Ottawa's guitar repair shop

Fret slotting on the Plek Machine

There are so many jobs that used to be extremely time consuming, that have become a breeze with the Plek. Take fingerboard slotting for example. A fingerboard is always slotted before it's glued to an instrument. Because doing so after would require such complex and unique jigs that it simply wouldn't be worth the effort. Now, I can turn a fretless, finished instrument, into a fretted one with minimal extra work. I can curve the slots, so their bottom matches the radius of the fingerboard at any point, dictate the depth within 0.01mm, do a recessed slot, where the fingerboard looks bound, even though it isn't. What a wonderful contraption.


A year has gone by

One full year has passed

It has been an incredible adventure, and it's only been one year since I've been serving the Ottawa region. I am very happy with all the work that I have had the privilege to accomplish during my start here. I've already been handed important structural repair on vintage acoustics, lacuqer repairs and refinishes, countless setups and refrets. I've counted my tags and in 2013, so far, I've repaired 350 instruments. A lot of the interesting jobs get posted on my Facebook page, and thank you to all of those who have been following it.

Here was one of the most interesting repairs of the year: A complete restoration on a 1963 Gibson J-45. The following video shows the end result, and here is the run down:

- Neck reset, refret, finish restoration, top, back and sides strictural repairs. A brand new Brazilian Rosewood bridge had to made to replace the old broken one. Thank you to Pat Hawley for the assistance on that one.

Shielding Guitar electronics

I would like to approach the subject of "electronic shielding", as it's known by most musicians. Many guitar companies now deliver their instruments with shielded cavities, and this does in fact reduce the amount of interference captured by the circuit of an electric guitar, or bass. What electronic shielding doesn't do is reduce the amount of interference, or noise, captured by the pickups exposed poles pieces.


An valid argument can be made than pickups with metal covers are shielded, and I agree with that. The conductive cover, baseplate and cavity shielding do for a Faraday cage, therefore cancelling any interference. However, a shielded pickups cavity will have no effect on the amount of noise generated by uncovered, or plastic covered pickups, since no cage is formed.


The reason shielding works boils down to physics, as usual. Faraday cages are used in a number of applications throughout the world, and have been since 1836, when English scientist Michael Faraday invented them. They're used in power plants, guitars, entertainment show, guitars, university exam rooms and are the reason you won't be harmed when your car gets struck by lightning.


Here is how they work:


A Faraday cage is best understood as an approximation to an ideal hollow conductor. Externally or internally applied electromagnetic fields produce forces on the charge carriers (usually electrons) within the conductor; the charges are redistributed accordingly (that is, electric currents are generated). Once the charges have rearranged so as to cancel the applied field inside, the currents stop.

If a charge is placed inside an ungrounded Faraday cage, the internal face of the cage becomes charged (in the same manner described for an external charge) to prevent the existence of a field inside the body of the cage. However, this charging of the inner face re-distributes the charges in the body of the cage. This charges the outer face of the cage with a charge equal in sign and magnitude to the one placed inside the cage. Since the internal charge and the inner face cancel each other out, the spread of charges on the outer face is not affected by the position of the internal charge inside the cage. So for all intents and purposes, the cage generates the same DC electric field that it would generate if it were simply affected by the charge placed inside. The same is not true for electromagnetic waves.

If the cage is grounded, the excess charges will go to the ground instead of the outer face, so the inner face and the inner charge will cancel each other out and the rest of the cage will retain a neutral charge.

Effectiveness of shielding of a static electric field depends upon the geometry of the conductive material. In the case of a nonlinear varying electric field, and hence an accompanying varying magnetic field, the faster the variations are (i.e., the higher the frequencies), the better the material resists penetration, but on the other hand, the better it passes through a mesh of given size. In this case the shielding also depends on the electrical conductivity of the conductive materials used in the cages, as well as their thicknesses.

Latest News

The Guitar Now! show was a great success. You rarely get to spend a weekend with so many talented musicians AND guitar makers. I particularily enjoyed my time with Oskar Graf. Luthiery is a very solitary career where you spend all your time alone in your shop, so it's a big occation when you can spend hours with a builder with 30 years more experience than you. We get to talk shop, compare techniques, talk about designs, but also about the business and how to keep making a living.

Now that this show is done, there is another expo in town: The Ottawa Guitar Show. I will be showing there with 13 other local builders. It will be another great weekend.

Again, if you want to see what's going on in the shop, it's all on the Facebook page. I update it several times a week.

Guitar Now!

I will be displaying some instruments and maybe some repairs (depending on what's in the shop at the time) at Guitar Now 2013! Guitar Now is a 3 day event held in Ottawa where guitarists can enjoy concerts by guitarists from all over the world, attend workshops and network with other musicians. Come and see us May 3rd, 4rth and 5ft 2013! You can find more information on the Guitar Now website at:

See you then!