NPGD (T)

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by P Thought, Dec 12, 2019.

  1. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    New Project Guitar Day (Takamine)

    I saw this F-312 on Guitar Center's Used Gear pages. I've had my eye out for one of these for a long time, and I'd prefer the solid-top version, but I thought the lam-top would make a great camp guitar. I ordered it. A rep from the store contacted me to let me know the guitar had been returned having a lifted bridge, and he wanted me to have a chance to cancel. I offered less money for it as is. . .they accepted, and here it is.

    body front.jpg

    I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I'm a long-time Takamine nut.

    body back.jpg

    Except for the bridgelift, and a little crackety spot on the right side of the top, the guitar looks nice considering it's almost 42 years old (made in June 1978). And I dig the "lawsuit" slotted headstock, the wide nut, and the no-dots rosewood fretboard, which meets the body at the 12th fret.

    headstock.jpg

    I could use some advice about fixing the bridge lift (Bridge Doctor?), and also I see that the truss nut is rusty; that might be a tricky fix too. I haven't tried yet to turn it.

    lifted bridge.jpg truss nut.jpg

    I like this guitar a lot, and I'd really like to get it into playing condition. I'm not worried at all about investment or return--I've blown more money than this on 'way dumber things. I'd welcome any input on how to proceed from here. If I'm too far over my head I'll take it to somebody, and I'd welcome recommendations about that, too.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 12, 2019
  2. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Stay away from the bridge doctor. The fix for a lifting bridge is very simple. Remove it completely. Clean up every bit of old glue unless you are totally sure that it was HHG, but clean that up anyway. Do whatever needs to be done to the top so you get the best possible glue seam. Make a caul for the inside that fits whatever braces you have - the wings of the bridge will be over the arms of the X but you want to apply clamping pressure to the bridge plate (I make my cauls from UHMW, it is embarrassing to glue your caul to the inside of the guitar). Get enough long clamps for whatever shape caul and braces you have. Glue it up with either HHG or AR, drill out the pin holes ream and slot.

    String it up, open a nice cold adult beverage and enjoy.
     
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  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I've actually got literally dozens of pictures of bridge repairs - it is the single most common "failure" of anything on an acoustic gutiar. Yes, they all need resets at some point in their life and yes the all need refrets, but if you leave your guitar in a car on a hot day the bridge will come off. It simply is the highest stressed joint and not all manufactures do a good job with it and they fail.

    Here are the basic steps from my post above

    Get the old one off. I apply head with a silicon blanket and work a pallet knife into the glue seam

    IMG_2007.JPG

    With luck it comes off cleanly and their isn't a lot of spruce stuck to the bridge. With bad luck there are big pieces of spruce ripped out of the top and stuck to the bridge. This is a nice clean separation and the foot print is relatively nice IMG_2008.JPG

    I have cleaned and sanded both the top and the bottom of the bridge to get every bit of old glue off. New glue doesn't adhere to old glue (unless its HHG). Its best to just clean to bare wood and start over.

    The white thing is my caul. It fits between the arms of the X and the 3/16 bolts are adjustable to fit the outer pin holes on different spacings. It lets me align everything without parts skating around when I add glue and clamps. As I said before, glue doesn't stick to UHMW so I can get it out (waxed paper can work with wood cauls)

    IMG_2009.JPG
    The caul is inserted and glue applied to the bridge. I'm generous here, its easy to clean up

    IMG_2010.JPG

    Clamps are on. The wing nuts do apply clamping pressure but I like lots. Little wooden blocks so I won't mar the top of the bridge. The two clamps on the ends of the wings are just outside the arms of the X - its kind of a delicate place for clamps. I spend a lot of time fiddling with them so they will go into exactly the right spots. I usually check inside with a light and mirror to make sure they aren't sitting on a brace or something.

    IMG_2011.JPG

    Clean up the squeeze out with warm water. Sometimes the two bolts get glued in place - I can reach in with a box end wrench and unscrew them from the inside. The pin holes almost always get filled with glue, drill them out with a 3/16 bit and then ream to fit your pins. Slot and ramp if you are partial to that.

    Now I can show you all the horror pictures of what can go wrong with bridges....
     
