If you didn’t know, Takamine is one of the big names in acoustic guitar manufacture in the world today. With humble beginnings in 1959 as a small family-run guitar shop nestled at the foot of Mount Takamine in the central Japanese town of Sakashita, the fledgling company took the mountain’s name in 1962 and has since given to the world some amazing-sounding instruments.
This 12-string electro-acoustic guitar came in for a change of strings, some action correction and general maintenance, but then things aren’t as simple as they seem when it’s a 12-string (Are they ever??)!
The action was slightly high but the more worrying thing was how badly the nut sat in its slot. Look carefully at the picture on the right (above) and you will see what I am talking about. What was more, it was plastic, as was the saddle (below).
Both elements had to be shown the dustbin but look what I found while trying to remove them.
Somebody – either the manufacturer or the owner, or someone else – had used an epoxy-like adhesive to glue the nut and the saddle was not something that you see everyday. Cleaning it out needed a thin chisel to be put to work!
This type of a corrugated saddle is used when the pick-up under it has little contact points which the raised portions of the saddle sit on, leading to better sound capture. But this feature can also cause a lot of problems if everything is not in sync.
So, I threw out saddle, casing, pickup and all and put in a new, simple, under-saddle pick-up and a new bone saddle.
The new, taller bone saddle made up for the missing height of the casing that I chucked out. In the end, I had to shave down the saddle just a little bit to get the action just right.
Also needing attention was the strap button positioning on the heel of the guitar.
The strap button should never sit on the centre of the heel but on the side of it. Which side? The side that comes on top when you hold the guitar in the playing position.
So, the button was unscrewed, the hole filled up (you never leave open wood), a new hole drilled on the side and then the screw put in place.
Then it was time to give the fretboard some tender loving care (TLC), but before that precautions needed to be taken so that the sound system inside did not attract the steel wool fibres. The soundhole was taped off and then I went to work on the fretboard with 0000 steel wool and boiled linseed oil.
The relief in the neck checked, I then went about snugging up the hardware on the headstock. All but two of them were tight.
Then it was time to string her up with swanky, shiny new strings.