Further to this post, I got my guitar and banjo back from Jon Haire today. The man is a genius.
The Gallotone 3/4 sized guitar plays wonderfully. Jon has completely replaced the frets, and the action is amazing. He replaced the top nut with one made from ebony, and set a new bone bridge into the wood bridge mount. The resulting guitar still looks like something out of a skip, which is part of its charm, but it sounds great. In fact Jon said that someone had asked him if it was for sale.
As I said before, all those years ago, my dad sanded down the back and front of the guitar, and gave it a coat of varnish. This made Jon wince when I told him, though it should be said that although Dad didn’t know guitars, he did know wood, originally being a cabinet maker by trade. However, when Jon returned the guitar, he drew my attention to the back of the guitar, which he pointed out as being a completely different wood from everything else – “It looks like a piece out of the back of a wardrobe” he said. Which I think is probably what it is. Now my memory has been prompted, I have a recollection of the back originally having a hole in it. Anyway, it is possibly because of this big solid back that the guitar has the tone it has. Nice one, Dad.
Jon said that had I brought the guitar into him without strings, he would have probably refused it. But having heard the tone, he was persuaded to persevere with it. I have no doubt he spent far longer on it than he quoted me, so I gave him a good tip.
The difference in the 6-string banjo was less obvious, but I am still very pleased with it. Jon topped the bridge with ebony, and also fashion a new nut, before doing a complete job on the fret board. It now has a great banjo sound, and the action is incredible.