Archive for the ‘Guitar Repair’ Category

Guitar Setup Feedback from Everly Music

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Right around the time of the NAMM 2015 show last month, Jeremy at Everly Music, manufacturers of Cleartone Strings, gave me a call about getting some help with his gigging guitar, a mid 2000’s Gibson SG.   Having done setups for the folks over there before on some of their demo guitars, he knew I could handle the job.  I will let Jeremy explain the situation:

Maurice works magic on guitars! I’m so amazed at how my guitar plays. I gave him my guitar recently that had terrible buzzing issues and intonation issues across much of the fretboard. I just got my guitar back and wow! Not only am I able to play for much longer without my hand getting tired, he completely eliminated buzzing in all the trouble spots, the intonation is perfect and the sustain is longer than I remember it ever being! There is a good reason Maurice has been our go-to guy for our guitar setups for years. No matter what shape your guitar is in right now, give it to Maurice for a second opinion. You’ll be amazed when you get your guitar back, I promise you that.Thanks Maurice!”

At the Cleartone Strings shipping area, this Gibson SG is ready for priimetime

At the Cleartone Strings shipping area, this Gibson SG is ready for priimetime

 

 

So if you feel your guitar could be giving you more with less effort, bring it over and we can have a look.  Thanks again!

Rescue of the Guitar Project Gone Bad

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Customer brought this baby in recently to finally have all those parts put back on the guitar, along with some new pickups. A (now ex) boyfriend had promised to upgrade the electronics. He got as far as  stripping the old parts of the guitar, and then the project sat in the closet for a long time. Fast forward 10 years and my customer finally decided to bring it to me after I had repaired another guitar of hers. She was impressed enough to trust me with her “baby” apparently, and felt it was time for this rocker to finally roll again.

20140621_134041The trickiest part of course was dealing with getting the electronics back into this hollow body guitar.   With the help of some surgical tubing and a hemostat I was able to guide each of the pots back into the proper hole after prewiring everything before putting it in the guitar.  I did this for each pickup and then wired the output jack and added a ground wire to the bridge to reduce noise. 20140621_143935Then the guitar got a restring and complete set up.  It was during the setup that I realized the floating saddle had no radius, while the fretboard had a 12″ radius. So when the outer E strings were set properly the inner strings were way too low and buzzing against the frets. If I set the inner strings correctly then the outer strings were way too high.  To fix this issue I sanded a curve in the top of the saddle to match the fretboard radius and then added in some new fretwire on the top of the saddle.  Came out perfectly.  Adjusted the intonation as best as possible after that and tested it all out. That guitar sounded really good. I guess those upgraded pickups from the ex-boyfriend really did do the trick after all.

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Buzz Killer In Action for Spot Leveling a High Fret

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

This is the Buzz Killer, by Rectify Master at www.rectifymaster.com.  Its basically an incredibly cool little tool that lets you knock down high frets without having to remove the strings from the guitar, and allows you to keep the correct neck relief since the strings are tuned up to pitch.   The unit will follow the slight curve of  a properly set up guitar neck by tightening the center thumb screw, which pulls both ends up just slightly, creating a curved bottom where the sandpaper is glued on.  The sandpaper can be in just the center or across the whole bottom of the “beam” depending on how many frets need to be knocked down.

I had seen this groovy device in the shop of Greg Bach from Buzz Feiten Tuning sometime last year.  I finally got around to ordering it online, and within a week of receiving it I had the perfect guitar come in to use the Buzz Killer.  The electric guitar in question was brand new, hot off the press, from a boutique manufacture.  It looked great, sounded good for the most part, and the owner really liked the guitar, BUT….the hi E and B strings would just completely fret out and turn to mush at the first fret.   This wasn’t just a little buzz, this was a complete deadening of the note.

The action was really, really low but the rest of the fretboard sounded fine.   The string nut checked out fine,  and the neck relief was good.  Only thing left to check were the fret heights.  That’s when I found that the second fret was MUCH higher than any of the other frets.  In fact the rest of the frets were nice and level.  In this case a full fret leveling would not only be overkill but also way more work and higher charge to the customer than necessary.

