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pipbarber 19th January 2017 10:09 PM

The Reason in Guitars
It's quite apparent there are a good few folk on the forum currently in a curiously endeared and enduring relationship with their guitars, myself included.

Prompted by the rampant enthusiasm to post about the instrument regardless of thread topic demonstrated by several members, and then a posted agreement to start a guitar thread and the lack of such a thread forthcoming, i thought i'd open one.

I was given my guitar by a girlfriend when i was 23. It's a factory made Takamine circa 1976 nylon string classical guitar made of cedar. I thought it was a crap thing but a good instrument to learn on. Chords and songs to start with and then i met a Spanish flamenco player on Ko Pha-Ngan in Thailand. He hadnt traveled with his guitar and all he could find to play were steel strings. For 5 weeks, on that beautiful back beach on that amazing island (it was 1990, not so much the case now) i let him play my guitar for 3 or 4 hours a day in exchange for lessons.

Anyway, it sparked my love of classical guitar, though not so much flamenco, which i continue to pursue today and that crappy instrument that was gifted to me by a guilty young lover and what i thought was a piece of shit has been valued at $4k. It has the most beautifully low action and the brightest sound i've heard. When i play other classical guitars i feel like i'm battling them, like its some kind of argument, and i'm not winning.

It's singularly the only possession i care about. If my house was on fire i'd save the kids, then the guitar...nothing else matters really.

hackenslash 19th January 2017 10:32 PM

Re: The Reason in Guitars
A '76 Takamine, eh? Very, very nice. That will only continue to appreciate and, at some point, its value will rocket as wood supplies diminish (indeed, wooden guitars from the top Japanese companies already are appreciating at a higher rate).

pipbarber 19th January 2017 10:40 PM

Re: The Reason in Guitars
Interesting, and good i guess, not that it really matters to me. I'd sell my left testicle before i'd sell my guitar...then the right one, if necessary.

Strato 19th January 2017 11:30 PM

Re: The Reason in Guitars
Pip I imagine that Taka is a beautiful thing. I'm sure you know to keep it out of the sun or away from heaters. A hot car will kill a guitar, even in winter. Moisture extremes are fatal. I'm sure you keep it cased.

The post-war Japanese builders sourced select quatersawn timbers. Their woodworking, cabinet making and inlaying standards have always been nothing less than perfection.

pipbarber 19th January 2017 11:56 PM

Re: The Reason in Guitars
I do, Strato, keep it safe. Although when i first got it i traveled through the tropics with it for years with a soft vinyl case. I thought it was a cheap piece of crap! Incredibly it survived - though i'm sure i did it some damage but i think its forgiven me.

Strato 20th January 2017 12:45 AM

Re: The Reason in Guitars
My son wants to record and gig with me. I have to do it. We will start with Shadows and Dick Dale/ the Ventures as the region is lousy with surfers and I do dig that melodic/chordal stratocaster instrumental music.

Needing bread for very high end mics and preamp to record, he has found a buyer for my steel string blackwood Cort Parkwood I don't play now I have built two outstanding Stewmac USA kit guitars, a dreadnought and a Triple-0.

The Cort dreadnought has a AAA grade spruce soundboard, quatersawn mahogany neck and highly figured Victorian Otways blackwood back and sides, acacia melanoxylon. Stunning hardwood. I carried this out from deep gullies in the rainforest, very heavy billets on my back for guitar timber harvester Murray Kidman, a true legend in international luthiery. It is awesome watching him drop and cut up a huge tree in the bush.

Murray has done this guitar timber harvesting caper for well over 20 years and now harvests Otways blackwood for Australia's Maton guitars only.

So I took out the Cort and found the nut I had made from micarta, believing it to be hard enough, had worn just a few thousandths of an inch too low, unacceptably, on the G string which carries the most tension.

So I knocked it out and am making a new nut from a cow bone blank, the best material, most durable and very musical, the traditional material for nuts and saddles. It is glued in and I'll finish it tomorrow.

I have been doing setups and repairs for 20 years. A nut has to be perfectly seated in its slot, vertical as a honeymooner's penis for correct intonation at the exact distance from first and 12th frets. One assumes the fret slots were cut on a CNC and are positioned perfectly according to Pythagoras. I even do nut intonations.

The nut slots have to be exactly equidistant between strings, ramped to the tuners, filed down with round edge luthier's gauged files and finally polished with 2000 grit sandpaper to the final height, or .0004" over height on wound strings. You work in thousandths in luthiery. With jeweller's files you shape and then polish the nut so the strings sit just proud of their slots, about half way out, for optimal tone. Cowbone polishes up beautifully.

