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A Little, Occasional Hobby of Mine

  #1  
Old 03-09-2012, 09:55 PM
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Default A Little, Occasional Hobby of Mine

I bought this from an eBay seller on Feb 15th. I was (surprisingly) the only bidder and got it for the starting bid... $200, a bargain.

I've been knocking around with it for a couple of weeks and decided it was good enough to fix-up and make a daily player. The bracing and binding are tight and the top is not bellied, so I ordered some new parts from Stewart-MacDonald for her.

The original tuners were cheap from the factory but after 35 yrs it needed new ones. I ordered two sets (6 ea.) of Gotoh Mini tuners w/traditional oval button (and 16:1 gear ratio. ♥ )

Since I was going there anyway, I decided to install a bone nut, saddle and bridge pins for better overall clarity so those came along with the tuners.
I had an extra strap button lying around (so to speak) so I installed one of those as well.

Obviously the instrument was generally loved and taken care of by its previous owner, but needed a cleaning in the worst way. 35 yrs of grunge to clean out and off. So this is how I spent my day.

Later I will take it for professional fitting of at least 3 new frets as well as the nut install and full set up.

That's my story.

BTW: The first 12 pics are from the original eBay auction. The rest I took between last night (03/08/12) and today when I did most of the work... ALL DAY.

http://s94.photobucket.com/albums/l1...igma%20DR12-7/

The tools:



The Victim:



The Final Results:


 

Last edited by virgin1; 03-09-2012 at 10:02 PM.
  #2  
Old 03-10-2012, 08:44 AM
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I seen a few guitars you had for sale. You must be a player (I'm not).
You could probably go in the business of buying guitars cheap, re-furbishing them and selling them again for a profit!
Don't know what you use the bananas for? (tools pic)
 
  #3  
Old 03-10-2012, 02:15 PM
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'Half ta' keep my strength up don't I? Potassium, my friend.

Well, when you add in the cost of the parts I bought, I now have $360 into it... and that's not including a days labor.
Besides, I'll do some basic stuff to a friend's instrument, or my own, but I don't think I would like customers breathing down my neck every 10 mins, and generally being demanding. That would take the fun out of the hobby.
That, and I live in the "Live Music Capitol of the World" (Austin, TX,) so proclaimed. There are a million places here better equipped (and experienced) to handle the job.... and none are cheap. There's a reason for that.
Proper Luthier's tool are very expensive and often specific to a certain repair (re: many tools needed= $$$$$,) and the time it takes to learn all there is to know is worth a lot to a professional, or even an amateur who takes playing seriously. But there is a limit to what I could charge.
But thank you for the compliment.

And as a player I am only fair. There are SO MANY great guitar players out there these days, both professional and a ton of amateurs you've never heard of that my playing gets lost quite easily in that company.
 
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Old 03-12-2012, 03:31 AM
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A few side-by-side, before and after shots, but I could show you in person. The pics only tell half the story.










 

Last edited by virgin1; 03-12-2012 at 04:23 PM.
  #5  
Old 03-28-2012, 11:38 PM
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I don't know much about guitars, but you did an awesome job bringing the beauty back to that one!
I'm curious, what is 'bellied'?
 
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Old 03-29-2012, 04:00 PM
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First of all, thanks for the compliment. It was/is a labor of love and I love beautiful looking as well as sounding instruments. But as I said before, in spite of my best picture taking efforts, the before and after in person is much more telling. The biggest (IMO) being that you can now actually SEE the woodgrain in the headstock overlay. When I got the guitar it looked black, and rosewood should never look black. Brown colored or a rosy reddish-brown is how it should look. That and oiling the fretboard and bridge (lemon oil is recommended,) which obviously hadn't been done in years (ever?) made them look sparkling brand new too. I must have applied 12 coats of oil to them that day (that's a lot) before it stopped soaking in.

To answer your question, bellying is what happens to acoustic guitars with time and string tension... this is especially true of 12-strings because of the 6 additional strings.
When tuned the strings naturally pull up on the bridge which is glued and sometimes screwed to the top of the guitar. This is called the sound board because its usually made of a lighter, softer wood than the rest of the body... woods like spruce in most cases (and in this case too) and cedar in some cases. Think of it as the speaker of an acoustic instrument. It vibrates, amplifies and transmits the sound from the strings.
String tension pulls up on the bridge and therefore by default the sound board. If left that way for long periods of time the sound board will warp UP. Not a good situation. It changes the intended angle of the bridge and raises the strings above the fretboard causing "intonation" problems. Something that's fairly easy to correct with an electric guitar but not an acoustic one. Often the top or sound board will have to be replaced which is very expensive.
This is what happened to my very first 12-string because I was young and didn't know any better. Fortunately for me the guitar was still under warranty and was replaced with a brand new one. As a bonus, I only lived about 10 miles from the Martin Guitar factory in Nazareth, Pa at the time, so I personally talked to the Luther who showed me several new guitars and took the time to set-up the chosen one to my liking.
Since that time I always tune my 12-strings at least a half step down from "concert" tuning, or D major or D#/Eb instead of E major and use a capo when necessary. I HATE capos so I try to find situations where its not necessary.
 

