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Thread: Guitar Surgery

  1. #1
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    Default Guitar Surgery

    Well I just dropped the Les Paul of at the Guitar Shop for surgery. Well sort of. I've had this guitar for about 3 years. When I got it it had ridiculously high string height. So I've been tweaking at the adjustments every time I change strings, and last time I noticed a new buzz on the high E at 11th and 12th frets. Also the 13th is almost completely muted, but 14th and up are clear. Check it out and sure enough, a high fret. I've never been able to adjust the action w/ some sort of buzzing somewhere.

    Now I'm all about tweaking the adjustments, but I draw the line at taking a file to a $1000 (well $800 used) guitar. This guy is within a mile of my house, so I gave him a call. I figure if he builds and repairs acoustic guitars, an electric fretboard should be a piece of cake.

    Turns out there a 4 high frets some on the high side, some on the low side. So 2 hrs of labor ($120) for fret level, crown, polish and full setup and intonation. Spent about 1/2 hr chatting with him tonight. He offers a kit building class, you use his shop, his tools, and his help for 16 weeks. And you get a customized Martin kit built guitar. He also has a little acoustic retail shop and Ebay store. Real nice guy.

    So I'll report back next week with the results.
    Last edited by rjbasque; 05-22-2009 at 12:12 AM. Reason: Thats TWO hrs of labor!! Duh!
    Honey, I'm spending money on guitars or women, ... your choice.

    If you take Satan for a ride, pretty soon he'll want to drive.


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  2. #2
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    AWESOME!!! Sounds like a cool dude. Good luck with the surgery.

    Are you thinking of doing a build with him? I'm sure you will enjoy it.

    Do you know his Ebay handle?
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    Chris

  3. #3

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    Seriously, it sounds like my basic philosophy on things I don't understand - find someone who actually has practiced and done it to other people's property before they get a chance to play with my stuff. Good luck but it looks like you've found an honest fellow who has a good idea about what he's doing. And of course you don't forget to tell him that his actions are going to be either praised or pilloried online where all manner of guitar players can see it.
    Enjoy Your Karma, after all you earned it.
    “Atheism is a non-prophet organization.” -George Carlin

    email: gadlaw@gmail.com - http://www.facebook.com/gadlaw

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jestme
    AWESOME!!! Sounds like a cool dude. Good luck with the surgery.

    Are you thinking of doing a build with him? I'm sure you will enjoy it.

    Do you know his Ebay handle?
    Cool, wish I lived near you, I found his ebay shop via the link in the first post he's Hot Strings.

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevestarr123
    Cool, wish I lived near you, I found his ebay shop via the link in the first post he's Hot Strings.

    Steve

    What a dope I am ... I didn't even notice the link!!! Looks like a cool guy. He also has a bunch of DVD on building!!! Must be a fun shop to visit. I'll have to check out his Ebay goods.

    Thanks
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    Chris

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    What you see online is pretty much what he has in stock. His "showroom" is about the size of my cubicle. The shop is approximately the size of a 2 car garage. I am sort of thinking of taking a class, just not right now. All my free time has been slated for major kitchen renovations. I'll be lucky if I have time to even play a guitar once a week let alone build one.
    Honey, I'm spending money on guitars or women, ... your choice.

    If you take Satan for a ride, pretty soon he'll want to drive.


    Favorite Course - Blues Alchemy
    Working On - Fretboard Epiphanies & Jump Blues

  7. #7

    Default Wolfboy would like this class

    This class consists of 2.5 hour classes, one night-a-week for 16 weeks, and is designed to mirror building methods of traditional Spanish builders. The traditional process of building the guitar on a Spanish style assembly board is followed and each student can experience first hand how the masters in Spain constructed a guitar. All wood building materials and tools are provided. Cost a bit under 2 Grand.

