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This 8-course Renaissance Lute by Charles Ford of London had been harshly treated. The elegant soundhole rose had been pushed in, and several of the top braces had come off and were rattling around inside. The neck to body joint and the neck to pegbox joint were both loose, making it even more difficult than usual to keep it in tune! (It's said that lute players spend a third of their time tuning ..) Finally, several splits in the soundboard needed attention, and some of the ebony half-binding was missing.
Whilst we were at it, the owner decided to fit a transducer system. After discussion with the good people at K&K, a Pure Classic system was selected. This uses 4 transducers and is intended to straddle the centre brace of a Torres-strutted classical guitar. In this case, it would allow each transducer to be centred between two courses, ensuring a good balance. They are very light, so don't interfere with the sound of the lute.
The first task was to remove the soundboard. Unlike a guitar, there are no linings to enlarge the gluing area, and hide glue is used, which can be steamed apart relatively easily - except around the neck and end blocks, where previous repairs opened up, leading to a lot of tricky repair work later.
The next step was to reglue the loose braces, and repair the soundhole rose. Fortunately only a few small pieces were missing and needed replacing, but aligning and regluing the damaged areas was a very slow process. The splits in the soundboard were also repaired and cleated at this stage.
Installing the K&K transducers was easy as the soundboard was off. I added a maple strengthening plate to support the endpin jack and made very sure everything was installed tightly - it wouldn't be easy to fix a loose jack socket once the soundboard was back on.
Finally, the loose neck and pegbox joints could be reglued with hot hide glue, the soundboard replaced - checking carefully to ensure an acceptable playing action - and the missing ebony half-binding replaced. That's it - apart from replacing the gut frets, restring and retuning. The owner's very pleased!