Guitar Specialist - Guitar repair and restoration services ~ The Shop !

           
           



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1989 to 2001

This was the shop we had occupied for nearly 10 years in the early 90's.  We out grew the space about halfway through
our lease - but we made it work.

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Be it ever so humble, there's no place like - the shop.
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This is what everyone sees when they first walk in.  A place to sit ...
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... and plenty of neat things to look at while I do my - "I'll be with you in a minute" -  routine
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Someone once asked me what it was like working in a submarine
I think I know what they meant.
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One of eight main benches that hold up guitars being worked on.
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They're also great for leaning up against at four in the morning while trying to meet a deadline.
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Another room with guess what - more benches with guitars on them.

 

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Can you tell that we like benches - we've even got one in the dining room at home - just kidding.
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So many guitars - So little time - I should get back to work.
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By the way - most of these are stacked two deep.
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The Taylor Fret Buck Shrine and Doug's Cubby Hole..
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One of the tool benches - we need more benches.
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More tools - can't have enought tools
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By the way - that black thing is a guitar filing cabinet that Mike from Woodshed Design made for us.
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This is really cool - It's an old pharmacist's dispensing cabinet (the cabinet is old - not the pharmacist). It's great for storing parts & supplies.
OK - so it's not cool - but it's useful.
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The Office

Absolutely nothing gets done in here

2001 to 2009

out-growing our old shop we moved into a shopping center about a mile from our original location.

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The Front Door. Come On In !  Actually this is no longer our front door - it's the door next to this one.  The sign was moved so you'll know which door to enter - actually it looks a-lot like this one. I didn't go outside to take  picture - because frankly - it was too cold out there.

We are on the 2nd floor will the entrance to our shop around the back of the shopping center.  This way we don't have to deal with too much walk in traffic.  There is a huge deck right out our front door and on a nice day we can set up some deck furniture and enjoy the sunshine while we pretend we don't have 400 guitars to fix inside.  Actually we'd have to buy some deck furniture before we can do that.  We'' it was a nice thought anyway. 
 


Check the sing above the door just to make sure you are not walking into the lawyer's office next door. - actually she's not there any more - tee-hee
  Reception  
I do enjoy having a front counter. Sounds silly doesn't it.  But it gives me a place to greet customers and delivery people - but discourages people wandering the shop.
As you enter the front door, Lester usually greets you.  The front counter is usually where we inspect your instrument.  The counter does prevent access to the rest of the shop - which my insurance agent and law firm loves - but we'll bring you in and show you around if you'd Like.
This is where we examine each guitar as it comes into the shop. Ideally, we like to do that with the customer so everybody can see what's going on.  I am not a big fan of doing estimates over the phone.

To the right there are pictures of some of our notable clients.  Not all,  just the ones who gave us their pictures. 
 

And to the left you see our credentials proudly displayed.  We still have room for a few more.

There are two display cases  One with things in it that you can buy and one with things in it that you can't
These you can't buy - at least not from us. Our Collection of mini guitars.
Cute aren't they
There is plenty to look around at in case I have to do the "be with you in a minute" routine.
 

These you can buy - it's mostly full of instrument care products.  Believe it or not - that's about the extent of the stuff we sell.  I actually have nightmares about being a retailer.  By the way - did you get your humidifier yet this season?

Here's Bob.  He's still here - He keeps customers company in case you have to wait a couple of minutes.
 
And of course here's Lester.  He lives here.  We found him wandering the adjacent Condo parking lot.  Unfortunately, he was abandoned.  We couldn't allow that so of course we took him in.  More about him on the Shop Cats page.
One of the things I wasn't crazy about with our space before the expansion was that we didn't have an appropriate space to have customers test their instruments when they were picked up.  We had to set up an amp in the store room which was kind of awkward.  Well that's all changed now.
Here is our new customer test area.  You can sit in a comfortable stool with your instrument - plug in and really have a chance to check out your refurbished instrument.
There are plenty of inspirational pictures on the walls and a great amp to crack it up and enjoy your guitar.
 We are also thinking about putting in a mini-bar - well - not really.  But sit down and play for a while - take your time and enjoy.