Last edited by virgin1; 03-29-2012 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 03-29-2012, 04:23 PM
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I just remembered I have picture examples of a bellied 6-string I bought, then returned. This should make it clear for you.
This guitar, also a Sigma, was badly abused in its lifetime. It was probably stored in a hot attic with the string tensioned for a long time and this is the result:

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This guitar can never be made right again. It's a goner because the cost of replacing the top (soundboard) is more than the instrument is worth, or will be worth.
A pro Luthier can shrink the wood back somewhat, resupport it from underneath and make a few compensating adjustments, but the wood has been weakened and will belly again. Any additional support placed under the bridge will reduce the sound quality and volume output of the instrument forever. It chokes it, in other words.
 
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:15 AM
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Some things can never be captured true by a camera...
Still, seeing the grain and depth of it in the after pic actually surprised me.

Wow, thanks for the detailed answer, and the pics!

I'm concerned about my acoustic, Lotus 6-string, got it with a beginner's kit.
Came with a pitch pipe, that I couldn't quite master, so I didn't think I could tune it right. I'm still a novice... I had some success after getting an electric tuner, and was learning some chords, but ended up having to store it for long periods of time, in winter and in summer, and lately have been concerned about the effects of temp and humidity changes. Despite a few friends saying 'it should be fine', I'm now afraid it might be too late. It's been in a soft case the whole time, but it's pretty much a dust cover.

Looks like it's bellied from all the storage time. and the neck seems slightly warped.
Would it still be good enough for practice, or would it be better to find another guitar?

If a guitar is stored a long time, is it better to remove the strings?
 
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Old 04-12-2012, 06:27 AM
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I have a passing familiarity w/Lotus guitars but have never played one.
I would look for another guitar... a better one you could grow into. Chances are very good the Lotus would be in the same boat as that 6-string Sigma I pictured.
There is no need to remove the strings for storage, just slacken them. e.g. If you normally tune to "E", tune down 1-1/2 steps to "C#". This will keep some tension on the neck w/o putting too much strain on the bridge.

I just saw your projex list and you have certainly taken on lots. I worked for Jeep in the middle of the '80's for 5 yrs when they were owned by AMC, then bought out by Chrysler. I LOVE the Jeep 4.0L enginnes!! They are great and have a lot of potential.
Did you know how much better you can make that engine with just some time and a few simple (and cheap) mods??
A 5 angle valve job plus port and polishing the intake/exhaust runners make that engine sing!!
We had a customer that bought a brand new Commanche 5-speed short bed in 1986(?). It wasn't long before he did some simple head work to it and let me tell you, it was hard to keep the rear tires planted in the lower gears. That thing flew, so much that he needed to ballast the rear!!
GREAT engine!! They don't build 'em like that anymore.
 

Last edited by virgin1; 04-12-2012 at 06:32 AM.
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:22 AM
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I should've done more research in the first place. I've had some good players compliment the sound of the guitar, but that was before the second period of time it was stored.
Thanks for the advice, I'll start looking for a new one, but in the meantime, I'll practice with this one, at least get my hands 're-trained' so I'll have a better feel for things when I can afford a new one.

Yeah, I've several projects, interests, etc. Too many, some have said. My sig would be too long if I typed out all the vehicle projects I'm working toward completing, mostly for the sake of maintaining my own vehicles and not buying a new one (I'll do that after I finish college and pay off my student loans, finally getting back this Fall).
The Jeep got me into it. Just after purchasing it used with high miles, it started overheating. Took it to the three best shops in the town I lived in, spent around 100 at each, and still had the same problem. I thought, 'that could've been 300 in tools, I might still have the problem, but I'd have tools.' It also had a bad case of blow-by. I eventually got the engine rebuilt, and found out why it was overheating after taking the radiator to a shop and finding out it had a lot of blockage. $20 fixed it.
Wish I'd known about the valve-job and benefit of port and polish then!
I've wanted a Comanche for a long time! Would like to find a deal on a non-running 91 or 92, since I now have everything from a 94 I got in a trade, and found repairs to be too time-consuming and expensive (extensive body damage and front axle locked up solid). I ended up stripping everything and scrapping the shell. I'll eventually put it's lift kit on my 88. I think it had a 4 inch kit, was running 31's.
The 4.0 is awesome. I love when it's running right. I converted the cooling system from closed to open. Would like to do something to improve the RENIX management, but that'd be a daunting task! It's currently not running, again, I think due to the crankshaft position sensor, which is one notoriously tricky bugger.
Here's an entertaining history on the 4.0: http://www.cherokeeforum.com/f59/4-0...-lesson-33937/
Sad thing, they're done with the 4.0. Chrysler did some good things to it though, the HO is even better than the RENIX. My brother recently bought a 94 2-door 4.0 5spd and loves it.
 
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