boiled linseed oil fretboard

Early ’90s Santa Cruz Guitar

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hugh mason guitarist september 2015After all the work I put into Hugh’s MT2, I thought his problems were over.  An Instrument Rescue, an intervention of sorts, had brought new hope into the floundering life of his beloved but demoralized mandolin.

Then a call comes in.  “Jim, I have another project for you”.  Lights and sirens, we drive over miles of dusty road, deep into county forest, to Hugh’s Shangri-La under the pines.  His “new” 2001 SCGC D-Model has arrived, and is in rotation.  His 1991 could now get a rest, and a little refurbishment.  What was wrong?

hugh mason with 1991 santa cruz guitarIts top is getting a little wonky.  There is a crack that stops under the bridge.  Dry fingerboard, grooved frets, missing headstock binding, dirt, oils, burns, high action . . .  Hugh has led yet another instrument astray.  The 1991 has come to me for redemption;  I shall guide it to the light.

Strings off, tuners off, deep cleaning.  Level, crown, & polish the frets  (Hugh’s fourth set in a dozen years, and this time, they were stainless).  Pick out some glue on a top crack, reglue, sand, buff, and seal.  Oil its fingerboard, install some naturally aged binding, and the tuners went back on.

With a possibly weakened top,  we went with a lighter string.  D’Addario EJ19 Bluegrass with the light tops and medium bottoms were perfect!  The high action was no longer;  we did not have to shave the bridge saddle;  two strings with one pick, is the saying?

Over two decades old, D619 has amazing depth of tone, clarity, and volume.  With fixed frets and settled action, Hugh again has a second Santa Cruz dreadnought on which to practice his interminable bluegrass flat picking.  The ’91 definitely has a different sound than his 2001.  Deeper, richer, louder.  Age has its privileges;  the ’91 is always senior spokesman within the bluegrass circle.