Aria 1702T repairs
I've written about these little Aria Mosrite inspired guitars many times before as they're a real favourite of mine. Made by the great Matsumoku factory in the very late sixties and early seventies they were of course sold in the US as the now famous Univox Hi-Flier.
I have owned, and sold MANY of these and they were one of the first Mosrite style guitars we had access to here in Australia and you used to see them, and the Guyatone LG-127 in second hand shops every so often, and I'd buy them all ....
I have a few of these sitting around the workshop waiting to be fixed up and taken to the shop and it was this ones turn, and, it nearly sent me mad.
I put it on the bench and noticed that four of the eight scratchplate screws had no heads and the other four were completely stripped with no foothold for the screw driver. Then I looked at the rest of the guitar and EVERY screw was a ball of rust. The guitar itself was in rough but still god shape and I hate the idea of guitars of this quality being scrapped, so, even though I knew it wasn't going to be financially viable, I was going to make this little Aria good again, if it killed me.
A few people had asked how I deal with this kind of thing on my socials when I put up a pic and mentioned that every screw was rusted.
I always start with a very hot soldering iron and heat up the screw, let it cool, heat it again and then try to turn it. If there's a semblance of a head I will scrape the slots out with a dental tool to get a better foothold. Sometimes heating and cooling the screws a few times will break the seal and you can get them moving. This is how I (nearly) always get stubborn neck screws out but sometimes it takes many, many times of heating and cooling.
I got all but two of the scratchplate screws out and had to drill those two out. I use a hand drill and a 3.5mm drill bit for scratchplate screws. Once you know the head off you can generally get the plate off.
Sometimes, if you're lucky there will be a small piece of screw sticking up from the body. I heat and cool this a few times and then use vice grips to try and turn them out slowly. Sometimes (mostly) they just snap off at the body so ....
I keep a few different sizes of copper tube handy for these occasions. Cat a piece of copper tube about 20mm long with an internal diameter of "just" bigger than the thread and stick it in the chuck of your hand drill. Now drill the tube down over the thread in the body. Once you hit the bottom of the screw the hole "plug" will come out with the tube. You can then just fill the new. perfectly round clean hole with small dowel and redrill it for the new screw.
Every other screw in this guitar was the same so I spent the better part of an afternoon heating, cooling, drilling, breaking, drilling with the tube, doweling and repeating over and over again until everything was off. I probably didn't need to do everything as I could have got the guitar playing without removing everything but that just leaves the issue for the next person to deal with and they may not have the time or skills to do it and just abandon the guitar.
I disassembled the vibrato, bridge and tuners and cleaned and lubed everything up to go back together. Everything was still in (mostly) working order and was just seized with corrosion. These Japanese guitars generally had great plating and even the corrosion hadn't destroyed most of the metal on this guitar.
The tuners were completely disassembled, cleaned and put back together with lube and worked beautifully.
I had to use new screws on the vibrato and scratchplate but managed to clean up and reuse the neck screws and pickup surround screws, and reassembled them with a little paraffin wax in the threads to stop them seizing again. I also cleaned out all the holes that hadn't been doweled and redrilled with naphtha and a little bottle brush to remove any rust left in them.
I cleaned out the pots, switch and jack which all came up great and tested and checked the pickups for loose parts.I cleaned, lubed the fretboard and polished the frets. Everything was good to go.
All in all it took the better part of two days to get this playing properly again and luckily(for me) my friend Kerry turned up at the workshop half way through with a coffee and a chat otherwise I would have gone mad.
While I'm doing these jobs I wonder why I bother and then I get them together and play them and forget it all. It's such a joy to get these old vintage Japanese guitars going again and keeping more and more quality gear out of landfill is always a great reward.
This one will be in the shop soon with the other Aria 1702Ts we have for sale. It's great to see young people playing these and the Guyatones as their "punk rock Mosrites" like we did when we were young. Of course they're 25 years older now but still going strong.