The accolades are
many for Fareed Haque. Called “a brilliant classical
guitarist” (Cadence), “a stunning virtuoso”
(Jazziz), and “one of the most talented guitarists/composers
on the music scene today” (The New York City Tribune),
this guitar virtuoso and Blue Note recording artist enjoys a career
that spans the spectrum of musical styles. He was born in 1963 to
a Pakistani father and a Chilean mother, and through extensive travels
and long stays in Spain, France, Iran, Pakistan, and Chile he was
exposed to a wide range of musical styles and traditions from a
very early age. This natural eclecticism has become the hallmark
of Fareed’s music, and he has established himself as one of
the most innovative composer/musicians currently on the international
scene. The 1981 Recipient of North Texas State University's Jazz
Guitar Scholarship, Haque spent a year studying with renowned jazz
guitarist and pedagogue Jack Peterson. Fareed’s growing interest
in the classical guitar led him to transfer to Northwestern University,
where he completed his studies in classical guitar under David Buch,
John Holmquist, and Anne Waller.
Moving easily between jazz and classical guitar, Fareed has performed
or recorded with such legends as Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Dizzy
Gillespie, Paquito D'Rivera, Dave Holland, Bob James, Sting, Cassandra
Wilson, Javon Jackson, Joe Zawinul, Kurt Elling, Lester Bowie, Arturo
Sandoval, Nigel Kennedy, Edgar Meyer, Bob James, Joe Henderson,
Kahil el Zabar, Defunckt, and Ramsey Lewis.
As a classical guitarist, Fareed has performed as soloist and accompanist
with Nigel Kennedy, Robert Conant, Edgar Meyer, Stephen Stubbs,
Frank Bungarten, members of the Vermeer Quartet, and many symphony
orchestras in the U.S. and abroad. He is an active transcriber of
baroque, as well as South American music and has had numerous modern
works dedicated to him. In the jam world his style and musicianship
has expanded even further, and playing with Kai Eckhardt, Alan Hertz,
and Eric Levy in Garaj Mahal, three masters of their respective
instruments, he shows there are truly no limits on how, what (and
when!) he can compose and perform.
In 1989, Fareed joined the faculty of Northern Illinois University,
where he currently holds an associate professorship in jazz and
classical guitar studies.
The Restoration of the 1982 Fleta Guitar
Slipper foot bubble showing on the back from the neck
Top crack extending from the rosette to the bridge on
the bass side.
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When Fareed’s Fleta came to us its action was too high and
it had little power since the saddle had been cut down until the
strings were touching wood on the saddle’s back edge. There
was also a crack in the top allowing the plate to move in sections
rather than as a unified unit, and the back showed a severe bulge
and dip along the slipper foot of the neck. This caused the top-to-neck
angle to decrease, forcing the top downward at the sound hole, forming
a crack from the sound hole to the bridge. Another complication
caused by this rotation was shortening of the scale length which
was causing intonation problems that would, if not addressed, only
be exacerbated by the raised saddle height of the finished repair.
There was also finish damage on one rib that needed French polishing
and a crack in the original fretboard (fingerboard) near the sound
Our solution was to use the original fretboard as a shim rather
than trying to remove it, which was bound to cause more damage to
neck and top, especially since we would also have to lay in a shim
of mahogany to correct the angle issue and compensate for the dip
between neck and top anyway.
Finish damage on the treble side rib.
Original fingerboard with frets removed.
After defretting the fingerboard we planed through the fret slots
and corrected the angle to set for a 3mm saddle exposure. This allowed
us to install a uniform thickness fretboard that perfectly matched
the original. Since we wanted a permanent bond, we used a tinted
black West System epoxy to bond the old and new ebony. After truing
and fretting the top of the board, we shaped in the edge and French
polished the two into the neck.
Planing the original fingerboard as though it were
a shim to correct angle.
New fingerboard ready to be laminated.
Gluing on new fingerboard with black epoxy.
Close-up of the black glue joint.
Nut view of the laminated fingerboard.
French polishing neck edge after fretting.
