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.

 

 

 

Hello Kitty Strat Again (refurbish & setup)

I brought this home last month to try out the original Squier Hello Kitty Strat.

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These guitars came out about 10 years ago and nowadays we see people asking relatively high prices on the used market. It’s common to see people asking for $350-$400 on local classifieds.

For what’s basically an Affinity Series Strat with rear rout and a cute pickguard, Guitarbear must admit that this is plenty of fun and laughter.

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A look at the cute “ransom note” fonts. I love this! It’s worth noting that the string ferrules at the back sit flush with the body. Good stuff. Even my Amercian made Longboard Strat doesn’t have flushed ferrules.

It has a very thin agathis body compared to regular Strat which is typically made of alder or ash. The neck is also a one-piece maple with big headstock. Feels light as a feather and really comfy to play.

I had to give the guitar a good clean up because previous owner had it out for display at home so this was really dusty. I also found some paint cracks possibly due to prolonged exposure to aircon, sun and such.

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Here’s one crack near the neck joint.

Let’s do some fret shine. Tape up the maple board first.

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Use 2000 grit sandpaper and Dr Duck’s Ax Wax. After some careful polishing, we get shiny frets. Koala was there to help. Not sure how she did it since her eyes are perpetually shut. 🙂

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Stock string trees were rubbish. They didn’t even bother to use a shorter bushing for B and e strings. They will go for sure.

Nut required some filing because nut slots were done quite sloppily. Lowered the saddles a lil, and this is good to go.

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Another look at those cute-sy fonts.

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Of course we got in some new roller string trees. These look and work so much better.

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The girls just love such guitars.

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Here she is on the red sofa.

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Closing note: While these are cheap, entry level guitars, they are fun to play. A good setup and possibly better pickup may stretch the limits further. The neck feels good and fretwork is actually decent. The single bridge humbucker will not be gig-worthy but that’s easily remedied with a swap.

The only issue with the Affinity Series would be the super narrow nut (40.5mm). If Squier ever re-issues this model (and they definitely SHOULD), please make a more normal 1-11/16 inch nut.

*Guitar has been sold to John. 🙂 Bubye Black Kitty.

 

Taylor K26ce Setup

Did a setup for this gorgeous guitar last week.

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This 2011 model is all-bling and exotic woods. One of those guitars when you buy in and just admire it for its beauty.

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Sexy 3-piece back. Plenty of bling going on with all the abalone inlays and bindings too. Crazy level of bling.

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Entire guitar is bound with flame maple. Even the sound hole is bound. Guitarbear was drooling profusely. Pardon the dust. Owner probably doesn’t believe in squeaky clean guitars.

Bearclaw Special

We start with some guitar TLC. Fretboard and frets shine. No prizes for guessing which part had some love from Guitarbear. 🙂 The ebony fretboard and bridge just feel solid and smooth. Thumbs ups!

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Brownie was helping me check the fretboard after oiling. It looks like he likes all the beautiful binding too.

Let’s work on the setup. 

Saddle needed some sanding for lower action. The base was sanded with 100 grit sandpaper and final sanding with 2000 grit for a baby smooth finish.

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I also gave the truss rod a 1/8 turn to straighten the neck a lil’.

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Restrung with Elixirs (what else?), and  we got a really low action here just slightly above 1/16 inch on 12th fret capo on one.

I gave the whole guitar a good clean and polish. It’s a world of a difference from what I received. All the dust and grime had gone and we now have a shiny clean guitar.

The kids came out to pose with it. They love guitars.

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Closing notes:

The K26ce is what a high-end guitar is all about – exotic wood (as can be seen), great fretwork (action was low without buzz) and total eye-candy.

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Sure, the koa construction meant that it doesn’t sound as punchy and direct as a spruce-topped guitar. But the warmth and slight “reverb” (akin to mahogany) make this guitar a joy to play. It still responds very well to strumming because the GS body is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Guitarbear can see why the GS shape hasn’t been too popular in this part of the world. The wide lower bout may cause some smaller players to struggle. There’re also players who’d choose the GA and D shapes for reasons ranging from comfort to familiarity.

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Having said that, this K26ce is still a great guitar and would probably justify its price tag for being so beautiful in both looks and sound.

 

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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Alvarez PD311AV Refurbishing

I bought this old Alvarez for a refurbish because I simply love this brand.

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The PD311AV was from the 2009 catalogue. This one was from the Professional Series which sat between the Masterworks and Artiste Series. Although China made, the Alvarez guitars I’ve tried (and owned) have been consistently well-built and always sound amazing for the money.

Solid top and solid back construction for the Professional Series. The antique violin finish would make everyone think that it has a mahogany top but no, this has a spruce top and rosewood body.

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Beautiful maple binding all over the guitar – headstock, neck and body. Herringbone around the body as well.

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There’s also abalone inlays on the rosette and headstock. Quite a bit of bling going on here.

The big and nasty surprise here was the plastic saddle. It seemed like a stock part and I would expect Alvarez to use bone saddle for this range. Well, Guitarbear can always get down to work on this new baby.

Slotting the bridge for high-E string

But we have a problem here. The high-E string rubs the bi-level bridge and there’s a need to slot the bridge so as to get a better break angle.

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I use a needle file to make a slot for the string.

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Final sanding using 2000 grit sandpaper. This ensures there are no rough edges that may cause the high-E to break.

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Bone saddle

Now let’s craft a nice bone saddle for the guitar.

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The stock saddle seems too curved for the fretboard. Using my radius gauges, I measured it to be about 12″ but the fretboard was more like 15″. No worries, we’ll just shape it according to the fretboard.

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OK, we have a nicely shaped saddle with a more “correct” fret radius. Adjustments to be done later to get the best setup.

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A new set of ebony bridge pins matches the abalone inlays perfectly. I’d prefer to have a taller saddle but sometimes the construction of the guitar (neck angle) may not allow that.

Bearclaw Special

It’s time to give the guitar a good cleanup and polish. I suspect the previous owner NEVER bothered to clean the guitar. Never mind, Guitarbear will give the guitar some TLC.

Fret shine and fingerboard nourishing with steel wool, lemon oil and Dr Duck Ax Wax. Bowie was my assistant for the day. Here he is smiling away.

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Lovely maple bindings and herringbone on display.

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Fresh set of Elixirs as usual. By now, the pickguard was gone.

I had to re-adjust the saddle quite a bit because the stock saddle was way off.

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High-E string doesn’t rub against the bridge anymore. Bridge is also taken care of now. No more dry and dirty rosewood. It’s all nice and shiny.

The entire guitar was cleaned up with Music Nomad and Dr Duck Ax Wax products.

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I hope the guitar is happier now than before. It must be happier now. 🙂

Here’s a look at the dark rosewood back. It’s solid rosewood.

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The not-so-attractive differing wood grains can be seen here on the multi-piece mahogany neck. OK, you get what you pay for.

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But it does have some nice appointments. Abalone headstock inlays, maple bounded with gold tuners. Nice.

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One more look at the maple binding. It’s all over the guitar. I love such things.

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Maurice and Murphy were there to pose for shot. Let’s hope this one stays.

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