricardo

Posts: 12948
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

quote:

Forgot to mention that the action is fairly high by the time you get to the top, not unplayable but higher than the rest of my flamenco guitars so the saddle may have been tampered with at some point.


Did you check the neck and top for warping?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 23 2021 19:03:33
 
Echi

 

Posts: 932
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

A lot of good advices here.
My 2 cents are that either the guitar is just nothing special (it's a chance) or someone did a bad repair work on the guitar.
I have seen the pictures of the restoration of an old Reyes guitar: basically the owner - not a professional - removed the back and glued a second top underneath the original one.... Hope it's not your guitar.
Anyway, high action means something is wrong in the geometry. Better to bring the guitar to a luthier. If you want a reliable advice you should post some pictures.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 23 2021 19:28:38
 
FelixH

 

Posts: 29
Joined: Apr. 19 2018
From: London

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

Rob I think you may be on to something, the more I play it the better it sounds. Maybe I just need to get accustomed to it. I also get the impression that the previous owner hadn't played it in a long time so perhaps it needs more playing in on a regular basis.
The neck is straight and when directly comparing it to my other 3 guitars the action doesn't seem so high after all. I'm still tempted to have it looked over by somebody who knows what they are doing but maybe not right away.
I'll try again to attach smaller resolution images of the repairs, the 2 cracks shown in the last picture on the back have been repaired with cleats but I couldn't get a photo of the inside with the strings still on.







Images are resized automatically to a maximum width of 800px

Attachment (3)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 24 2021 14:24:29
 
FelixH

 

Posts: 29
Joined: Apr. 19 2018
From: London

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

Here is a slightly clearer shot of the repair to the top



Images are resized automatically to a maximum width of 800px

Attachment (1)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 24 2021 14:27:59
 
FelixH

 

Posts: 29
Joined: Apr. 19 2018
From: London

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

Just measured and the width between the sting and the 12th fret is approximately 4mm.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 24 2021 15:58:40
 
RobJe

 

Posts: 725
Joined: Dec. 16 2006
From: UK

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

Reyes was largely self-taught. His brief encounter with Marcelo Barbero is described in the video interview on the GSI site. He was dogged in his determination to make better guitars. The fact that he was a competent flamenco must have been a great help. For most of his working life he stuck to cypress for back and sides. I often wonder whether he had discussions with his fellow Cordoba luthier Miguel Rodriguez Beneyto. Here are some pictures of their early designs taken from the catalogue of an exhibition. I am not absolutely certain but I think Reyes had reverted to the 1959 pattern by the early 70s and then developed it to what we all know from Tom Blackshear’s Reyes plan. Rodriguez became known for using a slanted harmonic bar.


I am interested in the knowledge that enabled Reyes to make consistently good guitars with a recognisable character. It was of course tacit knowledge – he truly knew more than he could say. Passing on tacit knowledge is never easy and there have been some interesting discussions about whether he manged to convey his secrets to his son. It is sometimes easier to work things out for yourself like Manuel did.



Images are resized automatically to a maximum width of 800px

Attachment (1)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 24 2021 16:54:21
 
Echi

 

Posts: 932
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

The crack parallel to the fingerboard is quite conventional in old guitars given that ebony and spruce have different expansion rates in case of drastic humidity change. If the crack has been properly fitted with cleats I wouldn’t worry about it.

In my opinion Reyes is a great maker but as consistent as other makers like Barba or Bellido or Montero (to mention few).
Where he really excelled is that he never sold a cheap guitar and always invested in very good woods with the proper cut and glued with hhg: he offered the very same kind of guitar for years, working with slow and incremental improvements.
For instance he didn’t indulged too much with cedar or rosewood, basically ignoring the trend set by Ramirez and Conde.
In the seventies he found the right plantilla/shape and didn’t move too much from it.
Bracing patterns are also not that important in his case.
Somehow this approach ended up making his guitars a very well developed plan and with a recognisable style.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 24 2021 22:25:08
 
Morante

 

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RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to Echi

quote:

In the seventies he found the right plantilla/shape and didn’t move too much from it.
Bracing patterns are also not that important in his case.