  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Obviously the other big concern with an old guitar like this is does it need a neck reset and can you pull that off. I just assume that any guitar 20 or more years old will need a reset, however you should do the bridge first so you can set the neck angle to it. The other thing will be frets - just part of an old guitar.....

    Actually, you asked for advice before you start - I will give my standard speel. Measure everything (including relief) before you touch anything (like the truss rod). The significant things include geometry (neck angle), structural issues (bridge, braces, humidity), and frets. Fix those things before you move on to the playability and setup.

    Old guitars are wonderful, but like old cars the can require more care that something brand new.
     
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  5. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Wow, what a tremendously helpful post! Thank you.

    What I've read about old Taks, the "lawsuit" ones, is that the neck joint is somehow doweled and epoxied, making neck resets, um, different (the later ones have dovetail joints). I've read about "hippy" resets. . . . Don't worry, I won't try that.

    I think I can handle the bridge job. I'll do that, then measure things as you say. Neck angles and truss rods are likely to be upside my pay grade.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
  6. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Up early, I took the strings off, wiped down the guitar, and oiled its fretboard. The frets seem pretty good; I think maybe the first two have been replaced, judging from the wear in the fretboard above them, and the fact that they're dressed a bit differently. The higher frets show no wear at all from play. The tuners seemed to love the drop of mineral oil I put on their gears, and they are smooth-turning with no play. The nut appears to be bone; it came right out when I took off the strings, not glued in, that's how I like 'em. I only had a cutting board handy for a straightedge, but it cleared the front of the bridge; I know that has to be checked with a better tool, and after I glue down the bridge.

    I couldn't find any blue tape without waking anyone up, I haven't started yet making a caul, and I haven't figured yet how I'm going to heat the bridge or what I have around to tickle it off with, but removing the bridge is next.

    The truss nut is rusty, and I'm worried that it will be stuck. Should I put some mineral oil on it now to loosen it up for later? I wonder how it got rusty. The inside of the body is clean and dry, no sign of stains or mold. . .there's corrosion on the case hardware too, so maybe it was stored in a damp place, I don't know.

    There's no strap pin, and the hole in the body looks worn to the point that a conventional one is likely not to hold itself in. I might at the end put in a K & K pickup set, partly to have something to hold my strap on, though of course it would be good to be able to plug in if I want.

    I really hope this comes out well. I don't really have a good acoustic camp guitar, and this F-312 would make a great one.
     
  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I have never done a reset on an old Takamine but I assumed the were dovetails just like everything else. The problem with a lot of guitars from that era (I'm most familiar with Yamahas) is that the dovetails are really tight and they may have used glues that don't release with steam/heat. One fix in that case is to saw off the neck and convert it to a bolt on butt joint. I've done that to my personal FG150 to keep it playable, that is a subject for an entirely different thread.

    A common way to heat the bridge to try to get the glue to release is with an infra red heat lamp. Protect the top with something like cardboard leaving just the bridge exposed and be careful you don't damage finish. A clothes iron is another possibility. I do enough bridges that I broke down and bought the little silicon blanket from LMII. Sometimes you don't need any heat but it helps.

    I would shoot a couple of drops of penetrating lubricant at the t/r adjuster. The fact that it is fairly close to the sound hole (and the date of the guitar) tells me it is probably a single acting Martin square tube type of rod, in that case you should be able to back off the adjuster before you try tightening it.

    Be sure to resolve your bridge issues before you consider the pickup. I love K&K's but they get in the way of doing any clamping at the bridge so make sure the bridge plate is in good shape first.

    Get a cheap aluminum 36 inch straight edge at Lows or Home Depot and cut it off at 24 inches. You'll use it a lot for checking fretboard stuff. Feeler gauges and a machinist scale (or the StewMac action gauge) and you are set. You might find this informative - its based on electric guitars but an acoustic is exactly the same (and is covered)

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/basic-setup.952636/
     
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  8. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I think that's how a "hippy reset" works. Then you use shims to adjust the angle?
     
  9. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    That is what we call a kamikaze or kitchen neck reset. The Harmony Guitar Database has an entire section on these kinds of repairs.
     
  10. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    It is not as uncommon as some may thing to run across a flattop displaying those three little telltale holes on the butt indicating that somebody had dealt with a lifting bridge by installing a tailpiece to anchor the strings.
     
