NGD--Skin-deep Beauty?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by P Thought, Feb 18, 2020.

  1. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Emboldened by my experience fixing the lifted bridge on my camp guitar, I ordered out another old Takamine off the Guitar Center used gear pages. It's an F-340SD, a solid-topped, mahogany-backed "lawsuit" dread made in 1977. The D in the model number somehow indicates a sunburst finish; I've always thought I'd like to have one of these.

    The website listed the instrument's condition as "fair", but the pictures looked pretty good, no "relicking" that I could see. The price was well below what I've seen for others, so I hit the buy button without calling the store to ask about it, although I knew there would be issues. . . .

    The guitar arrived yesterday, before we arrived home from a short trailer trip to the redwoods. It's really beautiful, looks-wise. It has a very visible crack on its top, but beyond that it doesn't look like it's been played much in the 42 years since it was built. That doesn't surprise me, because it would explain the "fair" rating, and I'm pretty sure I can cleat that without any trouble. I tuned it up, and despite the fact that the strings are obviously past their prime, it plays nicely and sounds great.

    I took off the strings and discovered a new "perfection", as my favorite poet would call it: the bridge plate is all chewed up. I don't know what must have caused such a mess, but it's going to need fixing. Time to study up again on my guitar-repair skills.

    I guess I'll string it up one more time while I do that, in case it's years before I get up the confidence to attack the repair job. I don't think that will make it any worse, and as I said before, I've always wanted one of these. . . .
     
  2. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

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    "bridge plate all chewed up" you mean inside the guitar, like the wood that the bridge pins poke through? did you stick a mirror in the body so you could inspect it? what does chewed up mean in this case?
     
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  3. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

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  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Replacing a bridge plate is not that uncommon, in fact its done a lot on '70's Martins with the big rosewood plates (both mine have had it done). There are also some things that can be done to repair the existing plate - cutting little plugs that are installed from the insides (Dan Erlewine shows how). On a couple of old junky Harmony's I laminated a piece of carbon fiber sheet onto the the bridge plate - the glue of choice for CF is epoxy.

    Along with the bp I would really worry about the neck angle on a guitar that old - I just routinely assume it would need a reset.

    ps - I'll add that a flashlight and inspection mirror are stand tools on my workbench.
     
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  5. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    My only inspection so far has been running my finger along the plate when I had the strings off, and where I expected a smooth piece of wood with regular holes neatly drilled, instead it felt rough like a piece of my firewood with holes variously occluded with wood bits. The ball ends balked on several strings when I took off the old ones

    I have a mirror, flashlight, camera. . . .I'll check closer later.

    Thanks for chiming in, @Freeman Keller. I'm going to think this through while I wear out one more set of strings; I don't imagine that will make the problem much worse, and no sense sending her to the hospital during the honeymoon! Meanwhile I'll try to hydrate it some. I like the sound of the carbon fiber idea, did you notice any dramatic difference in the guitar because of it?

    Like that last guitar you helped me with, this is an old "lawsuit" Takamine, and probably has its neck epoxied in. It may be just that I've never developed a very discriminating touch, but the action seems pretty decent. If I had to, I think a "hippy reset" would be the thing; I hear there's no steaming those necks loose.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
  6. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Afflicted

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    Stewart-MacDonald sells a Platemate, a brass strip with holes you can stick on the bridge plate. It might help without having to make a repair.
     
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  7. Stubee

    Stubee Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    They can live a long long time with some bridge plate damage and I agree you’ll likely not hurt it by stringing her up. Various methods of repair exist as you’ll be learning. It could feel rough and just need some minor attention vs plugging or overlaying etc.

    Takamine made some pretty good guitars back then.
     
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  8. Steerforth

    Steerforth Tele-Afflicted

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    Don Teeter’s books from University of Oklahoma Press, volumes 1 and 2, available on Amazon.

    Pop the top, replace it with some sort of European spruce and give it a granadillo bridgeplate and a bridge of your favorite flavor of rosewood. Carve the braces to the limits of sanity, then bind it with snakewood and slap a new fretboard with wild inlays and medium jumbo stainless frets. Do the frets, string it up, play.
     
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  9. ping-ping-clicka

    ping-ping-clicka Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    congratulations have fun.
     
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  10. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    The plate mate is an option - remember that there are a couple of different pin spacings. If I get a few minutes tonight I'll post some pictures of the CF repair that I did.

    Measure the neck angle and we can talk more about resets, but honestly, if the action is OK for you and you have a reasonable amount of saddle sticking out of the bridge (I like 1/8 inch) then its probably fine.
     
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  11. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

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    i wonder what would result from gluing another bridge plate onto the original one.
     
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  12. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    That sounds like a lot of work! I'm retired, you know, and I mean to stay that way.
     
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  13. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    The problem with gluing another piece of wood on as well as the brass plate mate is that it adds a lot of mass to the bridge which is already the heaviest brace on the guitar. The whole idea of replacing the heavy rosewood bp's on '70's Martins is to put a smaller plate on more like the prewar guitar have. I've gone thru that experience and have anecdotal evidence that lighter is better (when my old D18 came home my wife's comment was "you are playing louder").

    We're headed out for dinner right now, I'll post some pictures tomorrow. P, did you check the neck angle?
     
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  14. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

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    But there are no pictures of the guitar! I want to see! I won't even believe you bought a late 70's Takamine lawsuit dreadnought until you post pics!
     
  15. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Nag, nag, nag! OKAY: :D

    F340SD.jpg
    headstock.jpg burst.jpg

    I got hauled out of retirement to sub some classes today. I'll check that angle tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
  16. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

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  17. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I have a bad habit of browsing Guitar Center's used gear pages from time to time, putting "Takamine" in the search line. I never see these, but this time I think there were three of them. The other two (their condition was labeled "good", and they were priced a little higher) might still be there. All three were the mahogany-back 340 models. Takamine also made a rosewood version at the time, called F-360SD. The S means solid top, but both models have laminated back and sides.

    It is like buying a pig in a poke, but you have the 45-day return period to save yourself if you hate a guitar you bought; all you lose is the shipping, and you can make the return at any Guitar Center store. I've bought three guitars and one amp that way now, and not returned any.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2020
  18. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

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    Thank you. Yes, this is why I like buying used from GC. I have bought things from them before, tried them out, and returned them when they didn't suit. It's a great policy, at least for the customer. I'll keep a lookout.
     
  19. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Here's one of the others I mentioned, and here is the other one. Guitar Center isn't always very accurate with the model numbers, I am guessing that these the same as mine, but no S in the model number would mean a laminated top. You might call the stores and ask the reps to read you the model numbers, embossed on the seam strip right under the sound hole.

    The number you'd want to hear is F-340SD. I'm not sure whether any of the lawsuit bursts had laminated tops, I don't think so, but they might have.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2020
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  20. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yup, bridge plates go. Should be fairly easy to replace. And then you'll have a great guitar.
     
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