1936 Gibson J35 restoration and repair

Initial inspection

The customer wanted the previous repair work to be corrected and the whole guitar restored sympathetically to retain its vintage value, appeal and most importantly to regain it's vibrant lively sound. Although the top was extremely thin and fragile is was crucial to save it.

Once the binding and the back were removed we were able to see the full extent of the damage and assessed what needed to be done.

The added batten was firmly attached to a damaged tone bar, this needed to be carefully removed by paring and scraping.

The main x brace was broken.

There were a large number of cracks and splits in the sides and back which needed to be secured and supported.

The bridgeplate was warped and had a thin overlay on it.

Some side cracks had some old patch repairs which had failed

1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel

Planning the repairs

With access to the inside, we removed the bridgeplate and the added batten which we pared away along with the remains of the first tone bar to which it was attached. Then we sanded the area smooth.

We also removed the bridge so that we could flatten it and to enable us to flatten the guitar top.

A number of mahogany cleats were made which would be used to reinforce the cracks on the body sides and back

1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel

Internal wood and glue repairs

We reglued the X brace and because the top was incredibly thin from the bridge to the tone bars we decided to make a thin spruce overlay to reinforce the area and bring it closer to standard thickness. We made it from spruce retrieved from an old guitar.

We also made a new bridgeplate and tone bar. With the guitar clamped face down to flatten the top, these parts were glued into place. We also glued the body side cracks and added the reinforcing cleats. The guitar back was repaired, cleated and cleaned up ready to be refitted. The binding was cleaned up and refitted and the back glued into place.

1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel

The final stages

With the bridge sanded flat on the underside, it was ready to fit. The bridge pin holes were reamed and the holes taken on through the bridgeplate. We made a new bone saddle to allow the guitar to play with a low action. Strung up the guitar is responsive with a warm rich sound. 

You can see and hear it in action here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQy3RD7_3OE

1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel
1936 Gibson J35 full restoration © 2024 Guitar Angel