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1960 Martin D-28 - Top and back separating, frets and fretboard


Danny Peck's '60 Martin D-28
Danny Pecks' 1960 Martin D-28 had some serious issues to deal with. The finish on the guitar was pretty wasted from constant playing and sweating. Much of the sides and front had finish missing. There was nothing I would really want to do about that anyway, as refinishing it would not only take away much of the value, but probably ruin the tone as well.

The big problems were that there were several places where the top and back were separating from the sides. Not only that, there were several cracks on the top, back and sides, some more in need of attention than others, some previously repaired.

Another issue was the deterioration of the fretboard and frets. The frets had serious wear and the fretboard had several deep divots.

My job here was to get it back into good playing condition without going crazy on it. I started by peeling back some of the binding where the top was separating from the body. Fortunately, I was at the end of the binding, so I could pull up a good piece of it. I could stick my modified putty knife all the way into the instrument on one side and half way in on the other side. I also noticed that there was some wood missing where the top meets the body just below the end pin. If I tried to simply glue the top down, it would bend there and create the potential for a more serious crack in the top, so I fashioned a couple of spruce shims to fit in the separation and fill the gap. I glued the shims in place, clamped it down, and cleaned the area up with warm water, Q-tips and paper towels. It seemed to work perfectly. I let it dry overnight and in the morning I unclamped it and it was pleased to find it just as I wanted: strong and invisible.

The other separation was a lot simpler as the top met the kerfing just right, so I just glued it and clamped it. I did the same with the separation on the back.

I then re glued the kerfing and scraped it even with the wood as best I could without taking too much away.

After that, I added two cleats to the crack on the side. I also noticed some creaking sound inside, which I found to be a loose brace. I squeezed some glue under the brace and put a post inside to keep it in place until it dried.

The body work was done and the guitar was now solid and should resonate well.

The fretboard was pretty well abused, so I removed the frets, sanded the fretboard until many of the minor divots were gone or going. I then roughed the remaining divots with a razor, filled them with rosewood powder and super glue, filed and sanded them down, then scraped them even with the fretboard with a razor. I proceeded to true the fretboard with a 16" radius block.

The fret slots were slightly large, so I had to crimp most of the fret tangs and super glue some fret ends down. The neck stayed true throughout the process, which was amazing considering there was no truss rod. I installed medium frets, similar to stock Martin frets. I then fabricated a new bone nut for it. The old one had a rosewood shim glued to the bottom of it. I strung it up, worked the nut into place, filed, sanded and polished it, then made the final slot adjustments. The strings were the same ones that I got it with, and still, the sound was heavenly. Nice round bass and crisp, even highs. Fantastic sounding instrument.


Major body separation

Missing wood where top meets body

Shims are fabricated and ready to glue into place

Shims being glued into place

Shims in place

A crack in the top being repaired

The top is glued and clamped back to the body

Second top separation; not as bad as the other one!

Second separation is glued

The perfing being glued back into place

Gluing and taping the perfing

Body back together and sounding great!

Fretboard divots

Frets being removed

Truing the fretboard

Installing the frets

Taping the fretboard

Frets are done!

A new nut

I'm very happy to say that Danny was ecstatic having his guitar back and in shape, as it was paid for by his first recording contract when he was 21. With the body and braces glued back together, and the new frets with the divots filled, the guitar played and sounded good as new. It certainly won't ever look new again, so it might as well sound that way!

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