Ottawa's guitar repair shop



When Leo Fender designed the Broadcaster, now known as the Telecaster, he had one goal in mind: Designing the first mass production guitar. In the 1950's, you had two choices when it came to solid body electric guitars: The Gibson Les Paul, and the Broadcaster. The Gibson was two to three times the price of the Fender, depending on the model. The Les Paul had, and still has to this day many design elements that are only there to discourage ghost builders from making fakes. Leo Fender tried another approach. His guitars where to be so affordable that no one would bother building their own. Times have now changed. There are several companies lisenced to make Fender parts today, and if you know what you're doing, you can make a Telecaster that's far superior to anything a guitar manufacturing company can provide. Bellow the pictures in this article; there is a review of the result by one of my professional guitar playing clients. I sign these with my initials, IHW, because I don't make them from scratch, but they wouldn't be what they are without the work I put into them. I now also offer a Strat style IHW guitar.

Ottawa custom guitars Ottawa custom guitars 007

I start with unfinished, unfretted necks and a finished body. I apply a proprietary finish to the neck that leaves it feeling completely unfinished, fret the guitar with stainless steel frets, which are buffed to a mirror finish and put the whole thing together. I spend about 15 hours assembling one of these, compared to the 30 to 45 minutes dedicated to assembling a guitar in a factory. The devil is in the details.

Detailed specs are:

- Maple neck
- Rosewood Fingerboard, 12" radiusOttawa custom guitar
- Swamp ash body
- Kluson style Tuners
- Hand made bone nut
- Medium/Vintage Stainless steel frets, mirror polish, glued in
- Seymour Duncan Vintage Rhythm Tele neck pickup
- Seymour Duncan Vintage Broadcaster Bridge pickup, flat pole pieces
- Compensated 3 barrel short Tele bridge
- CTS 250K Volume pot
- CTS 100K Tone pot
- 0.022 pico farad capacitor, oil and paper
- Switchcraft 3-Way selector switch
- Switchcraft #11 1/4" Jack
- 22 AWG unshielded single conductor wire is tinned and stranded, cloth and wax insulator.
- Shielded electronic and pickup cavitiesOttawa custom guitar 2
- Electrosocket jack mount
- Schaller straplock ready strap pins
- Single ply black pickguard
- Elixir 11/49 strings
- Gigbag
 
The Strat Style IHW have the same specs, except for the bridge and pickups. The Strat styles come with a Hipshot Fulcrum tremolo, the best two point, non-locking tremolo available. The pickup configuration is from Symour Duncan: a Little JB at the bridge, a Vintage Rails in the middle and a Little '59 in the neck. Both humbuckers can be switched between series and parallel mode.
 
Please enquire for pricing and availability.

The review:

“In the world of guitars and basses, it’s the smallest adjustments that make the hugest difference.”  This is an excerpt from Ian Weston’s home page on www.ottawaguitarrepair.com.  After years of playing, selling and designing guitars, I unequivocally concur.  There are certain elements, a commonality that all guitars have and all luthiers have access to:  various woods, various hardware/parts & electronics.  The craft of guitar building has accelerated dramatically in the past two decades and luthiers are in abundance.  So what distinguishes one from another?
 
Within seconds of playing Ian Weston’s IHW “T” style guitar, the answer becomes evident.  It’s what I call “The Magic”.  Few luthiers and techs possess “The Magic”.  It’s the superior knowledge gained only from experience and knowing what works, having a touch and a feel for the instrument rather than just going by the book or relying on what those before you have done or taught you, the meticulous attention to detail truly acknowledging that everything matters and a great instrument is the sum of many factors.   All these attributes come through in the IHW, which is even more impressive considering the IHW is a parts guitar.  Ian acquires high quality bodies and necks and then applies his “Magic” from there.
 
After spending twenty years in Los Angeles using various techs, including Kenny Loggins’ tech and some of the most highly regarded techs in that music Mecca, then going through three Ottawa techs since my recent return, who knew a young luthier from Quebec now based in Ottawa smokes them all?  
 
