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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Yamaha LL16 bone saddle upgrade

Did a bone saddle upgrade for this LL16 ARE last week. The dark tint finish gave this guitar a vintage vibe, Back and sides looks the same as a regular LL16 with nice rosewood grains.

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This one came to me with a saddle sanded way too low. The guitar had almost no sustain especially at the thinner strings. Here you can see that the saddle is almost level with the bridge slot. When you get such a shallow break angle, it’s always bad news. Granted action was very low here (about 3/64 inch), but the guitar actually sounded quite lifeless and certainly did not sound like what the LL16 is capable of.

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The strings were also done in a weird manner. Perhaps the previous person knows something of a higher ordinance, but both E strings just look wrong.

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No problems. Let’s start with some Bearclaw Special. A nice guitar deserves all the TLC from Guitarbear. Fingerboard and frets are cleaned and shiny after some massaging with lemon oil and steel wool.

Before (dry & rusty)

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After (moisturised and shiny)

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New Bone Saddle

Did some measurements and started work on shaping a new bone saddle.

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OK, we got a good fit. All smooth after sanding up to 2000 grit.

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I put in a new set of vintage coloured brass pins. They match this particular guitar very well. Action set to around 5/64 inch at 12th fret capo on 1st.

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Latte the cowboy is happy with Guitarbear’s work.

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Closing notes:

The Yamaha L Series continue to show very good build. This is not the first time I see a saddle sanded so low on the L series, yet the amazing thing is that fret buzz is quite minimal. There’s really some impressive fret work done at their China factory.

However, the overly low action had taken away all the guts and voice of this guitar when it came to me. Just a note to anyone who wishes to do their own setups, DO NOT neglect the importance of a healthy saddle height.

Yamaha FS800 Bone Saddle Upgrade

Worked on this one over the weekend.

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The 800 series, with new bracing patterns, is supposedly a step-up from the venerable 700 series.

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The FS800 has a solid spruce top with laminate nato/okoume body. While the overall build and finish isn’t too shabby for a guitar at this price, it was an alarming sight to see the untidy heel and neck joint area.

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Not sure is it’s glue residue or bad workmanship, this just looks disappointing given that this is a new guitar bought direct from Yamaha showroom.

Bearclaw Special

Let’s give the fretboard some TLC. Wombat was my assistant today with the steel wool and lemon oil.

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We got the frets nice and shiny. Next was cleaning and lubing the nut slots.

Bone saddle upgrade

The owner brought this in mainly to swap out the stock plastic saddle for a bone saddle. I took the time to give this guitar a lower action too.

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Remember to work with fresh sandpaper for better and faster cutting. Here you can see the used piece on the right. We got some sanding to do here.

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After final shaping, I went from 400 – 600 – 1000 – 1500 grit sandpaper to get a porcelain smooth finish on the saddle. Baby smooth saddle. 🙂

 

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Action is adjusted to about 3/32 inch at 12 fret, nice and easy to play. Bob came out to pose for a shot.