Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums

Let's chat about sagging archtops, yes?


ksdaddy

Recommended Posts

I'll give the Reader's Digest version of the events and flesh out if need be or queried.

 

I bought a 1992 Heritage Golden Eagle at a crazy good price. I really didn't want it....I guess... I don't know...I'm fickle. I played it a little that first night; it had a lot more volume than what I'm accustomed to in an archtop. Louder than the '86 Golden Eagle I once owned for sure. I saw the bridge was fairly high and that made me happy....I figured it had a great neck set. Too often archtop bridges are bottomed out and should go lower still. I had been playing other guitars in the herd and just wasn't in an archtop mood, and we just weren't connecting as I thought we should, so I put it up for sale on both ebay and reverb. It had 12-52 flats on it and I installed a set of 13-56 Elixirs before putting it on the market. Not sure why; I just did.

 

So I sell it, and basically get my money back once fees are paid. I mailed it off and the new owner contacted me immediately upon receiving it, saying the top is collapsing. He sent me this photo:

 

29x6wqa.jpg

 

I will admit, it doesn't look right. I've seen (and owned) some x-braced archtops with tops that actually had a concave section under the bridge, and I KNEW it wasn't right but some people don't seem to get too worked up over it. The buyer wasn't happy, so I did agree to a return. It is currently in transit.

 

He had posted the information on another forum and I was getting a little beat up over there so I joined the forum, gave my account of the events, professing my negligence...I didn't even SEE this dip in the top! So they cancelled the crucifixion, which was nice.

 

There have been a couple people inquire about selling it as is, but I would first like to fully understand what's going on. I have been in contact with someone named Ren at Heritage who said I could send it in but also that the shape of the top had a lot to do with how the individual carved the top. I personally think there's a problem here but I need to look inside.

 

One person commented that if I find cracked or loose braces, those things need to be dealt with but if everything is tight and the top has just "settled into place" (my words, not anyone else's) then it will outlive me.

 

I also emailed Bob Benedetto. I spoke to Bob once about 30 years ago on the phone and we have exchanged a handful of emails since then. I have a huge amount of respect for him and he has offered encouragement when I was building an archtop. I am grateful that he replied and invited me to call him and discuss the Heritage. I will do so but I will likely wait until I have the guitar in hand, in case Bob asks me for a measurement or something.

 

This whole deal has caused me a great deal of stress. One side of me says to dump it as is and take a loss; another side says to let a professional do their bit IF NEED BE...to wit, would the back need to be removed and the braces replaced? Does it have cracked or loose braces and could the top be 'jacked up' in the repair process? Is there even a problem here? I've read that Heritages have very thin tops....could it be sagging due to the 13=56 strings when Ren at Heritage said 11-52 is recommended? If the guitar was too dry, could the top have sunk as a result? If I humidify it with no string tension, might it rise?

 

I haven't had a drink since 2003 and a cigarette since July of 2014 but BOTH sound delicious right now.

 

Talk me off the ledge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't have the cigarette. Don't. I quit in Jan 2013.

 

You could look inside but I wouldn't spend any more money or too much time on it.

I think I can see, just ahead of the bridge in the photo....I don't think it will 'rise again'!!

Will be interested to hear what it is. I can't believe that putting on a slightly heavier set of strings damaged it.

 

Best wishes ksd. Hang in there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Easy there. It's ONLY a guitar.

 

It isn't like you meant to do anything dishonest or try and fool anyone.

 

Also, it doesn't really matter what is wrong with it, or when it happened. Just that it is what is is now. And until you find out, we don't know for sure what it is, or if there is a real issue.

 

At best, a minor fix if any at all. At worst, the guitar is a total loss. Either way, you still have a '57 Chevy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I only own one acoustic archtop, a 1947 Gibson L-7. Those tops are longitudinally braced, with fairly deep braces. That makes a lot of sense to me since the loading on an archtop bridge is compression, rather than the tension (and some torsion)you have on a flat-top bridge It's just a substantially different engineering problem with a trapeze tailpiece and a floating bridge.

 

The L-7 also has a carved top with a substantial amount of dome, which is a shape highly resistant to compression. It doesn't depend on transverse or x-bracing to hold the top dome in place. It's carved in, and reinforced by the convex upper sides to the top bracing.

 

Archtops are different animals.

 

In the case of your archtop, the bridge is compressing the middle of the top and the tension on the tailpiece is trying to compress the body longitudinally, possibly causing the top to bulge behind the bridge.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if you discover loose top braces there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.

An understandable oversight. Don't beat yourself up over it. . Once I over humidified one of my guitar with an Oasis. A growing rise in the action is what eventually tipped me. I was upset I didn't notice it sooner. After that I always check the belly for rise around the bridge every time I pick up one of my acoustics/semis. Live and learn.

 

Thin top you say. Take the strings off. With the strings off let it rest for a day or two at a reasonable humidity level and see if the top rebounds toward the correct arch/curve. Hopefully it does and you can put a set of 11s on it and see what they do to the top.

 

Of course a talk with Benedetto may provide you information to understand why this happened.