    From the guys site, and there is an 80 hour Master Class for about 4 Grand. It sounds like a great adventure if you are confident on your finger retaining abilities while using sharp finger cutting tools.
    Enjoy Your Karma, after all you earned it.
    “Atheism is a non-prophet organization.” -George Carlin

    email: gadlaw@gmail.com - http://www.facebook.com/gadlaw

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    I think if I was a luthier I would want a shop just like that (well with about 50% electric guitars). It is VERY neat, good for guitar surgery no doubt. It's obvious that one can never have to many clamps around
    Now I wonder what's in the little brown cabinet on the left. It has a glass front and is sitting on top the orange workbench next to the scroll saw kind of. It looks like it's filled with vials of medicine? hmmmmm......

    Also, anyone know what the 3 white tables with all the curved white rods hanging from them are for? If you noticed there are very few tools in view. I would guess that most of his tools would be hand tools and stored in the drawers but I am amazed at the cleanliness. I guess that can be key if this is also the room he finishes them as well. Nice post!
    Too soon we grow old, too late we grow wise

    "I once played notes so fast that light emanated from the strings whereupon, I saw God.... who then told me to relax and start playing music."

    "You know, once you've had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that's a hard drug to kick." David Gilmour

    Truefire Science Officer (dabgonit....where's my blue shirt!)

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    The little brown cabinet is full of dremel/router bits. The white tables are clamping tables. If you click to enbiggen the picture you can see an acoustic guitar top with it's bracing held in place by the fiberglass 'fingers'. Check out the Stewart McDonald page

    Yes indeed a very clean shop. Cluttered in the sense of a small space FULL of stuff, but a place for everything and everything in it's place.
    Honey, I'm spending money on guitars or women, ... your choice.

    If you take Satan for a ride, pretty soon he'll want to drive.


    Favorite Course - Blues Alchemy
    Working On - Fretboard Epiphanies & Jump Blues

  10. #10
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    THANKS RJ!

    I checked those out. What a time saver. They even have concave plates to set curvatures on the tops and or backs. Very smart idea.
    Too soon we grow old, too late we grow wise

    "I once played notes so fast that light emanated from the strings whereupon, I saw God.... who then told me to relax and start playing music."

    "You know, once you've had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that's a hard drug to kick." David Gilmour

    Truefire Science Officer (dabgonit....where's my blue shirt!)

  11. #11
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    I think you guys are referring to a go bar deck... a very clever way to clamp bracing on the guitar via flexible rods. The 'ceiling' holds one end of the rod while the other end applies pressure to the braces, holding them tight to the top or back of the not yet assembled guitar. The pressure from the rods even helps the top to conform to the slightly concave radiused dish under the top.
    ----------------------------------
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    Chris

  12. #12
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    Well I picked the guitar on Friday. Took a couple of days longer than originally stated, but then I didn't really specify when I needed it back. There were 6 (SIX!) high frets. No real explanation, could be the fretboard swelling, or even just never done right. So a complete fret level, crown and polish. He oiled the fret board, checked the nut. Cleaned and lubricated the tune-o-matic bridge. Adjusted the truss rod (apparently had NEVER been touched), lowered the action (almost too low for my sledgehammer strumming) and set the intonation. Finished it up by polishing the guitar. Cost $140.

    I haven't had a lot of time with it, just a busy weekend. But the general feeling is big improvement. It did take about a hour of playing to wear in the frets. I'm not sure I can explain this well, but initially when doing string bends I could feel a "roughness". Almost like there were grooves on the frets. I have felt this on some new guitars in the stores, and the feeling went away pretty quickly, so I'm pretty sure it was normal, and I was being overly sensitive. The only other "issue" was that with changing the action, and everything else, the pickups were basically dropped all the way down. So a couple of minutes with a screwdriver and my notes from Steve White's video on adjusting a Reverend Manta Ray we're pretty much all set.

    I did have Jaime put on nickel plated strings instead of the usual bright steel. I'm not sure I'm loving them on this guitar. (I use pure nickels on my Tele). I think a few pickup height tweaks tonight we'll be all set. I have to be honest, last night I spent a few minutes with the Tele, and she's still number 1. The Les Paul is great an fits somethings better, but I guess I'm just a Tele guy.

    Bottom line I would not hesitate at all sending anyone to Jaime to have work done. He is real nice, and does great work.
    Honey, I'm spending money on guitars or women, ... your choice.

    If you take Satan for a ride, pretty soon he'll want to drive.