Come on behind the counter, I'll give you the tour. 
  The Front Workshop Area  

As you leave the customer test area and enter the shop, you will see that we love benches and lots of them.  These are just a few.
 

We currently have enough bench space to be working on 31 instruments simultaneously - and we usually are.  With the availability of wall space to hang instruments in progress - we can be working on a total of as many as 65 instruments at the same time - and we usually do.
 

Here is our little control center.  The computer is exclusively used to track each instruments progress through the shop.  At a glance I can tell what's been done and what's left to do.  The dry erase board is to keep track of customer due dates, the clip board holds the work orders for each instrument, the comfy chair is for anyone who works here to use when they get overwhelmed buy it all.

Here is another look at mission control.  Organized aren't we?
 
Our little library of reference books.
Handy to keep at the control center
 
  The Center Workshop Area  

In the center of the shop floor, stands the ubiquitous Neck Jig. There is no other tool like it on the planet.
 
There is no substitute for fretwork on a troubled neck than the Neck Jig.
 

I have always been a big believer of lots of benches.  The more - the merrier.

This way we can keep as many projects going at the same time as possible.

A nice big bright open space with plenty of room to move around and lots of natural light coming through the skylights.

Here's the main setup bench.
 

This is also where we do all of our electronic and wiring work.


All of the guitars that come into our shop start and end at this bench.

Here's is the main fretting bench. 
We don't install the frets here but we do all of the fingerboard sanding, fret leveling and crowning at this bench.

 It used to be an old upright bookcase. It had been converted to a corner unit.  I found it to be just the right size to walk around as you so often have to do with fretwork.  When there is no need to use the Neck Jig we use this.

With some specially made bench accessories, guitars remains securely raised above the bench so the fret dust and all falls to the bench below away from contact with the guitar. 
 
  The Rear Workshop Area  

Yup - you guessed it - more benches.  Here's the rear workshop area - this is where most of the neck resets happen.
We used to have all our power tools back here - and even with the dust collection system we have - it was still difficult to keep the sawdust under complete control.  With the new expansion we were able to get the power tools away from the guitars and into there own dedicated room.
That made room for - More benches !!!
I like to work in this area of the shop - primarily because it's only a few feet from the coffee maker.

Tool Storage
If you saw pictures of The Old Shop, one thing you might notice is the lack of tools hanging on the walls.  We used to have tools hanging everywhere.  Primarily for the reason of lack of space in the old shop. Hanging tools always made me feel uncomfortable - while we never had an accident - there was always the possibility of a tool slipping off of it's hook and damaging an instrument. I was determined that in the new shop we wouldn't have to deal with that problem.

Here's the setup bench again.  You've probably noticed Big Red standing proudly next to the bench.
In fact you'll see them all over the shop - we bought five of them.

All of our tools are stored neatly in these rollaway tool bays.  Each bench station has one with just the tools that is needed for the work being done at that station

All the tools are neatly stored in the draws and arranged by their usefulness for each station.  On top of each rollaway all the supplies that are needed for each station are neatly stacked so they are within arms reach.

Each drawer holds tools that are for similar use.  Here we have every kind of tool needed for truss rod adjustments.

Even Straight Edges
have their place.

Each Drawer is lined with a rubber mat to protect our tools.

Here's the rollaway at the fretting station.  It contains all of the tools for fingerboard prep, fret installation, leveling, filing, crowning and polishing.  You name it it's in here.
 

I won't show you all the rollaway tool bays - even though I might be tempted since I am so pleased that we now have them.  Suffice it to say that I think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. 


All of our tools are where they are supposed to be - always at hand and always safe.  Plus we don't spend half the day staring at the walls looking for the right tool for the job.
 
