There a "repairs" that I do sometimes that don't really make sense in the big scheme of things. Someone brings in a cheap guitar that has big issues that on the surface wouldn't really warrant an expensive repair. I talk to them and the guitar has some sort of sentimental value and they want to know if there's anything that can be done ?
I'm a bit of a pushover in these situations as I do take on the job and they tend to take more time and effort than you should really give.
The guy walked in with this Amena acoustic.It's an entry level Japanese made acoustic from the seventies. Probably made by Aria or similar factory so it's an OK quality laminated body with decent construction.
The problem was that apart from some little issues that I would have fixed no problem, the bridge had cracked badly along it's length between the bridge pins. Normally this would warrant a whole new bridge but the owner didn't want to spend that kind of money on top of the other issues so I suggested a "fix" that I've done before and works well but isn't as good (or expensive) as doing it properly.
Because the bridge plate under the top was still intact and not cracked and there were no loose braces around the bridge it was just that the bridge itself had cracked probably due to the timber not being dried properly, or bad grain in that timber or someone had hammered the bridge pins in when they became loose (or all three) which people do, especially with cheaper acoustics when the pins no longer have that interference fit.
So, I clean up the crack as best I can and then glue and clamp the bridge in place getting the crack back to as close as possible and leaving it clamped overnight. This usually works well. You'll know at this point weather the job is going to be successful as if the bridge doesn't come back to where it's supposed to, there's no point in going on and the owner will have to decide weather they want to spend the money on a "proper" repair.
I put the saddle back in place to help brace the slot and ran tape under the holes inside the guitar to stop glue from spilling inside and making a mess. Then glued and clamped the bridge in place. It went together pretty well and looked like it should do the trick.
I then went on to fix the other issues. There were two broken tuners and I rebuilt them using parts from old strip tuners I had here. This saved the owner money again on buying a whole new set of tuners. The nut needed looking at but I sorted that when I did the set up at the end of the job.
With the bridge dried and all back together I re-drilled the holes for the bridge pins to be the right fit so as to avoid any extra stress on the bridge. If you have an acoustic and the bridge pins don't fit anymore, DON'T just hammer them in to make them tight. Fixing this issue before anything happens is MUCH cheaper and easier than after you've damaged everything else around it. I've seen it many many times.
So, the bridge was back to good and it was time to string it up and see how it all went.
This is a cheap little acoustic. You all know the ones. They used to be in every second hand shop around (before EBay killed them all) and you could pick them up for $80 and they just needed a set of new strings.
They actually play OK. They're better quality than the equivalent entry level guitar being produced today. These cheap Japanese guitars from the late sixties through to the late seventies are still being played today and most were trashed because people "thought" they were cheap and worthless. We will not see this many of the current cheap end import guitars still in playable condition in forty years time, I guarantee it.
The guitar is probably only worth around $100 and the repairs were worth more than that but that's wasn't the point. The owner had an attachment to it and he'd have to spend a couple of hundred dollars on getting something else that wouldn't be as well made. Even though this wasn't the perfect repair, the guitar plays and sounds good and if it goes again in the future and needs to be done properly, he may have more money (or more attachment) to it and get it done then.
With the way I book work now I have less and less time to take on these jobs that most guitar repairers around won't take on because they're really not economically viable. I will however, if you talk to me and convince me that something needs to be kept for a reason, take on work like this on a "long term project" basis and I NEVER charge enough for these jobs .............