I'll even do nut intonations on Gibsons which have shorter scale and thus a bit less tension.

The bridge saddle is also cow bone and must be intoned. I do this by ear, for individual string distances according to diameter and tension, lengthened or shortened accordingly at saddle take-off point exactly.

The neck truss rod has to have perfect adjustment before you undertake a nut and saddle intonation and height job. I have ways of testing each string against drone open strings with 4th and 5th perfect harmonies. It is a beautiful thing when chords comes perfectly true right up the neck. Strings break when tensioning and detensioning from metal fatigue.

As you file on the saddle to lengthen or shorten each string, you also lower the action on that string. Fuck one string up and you have to start again, sanding a bone blank down to fit precisely in the slot to do the whole intonation thing again.

It's a trial. This caper will induce obsessive compulsive disorder if you haven't already got the makings.:) I have perfect pitch. I can't bear it when a guitar needs a setup. I'll do neck resets too. Steam it out, sand the heel, reglue and clamp it. Set it all up. I do refreting.

It's all a balancing act. Luthiery is a balancing act. You want structural integrity with optimal vibration, volume, string balance and timbre with no phase cancellation. It's physics. You know it when you hear it and have owned the instrument for many years.

I had already installed an LR Baggs Active Acoustic Element pickup in this sweet Cort Parkwood. The string contact must be perfect under the saddle to the pickup piezo strip laying in the slot, for tone, volume and balance. As you take off material under the saddle after continuously tuning and checking through an amp, you're also lowering the saddle. The action must be perfect.

It is easy to fuck this up too, so you'll have to make another saddle. I get big bones from the butcher and hacksaw blanks which I sand to exact shape.

When the buyer comes to take the blackwood Parkwood at $1000 I know it is ready to perform plugged in. I couldn't sell it otherwise.

The books are equally as important as is the AFA.:)

Spearthrower 20th January 2017 01:28 AM

Re: The Reason in Guitars

pipbarber said (Post 579296)
I was given my guitar by a girlfriend when i was 23. It's a factory made Takamine circa 1976 nylon string classical guitar made of cedar. I thought it was a crap thing but a good instrument to learn on. Chords and songs to start with and then i met a Spanish flamenco player on Ko Pha-Ngan in Thailand.

That's kind of interesting as I ended up on that island with a guitar a cpuple of years after that, on the East side of the island, where I met a guy with a violin. Even though there was no electricity there, the next few nights were amazing folsky entertainment as I played guitar, he played violin, and my gf at the time sang - and she was an amazing singer. Top quality entertainment by sheer chance!

hackenslash 20th January 2017 02:56 AM

Re: The Reason in Guitars
Why do you need high end mics? What will you be recording?

For most purposes, you can't beat a Shure SM58.


pro recording engineer/producer.

The Irreverent Mr Black 19th March 2017 04:21 PM

Re: The Reason in Guitars
This is mostly for the benefit of Strato. I recall, ages ago, mentioning my old hollowbody, 335-analogous Guyatone, and how it had no internal braces.
This is roughly how the beast would have looked new, apart from the fact mine has a Strat-style headstock. Matsumoku were known to bung together some pretty incongruous mixes of parts, at times.
This stock photo shows the same pickups and tacky white pick guard my Guy originally had.
I was given the remains (floating bridge and tailpiece missing, one keywind remaining, mosquito-coil ash and cat-hair fused with the finish) from its resting-place under a farmhouse bed, by a poor-but-grateful PC repair client.
The pickups were shot: the dip material on the coils had turned to a crackly black bitumen.
The original woodwork and binding were mostly fine, and although the neck doesn't seem to have a truss rod (or at least, an adjustable one), the action's good.
A bit of Scandinavian Teak Oil brought the plywood body up nicely, and some Gotoh tuners, a new bridge and trapeze, plus an unobtrusive Schaller pickup, finished the job,

The old darling sounds fine acoustically, or amped, with a nice set of light flatwounds for jazziness.

And inside? No ribs...

Just the one violin-style soundpost, directly under the bridge.

BTW - This guitar is spoken for when I go. A member of my extended Net family will play it for me in my absence.

pipbarber 19th March 2017 05:44 PM

Re: The Reason in Guitars
It looks a beautiful instrument MrBlack. Fantastic color.

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