Archive | Repair Shop Spot

Repair Shop Spot: Restoring headstock inlay on a Guild Thunderbird


Mass Street Music luthier Mike Runyon completed an incredible headstock restoration for Lawrence guitarist and drummer Ron Miller (Up the Academy/Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkey Birds).


Restored Guild Thunderbird headstock

The finished headstock – it was a journey getting it to this beautiful point though.


Sripped Guild Thunderbird guitar

The Guild (front, on the left) as it came to us

The guitar’s owner, Ron, brought us his vintage, stripped-down Guild Thunderbird (also known as the Gumby guitar for its unique body shape).


stripped Guild Thunderbird headstock

a detail of the headstock before Mike began the restoration.

Someone had already sanded down much of the original headstock, so Mike fitted it with an Ebony overlay before he could proceed further.


Ebony overlay on a Guild Thunderbird headstock

The Ebony overlay in preparation for routing and inlay


Ron provided the G-U-I-L-D lettering, but Mike had to create the thunderbird from gold Mother-of-Pearl. By hand. Carefully. Mike  researched the original image then cut the MOP with a jeweler’s saw. He then (very carefully!) routed the headstock for the new Guild and Thunderbird inlay. After inlaying, he leveled and sealed it.


Guild Thunderbird guitar headstock with overlay and newly routed for inlay restoration

The Ebony overlay newly routed for the inlay


Restored Guild Thunderbird heastock inlay

Inlaid, sealed and done! Mike did a tremendous job on this one.

Ron next took the guitar to our good buddy and Seuf Guitars builder Dave Seuferling, who did an amazing finish job on the guitar. Here’s luthier Josh showing the completed guitar.


Completed work on the Guild Thunderbird guitar

Luthier Josh showing off the newly restored Guild Thunderbird. Great job Mike and Dave!


Repair Shop Spot: Easy Drop Tuning Mod for Electric Guitar

Mass Street Music luthier (and mad modder) Matt Harmon goes over his latest mod, which allows him to switch pretty easily between regular and drop tunings with his Les Paul:

I’ve recently wanted to learn a few songs in a lower tuning, specifically a few Queens of the Stone Age tunes, but I didn’t want to buy a new guitar and leave it tuned down all the time. I bought a new bridge and made a new nut for my guitar so I could swap out the parts – and with a quick truss rod adjustment have a guitar that could go back and forth between tunings.

electric guitar bridge and nut

Matt swapped the original bridge and nut on his LP (pictured above), with a new nut and bridge cut to accommodate wider strings for drop tunings. He can switch back easily any time.


My LP is usually strung with Hybrid Slinky .009 – .046 and tuned to standard.  I’m currently running Not Even Slinky .012 – .056 with the guitar tuned to C standard. This required the nut slots and the bridge saddles to be widened and to re-intonate the saddles for the different tuning.

LesPaulelectric guitar reliced bridge

The newer bridge with wider slots. Matt also relic’ed the bridge to match the guitar better!


Just for fun, I aged the new bridge to match the aged guitar (Seuf relic’d this Les Paul!). – Matt H.

wider slot bone nut for drop tunings

The newer nut, now in place, has wider slots to accommodate the .012-.056 strings Matt’s been using for the drop tunings.


Mass St Music repair Matt Harmon with modded Les Paul

Matt with his Les Paul, made even more versatile with a swappable bridge and nut for lower tunings.

Interested in a mod like this, or getting relic’d parts for your guitar? Just give us a call at 800-747-9980 and ask for Matt ‘the Mad Modder‘ Harmon.


Repair Shop Spot: Photo Gallery

This month we’re showcasing some photos of the Repair Shop BY the Repair Shop!  Mike Runyon, Matt Harmon & Josh Baldridge all have a way with a camera. These images showcase some of their luthiery work, but also photo skills. Don’t worry, Repair Manager Mike Horan is in here too – you can’t miss him.


Routing a saddle slot on acoustic guitar

Don’t worry, we’ll be gentle…routing a saddle slot – Mike R.


refretting a guitar

Refret! – Mike R


1970 Fender Mustang color revealed

The true tone uncovered… – Matt H.


Mass street music luthier holding a 10 string bass guitar

Mike H attempting to hold a customer’s 10 string bass. Yes, I said 10-string. – Josh B


lowering guitar fret height

Lowering fret height 1/1,000 at a time. – Mike R


Vintage Gibson mando with owner names in case

Each owner of this vintage Gibson mandolin has signed the inside of the case. – Mike R.


Advanced guitar repair

Advanced guitar repair. – Mike R.
P.S. – we promise, no guitar was  harmed during the making of this photograph


Guitar broken neck repair before and after mass street music

Before and after neck repair – Mike R.


wax potting electric guitar pickups mass street music

Potting electric pickups – Mike R.


60s Fender Tele guitar manual

Old school Fender Tele manual – Mike R.










Repair Shop Spot: Vogue Tenor Banjo TLC


What better instrument to learn on that the very one your own father used to play? This past month Mass Street Music luthier Mike Runyon resuscitated this beautiful 20s tenor banjo for customer Steve Griffeth.

