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Project Newporter

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I picked up a Fender Newporter for $40. It's absolute trash right now. I'm guessing the strings it came with were the original ones it was sold with. I'm not sure about the story behind it, but I'm guessing it went into storage for 30-some years. It has all kinds of imperfections in the finish. The tuners are terrible and are showing signs of rusting. There's a huge split in the wood running from the bridge to the tail. The body looks like it's mainly made out of mahogany, same with the fingerboard. The neck looks like maple.

The purpose of this project is to prepare me for my first "real" project guitar, and to show maximum gain from minimum effort. Here are some "before" pictures. I didn't decide to take pics until after I took it apart, so it's in pieces.

Here's an overview of the body:


A view from the bridge looking towoards the tail:


A lighted angle to show finish damage on the back:


An overview of the back:


A better view of the crack from the bridge to the tail. Also notice finish damage:


Angled view of the crack:


Rear of headstock, tuners:


Front of headstock. I might fabricate a new tree for the strings, the stock one is almost rusted through:


Overview of the fingerboard. You can't really tell because the blurry picture, but it's covered in a layer of grime.


Rear of neck. It's covered in some sort of nasty, green grime.


Any ideas on how to fix the crack? I was thinking about sanding it all down level, then filling up the crack with some wood putty and sanding until it's level again. Then stain it with the rest of the wood. I'm going to have to sand down the whole body regardless. I'll clean up the maple part of the neck, too. I'll pick up some sandpaper and wood finish tomorrow before work. I'm guessing this project will take a week or so to finish up. Open to thoughts/comments.

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I LOVE my Newporter and so do all my friends. Originally made in Santa Ana calif. during the 60's. I got mine from a friend for $50. What sold me was the strat style maple neck, also the full set of Grovers on it, worth almost the $50 alone. I'll replace those tuners some day, the only way they fit is at a 30 degree angle to the edge of the headstock. The top of the guitar was torn off and my friend had a couple flat 1/8" Engelmann spruce blanks for a replacement. So I took over the project and rebuilt the the top, bracing, bridge, binding and all. The back of the neck shows many years of playing and I left it that way.


Its the 3/4 size dreadnought 2nd from right.

As far as fixing your centerline crack, first check the top for levelness with a straightedge. Those guitars were made of very thin mahogany, very likely why my guitar was in that condition when I got it. There was also a dent in the back which I patched up from the inside. Make sure all your bracing, edging and bridgeplate inside are intact. You could try finding a close color matched wood putty and then staining, sounds like a good plan. Another option is to lightly sand some of the mahogany and mix the dust with your filler to get a color match.

I also have a fender Gemini II (1st on right). I covered it in stickers but have stripped them all off. I used to buy a set for a 12 string, put the normal strings on the Gemini and then the higher octave strings on the Newporter. Its called Nashville tuning and sounds really nice.

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Wow, it looks really nice with the spruce top, but I think it takes too much away from the Newporter's distinctive (ugly) style. I'm going to try to keep the mahogany top and the gold pick guard, but I might paint over the pick guard. I'm still undecided. It's nice to see some other Newporters still exist, I haven't seen too many around before. :D

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