Intersting. My opinion, which I have tested, is that the plantilla could be more important than the bracing pattern
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 24 2021 23:33:40
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

You need to get it looked at by a top pro repair person ASAP- the crack parallel to the fretboard that’s made an incursion into the rosette is really bad.

A crack next to the fingerboard isn’t always a big deal, sometimes it moves and opens because the fingerboard shrinks and the sideways pull splits the grain. The guitar stays stable because of the upper transverse brace.

However once a crack parallel to the fingerboard develops that far away from the board and extends to distort the rosette alignment that’s a serous problem.

I see things other people fail to see here. If you want this guitar to survive take the tension off the strings and get it to the most knowledge person you can find who knows classical and flamenco repair inside and out. The rosette has crack that extends through to the soundhole.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 25 2021 2:24:51
 
estebanana

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RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to Morante

quote:

quote:

In the seventies he found the right plantilla/shape and didn’t move too much from it.
Bracing patterns are also not that important in his case.


Intersting. My opinion, which I have tested, is that the plantilla could be more important than the bracing pattern


The two of you combined know precious little about how guitars work or fall apart. 😂

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 25 2021 3:32:56
 
estebanana

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Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to RobJe

quote:

catalogue of an exhibition. I am not absolutely certain but I think Reyes had reverted to the 1959 pattern by the early 70s and then developed it to what we all know from Tom Blackshear’s Reyes plan. Rodriguez became known for using a slanted harmonic bar.


I am interested in the knowledge that enabled Reyes to make consistently good guitars with a recognisable character. It was of course tacit knowledge – he truly knew more than he could say. Passing on tacit knowledge is never easy and there have been some interesting discussions about whether he manged to convey his secrets to his son. It is sometimes easier to work things out for yourself like Manuel did.


There was an old dude in town who was kind of a half assed guitar maker that Reyes mined for info. Reyes’ learning was ‘as told to’ by a retired old duffer who knew how guitar making worked as gave Reyes a bunch of information. And he corresponded with Barbero who steered him at Santos. Reyes was an autodidact, but he knew who to ask questions of. I wouldn’t doubt he went over to Sevilla and asked makers over there for some hints, but he was a proud guy who probably wanted to shape his self mythology around him being an independent genius. He wasn’t, he just doesn’t say who he talked to, besides Barbero. And after all if you got tutoring from Marcelo who else was there that was a higher authority on Santos if that was his ideal.

Personally I like his late 60’s guitars a lot, and 70’s too. The ones after he got a blown up reputation are great too, but they reek of collectors stench. They’ve become place markers for money. It’s sad he became like a mini Archangel. You know how many Archangels are in Japan owned by duffuses who can’t play a single note? All of them.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 25 2021 3:44:05
 
estebanana

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RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

The crack on the ribs seems stable. When you see neatly done linen tapes glued over a curved surface like a rib it’s usually a sign of a good repair done by a someone who’s ok. It also means that repair is reversible if someone comes along later and has to re work the repair if it fails. This is good and looks well done. Just watch that it doesn’t come undone and flaps around.

Back to the crack parallel to the fingerboard- this is not a crack generated by fingerboard shrinkage. ( it could have been started that way a long time ago but I doubt it) these often happen as a result of being left in the heat, maybe this is or maybe it isn’t, but it’s not good. It indicates the guitar is folding up on itself and I suspect since the 12th fret action is 4mm that the neck moved forward. It could be straight and rigid, but it’s probably moved with the body join area being the fulcrum point.

There’s no guarantee this crack is stable, because the crack is only an outward expression of structural slippage, the structure is moving and the part of the top attached to the fingerboard has stayed with the fingerboard and is being driven towards the bridge as the neck moves forwards and down. The other side of the top not attached to the neck is staying in place because it’s attached to the big stable arc of the ribs.

This a seismic movement and the crack is the fault line. The neck is slipping towards the bridge and it probably won’t stop.