Next, we addressed the crack in the top. It has been our experience
that the old practice of splinting cracks is largely a failure because
splints, often set with tapered walls, are apt to work free due
to seasonal changes in humidity. Often, they are only cosmetic,
because the spline doesn’t reach the bottom of the crack due
to incorrect side wall taper or glue swellage. If the crack is cleated
from underneath, the spline can’t be pushed through. If it’s
not cleated, the two sides of the crack may not be level with each
other, and the bottom as well as the top of the spline may need
to be cut off. This can be solved to some degree with routed straight
walls and uniform-thickness spline (especially useful with wide
cracks, see Rubio repairs), glued with non-water bearing glue. But
this solution still has the most objectionable aspect—having
to cut the splint down to the instrument’s surface without
damaging the original wood and finish, and worse, the inevitable
differences in the reflectivity and color of the new wood and the
bump left by coloring and finishing over, which is very difficult
to hide artistically.
Unglued top crack.
Crack filled with lightweight epoxy matrix.
Arrow indicates top crack after color touch-up and French
polishing, nearly invisible.
To address these issues, we have pioneered the use of lightweight,
colored epoxy matrices to effect crack repairs. The epoxy can be
mixed with micro-balloons to reduce weight, increase viscosity,
and be tinted to the shade of the wood and finish so as to be almost
invisible, or needing only a slight color correction later on as
the final finish is done. Using this method, the two sides of the
crack can be leveled by cleating the interior and sealing temporarily
with tape, while the exterior of the filled crack can be wiped clean
and leveled after a light heating of the glue to ensure it penetrates
all of the crack and fills to the bottom—something splints
do not always do, especially when using water-based glues. This
way, no original wood needs to be removed and a perfect fit is formed.
Whether the glue is left flush, low for more tinting, or high to
allow for scraping the joint level, this repair will remain strong,
flexible, and permanent.
Right now, so as not to give the wrong impression, I want to clear
up which cracks are suitable; tight, hard wood-to-wood joints require
Cyano Acrylate (Super Glue), in the case of loose wood-to-wood cracks,
use hide glue. For open cracks, from .2 mm up, use epoxy matrix,
but only when the instrument is at the proper relative humidity
of 48%. A crack that is too tight for hide glue penetration can
be made workable by drying out (to approximately 40%) the instrument
a bit to allow the glue penetrating time before swellage makes it
impossible to reach the bottom of the joint. Hide glue is the most
invisible, very strong and flexible, and, unlike the other options,
it can be washed out if something goes wrong. When using the other
glues, setup must be done perfectly the first time, for sure.
Cleaning up the routed face of the bridge for addition
of new wood.
New wood being fit onto bridge. (Note the filled crack
before finish touch-up.)
The next step was to correct the intonation problems. The original
fretboard had small inconsistencies of fret placement, and the saddle
had no angle for compensation. In addition, the collapsing neck
angle produced a scale intonation location on the bridge that was
2mm short on the bass side and 1.5mm on the treble side, even though
the nut placement was original and the scale length was still 650mm.
This necessitated removal of the lip behind the original saddle
slot in the bridge and grafting on new, carefully matched Brazilian
rosewood to fill the entire area from saddle slot to just shy of
the bridge’s string holes. It was then roughly shaped to approximately
the orginal Fleta bridge shape, but without a slot and with enough
wood to support the back of the saddle in its new placement—a
huge problem before the fill. Next, strings were put on and brought
to tension with a temporary, movable saddle. The tension sets the
relief (shortening the scale again) and the saddle was manipulated
to find the correct intonation spot for the gauge of strings used.
The new slot is then routed using a setup for a router base following
the corrected intonation line. After routing, the final shape is
carved into the new graft, a correcting stain is applied to the
wood and the new work French polished into the surrounding bridge.
Gluing on new wood.
Rough shaping the new wood.
Readying the bridge for routing saddle slot.
Router in action.
Staining new wood after final shaping.
French polishing the new wood to match bridge.
Lastly, a cleaning, a good build and sanding flat of the shellac
on the damaged rib and a light French polish renewal of the entire
surface, a new saddle and setup. It was finally ready for Fareed,
who exclaimed that its voice was back, the intonation was corrected,
and the instrument was now in tune.
Finally, polishing the rib finish repair.
Fareed plays his restored Fleta guitar.
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