    Favorite Course - Blues Alchemy
    Working On - Fretboard Epiphanies & Jump Blues

  13. #13
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    Glad to hear that things worked out well and now you have a trusted tech when needed.

    I suspect the 'grooves' on the frets were probably file marks that hadn't quite polished away yet. As long as they worked out quickly then it seems they aren't a problem.

    Good luck with the new setup.

    ----------------------------------
    Stay tuned

    Chris

  14. #14

    Default Sounds like you got a good deal

    I would echo everyone here about lucking out and finding yourself a good Guitar technician/luthier. And for the price all that was done sounds most excellent as well. I wonder if there is anyone who likes their Les Paul more than their other guitars because from everything everyone has said around here, Les is last on the beloved guitar lists of people who actually have them. I'm hearing hard to play and uncomfortable from everyone.
    Enjoy Your Karma, after all you earned it.
    “Atheism is a non-prophet organization.” -George Carlin

    email: gadlaw@gmail.com - http://www.facebook.com/gadlaw

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    Quote Originally Posted by gadlaw View Post
    I would echo everyone here about lucking out and finding yourself a good Guitar technician/luthier. And for the price all that was done sounds most excellent as well. I wonder if there is anyone who likes their Les Paul more than their other guitars because from everything everyone has said around here, Les is last on the beloved guitar lists of people who actually have them. I'm hearing hard to play and uncomfortable from everyone.
    I certainly am not an expert when it comes to electric guitar equipment. being much more familiar with acoustic flattops. However, I have a Les Paul and I love it. I had one years ago and loved that one. The only negative I see is the weight but if you get the proper strap - wide, strong and maybe a little padding - then they are awesome.

    Lots of rock and blues guys have been using Les Pauls for years and will no doubt continue to use them.

    I'm not sure but I believe that Strat and Les Pauls are the number 1 & 2 most popular electric guitars.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gadlaw View Post
    I would echo everyone here about lucking out and finding yourself a good Guitar technician/luthier. And for the price all that was done sounds most excellent as well. I wonder if there is anyone who likes their Les Paul more than their other guitars because from everything everyone has said around here, Les is last on the beloved guitar lists of people who actually have them. I'm hearing hard to play and uncomfortable from everyone.
    In my case I think it's more what I'm used to. I've had the Telecaster longer, and I'm thinking as I'm getting older I'm liking the brighter sound possibly do to typical high frequency hearing loss. With a really clean amp setting I really like the Les Paul, just in the medium crunch, old school rock, settings I kind of like the Tele better.

    As far as hard to play, I find just the opposite. The chunky neck is comfortable, and the shorted scale makes low end/open chords easier to reach. And the softer string feel is actually forgiving of a sloppier playing style. Uncomfortable .... well it IS heavy, but not to where you need a chiropractor. Like Jestme said get a soft, wide strap.

    One last comment. I'm a tinkerer. I mess with the screws on all my electrics. I've been working on the Les Paul for only about 2 years, I've had the Tele for 5. Each time I adjust the Les Paul, I'm liking it more. Especially clean. I've been using it almost exclusively with the Ear Exam. Quiet humbuckers and a tone similar to what Brad is playing.

    Like the Gibson add I saw once, featuring a Les Paul, an ES335 and an Explorer. "Rock & Roll has never been about Monogamy"
    Honey, I'm spending money on guitars or women, ... your choice.

    If you take Satan for a ride, pretty soon he'll want to drive.


    Favorite Course - Blues Alchemy
    Working On - Fretboard Epiphanies & Jump Blues

  17. #17
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    I used to own a Les Paul a sunburst "Deluxe" with the minihumbuckers.
    Solid
    Heavey
    Easy to play (loved the neck)
    Heavey
    Weak sound from the pickups
    Beautiful finish
    Cheap plastic-crap tuners!!!
    I don't miss it except from a nostalgic prospective
    Too soon we grow old, too late we grow wise

    "I once played notes so fast that light emanated from the strings whereupon, I saw God.... who then told me to relax and start playing music."

    "You know, once you've had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that's a hard drug to kick." David Gilmour

    Truefire Science Officer (dabgonit....where's my blue shirt!)

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