 

Best of luck Scott.

 

 

.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

KS ,, Did you buy this New? were the strings taught when you shipped this? what about the weather when shipped? That top has sunk and its the first Ive seen on a Golden eagle..I see the feet of the bridge are forward as well to where they should be..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Didn't get it new. I just bought it a couple weeks ago and flipped it the same week.

 

I know it "shouldn't" be so, but I do remember having to raise the bridge right after I put the 13s on. I know 13s shouldn't be pushing the top down but.....

 

One thing to consider in all of this is the X bracing on the tops of the Heritage models. Gibson used X bracing in part of the 30s and I've seen some of them with downright concave tops. Here's a 30s L7:

 

27073d1452886547-ngd-heritage-golden-eagle-sadness-l-7-top-002.jpg

 

Side note, the owner of that guitar is fully aware of the "problem" but is so happy with the tone, he wishes his other archtops would collapse too.

 

Silly, but that's what he said.

 

I tried googling a photo of the bracing pattern Heritage uses. I know it's an X bracing but I'd like to see the layout of it. Looking at the profile of the Eagle, it is just plain beyond my brain's ability to see how that could happen without both braces having popped loose. It just makes no sense to me. There's just no way a pair of spruce braces could bend and allow that top to move THAT much and not snap like twigs.

 

I may back pedal on this and eat my words. All will be known in a few days.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Didn't get it new. I just bought it a couple weeks ago and flipped it the same week.

 

I know it "shouldn't" be so, but I do remember having to raise the bridge right after I put the 13s on. I know 13s shouldn't be pushing the top down but.....

 

One thing to consider in all of this is the X bracing on the tops of the Heritage models. Gibson used X bracing in part of the 30s and I've seen some of them with downright concave tops. Here's a 30s L7:

 

27073d1452886547-ngd-heritage-golden-eagle-sadness-l-7-top-002.jpg

 

Side note, the owner of that guitar is fully aware of the "problem" but is so happy with the tone, he wishes his other archtops would collapse too.

 

Silly, but that's what he said.

 

I tried googling a photo of the bracing pattern Heritage uses. I know it's an X bracing but I'd like to see the layout of it. Looking at the profile of the Eagle, it is just plain beyond my brain's ability to see how that could happen without both braces having popped loose. It just makes no sense to me. There's just no way a pair of spruce braces could bend and allow that top to move THAT much and not snap like twigs.

 

I may back pedal on this and eat my words. All will be known in a few days.

 

 

I have a few Eagles.. There great guitars.. I actually like those better than todays L5s , Got a few of those too.. as for 13s.. I have a Blonde eagle with 13s.. its just fine..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you checked that the braces are securely in place? Often sagging tops are closely related to loose or cracked braces: the top no longer has the support it needs so flexes downwards under string tension. If you haven't already I'd get in there with a flashlight and dentists mirror and see if there's any sign of trouble.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Easy fix KS, and I'm not kidding.

 

Install a soundpost directly under (or as close to) the bridge as possible.

 

The length will need to be carefully calculated to give a slight amount of lift to the top, but if you approve of the tone afterwards, all should be right with the world in terms of future structural issues.

 

I've seen many archtops with soundposts, both acoustic and electric. I've never installed one myself, but if I were in your current situation, it's the first option I'd try. There's nothing wrong with installing one, and it's not cheating. If you go to sell the instrument again, the potential buyer can assess what it means to him or her.

 

Personally, I like the extra structural protection they afford (again, assuming the overall tone & playability of the instrument is satisfying).

 

Good luck with this one!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Easy fix KS, and I'm not kidding.

 

Install a soundpost directly under (or as close to) the bridge as possible.

 

The length will need to be carefully calculated to give a slight amount of lift to the top, but if you approve of the tone afterwards, all should be right with the world in terms of future structural issues.

 

I've seen many archtops with soundposts, both acoustic and electric. I've never installed one myself, but if I were in your current situation, it's the first option I'd try. There's nothing wrong with installing one, and it's not cheating. If you go to sell the instrument again, the potential buyer can assess what it means to him or her.

 

Personally, I like the extra structural protection they afford (again, assuming the overall tone & playability of the instrument is satisfying).

 

Good luck with this one!

 

 

Now that's a real idea!

 

It works on a violin, and should work on an archtop guitar as well. It will be a tricky project--finding the optimum post length and location--but You could just use a violin soundpost-setting tool for the job.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guitar is in hand. No damage to the braces.

 

However.

 

I'm jumping to the punchline, but I believe this guitar is dry. I slathered some oil on the board and it is drinking it as fast as I can apply it. The top looks and feels like corduroy. There were a couple packs of dessicant in the case, which I'm sure didn't help matters.

 

I have the strings off it (unrelated). One of the Grover Imperials had broken and the previous owner replaced ONE. The other 5 were included so I'm swapping the rest out so they all look the same age. So there's no downward pressure on the top at all. I put a Sound Waves humidifier in one of the f holes and I will pick up a Dampit at the store later today.

 

Maybe there's nothing wrong with it after all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...