Vogue Tenor Banjo

The banjo


celluloid fake mother of pearl fretboard on a Vogue Banjo

The celluloid on the fretboard & headstock has a faux Mother of Pearl look – also known as ‘mother of toilet seat’. Really.


Vogue Tenor Banjo Resonator

The beautiful resonator on the back of the Vogue Tenor banjo

Steve recently received the banjo from his dad, 91, who learned to play from Steve’s grandfather – though Steve said, “Dad has a tin ear.” Steve doesn’t play – yet – but is very excited to learn, which is why he brought the instrument to us for repair in the first place.

Steve Griffeth's dad, uncle and grandad playing music

Steve’s dad (L) with the Vogue, his uncle (M) and granddad (R) throwing down on a tune


family photo banjo playing in banjo case

The original case still held a ’20s banjo instruction book, opened to the page on Syncopation – click on the photo for a closer look

When he brought the Vogue tenor in, it was pretty sound structurally, but needed some cosmetic repair and TLC. The logo on the headstock had a few pieces broken off as well.

Restored headstock Vogue Banjo logo

Steve still had the pieces of the headstock logo, so Mike was able to restore it. Beautiful!

“Luckily he saved the pieces” Mike said, so a full repair was done.

Mike then just cleaned the banjo and resonator up, retensioned the head, gave it a new set of strings and set it up. It now plays like a dream. Steve’s dad doesn’t yet know he has had the banjo repaired – it’ll be a nice surprise.

Steve G with luthier Mike Runyon and Vogue Tenor Banjo

Mike R (L) and Steve G with his newly TLC’d Vogue Tenor






Repair Shop Spot: Pickguards!

In addition to setting up guitars, getting rid of buzz, refretting, installing pickups, fixing broken headstocks, restoring vintage instruments and general musical TLC, our repair shop does some sweet detail work like pickguards. Some folks need a new one, some want one added to a guitar that doesn’t have one and some folks have a crazy idea they want to see come to fruition. Read on…

Collings I-35 – Custom Pickguard

The Collings I-35 with a two ply pickguard that appears to have binding

The Collings I-35 with a two ply pickguard that appears to have binding

Josh B
. added a sweet custom pickguard for a customer who desired one with binding for his oh-so-sweet Collings I-35. However, he wanted to avoid the expense one with binding would incur. Josh concocted his own version using tortoise style material and cream material. He placed the cream behind the tortoise, which also highlighted the tortoise pattern, which looks really cool. He then beveled the edge, resulting in the appearance of cream binding. Lastly, Josh devised a sweet mounting method that did not invade the guitar at all – by using a bracket in the f-hole and using the existing pickup ring screws to hold in the guard. Beautiful!

A closer look - Josh did a bang up job on this I-35!

A closer look – Josh did a bang up job on this I-35!


Eastman Archtop – Pickguard Special Installation

Eastman archtop with pickguard attached

Matt H. crafted the missing mounting hardware for this classically styled pickguard.

A customer provided Matt H with the classic looking pickguard for his Eastman archtop, but there was no mounting hardware included. Matt fabricated an Ebony bracket himself which screws into the neck and created a custom block for the pickguard mount. The result is a sharp, classic look with craftsmanship that parallels the beauty of the guitar.

Ebony mounting piece for Eastman archtop pickguard

A closer look at the Ebony piece Matt made.


Eastman pickguard attachment

A closer look at the pickguard bracket with an acrylic block under the guard.


Eastman archtop with pickguard installed



Gretsch Junior Jet – Custom Pickguard

Gretsch with Dogear Fralin P90 pickups and LP Jr style pickguard

This inexpensive modded Gretsch now looks as cool as it sounds thanks to Matt’s custom Les Paul Junior style pickguard.

Inspired by the Repair Shop’s great work modding a few burst Junior Jets we had at the store back in 2011, web manager Anne brought in her used Junior Jet II for the same mod. After installing the Fralin Dogear P90s, the whole vibe of the guitar was screaming Les Paul and it didn’t seem quite right to put the same pickguard back on.

Gretsch Junior Jet II black

The Gretsch Junior Before: The Gretsch Junior Jet II originally had mini humbuckers and a teardrop pickguard.

Anne always hankered for an LP Junior and asked if the shop could replace the oval Gretsch guard with a Les Paul Junior style, rather than the more triangular LP Special style. A standard replacement didn’t fit, so Matt H custom made a Les Paul Junior guard, adjusting it to fit the curve of the horn on the Gretsch, and the new dogear P90s. The result? A sweet Gretsch hot rodded and modded with an LP Junior vibe.

Les Paul Junior pickguard crafter for two dogear p90s

A closer look at the pickguard


Gretsch JJII with Fralin Dogear P90s and Les Paul Jr style pickguard

The finished Gretsch Junior Jet with Fralin Dogear P90s and a Les Paul JR style pickguard. Sharp!