The one thing that stood out the most for me about the IHW is the phenomenal fretwork.  The IHW plays effortlessly, gliding over the fret board with absolutely no resistance or snags.   The fret-ends are perfectly smooth and the frets are also buffed to a mirror shine completing an immaculate fret job, fret work that gets out of the way and enhances your playing ability.  Given this IHW came with glued-in medium vintage stainless steel frets makes the workmanship even more impressive.
 
Of course this was expected as Ian had previously re-radius’d the fingerboard on my Fender Roadworn Stratocaster from 7.25” to 12” and re-fretted it with jumbo stainless steel frets.  The playability and feel is consistent with the IHW.  Ian also recently re-dressed the frets on three of my Martin acoustic guitars, which transformed them into something really special.
 
A few years ago I was considering acquiring a Plek machine for a guitar venture.  After experiencing Ian’s fret work… well let’s put it this way… David beats Goliath.
 
The IHW’s set–up is also a thing of beauty.  Meticulously calculated and player friendly with great attention to detail:  just the right action height, pickup height, neck adjustment, number of wounds around the tuning post, nut height, precisely cut nut slots and spot on intonation.  Again, given Ian had previously set-up two six string and two twelve string Martin/Gibson acoustics as well as three Gibson Les Paul’s and one Gibson Custom Shop Pat Martino semi-hollow for me to perfection, I was in no way surprised how spectacular the IHW felt yet no less impressed.
 
A testament to the flawless fret work and impeccable set-up on the IHW is the fact I was able to bend three half-steps and two whole-steps with eleven gauge strings on a 25.5” scale length guitar.  The last time I was able to do that was at the 2012 Montreal Guitar Show on a Nick Huber Rietbergen hollowbody – good company I think one would agree.
 
This IHW has a swamp ash body, bolt-on maple neck & an Indian rosewood fingerboard with a 12” radius, lemon-oiled providing a deep rich brown colour and protection from drying.
 
Another stand out on the IHW is the raw finish on the maple neck.  The last time I felt a neck this smooth and effortless was on my dearly departed PRS McCarty Rosewood Limited, which had an unfinished all Brazilian Rosewood neck and fingerboard.  It has been seven years since I’ve come across a neck that felt as good until this neck on the IHW.  Ian has a proprietary treatment that protects and seals the wood fibers without any buildup of lacquer or oil on the surface but still allows the wood to breath and retains that silky smooth raw feel.  The waterless solution is modified throughout the application process, which takes two days.  Then the neck dries for another week before installation.  The bonus is the neck became even smoother the more I played it.  The feel and silky smooth playability of the neck, in conjunction with the fantastic fret work and impeccable set-up, makes the IHW a real players guitar, effortless, non-intrusive and inspirational.
 
The Kluson style tuners really find the note easily; provide good tuning stability and a solid feel.  The bridge is a compensated three-barrel short “Tele” bridge that in addition to providing a different, cool look, allows the bridge pickup to be mounted directly into the body.  The IHW also features a hand made bone nut, CTS pots, a paper-in-oil (PIO) capacitor, a Switchcraft 3-Way selector switch, a Switchcraft input jack, Schaller strap lock ready pins and a single ply black pick guard.  All top quality parts.
 
The IHW is fitted with two Seymour Duncan pickups:  a Vintage Rhythm Tele in the neck and a Vintage Broadcaster Bridge pickup with flat pole pieces.  Rather than treat a solid body electric guitar like a hollow body by mounting the pickups on springs where energy losses occur, the pickups on the IHW are bolted directly into the body, firmly mounted, which vibrate with the body and are perfectly balanced.  The lack of springs increases sustain and bass since they're absent and unable to absorb any energy.
 
The result is a fantastic sounding guitar that is ALIVE, resonating and vibrating throughout producing tight bass, focused midrange and clear top end.  The significant distinction here is the IHW is in no way overbearing like many “T” style guitars can be.  The IHW produces plenty of spank and snap one expects from a “T” style guitar yet never rips your head off.  Rolling off the tone control yields a wide palette of tones ranging from snappy-spank with plenty of high end when turned all the way up, to a very usable “muff” when rolled all the way down.  My personal sweet spot was with the tone control rolled off about 60%.  It just provided a warm sweet sound with all frequencies present in all three pickup positions.  Although, I found myself using every tonal spectrum the IHW provides.
 
