Monday, November 22, 2010

Weissenborn Style 1 Repair - Addendum

Following the restoration and repair of the Style 1, the owner of the instrument and noted Musician, Composer, Engineer, Producer, Author and now certifiable Weissenborn aficionado, Bruce Kaphan, asked if he could share his thoughts on the process. Bruce has been professionally involved in the music industry since the mid 1970s, and it was a true pleasure and honor to do the work for him. But I will let Bruce take over from here. -TF

I'm primarily a pedal steel player, but in recent years I've become
interested in branching out into non-pedal slide instruments,
especially for recording. I purchased a Gold Tone Weissenborn a few
years ago, and enjoyed using it on a number of recordings, but fairly
quickly became frustrated with the tone- it was great for the price,
and served its purpose of getting me hooked on Weissenborn style
guitars, but its tone wasn't so golden to my ears... There were so
many resonant and dead spots in the instrument's response. I decided
to splurge and began searching for a real vintage Weissenborn. I
found a shop online that advertised having a few in stock, hopped a
two hour flight and compared them. One instrument, a style 1, clearly
stood out among the others. Its top was pretty bellied, but otherwise
it seemed to be in reasonably good shape, made of absolutely
beautiful koa- it just looked like it should sound good, and it did.
The tone was beautiful; especially compared to my Gold Tone and the
other vintage Weissenborns I played at that shop, the tone on this
particular one was way more balanced, with fewer resonant or dead
spots. I purchased the instrument, and soon after, recorded my first
track with it. It sounded great!

There's a really great acoustic guitar repair shop in the region in
which I live. Not long after I purchased the instrument I took it
there, to ask the staff if there was anything they could recommend
for the bellied top. They shrugged their shoulders and said no.
Sadly, not long after this, as I was preparing for an upcoming gig,
the bridge cracked, rendering the instrument unplayable. After the
bridge cracked, knowing the local repair shop didn't seem to have a
great deal of familiarity with Weissenborns, I did an online search
for Weissenborn repair, and came across Tony Francis' website. I live
in California. I really didn't know very much about Weissenborns, and
had never heard of Tony. To be sure, knowing how much fraud exists
online, based only on a website, I have to say I was a bit nervous
about shipping my Weissenborn to a stranger in New Zealand for
repair, but Tony's blog, complete with a discussion of repairing
bellied tops on Weissenborns, appeared to offer a solution to my
instrument's problems. I contacted him and found him to be a very
well-spoken, considerate individual. Although I saw some very nice
comments about him online, I didn't see any testimonials about
shipping instruments from far away; nevertheless, I decided to take
the risk, and was absolutely not disappointed. And that's why I'm
writing this testimonial. As you can see in these beautiful
photographs, Tony was able to address all of the problems with my
style 1. He finished the job in the time frame he said he would. He
held to his quote. When I received the instrument, his work was
absolutely impeccable, as you can see in these photos. I asked Tony
if I could write this testimonial- I just want to encourage anyone
who might have the same misgivings I had about shipping my instrument
to a stranger so far from home. Tony is a man of his word and an
impeccable craftsman. I'd be happy to vouch for him any time- please
feel free to contact me at the contact page of my website,, if you need further encouragement to take the
plunge to send your instrument to him. Thanks Tony, for breathing new
life into my style 1! -BK

1 comment:

  1. Working with you has been an excellent and informative experience, Tony - and I look forward to receiving your Style 1 and my 1924 with the greatest anricipation later this year.
    I wanted to post this about shipping USPS from the USA, as my experience was better than most internet postings re shipping USPS to NZ:
    BOTH the USPS ID and US Customs ID can be used to track the shipment via both USPS and NZ Post, (with a hiatus while in NZ Customs custody). After tracking USPS or NZ Post until out of the USA, tracking via NZ Post continues when NZ Customs releases for delivery, right up actual delivery.
    Signing up for a NZ Post account makes this even simpler to track and leaves the updates on your homepage.
    Hope this lends some comfort tofuture considerations concerning shipping instruments to you from the USA, Tony.