Setup for Yamaha LS-TA

Did a setup for this new model over the weekend.

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The TransAcoustic series was released late last year and they have getting rave reviews online. So now you can play with some reverb and chorus added without having to hook up pedals, effects or amps.

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The build is fantastic on this guitar which is essentially an LS-16 ARE with the actuator installed. Also, the TA series get a clear pickguard instead of the tortoise variant. Another feature on the LS-TA is the vintage tinted Engelmann top.

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Guitar was sent for a bone saddle installation elsewhere and owner still prefers a slightly lower action. Sometimes player’s preference still matters so the aim here was to go from about 7/64 to about 5/64 inch. Easy job.

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I must say that the bone saddle is very well-crafted. It’s nicely shaped with the correct radius and finished to a high gloss. Good job by the previous guitar guy! Now let’s shave a lil off the bottom.

Bearclaw Special

TLC for all guitars from Guitarbear.

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Let’s start with the nut slots. Pencil lead will do the job. No need for fancy stuffs here.

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Fretboard and bridge were moisturised to a nice sheen. Can you see which part just got pampered? Koala fell asleep while checking the guitar.

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So Miffy was ready to pose after her shower. She says this one sounds good!

Closing thoughts

The LS-TA sounds wonderful even without the the effects. In my opinion, the L series are really great guitars for the money. The 5-piece neck just looks beautiful and usually belong to guitars at higher price brackets.

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The room reverb is pleasing and sounds natural, but it may sound quite harsh if you go beyond 3 o’clock on the dial. Same for the chorus dial that is best left under 12 o’clock.

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Another thing to consider is the weight of the guitar. The LS-TA is significantly heavier than a stock LS16. No prizes for guessing that this is due the actuator for the effects. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

 

 

 

 

 

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Money well spent

For those who own a few more guitars than they should (and that includes me), it is no joke to restring your guitars. The money you’d spend could well be enough to get a nice decent guitar.

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So some people have been saying Elixirs cost too much or sound too bright. But I reckon they actually help you to save money. Just think about it, a set of Elixirs costs $20 street price and they easily last more than 3 months. A pack of basic guitar strings cost around $8 but they’d only last for  a week before tarnishing or rusting.

Quite a no-brainer decision right?

Go to Bernard Godfrey Guitars or G77+ for the best street prices.

Installing JJB330 pickup on Taylor Big Baby

Did a JJB330 installation last week on the Big Baby.

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This guitar previously had an LR Baggs Element system in it but the owner wanted something that requires no batteries, so the passive JJB system seems the right choice. Here’s a well-used guitar that has really opened up. Plenty of marks on the top that kinda adds character.

Mounting the end jack.

Since the guitar already had a 12mm hole drilled due to the previous pickup, we can go straight to work without bringing out the drill.

I use a copper wire to enter through the base and exit the soundhole.

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Here I attach the end jack of the JJB 330.

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Pull out through the base again.

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Okay, we got the end jack screwed in nicely.

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Mounting the transducers

Let’s make a jig from the good ol’ cereal box.

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Trace out the saddle line and punch through the bridge pin holes. Mark X on the spots the transducers are mounted. Note that one marking is a bit nearer to the high E to accentuate the thinnest string.

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Use some blu-tak to mount the transducers on the jig. It’s a good idea to clean the shiny contact surfaces with Zippo fluid at this time.

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Do many dry runs to ensure you get a good sensing of how the jig would fit before applying the glue. Once you’re confident, apply gel superglue on the shiny surfaces and stick it in!

When you see this, you know that everything is in the right place. No mirrors needed.

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Hold the jog in place for a few minutes while the glue dries.

Bearclaw Special

It’s time to pamper the guitar. Let’s start with the fretboard and bridge.

Steel wool and Ax Wax to the party.

From this:

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To this:

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Bob was assistant today.

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Pencil lead on nut slots and saddle crown. 

I also took time to tighten some of the tuner buttons. I actually find the Taylor stock tuners quite well-made.

Fresh Elixirs, what else?

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Guitar was ready to go on stage. 🙂

Cookie came out to pose.

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Closing note:

The Big Baby is a fun guitar that can fill the gap between a full-sized dreadnought and a Baby Taylor/Little Martin genre. It’s main strength is the full 25.5″ scale. Some players may find the extremely cramped 22.5″ too uncomfy and the Big Baby fits the bill perfectly here.

In the tone department, don’t expect this to sound as full as a 110e. But hey, it still has decent bass and does have the dreadnought sound to it. I’d say it’s a better strummer than an OM or 000 type.

If you really need the smaller bodyshape, this is actually a good idea.

See some pictures for comparison with a regular dread. Here you see that it is just a bit shorter in terms of overall length.

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The BBT is also shallower. However, the bowl back creates more volume and bass than you’d expect.

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Perhaps the only thing going against the BBT is the $599 retail price here in SG. In today’s market, many full solid guitars (albeit China made) can be had for $699 onwards if one were to look beyond the brand name.

With the introduction of the Academy Series in 2017, one wonders if the Big Baby will be discontinued.

 

 

Walden G570 Refurbish & Setup

Brought home this old guitar for a refurbish and setup.

