A Formidable Challenge on a Taylor 814c
This all started when a customer in Sedona emailed me out of the blue. He included an eBay link and asked my opinion, “Is this fixable?” He wanted to buy this guitar, but only if it could be restored– and he needed a fairly solid quote to gauge whether or not this was a good investment. I looked carefully at all the pics posted on the eBay auction, and pondered for awhile.
This was not an easy estimate to make. I thought through the procedure with only these pictures to guide me, and proposed my estimate. The customer and I decided yes, it was worth it and I was up for the challenge. My estimate was reasonable enough to allow the customer to cross his fingers and buy the guitar online, knowing the investment in the repair would still net him a great value for such an instrument. Keep in mind, this expensive guitar was flawless and like new, except for the huge broken hole at the cutaway.
Apparently, someone had bought this guitar in 2007, and shortly thereafter dropped a dumbbell on the cutaway area, straight down on the side. The guitar was then put in a closet and forgotten about. I imagine the sickening feeling in the original owner’s stomach led him to simply hide the reminder of such a tragedy.
My client bought it on eBay after consulting with me and had it shipped directly to the shop. It quickly became one of those jobs you put on the bench just to stare at it for long periods of time– multiple times– before the work even begins. I already had a general idea about the approach from the pics, but now I had to really detail the procedure in my mind before starting; there were so many different breaks and cracks, inside and out, including internal bracing, and the top and back seams.
It was good to find some of the puzzle pieces rattling around inside the guitar. I decided to glue most of the fracture with CA glue (cyanoacrylate, high grade super glue,) which has the advantage of drying fast and buffing like lacquer. The CA glue can also be used to topcoat an area, like a finish, and is very compatible with Taylor’s UV curing finish. I was able to gently force the wood back into place as I glued different parts, attempting to do so in the opposite order from how it seemed to have compressed and fractured. I also used standard wood glue for a few areas, such as the back/side separation at the binding, and the internal reinforcement.
I knew before starting that the inside would need to be reinforced– I just wasn’t sure of the best way to go about it. After piecing everything back together, light could be seen passing through the cracked area. I found black burlap material at the fabric store, saturated it in wood glue, and then pasted it inside of the cutaway area. This was done twice, creating two rigid layers to protect the fragile area.
After a lot of fine sanding, scraping, and buffing, the finished job looked excellent. The customer and myself were both surprised and pleased by the result.
I set it up with a compensated bone saddle and installed an L.R. Baggs Anthem acoustic pickup system. It sounded absolutely amazing and plays better than before. I was very happy to bring this guitar back to life. Hey! It’s practically a brand new 814ce now, but for half the price considering!