The IHW by Ian Weston has “The Magic”.  “The Magic” is something that one must experience to really know the difference.  It’s what differentiates an inspirational instrument from a very good instrument.  Playing the IHW or even a guitar that Ian has set-up, dressed the frets on, re-fretted, etc. makes you realize why at times you struggled with certain progressions or single-note lines before - it’s because the guitar was in the way.
 
Having played Suhrs, Tylers, Fenders, G&L’s, LSL’s, Nash’s, etc., I can sincerely say the IHW is flat out the best “T” style guitar I’ve played.  Ian clearly understands what makes a great instrument is the culmination of multiple facets.  The attention to detail he gives to every facet is what distinguishes himself and the IHW from the rest, why look elsewhere?
 
I certainly stopped looking – I just ordered my IHW only with a maple fingerboard and jumbo stainless steel frets.  If I could only keep this one until mine arrives.  Ian… buddy… a little compassion, please.
 
- Mark L.

Where to buy

Dealers:

Here you will find a list of all the dealers that carry Weston Instruments. This list will get longer over time. Dealer enquiries welcome.

 

United Kingdom (UK):

The Acoustic Music Company LTD. 
39, St James St 
Brighton 
BN2 1RG 
United Kingdom 

Phone: 01273 671841
From outside the UK: +44 1273 671841 

Website: http://www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk/

Custom guitar parts

Sometimes, a broken part hapens to be one of those parts that is out of production. These things happen, like the bridge assembly of a Gibson EBO bass. These bridges were notorious for bending, and many of them need to be replaced. Unfortunately, the Gibson EBO bridge is not available, not is a tune-o-matic bridge for an electric mandolin. These parts need to be made from scratch.

Here is a picture of two custom made tune-o-matic bridges for electric mandolins. ottawa guitar repair, custom made partsI use these on the instruments I build. I was unable to find anything pre made on the market, so I had these made.

When it comes to wodden parts, I can make anything in the shop. One of my friends had a very cheap mandolin that he baught at a garage sale for 20$. It had a broken bridge, but anything off the shelf would have cost him more than the mandolin its selfe. Since the botom part, thumb wheels and threaded posts where still good, I simply made the bridge out of stronger, more durable ebony.

 

Ottawa guitar repair-1It was a nasty break, and fixing it would have been futile, as the grain direction made the entire thing prone to splitting under the incredible tension of an 8-string mandolin.

The new part didn't match the base, I know, but it's now much stronger than it used to be. Ottawa guitar repair - custom made ebony mandolin bridge

Serious repairs

For up to date pictures of serious repairs and restorations, visit the Facebook page, it's updated several times a week with the latest jobs from the shop. You don't have to have a Facebook profile to view the page.

Every now and then, a guitar, bass, banjo or mandolin will need some more serious work. As this guitar did, and the Les Paul that had a broken headstock (pictures below). It camt to me with a split, unglued bridge, worn out frets and a broken headstock. It's owner loved this guitar very much. So, even though it was not made by a prestigious brand, and a new one was about the same price as the repairs, it's owner wanted it back in playing condition. Sometimes, repairs are even tougher. See here how I fixed a broken truss rod on a 1969 Gibson EBO-L.

I don't care what brand your guitar is. If it's the guitar that maked you happy, and you want it fixed, I will do the work for you.

serious guitar repair - Refret guitar repair ottawa broken headstock guitar repair ottawa broken headstockThe frets on the first guitar were worn our from years of use. The notches in the frets were so deep, that I couldn't salvage the frets by levelling them and re-crowning them. I had to replace them. When replacing frets, you have to consider either replacing only the ones that have to be replaced, or replacing all the frets. I will always advocate for replacing them all, as it allows you to level the fingerboard (see bellow) and have a consistens fret job throughout the playing surface.

ottawa guitar refret and fingerboard levelling planing the fingerboard on a mid '60's Gibson Melody maker

Here, I'm lavelling the fingerboards. I start out with a block plane, then radiused sanding block, followed by a machined straight edge.

