|Some time ago Jeff H. had contacted
me about a PE-450 he had posted about. After fighting with it and realizing
it was not quite his style he came to the decision to let it go. Since
I'm a bit of a PE nut he asked me if I was interested. After a few e-mails
back and forth, and the following 4 pics we agreed to trade a couple of
hollows I had for it since I was not playing the hollows any more. The
pics gave me a pretty good idea what I was in for, but now that I'm close
to finished it was not as much of a pain as I thought it was going to be.
One of the hollows he got in trade has gone to a young aspiring classical
musician (piano and classical guitar). All involved are very happy with
the swap. I know I'm having a blast!
I will say right at the start that
Jeff had given me plenty of info on the 450, and the "obstacles" presented
were not of his doing. I knew very well what I was in for, and believe
it or not, most of the time enjoy the "you know what" out of bringing a
jewel back to life again. This is easily one of those times.
First shot of the neck pocket
|Second shot of the neck pocket
damage. I could see here it was more than just a finish crack, but not
too extensive to scare me off. I have dealt with MUCH worse.
|Third shot of the neck pocket damage.
Here I could see what appeared to be glue smeared across the repair. Lo
and behold, it was as I had thought. A previous owner (NOT Jeff, before
him) had cracked the neck pocket and used a tube or two of super glue to
effect a repair. I knew I would have my work cut out for me.
|One of Jeff's biggest complants
about the guitar was the excessively high action. No wonder! When the previous
owner not only used super glue, but didn't clamp the area and ended up
with a huge hump (huge in that where it is can affect action as much as
1/4" or even more). Slowly but surely I had to re-shape the bottom of the
pocket, sanding, test-fitting, sanding again, test-fitting again, and so
on. After about 2 hours of shaving tiny layers at a time I had a very good
mate between neck and body with about the correct pitch on the neck to
allow good action. I did go back and touch it up just a bit more after
I got this shot.
|I am guessing that same previous
owner had torqued the truss enough to bow the neck a bit backwards in an
attempt to lower the action. Since this would have caused string rattle
at the lower frets it looked like he/she had then taken a file and done
an agressive spot level. With crowning files, sharpie, fingerboard guard,
and a dose of patience the frets once again look more like frets and less
like badly dimpled wedges.
|Next was the step I was not looking
forward to, but if I wanted the guitar playable, another PE, then it was
unavoidable. There was no way possible to remove all the superglue even
using several bottles of de-bonder I was left with one choice. Make sure
the bond was good, then go at the aftermath. With careful sanding I managed
to re-shape the area to some semblence of it's original contour and the
first stain matching and drop fills went on. Next was applying about 6
coats of lacquer to fill and level. Things worked out well save for the
fact that some of the stain pen work faded. To be expected. It never works
out perfect, and every time it is a little different. At least the heel
felt as it should and the super glue overload was gone.
|After re-assembling and leaving
it sitting overnight I found two small stress cracks had re-surfaced. Back
at it again. This time I took advantage and re-stained the faded areas.
I'm sure it will darken a bit over the next day or two, but the gleaming
light spots are not as obvious now. Hopefully this does the trick. If the
cracks come back I suspect I will address them with the neck bolted in
place and simply drop-fill them.
|On the back there was what appeared
to be cat scratches, but I am guessing they are from an enegetic player
with a new key or two on his/her keyring. You know, the keys you have made
at the hardware store that are sharp enough on the freshly cut edges to
carve steak with. Fine wetsanding and about 4 coats of lacquer later most
had been filled. After feathering the new finish into the old as good as
could be done much of the havoc had been masked and only a few more prominent
of the scratches remained. They are not near as "loud" as they used to
be and in light of having to feather and polish again and again, I think
I can live with it.
|One of the last things on the list
of repairs was preferrably using one of the sets of rings I have here,
but none fit so repairing the the original was the only option left. These
are odd sized rings and nothing I had here came close enough. With a ply
top, plugging mounting holes and drilling new is a pain in the rear. A
solid arched top is much easier, but since there's nothing but air under
the arched ply top, the plugs have a tendency to pop through. A tech for
a well known national act (no, I DO NOT drop names) turned me on to a little
trick using a piece of toothpick as bracing and then super-gluing it in
place under the lip of the ring. The rythm player for that band was notorious
for breaking them in a rock induced frenzy on stage. It was quicker to
patch than replace so the tech came up with this 5-minute fix to get through
the show. There was already a good bit of superglue (yeah, Mr. Blobby two
or three owners back) so the gap is still visible, but it no longer looks
like a white bubbly wart at the flailing end of the broken ring.
|Finally finished! I have GOT to
invest in decent lighting. Shooting outside works better than anything
else I can do but still presents problems. I have to say this guitar surprised
me. It turned out rather nice, and I love the tone this thing is capable
|The original knobs were badly corroded,
but fortunately I had a couple of brass knobs here that worked well with
the guitar's theme. I don't remember what they came off of. I seem to recall
them on the Vantage X-88, but I'm not sure.
|With most of the rash on the back
smoothed out it looks more like a guitar it's age in the care of a musician.
In certain light the feather between old and new finish can be seen, but
here it's just reflections and what appears to be feathering is nowhere
near where old finish meets new.
|The face of the headstock may have
been re-sprayed at one point as there is a masking line not well hidden
inside the bat ears. It took about an hour to clean the tuners up, but
now they look new.
|Before work on the neck pocket
there was a very noticeable gap between neck and body at the heel. The
two mate up just about as they should, and the neck pitch is where it should
|Although the posts are a little
chewed up from small screwdrivers, the bridge cleaned up nicely.
|Now that all the angles are right
the action is where it should be, not a mile high. It's no longer an air
guitar! This one is staying, so now I have to find the right new homes
for both the Westbury Custom and the Aria Pro II Knight Warrior.