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Walden Guitars have ceased operation but their guitars have generally garnered good reviews from players. The G570 is Grand Auditorium sized guitar with a solid cedar top and laminated mahogany body.

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It’s got an interesting headstock shape. Quite similar to a Seagull but not so slim. The guitar also feel rather light despite it’s rather wide lower bout. It’s slightly wider than a dreadnought but it’s shallower and curvier.

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We got some work to do because this one did not appear to have any form of maintenance done to it at all. Just look at the dirt and grime on the fingerboard. Yucks.

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There’s also some rusty frets going on. Let’s hope our friends steel wool and Ax Wax can help. Give the entire fretboard some rubbing and we may get some good results.

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Cookie was my assistant for this project. And he’s smiling because the fretboard is shiny again.

From this: Rusty and dry

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To this: Shiny and nourished

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Let’s work on the saddle. It needed some shaving off to get a lower action. Walden used Graphtech Fossalite saddles so I reckoned I’d just keep it. It’s actually quite well-cut.

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Pencil lead on nut slots. Again, this is a Graphtech Fossalite nut and pretty well-cut.

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Restrung with fresh Elixirs PB.  I may get a set of Tusq pins soon.

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I took the time to remove the pickguard. I can’t stand pickguards on acoustic guitars. Here I used a very thin guitar pick (0.4mm) to pry out the edge and slowly peeled off the entire pickguard. No heat needed. Then I used MusicNomad ONE to remove the lil’ bit of glue residue.

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Action set at just a hair under 3/32 inch at 12th fret capo on 1st. Really comfy to play.

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It’s quite nice really. Now I may have to find an all-solid Walden to do a comparison. 🙂

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Closing notes:

The G570 is a nice entry level guitar (solid top laminate body) that offers something different from the usual dreadnought shape. It’s more comfortable to play because it’s shallower. It’s “quieter” (if that’s appropriate to describe the tone) probably due to the cedar top.

The cedar top is also less prone to be overdriven than the more common spruce top. Sure, it lacks some power and volume, but the overall tone of this guitar is still rather bright compared to hardwoods such as mahogany. The GA shape does offer a decent amount of bass.

One thing I did notice is that the tuners and finish on this guitar is by far the best I’ve seen in budget guitars. Upon reading up, Walden did use a nitro satin finish on their guitars and this could be why it feels better made than the more common poly-finished guitars at this price-point.

I wonder if I find an all-solid model (G830 or G810) for a shootout.

 

 

 

Yamaha LL16M Rescue & Upgrade

Worked on this LL16M a couple of weeks back.

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The guitar came to me badly in need of help. The owner had brought it to a shop situated in our local guitar hub for a bone saddle & nut upgrade but it turned out to be a total nightmare.

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Here’s a look at the solid mahogany body. It’s less striking than the rosewood sibling, but I can tell you the mahogany is definitely a great tone wood.

According to the owner, the shop had installed saddle and nut that were off-specs. Saddle was too short (generic 72mm vs  Yamaha spec 75mm) and moved in the slot, nut was too narrow (generic 43mm vs Yamaha L Series spec 44mm) screwing up string spacing.

Here you can see that the nut has an allowance of about 1mm on ether side. This threw off all specs and feel of the LL16M neck.

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Guitarbear was appalled by the incident. Upon seeing the guitar, I feel very upset that someone would actually do that to nice guitar. If you don’t have the parts or the know-how/skills, please DON’T ruin other people’s guitar. 

Removing the blotched job and putting in the correct part. 

First step to this rescue operation was to remove this horrendous nut. Plenty of staged photos here, but how else could I show you? 🙂

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I used a hairdryer to heat up the glued area so that it’d be easier to remove the “cancerous object”.

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I used a small square chip board to gently tap out the nut. Again, this is a staged photo. 

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Plenty of glue residue. There must have been a huge wad of superglue used. Whoever he/she is, the person who worked on the guitar is a loser. I wouldn’t let this loser come near my guitars even if you pay me.

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Next I used 600 grit sandpaper to smooth out the nut slot for installation of new nut. You need to remove the glue residue to ensure a flat surface for the new nut.

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The owner had to go all the way to Yamaha service centre to buy a new nut. Although it’s a plastic part, it is far better than one that was off-specs.

See the comparison photo. The differences in string spread and size are obvious.

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Fast forward to show how much better the stock Yamaha nut looks and feel.

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This is the right way to do things.

Dropping in a bone saddle

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Time to shape a new bone saddle. Careful sanding and adjustments are done to get the best height and radius.

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Final sanding using 2000 grit to get that smooth finish.

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OK, we got a nice bone saddle installed. Owner also brought a set of bone pins for this.

Tip: Yamaha guitars use 75mm saddles, not 72mm.

Again, the same photo to show how important it is to have correct parts (dimensions) if you cannot craft them out from blanks.

Tip: Yamaha plastic nut for L series. 44mm, string spread is about 36-37mm.

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Final clean up with Bearclaw Special. Guitar was shiny and happy. Action set up just slightly under 5/64 inch at 12th fret capo on 1.

Super playability and great sounds. Roger is smiling.

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