The Buzzer Killer was perfect for the task, slipping under the strings within a minute I had the offending fret leveled with its two neighbors and the guitar sounded awesome already.  I did loosen the strings and pull them aside to round and polish that fret, but the whole job took a lot less time that it would have otherwise, and I could sand only the fret necessary, not all its neighbors too.  Good for me and good for my customer. Buzz Killer

 

Resonator Guitar Gets Electrified

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

This metal resonator guitar came in for an upgrade so that the owner can plug it into the sound system during gigs.   I thought it would be interesting to show you what the inside of a resonator really looks like since most people dont play this style guitar.

This guitar is all metal body, and they get loud on their own, but not enough for a gig situation.  There are essentially three different types of resonator designs that can be used in this type of guitar: Biscuit-bridge single cone, Spider-bridge single cone, and Tri-Cone. 

The biscuit-bridge single-cone resonator is essentially just a cone with a hole in the center. A wooden disk is placed into the center of the cone. This resonator guitar will only have one resonator inserted into the body

Here is a picture of the guitar with the cone removed.   I had to drill a hole in the side of the guitar to place the output jack and couldnt combine it with the strap button due to this piece of lumber running through the inside of the guitar.  Its a different beast than an acoustic guitar. 

The pickup I assisted the customer in choosing basically is stuck onto the middle section of the cone under the strings to transmit the vibration out to the PA system. Really worked well for the price, I recommend it. 

60’s Gibson SG’s In the Shop

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Customer brought both of these great old guitars in for much needed setup work, and some other minor repairs.  One of them had some electronics issues, just some corroded wiring.  He bought both of these guitars sometime in the late 70’s, and at some point stored them away, not to be seen for many, many years.  Well, its 2010 and these guitars are looking and sounding great again.

The first one here is a 1961 SG Junior, which has only one P-90 pickup.  From the small research I did, it appears this was the first year they offered this style guitar, a stripped down version of the SG that has replaced the Les Pauls. 

The guitar is original except for the tuners, tailpiece, and also the addition of a washer around the output jack.  In removing the washer there was some wood damage and the hole just didnt seem to want to support the output jack by itself.  I geuss that is why the original owner put it on there in the first place, and I dutifully put it back that way.   My customer has the original tail piece but its one of those wrap arounds with no intonation, so they really dont sound that good anyway.  Good to keep in the guitar case.

The second guitar is a 1967 SG in its full glory and splendor including the vibrato tail piece.   Again, the guitar is mostly original except for the tuners and unfortunately the pickups as well.  Funny, the pickups are Demarzio’s, but are quasi vintage themselves being from the late 70’s.  

Both guitars sounded great once set up, and its always interesting to see what holds up and what doesn’t on a guitar that old.

Falling in Love with Ruby

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

I’ve worked on alot of guitars, some cool looking, some great sounding, some funky, some downright junky and everything in between.  So even if a customer brings in a higher end brand like a Gibson, Taylor, Martin, PRS for example,  and its their baby, I hope you can understand its usually just another  day in the shop, no big excitement.   But every so often there is that one guitar which gets the heart beating a little faster, starts the palms sweating like its your first school dance, makes you want to get that repair done a little sooner, so you can take some extra time to test it and really make sure it plays well,  heck, maybe even ask your customer if he wants to sell it….(ok, havent pulled that one yet.) 

Well, when this dame, er, guitar came walking through the door with its owner, Matt  who runs The New Moondog Studio’s of West Covina, I knew I was in trouble.  This was one fine looking Les Paul Deluxe; a lighter red wine glossy finish over flame maple, with mini-humbuckers, and clean all around.    Matt introduced us and said her name was Ruby. (Matt names all his guitars).  Ruby was in great shape already, she just needed a new string nut and professional setup.    After some consulation Matt decided he’d really like the look of that Vintage Bone as the string nut material to go along with the tuning pegs. 