The remedy isn’t easy, but the course is probably something version of removing the fingerboard and dis attaching the upper transverse brace from the top. Then seeing if the southward moving section of the top can be persuaded to move back up towards the nut. That closes the crack and shifts all the broken material in the rosette back into a perfect circle. If all that works the crack gets glued and the transverse brace gets glued back in the area where it was dis attached.

After this you’d probably want to double check what ever cross grain patch or graft Reyes put under the fingerboard, and if there is something there, it would likely have to be dis attached at the same time the transverse brace gets loosened.

And this is probably the medium difficult route, because if the top doesn’t want to pull back up and close the crack when you gently push the neck back, then you get into weird stuff like removing the section of top under the fingerboard from the neck block interior and slipping it up higher and re gluing it to close the crack.

To me visualizing these operations ahead of time is routine. This may or may not be the remedy for this condition of structural failure, but it’s important to take to someone who can see it like a chess game ten moves ahead.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 25 2021 4:15:12
 
estebanana

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RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

Observe the dots and see the ripping through the rosette



Images are resized automatically to a maximum width of 800px

Attachment (1)

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 25 2021 4:22:46
 
Echi

 

Posts: 932
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

quote:




In the seventies he found the right plantilla/shape and didn’t move too much from it.
Bracing patterns are also not that important in his case.


Intersting. My opinion, which I have tested, is that the plantilla could be more important than the bracing pattern

It’s exactly what Romanillos told me and Ramirez III wrote. Of course I’m not saying bracing does nothing...
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 25 2021 8:43:36
 
JasonM

Posts: 1682
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to estebanana

quote:

Observe the dots and see the ripping through the rosette


I have a guitar with the exact same crack through the rosette. It has been stable for years and no neck movement. But I thought that for cracks like these, thy were less of a concern because you have potentially “3” reinforcements: fingerboard path, transverse bar, and sound hole reinforcement. But then again I know nuffin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 25 2021 16:08:13
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to JasonM

quote:

Observe the dots and see the ripping through the rosette


I have a guitar with the exact same crack through the rosette. It has been stable for years and no neck movement. But I thought that for cracks like these, thy were less of a concern because you have potentially “3” reinforcements: fingerboard path, transverse bar, and sound hole reinforcement. But then again I know nuffin


One would be remiss to observe

Estebanana’s 2nd Law of Guitar Thermodynamics:

“A hot car or direct sunlight through a window allowed contact with a guitar through inaction of owner will release energy via the transformation of fixed glue stations into unfixed glue station with the reaction of energy being counter directionality applied to the opinions of observers that deem structural failure zones to be stable”


If you don’t believe Estebanana’s Guitar Laws of Thermodynamics then simply observe a certain condo building in Miami that tragically imploded under its own weight, because someone said structures under tension reach a point of equilibrium once they move and settle.

Everything moves, even when stopped for a certain duration. If it’s under tension it’s eventually going to move again. As it deteriorates through time it will let go and fold.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 26 2021 6:50:34
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

It to put it another way~

Guitar owner to friend:

“Yeah I’m pretty certain that crack along the fingerboard and down through the rosette and out the upper region of the sound hole is stable. It’s not gonna move anymore.”

Friend of guitar owner “Cool man, it’s so cool you understand this stuff dude.”

Guitar overhears this conversation and says: “Hold my beer.”

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 26 2021 8:44:08
 
RobJe

 

Posts: 725
Joined: Dec. 16 2006
From: UK

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

I was beginning to feel tense, but now ...



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 26 2021 9:52:26
 
FelixH

 

Posts: 29
Joined: Apr. 19 2018
From: London

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

The crack through the rosette has been repaired but I'm starting to worry about how well the job was done especially reading the last few responses.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 26 2021 12:04:00
 
Ricardo

Posts: 12948
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to estebanana

All guitars are in a constant state of potential implosion. Use at own risk.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 26 2021 15:57:23
 
Andy Culpepper

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Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Is it possible to revive an old ... (in reply to FelixH

<insert obligatory picture of Willie Nelson's guitar>

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 26 2021 16:53:07
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