CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: Gon Bops restoration circa '73 Mahogany for Hans

Friday, March 20, 2009

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Gon Bops restoration circa '73 Mahogany for Hans

This restoration came in as a referral from the legendary Akbar Moghaddam, of Valje, Gon Bops and Sol fame. I feel honored to have his recommendation, and it means the world to me. I greatly respect his work, of course, and he is a true master of his craft. I still think Sol are some of the best congas ever built, up there with history's best. And that was all Akbar, if Im not mistaken.

What an incredible finish on those drums.. if you've ever had the pleasure of seeing them up close. The clean addition of the inlaid bottom band so it can be made from flat stock, the wood selection of uniform quarter sawn oak as close to continuous grain as he could get, the clean, strong, low profile crown that is now the best crown on the market, used on high end modern gon bops... this cat must have really loved his work, they were so refined.

I've never seen a crack on a Sol conga, and none have come into my shop for repair or reskinning. I repaired one set of Sol Bongo once, but it was a small crack on the stave line, quick invisible fix.

Akbar and I haven't met, as of yet, but Im sure we will one of these days.

..conga ramble... i guess thats the point of the blog...

anyway.. Akbar recommended me to Hans, a student of the congas who lives in the south bay. He has a vintage set of Gon Bops congas from 1973, quinto and conga. They had the same hardware, but the shells were different, and they seemed like a mix and match set.

I say that because the quinto was totally bleached, as though it had been in a sunny window its whole life. It had several cracks in it, and needed a new skin, and Hans wanted me to make the bearing edge a bit nicer on the hands. The stock bearing edge sucked, and did nothing for the sound, in my opinion. The conga already had a very nice bearing edge.

The conga was a sweet 11.5, with sidecuts inside, thicker shell, and a sweet stock skin that still had life, surprisingly. Perhaps it was replaced by a gon bops head when it was refinished, as you can see the stamp on the head. looks like the skins they used in the 80's

So, Hans wanted the set to come out clean and matching, so we refinished them both. I think it was a great choice, as they look like they were meant for each other... conga love, at last...

The set has the smooth bands, which polish up so nicely. They pop, against the dark Mahogany finish.

The sideplates were more tarnished than the crown. differing quality of plating, seemed like.. they polished up ok.

This is one sweet set, and I hope they stay that way for a long time to come. This wood is so brittle, the only reason it was chosen, is its great sound. They seem to have about a 30-40 year life span, for the most part.

I guess thats not that bad, considering a car is worthless in about 20, these days! ;)

Enjoy the set Hans,