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  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I've never heard that term but it could be called lots of things. And I was sort of a hippy in the 1970's so I guess it is appropriate. Anyway, since your thread has taken a drift I'll just show the pictures. Warning, they are kind of brutal

    Attempts to steam it off. There are people who say that with enough heat and time it will come, others say the top will delaminate first. Anyway, mine didn't budge

    IMG_1132.JPG

    Broke out my little Japanese saw and cut 'er off

    IMG_1137.JPG

    IMG_1138.JPG

    You can see whats left of the dovetail. Note how tight the tenon fits - one argument is that Yamaha simply didn't leave enough room for steam to get tin.

    Fitted the inserts. Fwiw, I use bolts and inserts in most of the acoustics I make, but with a standard tenon into the neck block. If you saw my recent build threads you would see that kind of neck joint. You can also see the anchor end of the truss rod which I ran into while sawing

    IMG_1141.JPG

    No need for shims, I just floss the neck heel to the angle I want. Taylor of course uses a couple of cnc cut shims but then I'm not Taylor. And I don't have a cnc.

    Neck angle is nearly perfect, my old guitar has a new lease on lift

    IMG_1154.JPG

    Sorry about hijacking your discussion. Since doing my guitar I have had several opportunities to reset old Yamies and I've always turned them down. If I show people these pictures they immediately run away.....
     
  12. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    :lol: Not me, I guess! From time spent on the Takamine Forum, I'm pretty sure there's no steaming off those lawsuit-era necks. Before I saw your last post, I was already thinking to myself about the saw I bought a long time ago at Harbor Freight; it looks just like the one you cut off the Yammie neck with. I was going make a fret-slot saw out of it, but never got around to making any necks. It should work for this.

    Of course I won't know whether a reset is needed until I get the bridge fixed and the measurements made. . .and truth be known, we're not operating on a big-dollar guitar here. I would try it if I had to--it looks simpler than a conventional reset to me--I think maybe I can do it.
     
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  13. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I went after the bridge today:

    taped bridge.jpg got it.jpg lifted veneer.jpg

    This is a great guitar to learn on, I think, since it's going to be my camp guitar if I do things at all right, and there's not a lot of money at stake. I learned a couple things for next time.

    1) I should have scored all around the base before I started, to separate the bridge from the top finish. That might have stopped me from pulling the laminations loose on the soundhole side. Now I'll have to think on how to glue those down so they're tight, flat, and inconspicuous as possible; and 2) I shouldn't have used steam. I thought it would hurry the glue loosening, and it probably did, but there's a big ol' blotch in the finish now, all around the bridge area. I hope it goes away.

    After I get the surfaces cleaned off smooth and flat, I have some hunting to do in the garage, and maybe some clamp shopping (dig the sliding ones in the picture), for the next step. @Freeman Keller, it feels like everything's clear a good way to either side of the inside bridge plate. It should be pretty straightforward making a caul. I googled UHMW and determined I don't have any. Maybe they have something suitable at the hardware store.
     
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  14. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Steam works good when you can inject it right into the seam - that's how we get dovetails apart. It does discolor finish, particularly old lacquer which is what you might have on this guitar. I have had some luck removing the splinters from the bridge and reattaching them to the top. Often on an inexpensive guitar they will be plies from the laminated top. Do the best you can.

    UHMW is an industrial plastic that is used for sliding surfaces. Some cutting boards are made out of it. It can be machined and holds its shape pretty well. The big advantage is that glue doesn't stick to it and you will get glue squeezed thru the pin holes into the inside of the guitar.

    You could make a block out of wood and cover it with waxed paper. The main reason to use a caul is to spread out the clamping pressure and insure that your clamp isn't resting on a brace - you can easily crush a brace. Here is a picture of my caul in place - in actual use I would probably put the two black clamps on the outside of the X to just catch the wings of the bridge

    IMG_0476.JPG

    There are a couple more things going on here. I made my caul with slots for the two bolts - that way I can use it for guitars with different string spacings. Most of the time the bolts will get glued into the holes, I can reach inside with a box end wrench that fits the nut and unscrew it from the inside. Then I drill out the hole and ream it. I have tried coating the bolt with wax - that helps but I still usually have to use a wrench.