The Tool Room
 
Before we expanded, we were forced to keep the power tools out in the main shop area.  While they were far enough away from all the delicate work and we used a decent dust collection system, I was never real comfortable with having all the messy work being done out where we work on guitars.
Here's our new tool room.  It's a good size room with plenty of room for for all the power tools and a few additions.
I really like being able to keep all the saw dust away from the rest of the shop.  It certainly cuts down on cleaning time.  We also store most of our wood and fabrication supplies in here. It's nice to have the space to keep all the power tools in the same location. Not just for convenience sake but for neatness and safety sake as well.

Along this wall we keep the large tools together. 

Here we have our table saw and band saw.  Plenty of room to move around them.

Here's all of the sanding tools and a scroll saw.  The bench sanders are probably the busiest power tools in the shop. 
 
The centerpiece of our power tools.
The mighty drill press.  I attached this table to the drill press to accommodate the length bolt on necks.  We sometimes install frets here. Using the drill press as an arbor press.
 

Nicely tucked under the bench is a 6.5 hp vacuum that we have hooked up to a dust collection system.

Every piece of power equipment is hooked up to the dust collection system through a series of hoses,  tubes, elbows and gates.

As we use each tool we open the gate associated with that tool.  This helps keep dust to a minimum in the shop.

Along the back wall we have a workbench where we to most of our tooling work, maintenance and jig work.

 
It's also where we keep all of our fret-wire.  It made sense to keep it all in here since this is where we bend and cut the wire.
Underneath the bench we keep some of our "good woods" - fingerboard blanks, bridge blanks, brace stock and the like.  Oh, and I've got to show you what those two planks on the bench are used for. . .

Holding guitars - what else?  Sometimes you have to work on parts of a guitar that is not easy to negotiate.
With this little fixture we can safely hold a guitar in positions that you can't achieve on a traditional bench.  Side cracks, endpins, binding work and touch-up work go quite easier with a whole lot less hassle.
we can hold a guitar upside down in almost any position.

Here are a couple of other neat additions.  A couple of really cool island benches.

They were originally used in a beauty salon before we re-habilitated them.  We can work from wither side of the benches with plenty of space on the lower shelf for tools and a drawer for extra stuff.

Each bench has two electrical outlets already installed - which is a great feature that has proven to be so convenient.  They also have holes originally designed to hold hair dryers and such - which we use for drills and things like that. - neat isn't it?
 
The Kitchen
 

What guitar shop would be complete without a kitchen? It is regarded by some as the most important area of the shop. Why? Because its where we keep the Coffee Maker !!!

The kitchen area is complete with coffee maker, fridge, microwave, a sink, nice oak cabinets with plenty of storage - all the comforts of ... SHOP.

We have set up a curtain to shield the kitchen area from dust.  We don't close it much - it turns out that the dust collection system we have does such a good job that we don't need the curtain.
 
The New Office
 
The command center.  I always wanted a nice big office.  It gives me a comfortable place to do paperwork, meet with employees, trades people and clients. And no - it's not always this neat and tidy. Here I am behind my desk - you usually can't see me from behind the huge pile of paperwork that I have to routinely take care of.

As you can see I am very into being wired up.  Since I like to do all of our own desktop publishing and web design and stuff like that - I have all the toys that go with the territory.

One of the nice things about having taken over a lawyers space - is I finally get to have more of an executive's office.  Thing is, I always feel like suing someone when I am in here - can't figure out why.

My desk hasn't been this clear in months - but we know you were coming to take the tour today.  So I tidied up a bit.

The Finishing Room
In our old shop, the spray booth was the bathroom.  we converted the tub into a booth.  It was a hassle and not really suited to finishing work - as you can imagine.  When we moved into our new space the owner of the shopping center agreed to build us an OSHA approved finishing room.

The door to the booth has a filter mounted in it for positive air flow.
 

The room is outfitted with explosion proof-full spectrum lights and there are no light switches in the room to eliminate the risk of sparks. 


Complete with a monstrous explosion proof fan mounted through the wall. The switch for the fan is outside the room for safety reasons.  

