3/4th Ibanez in for string change but danger lurking nigh!

I consider myself to be a professional and so, I do exactly what the customer wants me to do: not one bit less, nor one bit more. However, I do go over the instrument with a fine-tooth comb and if I find something that requires attention, I bring it to the notice of the customer. And that is where my job ends.

If the customer takes my advice, the instrument will go back in ship shape; if not, the second visit is likely to cost him/her a lot more, because in the time that would have elapsed between visits, the problem would have certainly deteriorated, causing greater damage!

But, frankly speaking, such situations are a predicament for me. If I insist on a job too much, I come out appearing money-minded, as if I want to make as much money out of him/her as is possible. If I do not, I feel the instrument will suffer, as will the customer (financially, later), most especially when there is a sentimental value attached to it.

I came face-to-face with my dilemma recently when this Ibanez (model no MD39C-NT 3U-04) came in with a broken G string, for new strings and for action correction.

As I poured over the instrument, the micarta nut and saddle caught my eye and I suggested to the customer that it would be a good idea to switch to bone. Since the customer politely refused, I did not press the matter further.

While the customer was there, I got so involved with the minutiae that I failed to spot the thing staring me in the eye: the crack in the bridge! Later, I called up the customer and asked him whether he knew about the huge crack in the bridge? He did and he did not want me to work on it.

I even suggested that I could put in an old G string and get the guitar functional, but the bridge needed immediate attention. However, the customer, again, very politely, decided that that work could be done another day. So be it!

My reading of the situation is that the bridge on this instrument is going to last unattended a maximum of 12-18 months. After that the instrument itself will be good firewood – unless we can get Ibanez to send us a replacement bridge. Possible, but not entirely sure whether they do that.

Anyway, as I tuned up the instrument and played it a bit, I noticed that there was an odd flatness to its tone (sans resonance). And even though it was not a full-size guitar (it was 39″, called a 3/4th guitar) and had a cutaway too, I have played other instruments of the same model. I didn’t remember the tone being so without oomph.

I put it down to the material of the nut and saddle and possibly a badly cut nut (the slots). But since the customer had refused the suggestion of a bone swap…(shrugs!!!).

You must have heard of that saying: there’s many a slip between the cup and the lip. Well, here was my slip between the cup and lip.

Just as I was set to take off the strings, my mechanised string winder went kaput! There was little else that could be done except take the manual route, and so the old string winder was pulled out, dusted and put to work!

As far as action correction went, the action wasn’t too bad to start with.

But since the customer wanted it lowered, lower I did. Thankfully, the saddle had enough height in it for me to perform the operation.

And while the strings were off, and as I repeatedly advocate, this was the perfect time to get to places where one can’t get to with the strings in place. Also, the perfect time to snug up the hardware on the headstock.

Again, there wan’t much tightening required, and if at all, some keys needed loosening a bit.

That done, I turned my attention to the fretwires and the fretboard. It is amazing what a little bit of attention, some boiled linseed oil and lots of elbow grease can do.

With snazzy new strings, the guitar looked good and to the owner, sounded well. He was very happy with where I had got the action to rest. He was happier when he got 20 per cent off the cost of the strings I put on.

But my fears for the guitar persist.


POSTSCRIPT: This was the third guitar to come in as part of the ‘Diwali Bonanza’ campaign being run at Lucknow Guitar Garage. For those who don’t know about it, there is a free guitar care camp on since Diwali day (Nov 14) and will last till the end of the month. You can get your guitar’s tuning machines tuned up, or get its body buffed, or fretboard nourished, or action corrected, or all of the above for FREE. Additionally, you get 20 per cent off on whatever accessories you purchase – except bone saddles and nuts!

So, what are you waiting for?????  

Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me: guitarguyhelp@gmail.com

4 thoughts to “3/4th Ibanez in for string change but danger lurking nigh!”

  1. My father is a scooter repair mechanic.
    He still loves his work at the age of 65+.
    Your dedication towards this work is really appreciated. After reading above article I can relate with the situation. As I have seen it many times before.

    I am planning to purchase a new guitar. I am a beginner. My budget is max 4000. Can you please suggest me some good options?

    Thanks in advance.

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