Did the shop wreck my guitar?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by mharker, May 31, 2012.

  1. mharker

    mharker Member

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    Hello everyone. Got some questions for the experts:


    A few weeks ago I took my 1986 Yamaha 12-string to my favorite guitar store for some work. The main issue is that the action was super high, especially in the higher frets. You could almost put your fingers under the strings in some places.


    It's just a bottom-end laminate top guitar, but I bought it brand-new when I was 16 and still like it. I figured spend a few bucks on some reconditioning and maybe it'll last another generation!


    The shop is very reputable. I bought my Martin there and had them do some maintenance on my SG a couple years back. It's the kind of place where full-time pros work on the guitars - not just weekend kids.


    Anyway, so after a couple weeks I call back to ask what's up. I wish I had written down notes after talking to them but unfortunately I didn't - and also I'm not that technical. But basically, they tell me:

    1. They don't want to do any work on it because it's too far gone and they are afraid if they adjust the neck and action, the body will "cave in". And that in fact it has already started to cave in.

    2. I think they said they adjusted the rod in the neck (which has never been touched since 1996) and that was part of how they came to the conclusion.


    So I go back in to pick it up and immediately wanted to see the caving in phenomenon, because I had never noticed it before. There is a slight indent forming on the top of the body (hard to show in photos) which I had never noticed before. But could have missed because it's been in the case for months. I was rushed getting out of there so just thanked them for their opinions (and for not charging me).


    Later I looked at it more closely and now I can totally see the caving in, even though it's pretty slight. Also at a really low angle you can see the soundhole is distorting a little.


    QUESTION: Is it possible that they made some slight adjustments, noticed it started to cave in, and then just called me and said sorry nothing we can do? Or am I just imagining things?? To be fair, one of the last times I used it was on a camping trip and it got wet a little - thought I dried it off well but noticed a small rust stain on a string. Maybe that did the damage?


    It's just my old 12-string but as you guys know nothing like your first acoustic so I'm kinda upset here...


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  2. Kevy Nova

    Kevy Nova Well-Known Member

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    Was it tuned up to pitch the whole time it was being stored in the case? That might have something to do with it, and I'm sure the camping trip didn't help either. Either way, I'd probably just tune it to an open chord and use it for slide. :)
     
  3. oldrockfan

    oldrockfan Well-Known Member

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    impossible to say whether they did it or not but doesn't look too bad. The 12 string guitars are putting alot of pressure on the bridge/top so it is pretty common to see issues with them over time. If it was mine, I'd just use it as it is. The 12 stringers are not that fun to play upper register stuff anyway so stick to the bottom 12 frets and enjoy it. Also, I never suggest taking 12 strings out camping or to the lake or anywhere that is too humid. Big humidity changes do a real number on 12 string tops. Get a cheap 6 stringer for camping trips. A good cheap guitar I recommend is the 200 series takamine or the jasmine line. Both good bang for the buck knockaround guitars.
     
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  4. javamagic

    javamagic Well-Known Member

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    The high action you wanted fixed was probably down to the bridge pulling up - and the top caving in - due to the string pressure. I'd say there is absolutely no fault on the part of the store's guitar techs. Remember that even quality acoustic guitars such as Martin and Gibson require neck resets to correct action problems caused over long periods.
     
  5. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    I'd agree - this looks like a problem I've seen a lot, and as Kevy mentioned, was it tuned to pitch? A lot of guys used to tune 12 strings down a step, and use a capo as needed.

    javamagic points out even top-notch guitars need neck re-sets at times. oldrockfan is right about the toll camping and other weather extremes can take on any acoustic guitar, but more on a 12 string with such high string tension.

    As for the shop, often what happens is that when you do tighten a truss rod, after the neck is more stable then other weak areas may show up, like the pulling up near the neck by the soundboard and the distortion of the soundhole from round- I'm more concerned about that than the slight angle by the bridge.

    I'd use lighter strings or tune down and see how it goes.
     
  6. mharker

    mharker Member

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    Thanks guys you are truly a wealth of information here. Glad to hear that it probably wasn't their fault and was likely that way all along. You know how it is... a guitar, a car, any repair, sometimes you get it back and wonder if the shop did some damage. It can just make your blood boil.

    But I feel better now. I guess I'll just keep her the way she is - and put another 12-string on my wish list.

    I never knew about the de-tuning for storage. I'd say it's been tuned properly for all of its 25 years. Sometimes it has been stored for long periods as an 11 or 10 string - and I admit I've put two lower Gs on most of the time because the high G would always snap. Knew that was a no-no but also knew it wasn't a high end piece. Maybe I'm lucky it lasted as well as it did!

    Great fast info guys I almost wish I had more problems to post...
     
  7. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    You're welcome, and you really don't want more problems!

    As far a de-tuning - I should have made it clear that a lot of folks kept the 12 string detuned the whole time, as ai mentioned to DGCFAD, capo at fret 2, its EADGBE.
    I think Ledbelly had his tuned CFBbEbGC, 2 steps down, but strings were heavy then like 13's.
     
  8. mharker

    mharker Member

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    Hello guys,

    Realizing that I am a very infrequent poster, and probably do not really deserve the quick response and exceptional knowledge of this group, I thought the least I could do was post a follow-up.

    I have decided to keep the Yamaha as-is. A friend told me to go to Craigslist and find myself a nice used twelve string. I looked online and was tempted - after all what's a couple hundred bucks? With a family of 5 I probably spend that on useless crap in a day! But instead I put the old 12 on a stand next to my desk for the last few weeks and have picked it up several times.

    Certainly there is no warm tone like my Martin, and all you can do is play open chords, but the important thing it that it's MY old guitar from when I was 16. And the distinct sound reminds me of those days and learning to play.

    So she stays! If I want tone I can always pull the Martin or SG out of the case. Thanks for reading.
     
  9. axmaker

    axmaker Member

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    Biddlin likes this.

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