When not using the fan we can draw the blinds for natural light when we do color matching and open the window for ventilation.

We also have a bench in here for touch up work and a couple of shelf type benches mounted by the window when only natural light will do.

The white boards hanging behind the fan serve as a back splash to catch the overspray.  they also serve as a funnel to direct the airflow to the fan.
 
Since I was walking around with the camera, I took a better shot of the touch-up bench.  Here I can match almost any color I need.
 
 
The Storage Areas
 

We have two storage areas.  The rear storage area houses all of the parts, supplies and materials we need to do the repairs. 
 

The huge grey bin was actually a filing cabinet for a pharmacy to store medication.


The rear storage area also houses all the guitars that are in house for repair. These shelves which are perfect to store guitar used to be a futon. My dear friend Bill Crow helped me put them up.

The front storage room houses everything we need to run the shop.  From our wood stores to office supplies and everything in between.
 

 


This is also where all the guitars that are coming in and going out are stored. Completed guitars are waiting for customer pickup and incoming guitars are waiting for us to generate a work order.
 
One final note - our entire shop is regulated for humidity and temperature. We have four of these puppies running throughout the shop to make sure that the humidity stays pretty regular.
 

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2009 to 2018

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After 7 years in our prior location, we got a bit tired of being in a strip mall/shopping center and all that goes along with it.  We weren't particularly happy with the management of the center as it was and with the renewal of our lease term looming, we decided the best course of action was to find a new home for the shop
.
Here it is - The new shop!
 

John at C&M sign company made us a beautiful new sign that I am told you can see very nicely from route 684 as you are passing by- thank you very much.
 
An added feature is this great porch that we can hang out on when we don't have too much work to do.  We'll let you know how the porch is if we ever get to use it

Reception
 

When you enter our new shop, this is what you'll see.  This is our reception and front counter area.
The front counter is usually where we inspect your instrument. 

This is what it looks like from my side of the counter.
Now you know what it is like to be me.
There are plenty of places to sit and look at while I do my - "I'll be with you in a minute" - routine

You might notice the great fireplace.  We don't use it - guitars and fireplaces don't exactly go together very well.  We use the fireplace to display some unique items that we have come across over the years.

Behind the counter you'll see all of our credentials proudly displayed.
 
As you turn toward the customer test area, you might notice our wall of fame.
 
Pictures of some of our notable clients.  Not all,  just the ones who gave us their pictures.
 

Customer Test area and Office
 

In our new shop, the customer test area is much more comfortable.  A great amp to plug into and plenty of room to plug in and check out your refurbished instrument.

Lots of interesting things to look at as well.
That's the door to my office.

One trade we made with the new place was me giving up a swanky office suite.  I really didn't need all that room for the office.  Not that much went on in there anyway.  Everything fits in here quite nicely though.

The Main Shop Space
 

Here is the main shop space.  This is where most of the work happens.

Our benches are modular - we can arrange them in a number of different configurations. 

This configuration seems to work the best for us. We have a bit less in the way of floor space here, but still plenty of room to walk around.

All of the tools are neatly lined up against the back wall and easy to get to.

There are two main work stations.  Each work Station can house up to six instruments being worked on at the same time.

This is Sharon's work station.  With the stations set up as islands we can walk around them and work on as many as three guitars at once...

... jumping from one job to the next without interruption. Sharon likes to keep her second shelf free  for tools and supplies

Here is my work station. I can work on two guitars on the main workspace at the same time.
In the rear of the bench I almost always have a guitar having the frets hammered in.

At my workstation is my crowning bench.  It used to be an old upright bookcase. It had been converted to a corner unit.  I found it to be just the right size to walk around as you so often have to do with fretwork.  When there is no need to use the Neck Jig we use this. With some specially made bench accessories, guitars remains securely raised above the bench so the fret dust and all falls to the bench below away from contact with the guitar. 

Of course we still have and use the ubiquitous neck jig.  The is no substitute for this tool.
 
 
Here is the jig with a guitar loaded in it.  The picture is from our old shop.