MEET RUBY

Well, when I was finally finished installing the string nut and giving Ruby a good setup, I can say she played as well as she looked, had some great balance and felt solid just like a Les Paul should.   I really hated to see Ruby go out that door, but Matt was smiling from ear to ear knowing that she was coming back home where she belonged.   I guess that made it all worthwhile in the end.   Here is what Matt had to say about the repair job.

“The service is professional, quick and of exceptional quality. Look no farther to find your Los Angeles based luthier. Thank You Mr. Adams”

Ruby with new custom fit vintage bone string nut

Vintage Bone String Nuts In Style

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

I bought a few string nut blanks in what is called ‘Vintage Bone” color for the shop at one point to try on my classical guitar build.  I loved the outcome so much that since then I have recommended this style bone to lots of customers as an alternative to the standard white bone.   The only difference I have been able to figure out is that what we call standard bone is actually bleached white, and the vintage bone is unbleached.  They both seem to cut the same and exhibit the same hardness for good tone transfer.

Either way, once the vintage bone is sanded and polished, it really comes out incredibly classic looking,  almost like fossilized ivory or even marble.   It goes very well on acoustic guitars or any guitar that has more of a cream or aged looking binding.   For guitars with a whiter binding or more modern body style, I think the standard bleached bone looks better. 

Here are a few shots i took of a Gibson 335 I worked on sometime in 2009 and one picture of a classical guitar I did just this week using the vintage bone.  In these shots you can also see  what the blank looks like at the start and the finished product.  Starting with the pre-cut blanks helps but there is still alot of shaping involved to get each string nut to fit just right.  cutting the string slots at the proper location and depth, and then final shaping, sanding and buffing.

When is a Guitar Not A Guitar?

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Well, maybe its when this “12 string acoustic guitar” my customer brought in is really a Baja Sexto, BUT the customer is always right, so we made  a new string nut and strung it up with 12 string acoustic strings.    The whole time I was working on this “guitar” something was bothering me about it.  How could this guitar look like a classical guitar that needed a diet,  yet be ready for 12 strings, of which I have never seen for classical guitars?  On top of that it had that funky bridge and the blockiest oversized neck I have ever worked on.    Well, way after the job was done and paid for I finally figured out what that thing was.  (Ah, the power of internet research and a couple beers)

The baja sexto is also a 6 paired string instrument, but the strings are an octave lower, and is its meant to be more of a bass style instrument in small ensembles. Now I am not an expert, so feel free to correct me, or to enlighten us further on this instrument. 

Either way, customer X was happy with the work, but I have no clue how he is going to play that thing for more than a couple songs in a row.

Certified Buzz Feiten Tuning System Installer

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Just wanted to remind you all that our shop is  a certified level 2 installer of the famous Buzz Feiten Tuning System.  Only level 2 repair shops can install on both electric and acoustic guitars, and it requires that the repair tech attend and pass this training at a Buzz Feiten approved school.  In this case the study was completed at Summit School in Canada, training under the watchful eye of master builder Sigmund Johannessen.  

Basically the Buzz Feiten system is a way to reduce some of the inherent issues between certain intervals in the equal tempered scale system.  That is what is used on all guitars and allows us to sound equally good(or bad) in all keys across the fretboard.   By changing the position of the end of the nut in relation to the fretboard and then adjusting the intonation, Buzz Feiten has found a way to sweeten up the sound of guitars beyond what std equal temper can ever do. 

If you’re interested in finding out what this advanced tuning system can do for your guitar just give us a call, stop by the shop, or you can check out their website at www.buzzfeiten.com for more detailed technical information.

N-Tune On Board Guitar Tuning System

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Now here is a really interesting bit of guitar technology that is fairly new.   Check out www.ntune.com to see the latest in guitar tuning wizardry, a built in guitar tuner on any of your electric guitars without doing any permanent modifications to your guitar.  If you purchase this system we can install it for you.  (no affiliation with this company otherwise).