Saving Rich Robinson’s 335

Saving Rich Robinson’s 335

Neither Hurricane, Flood, Nor Black Mold Were A Match For RS As We Restored A Treasured Guitar

On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the northeast coast of the United States. Among the millions affected by the storm was The Black Crowes, whose storage warehouse was seriously damaged by flooding from the hurricane’s storm surge.

Hurricane Sandy Pounding the Eastern United States, October 2012

In mid-November of 2012, RS Guitarworks was contacted by Doug Redler, Rich Robinson’s tech, inquiring about rescuing some seriously flood-damaged guitars. Among the damaged gear were Rich’s 1969 Gibson Les Paul goldtop, and his all-original 1963 Gibson ES-335. The Black Crowes lost a large amount of gear to flood damage, and both of these guitars were feared casualties of the storm surge and flooding. The water damage to the guitars was extensive, along with a large amount of black mold that had worked its way into the guitars and underneath the fragile, vintage nitrocellulose finish.

Severe flood and black mold damage threatened this 1963 Gibson ES-335 belonging to Rich Robinson.

After Hurricane Sandy had hit, and the subsequent damage was done, Doug Redler set about to get Rich’s guitars repaired and restored. He first tried the Gibson Custom Shop, and like before, said they couldn’t do the repairs, but referred Doug and Rich to RS Guitarworks. Doug called RS with the hopes that Rich’s instruments could be saved.

Rich’s wish was that they could be restored to the point of looking like nothing had ever happened to the guitars. RS was able to not only save them, recreating their cosmetic aging, but also improve the instruments’ stablilty and playability through careful attention to detail and reconstruction. What follows is a diary of the ’63 Gibson 335 from when it arrived at RS Guitarworks to when it left the RS shop, ready to hit the road again with Rich Robinson and The Black Crowes.

The Fully Restored Gibson ES-335, work by RS Guitarworks.

Interesting Facts About This Guitar and the Construction of an ES-335:

    • The neck pocket was off-center and was shimmed back to center.
    • The kerfing was scrap-kerfing from other guitar contstructions and was assorted sizes.
    • From the factory, the center block was off-center and was not securely glued to the back.
    • We also found the spruce top and back bracing was not one cut piece (as it is now), but was acoustic guitar top braces with many of them being split with knots and tear out. It really shows that despite common belief, these were just production guitars.
    • All of these items were fixed before the guitar was re-assembled.
    • This guitar was made with 3-ply maple plywood that is much better than that used in later-60′s 335′s.
    • The guitar was re-bound with 50′s-style ‘royalite’ binding because it was a very close match to the original binding on the guitar.
    • The guitar was stained red with anoline dye, but was also sprayed with a red toner just like we found it was from the factory.

Step-by-Step: From Ruined to Relic – A Gallery of Rich Robinson’s ES-335 Restoration

Follow along in the Gallery below to see 70 pictures of the painstaking (and sometimes painful) restoration process. With intricate detail you can see the level of severity to the damage, and the size of the job that RS Guitarworks undertook in order to save a treasured guitar, and get it back out on tour. While we are experts in full restorations and repair of flood damaged guitars, taking on Rich Robinson’s Gibson ES-335 that was thought ruined after Hurricane Sandy tested us at every turn. But with our innovation, perseverance, and patience – we were able to fully restore, in not only operation, but also vintage, this guitar to it’s glory once again.

RS Guitarworks: Flood Damage Restoration Experts

RS Guitarworks has had their fair share of experience with flood damage. In April of 2008, RS Guitarworks’ own shop was flooded by a torrential rainstorm. The RS shop was flooded with eight inches of flood water.  Vintage guitars in for refinishing and repair, new customer builds, tools, and thousands of dollars’ worth of guitar bodies, necks, inventory and parts, computers and records, were destroyed or seriously damaged in the aftermath. With necessity being the mother of invention, the crew at RS Guitarworks were able to save almost all of the guitars and guitar parts through great effort and ingenuity.

Then in May of 2010, Nashville, TN was flooded by the surge of flood water from 13.5 inches rain over 2 days. The Cumberland River, which runs through Nashville, flooded at over 50ft., a level not seen since 1937. A large rehearsal and storage warehouse of several Rock and Country acts was flooded by the storm, and one of the groups affected was Lynyrd Skynyrd. They took the damaged guitars to the Gibson Custom Shop, but the Gibson Custom Shop said they couldn’t do anything with the guitars. A friend and customer of RS, Chark Kinsolving, was friends with the guys in Skynyrd, and referred Lynyrd Skynyrd to RS for the repairs. Several guitars owned by Rickey Medlocke and Gary Rossington were sent to RS with the hopes that they could be rescued, and RS was successful in returning all of the guitars to Mr. Medlocke and Mr. Rossington, restored to better-than-new condition.