Here we can store work in progress on several shelves. 

All together we can store about sixteen instruments in progress here in various stages of being clamped up and drying or waiting for parts.

Next to the shelves of guitars is where we keep all of the parts boxes for our customer's guitars while they are on the benches.
 The guitars that is - not the customers.
 
We still use the roll-a-ways to store most of the tools.
It sure beats hanging a lot of stuff on the walls.
 

With most of the tools neatly arranged in the drawers. On top of each rollaway all the supplies that are needed for each station are neatly stacked so they are within arms reach

Here we have parts central.  All of the parts, supplies and materials we need to do the repairs in one spot.  The huge grey bin at the bottom was actually a pharmacy cabinet used to store medications.

I have always had trouble figuring out how to store long bar clamps.  This was our solution.

The Tool Room
Here's our new tool room.  It's a good size room with plenty of room for for all the power tools and a few additions.
I really like being able to keep all the saw dust away from the rest of the shop.  It certainly cuts down on cleaning time.  We also store most of our wood and fabrication supplies in here. It's nice to have the space to keep all the power tools in the same location.
Not just for convenience sake but for neatness and safety sake as well.

 In the center of the room is a bench that can hold three guitars.  It is surrounded by all the power tools we use in the course of our work.

 along one wall is all of the sanding and cutting tools.
A band saw, a few power/belt sanders and scroll saw.

 to the right as you walk in the room is a table saw and the all purpose workbench. 

In the corner is the mighty drill press.  I attached this table to the drill press to accommodate the length bolt on necks.  We sometimes install frets here. Using the drill press as an arbor press.

Along the back wall we have a workbench where we to most of our tooling work, maintenance and jig work.  it's also where we keep all of our fret-wire.  It made sense to keep it all in here since this is where we bend and cut the wire.

The top piece on the center bench is an interesting unit. It was originally used in a beauty salon before we re-habilitated it.  We can work from wither side of the bench with plenty of space on the lower shelf for tools and a drawer for extra stuff

It has two electrical outlets already installed - which is a great feature that has proven to be so convenient.  They also have holes originally designed to hold hair dryers and such - which we use for drills and things like that. - neat isn't it?

All of the power tools are hooked up to a dust collection system.  I started using a dust collection system only about 10 years ago ...

I can't tell you how much cleaner the shop stays.  I can't believe I hadn't used one before then.

All of the tubes come to a single junction that I can cut the suction for one side of the room or the other.

All the seams of the tubes are taped
as to not allow any leakage.

One more stop on the main shop floor is our little makeshift kitchen.  Every guitar shop has to have a dedicated place for coffee making.
The Finishing Room

In our former location we had a small finishing room that had the exhaust mounted directly in the wall.
In this location, the owner wasn't very excited about me knocking really large holes in the walls to mount a spray booth exhaust.

A call to our good friend Mike at Woodshed Design yielded this elegant solution.  Our new spray booth is much more comfortable and efficient to use.

Also, our new finishing room is much larger than the old location.  Lots of room to move around.

Here is the touch up bench where we do all of the color matching and such.

Everything we need is near at hand without being cluttered.

A selection of tints, dyes and pigments along with some different colors and shades of shellac for french polishing.
 
Lots of natural light coming in through the windows makes for more successful color matching.
 
 
  The Spray Booth

Before we end our little tour, I wanted to show you our new spray booth up close and personal.
Once again this one was thanks to Mike at Woodshed Design.

 

The Booth wings fold away when not in use to make for a bit more room.

Fully extended it still has a fairly small footprint.
Four screens catch any overspray

Inside you see the explosion proof fan.

The booth vents to the outside via this really cool baffle that Mike came up with.

When it is closed it allows the exhaust to vent to the outside and creates it's own seal.

The fan is completely enclosed

Complete with an explosion proof switch to round out the package

as for fresh air intake, Mike came up with this neat baffle for the window.  When closed it filters the positive air flow coming in.

When it is open it's just a regular window.

Thanks Mike!

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