November 25th, 2011, 11:32 PM
Ok, I got this old stella parlor guitar for 25 bucks. The back is separating on it and I figured it would make for a fun project. How should I take the back off? I believe this guitar is solid birch so I am also kicking around the idea of sanding it down and staining it purely for the sake of experimentation. Any suggestions?
November 26th, 2011, 09:27 AM
Steam. And patience.
November 26th, 2011, 09:46 AM
nice, that was my first guitar, except it had a white pickguard.
November 26th, 2011, 10:33 AM
I agree with the steam suggestion above. It wouldn't hurt to have a thin putty knife either to help it along gently.
I will be watching this thread to see if you get some good information on a restoration project like this. I have a 1942 Harmony Contenintal American parlor with the same problem along with a seperation at the neck joint as well. Currently it is "Wall Art" in my music room. It would possibly be a fun winter project to try and get it playable. It is also birch which is probably why it is in poor shape as I doubt it was ever humidified prior to my owning it. I also have a 50's Kay Music Note guitar that is a laminate and still playable after all the years.
Here is my Harmony...
November 27th, 2011, 01:19 AM
i would try to reglue it without removing the back t ... if it was a Gibson or pricey vintage instrument, i would have a luthier do it ... and i bet he or she would not remove the back unless really necessary ....
November 27th, 2011, 03:34 AM
I think I am going to have to take it off completely because it's not wanting to press flush against the sides properly. If I fail, I'm only out 25 bucks but I hope to get this thing in proper playing condition.
November 27th, 2011, 04:16 AM
a luthier would use rubber bands and lots of clamps to get it to fit flush ... this is how the guitars were originally constructed ... even if you remove the back, you would still need to do this to re-assemble it !!!
November 27th, 2011, 06:24 AM
A heated palette knife, use with a hot air blower (paint stripper on low setting).
This is an artist's tool, a very thin flexible blunt knife, many sizes. Maybe found as bigger version in the kitchen as a "spatula". Try an artists' supply or hobby shop, 101 uses - even mixing paint.
Steam too but it doesn't go where you want and it may raise the wood or separate veneer/ply.
re rubber bands Yes! - tip :-cut bicycle inner tube into long strips to wrap around the body when re-glueing.
November 29th, 2011, 12:44 PM
I agree with an above post and would suggest you try just gluing and clamping the sperataed areas. What I have learned from experience is that whenever you remove the back the curves of the sides will shift so doing a spot on reattachment of the back without a jig can be a pain in the butt.
November 29th, 2011, 12:54 PM
As for the refinish idea, be aware that Stella famously used the sunburst finish to cover over cosmetically challenged wood with the opaque black.
December 7th, 2011, 11:56 AM
That's the exact same guitar as my very first, approx. 1961.. When it was new, the strings were ridiculously high off the frets. Talk about building callouses and "bleeding fingers". I think my mother paid $12.00 for it as a gift. It was my first step up from a ukelele.... which was $5.00 at a church bazaar.
December 7th, 2011, 01:26 PM
I tackled a similar project on an old Silvertone last year.
The back on my was not only separated, but also sported an 8 inch crack and was severely warped. Several of the back braces had also popped loose.
I had high hopes that moving it into a stable environment would help and I'd be able to repair and reuse the original back, but that didn't work out.
I ended up removing the back (steam, seam separation knife), salvaging the braces and replacing it with a new back.
Not wanting to spend much money and realizing the guitar had other issues, I decided to replace the back as cheaply as possible and leave the guitar in an open tuning for slide.
After looking around for another larger, trashed acoustic that I could salvage and cut down a back from with no luck, and deciding that quality backs from luthier supply houses were too expensive, I found another option.
Most plywood found at Lowes, Home Depot, etc. is far too thick, but if you look in the cabinet sections you'll find very thin sheets of laminates that are used to cap the exposed ends of pre-made cabinets.
They're a little thicker than most backs, but thin enough for a project like this.
You can easily get two backs from a $10 sheet.
December 7th, 2011, 03:40 PM
If your braces are intact I would agree with rangercaster to not remove the back. I look at it like this. When I go to put it back on I'm still going to have the same alignment problem only multiplied. If the side sticks out further than the back it can be pressed in with clamps or bands. If the top is further out then the side I have had luck with a small dowel rod cut to length placed into the sound hole and turned against the side to press it out. got to play with it a little but it can be done. Good luck.