As the years go by, you wil also need to have the bridge re-glued. Because there is a very high probability that it will come un-done. This same guitar also had this problem. Some guitars will need a neck reset, which is a complex operation reserved for treasured or valuable instruments. Pictures of this operation can also be seen bellow. This process involves removing the neck from the guitar, re-shapping it's heel for the new, appropriate angle, and finally reinstalling it.

ottawa guitar repair bridge repair neck removal on a 1963 Gibson J-45 neck reset on a Guild 12 string Neck reset on a Taylor acoustic guitar

When re-glueing a bridge, it has to be completely removed, the surfaces prepared, and finally reglued. If you only pack the crack with glue and then clamp it down, it will come undone as soon as tension is re-applied to the bridge. This happens because the glue is seeping n between two surfaces with old adhesive on them, and wood glue needs.... wood, in order to stick.

ottawa guitar repair - re-glueing the bridge Here is a good shot of the bridge being re-glued. I make sue the alignment is the same by drilling two pilot holes under the saddle before removing it. Then, I know exactly where it has to go when ready for re-assembly, and I pin those pilot holed with tiny dowels.

 The last part of this job was glueing the headstock. It had obviously been dropped. Luckily, the heastock was still very much a part of the guitar, and I simply needed to glue it back together. This is done by prying the crack open, filling it with glue and then clamping it down. You have to control the adhesive when applying pressure, or it will spill all over the place. But all went well in the end.

ottawa guitar repair - glueing a headstock ottawa guitar repair-31

ottawa guitar repair-33 ottawa guitar repair - repaired headstock

Warranty / Legal notice

Weston Instruments is a registered business in the province of Ontario, based in Ottawa. Weston instruments offers stringed instrument repair and fabrication. All instruments are insured to their full market value while under the care of Weston Instruments. 

Any and all setups are warrantied for 30 days after the payment of the invoice. Due to environmental differences between my guitar workshop and the instruments residence, it is possible that some components will move after the guitar, bass, mandolin or banjo settles in its home.

Delivery times:

Quoted delivery times are a guideline only. Even though I will always strive to deliver fast and efficient service, delivery times are affected by type of work commissioned, the total shop workload and job specific factors such as, but not limited to: Curing time for finishes and adhesives, the type of work being performed in parallel with a commission and human factors.

Maintenance work such as setups, fretwork, electronics, minor structural repairs and refrets are given a priority in the work schedule. Restoration projects, custom commissions, major aesthetic and structural work is performed once priority work is completed. The work load is scheduled as such because of the irregularity in the amount and type of major projects that are commissioned by customers on a yearly basis.

Payment terms:

Weston instruments accepts cash, certified check, money order, wire transfer payments, credit card and interac. Non cash payments must be made out to Weston instruments. All services must be paid prior to the instrument being survived/repaired/built can leave the workshop. In the case of fabrications, payment terms are 40% dawn with the order and the balance due upon completion of the instrument.

If this happens within the 30 day period of warranty, I will reset the guitar to what you want, and need it to be.

All custom built instruments have a lifetime warranty (for the original owner) against manufacturing defects. All components not manufactured by Weston Instruments ar warrantied by their respective manufacturers. These warranties may vary, depending on the component and its manufacturer.

RETURNED GOODS.
No goods may be returned without our prior written authorization. All transportation costs for any returned goods are for the account of Buyer and to be paid prior to shipment. Any goods otherwise returned may be refused by us. Under no circumstances will we accept a return of goods manufactured to Buyer's specifications.

CANCELLATION.
No order may be cancelled except with our prior written agreement. We retain the sole and exclusive discretion whether to do so. If we 
permit Buyer to cancel an order, we will impose a cancellation fee and restocking charge to be determined by us, which amount shall be in our sole discretion.

What is not covered:

In order for the warranty on repairs to be valid, the guitar, bass, mandolin or banjo in question must be returned to Weston Instruments without having been modified. If the instrument in question has been worked on, modified or damaged by it's owner, or a another repair person, the warrantee will be void.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This website contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this website may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from Weston Instruments.