Remember, how I had said that guitars (brands/models/similar problems) come in twos and threes? Well, here is another Yamaha F310!
Problems: Bellying, cracked bridge, saddle too low and miscellaneous.
ADVICE: Whenever you feel that you will not be playing your acoustic guitar for the next couple of weeks, tune down the strings. DON’T LOOSEN COMPLETELY, but tune down. You will prevent many problems from plaguing your instrument in times to come. For one, that belly, which is inevitable, will get delayed a few years at least.
So, how does a crack in the bridge, along the line of the bridgepins, appear? Just like too slim a saddle or too stout a saddle in the saddle slot will inevitably lead to the bridge splitting at the saddle slot, so also with bridgepins.
At the factory, when the holes for the bridgepins are drilled, bridgepins are pushed into the holes to check for fit. The fun begins when strings are thrown on. The pins that were fitting snugly without the strings, now, naturally, become too tight, holding the strings in their holes.
That combined with the string tension and multiplied by time and with weather changes, will ultimately lead to a hairline crack appearing, which, if not treated immediately, will either lead to a chasm so wide that it cannot be filled, or, in the worst case, split the bridge into two.
Thankfully, this instrument came to me while the split wasn’t too terrible.
I have told you that I collect all sorts of odds and ends, even pick up things from the road. So, the fact that I swept up and strained sawdust from work in the house, shouldn’t come as a surprise to you . I have a 1-litre pet jar full of it. It has been saved for jobs like these.
A quarter of that sawdust I have dyed, soaking it first in tea and then coffee and then dried . The result is that when I needed to repair this bridge, I just took a few pinches of that dyed saw dust, pushed it into the crack and sealed it in with super glue.
Then began the real work: hiding the repair! Ten grits of sandpaper from #80 to #3000 and a lot of elbow grease, some boiled linseed oil, and you tell me where the crack was!
Right! So, the bridge was fixed, almost as good as new but what would prevent a crack from not developing again?
I took my trustee reamer and reamed out the holes just a bit so that the bridgepins would sit in their holes a little easier and not exert as much pressure.
That taken care of, I turned my attention to the belly in the instrument. Into the jig it went and stayed there a good two weeks before I even looked towards it. When I took it out of its restraints, all seemed flat and good. I was keeping my fingers crossed for when I would throw on strings. Again, no 11s or 12s, it would have to be 10s.
The owner, looking for a lower action, had managed to sand the saddle down so much that the ‘B’ string was buzzing. To tackle the situation he had forced in a piece of paper on the saddle, under the string. Hello, string buzz! Bye-bye, intonation!
ADVICE: YouTube is full of videos telling you how to shave down a saddle. No harm trying but if you measure incorrectly, or go too far, there is nothing that can be done, except throw out the old saddle and start from scratch. Please, leave such exercises to the experts!
Thankfully, the saddle and nut on the instrument were cheap plastic and I wasn’t sad to see them find their way into the dustbin.
A swanky, compensated piece of polished bone replaced this straight, plastic saddle, while at the other end, the plastic nut was swapped out for a good, bone nut.
Then I turned my attention towards the other ‘problems’ that I saw in the instrument.
If you play your guitar standing and feel the need for a strap, this is NOT the place to attach the end of your strap. Usually necks are built out of three pieces joined together. This area of the headstock is in the vicinity of one joint. If you tie your strap here, you are letting undue amounts of stress act on that joint which can open up under pressure.
Yes, I know that you have seen many big stars tie their guitar straps at the headstock but they are those who have not had their guitar neck joint open up, just yet, or, they are just plain lucky. Since the time I have been repairing guitars, I have seen at least half a dozen such instruments.
To attach the strap, you require a strap button, which should be fixed on the side of the heel
and not ON the heel cap.
And so, a strap button was fixed on the side of the heel
While looking at the fretboard I had noticed serious divets in the fretwires along the ‘B’ string. These I removed by levelling, sanding and re-crowning the first five frets. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge the customer for it! #$&*%^%!!!
I also saw this and questioned the customer about it
Ladies and gentlemen, just 2 – 3 winds of the wound string and 5 – 6 of the unwound strings are enough to keep your strings in place. If you start wrapping the entire length of the string around the tuning peg post, your intonation will suffer, but first it will be a huge pain cranking that machine head those many times to get it all wrapped up!
I threw on 10s on this baby and I am happy to report that unlike the other Yamaha with a belly, this one’s belly did not spring back.
I had a very happy customer indeed!