A guitar "conversion" is a process by which an old guitar is disassembled, all internal braces are removed and a new "handmade" bracing pattern installed.
Why do this? Good question!
Many older American made guitars were constructed as "student" or "entry level" models that could be purchased on a budget. Brands such as Harmony, Stella, Kay, and many others fell into this category. While considered "cheap" guitars by many players, the plain and simple fact is that these guitars (many from the 50s and 60s) were actually made from solid, prime "Old Growth" woods. Unfortunately, they were braced with only "strength" in mind with little concern as to "sound" (often "ladder" braced).
We take this stable, old growth wood and give it "New Life". By fully disassembling the guitar, we can address many of the issues common to these guitars. Here is a list of everything done in a conversion.
First we remove the neck from the body. Next we remove the back and ALL internal bracing (top and back). We then make all new braces by hand, radically changing the bracing pattern to a more respected "X-Brace" pattern. Voicing the top to this new pattern is key to it's sound. We often change the common "through" bridge and install a handmade "pinned" bridge (uses bridge pins) with a proper bridge plate. We then re assemble the back to the body. At this point we perform a "neck reset" to ensure the best possible playability. We then plane the fingerboard and perform a full refret. Tuners are often replaced and a new Bone nut and Compensated Bone Saddle is installed.
When all is said and done this process leads to a Great Playing, Great Sounding Guitar made of mostly Solid, Vintage, Old Growth wood that is stable to most climate changes. People LOVE THEM! Many professional musicians are discovering the value in these guitars. We can't keep them on the shelf, but if you have an "Old Beater" laying around, it could just be the best guitar you ever owned...just waiting to happen?