After Years of lurking through E-bay and the Café classifieds I finally found an A-4 Gibson that I thought met all my specifications...
1917, all original, no cracks, straight neck, good price, etc… I talked to a sales person who was very helpful and played her over the phone and told me that the only thing wrong with her was that there was a little top sinkage “not bad” he said. Since it seemed like a good deal and the store offered a 14 trial period I went ahead and bought it. I received it in the mail and after a few days I tuned her up and played a bit. Everything looked and sounded great until I realized that the “little” top sinkage was actually a “Major” sinkage! I had planned to bring it in to my local Luthier anyways so I took it in the next day for an examination. Long story short… The top brace was missing/gone! Actually it wasn’t missing it was sitting all by itself inside the little compartment inside the case…! Yikes! I called the seller. They apologized for the oversight and have offered to repair or pay my Luthier for the repairs.
My dilemma… We really have no idea how long the brace has been out of this instrument (although the glue area and the brace itself are slightly tacky to the touch. A failed repair?) My Luthier also seemed very concerned that the top may crack where the treble side had sunk into the top when he attempts a repair. The top raised back a bit when we released string pressure although I still have to lift the treble side of the bridge up about 3/8 inch from the top to bring the strings level on the fret board. My Luthier said he would have to create a shim to level it out. A few expected minor repairs will also be needed (fret dress, possible nut replacement or shim)
I have never owned a teen Gibson so besides the slim pickings I have seen in the few stores around town I really don’t know what to expect. Should this kind of a repair be a RED FLAG for this kind of instrument? I know top sinkage is common for Gibsons of this era but I think most of those still have some sort of brace still in them! Luckily, I am still within the time limit for a return/refund.
As I see it my choices are…
Return it. And continue my search. (but what problems will the next one have? This one is great except the sinkage)
Have it repaired and shim rigged at my Luthier hoping it doesn’t crack (he is good but not an “expert” can this kind of repair be done where no shimming is necessary or is shimming necessarily a bad thing.)
Send it back to Wisconsin for repairs at a this guitar shop (I have no idea how good their Repair folks are… They missed it the first time! More shipping stress for this instrument!)
Keep the mandolin and hope to find an expert who can fix this correctly without shimming and not charge me a billion dollars…
If anyone here has any thoughts, similar experiences or if you just want to slap me please advise and Thank you!!