    There are other variations of this caul - StewMac used to sell something called the Sloan bridge clamp. I know people use just bolts and washers - I never felt that was adequate. There was a recent article at OLF about building deep throat clamps. I just broke down a long time ago and bought a bunch of different sizes - I use them all the time for all kinds of clamping

    http://luthiersforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10101&t=52654

    Remember as you prepare the bridge to fit the top that the top should have a bit of a dome and that should be sanded into the underside of the bridge. I leave the masking tape on while I'm doing all the prep work but remove it just before doing the glue up - that lets me get in next to the bridge with damp rags to remove the squeeze out.

    ps - I can't tell where you really live but if it happens to be Portland I will be there over the holiday and could arrange to bring some clamps and cauls with me. If your bridge was one hundred percent ready we could glue it on and the next day you could pull the clamps and return them to me. I'll be there from the 24th to probably the 27th or 28th,
     
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  15. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Coos Bay, but thanks for the generous offer! And your advice is very helpful, even if I screw up in the execution.

    Interesting about the dome; I'll keep that in mind. And we have a couple cutting boards; I wonder if anybody would notice if one was a little, um, shorter, or missing completely? I have a deep-throated clamp somewhere. . . .

    I'm kind of sorry about the finish--most Taks forever have been polyethylene finished--because it was one of the strong points for this guitar when I started, and I really could have avoided tearing it that way I think, if I'd scored the seam before I tried to lift the bridge off. It's okay, though, because "battle scars" are fine for camp guitars (so are laminated tops), and I think this particular model will make a good one for me (I've spoiled myself with 1 3/4" nut widths).
     
  16. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    The stain has not gone away :(. Work suspended a few days, I ordered some caul material and clamps. . . . I'll get busy smoothing the surfaces.
     
  17. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    almost ready.jpg

    I've made a caul, got some clamps, almost finished prepping the surfaces, and spread stuff all over half the house. I'm looking at this, though:

    old saddle.jpg

    See how the saddle is so low on the bass side, and so much higher on the treble?

    It's pretty firmly stuck in there, presumably glued in. My question is, should I pull it out now while it's out where I can get at it, or should I go ahead and glue it, and see if it's OK when I string it up? Interestingly, there is little evidence of wear from strings on the top of the saddle.

    If I need to pull it, what's the best way to do that without splitting the bridge?
     
  18. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Put some heat on it - I would be tempted to use the tip of a soldering iron. That will break loose any glue that might have been used. Grab the bass end with a small pair of diagonal cutters and try to lever the end up (gently). You probably should lightly clamp it to your work surface. If its bone it might break, if its plastic it probably won't. If it breaks you might have to get a sharp tool under it and continue to work it out (I find a dentist's "explorer" tool very handy).

    When you are all done with gluing the bridge back on and have the neck set to the bridge height then you will make a nice new bone saddle with the proper playing action all the way across the fretboard. I can pretty much promise you that one won't work.

    btw - a properly fitting saddle is not glued in (except for a very small group of vintage Martins) but should be snug. You shouldn't have to force it in, but it also shouldn't wiggle. You can buy cow bone saddle blanks that are slightly too thick and sand them to fit or sometimes you luck out and can buy a saddle the correct thickness. I simply by blanks and sand them on a belt sander. The other rule of thumb is that a correctly angled neck will have about 1/8 of an inch of saddle sticking out of the slot (and the slot should be about 1/4 deep).
     
  19. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    That's what I thought! Maybe I got a future in this bidness :)

    I'm pretty sure the saddle is plastic, though the nut appears to be bone. Good idea about the diagonal pliers. What do you think about setting the bridge saddle-side up in a frying pan for a while, on low heat? (Edit: I set it on top of the hot woodstove for a few seconds, then the saddle lifted right out with my mini Vise Grip.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2019
  20. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    That would probably work. I'm just thinking that when I do a refret and I'm pulling the old ones I just lay a soldering iron on the fret to break loose any glue or finish that might be holding it down - it puts the heat right on the fret. I have almost no chip out when I do this.

    I'll also admit that I've never had to do it with a saddle - most of the time with a little effort they come right out. A couple of times when they have broken I've been able to dig them out. A saddle never should have glue on it but then never is a long time....
     
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