Most guitar repairmen often say this, but I am only realising it now: guitars come in batches!
Last week I worked on the same model of the same company and this week, its sibling lands up.
The week before last it was a Yamaha F310. If you consider price range, all three guitars are more or less the same.
Before the Yamaha, I had worked on three toy guitars (Rs 3 – 3.5K), the ones that I love so much!
So, yeah! guitars do come in batches, I do agree.
Having bought this previously loved Ibanez MD3NC-NT, the owner was wise to have it shown to someone who knew a little more about acoustic guitars than himself.
NOTE TO READERS: Guitars – like shirts – are mass produced. If you want a really proper fit, you have to take it to the tailor to get little things done. Even a brand new guitar – electric or acoustic – needs to be looked at and set up to play the best that it can ACCORDING TO YOUR PLAYING STYLE!
As I inspected the guitar, I noticed that there was nothing wrong with it, except, the action was a tad high. I measured it at 2.25 mm.
However, it was the action at the first fret that alarmed me. Quite easily, I managed to slip in a .025″ feeler gauge under the first fretwire.
I played the instrument, and to my ears, it seemed that the 5th and 6th strings were oddly subdued. I thought that maybe changing the strings and putting in a fresh set would do the trick, but the owner clarified that he had changed strings just last month.
That got me thinking. If D’addario .012 – .053″ strings are sounding like this, maybe it’s the nut and the saddle. Of course, they were plastic!
I suggested that I could bring the action down and I would like to change the nut and saddle to bone components, to which the owner agreed.
And then I went about my routine. Loosen strings, pull out the bridgepins and keep them in order;
pull out the saddle and clean the bridge slot in preparation of receiving the new saddle. But wait!!
What is that in the saddle slot – right where the 5th and the 6th string would be? I pulled it out with a pair of tweezers and to my astonishment, it was a piece of card paper, cushioning the saddle on the bass side. No wonder the 5th and 6th strings were sounding dead!
A closer inspection of the saddle revealed that a manufacturing fault had left the saddle shorter on one end (bass side) than on the other end. Naturally, the saddle rocked lengthwise in its slot in the bridge and to stabilise it, the card bit had been shoved in. While the saddle rocked no more, the piece of paper managed to all but deaden the bass strings.
It was a 76 mm saddle and was replaced with a bone one of equal length.
Removing the nut from its slot, I found a strange white, powder-like residue, and even as I write this, I am sorry to inform you that I still don’t know what it could have been and where it came from.
Anyway, I scraped it clean and glued in a new bone nut.
Thankfully, the neck was as straight as an arrow. Not a bad thing at all. Once the strings are put on and tuned to pitch, the tension, invariably, pulls a little relief (a little gap between the strings and the fretwires) into the neck.
Installation of the new saddle entailed a bit of work and a lot more calculation and marking than I am used to.
See what I mean?
With the new bone nut glued in, I stuffed its slots with graphite so that the strings would not have any problems running through them.
Meanwhile, the fretboard and the bridge were given a much-needed ‘oil massage’.
Stringing it up with the strings that were originally on it, the action was exactly where I wanted it.
The owner hesitantly acceded that yes, the action had improved as well as the volume, and particularly the sound of the 5th and 6th strings.
Two days later, he messaged me to inform that indeed the sound had improved tremendously and he was enjoying playing the instrument.
I patted my back!
Here’s me signing off with one last look at the guitar!