Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums
Sign in to follow this  
livemusic

Ever 'fixed' a guitar that didn't bowl you over?

Recommended Posts

I have a few (too many) guitars that are cosmetically gorgeous but sound is just so-so. Not cheap guitars. They sound ok but don't floor me. I have changed strings but that's about it. Wondering if anyone has ever done anything that dramatically improved a guitar?

 

Does anyone know any magician technician that can figure out how to make a guitar sound better? Maybe there is no hope for some guitars, lol.

Edited by livemusic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is your '56 CW one of them? If that's the keeper you sell off the rest of the pile and grab a pre 60's J45 or D18. Done.

 

I've never turned a generic sounding guitar into a tone beast, though. I've also never been able to get a VW bus to accelerate up a hill.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What sounds 'just so-so' and doesn't floor you is probably the Holy Grail for someone else. There have been plenty of times I've heard someone rave about a guitar's tone or an amplified sound and I've thought to myself "I don't get it."

 

I've quit trying to describe or qualify what sounds good and what doesn't, because each of us has our own perception of what that is - I believe good players can pick up just about anything and make interesting use of whatever sound they can get out of it.

 

But back to your question - no, I personally don't believe there are any 'magician technicians' that can transform guitars; players do the transforming.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What sounds 'just so-so' and doesn't floor you is probably the Holy Grail for someone else.

 

Exactly. We either connect or we don't. I have several I should dump for just that reason.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have tried it all; shaving braces, replacing bridge plates, using different types of wood for bridge plates. These experiments were not on Gibson, Martin or Santa Cruz type instruments but the results have always been the same. No happier with them once they were modified.

The smart money says move them along and get something you like.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few years ago I ordered a new SJ200 through my local dealer.

When it arrived, the action was high and it sounded like a muted guitar.

Mistakenly, I accepted it thinking it was just the seasonal effect on the guitar.

It never got any better.

Gibson Service was great. They had me send it back and after they evaluated it, they said it was over humidified. They kept it for a while, dried it out and sent it back.

I did not feel I did anything wrong since I kept quite a few guitars in the same room and except for an Ovation, had no problems with them.

It came back perfect but was back to the dud within a few months.

Again, Gibson Service was great, took it back to dry it out. I guess they had a problem with it and after a few months, they sent me a new guitar. It was perfect, sounded great and never had the humidity problems.

After that, I just assumed that some newer guitars have woods that are not properly seasoned and can be more susceptible to have humidity problems than others.

Since then, I also swear by Humidipaks.

I've bought two used Gibsons that sounded like duds that got locked away in their cases for over a year with the Humidipaks, opened occasionally just to check the packs.

They emerged sounding great.

No scientific evidence bit just my experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a few (too many) guitars that are cosmetically gorgeous but sound is just so-so. Not cheap guitars. They sound ok but don't floor me. I have changed strings but that's about it. Wondering if anyone has ever done anything that dramatically improved a guitar?

 

Does anyone know any magician technician that can figure out how to make a guitar sound better? Maybe there is no hope for some guitars, lol.

 

What type and brands of guitars are you referring to?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many times.

 

With old guitars that should sound good but don't, you need to ask why. Also it takes a village -- we get luthiers involved. If the neck set is off, it can diminish the sound dramatically. Also loose braces, loose saddle slots, and failing glue joints in many places. Thick over-spray or just a heavy refinish can be remarkably bad. A good luthier can rub down the finish -- often with remarkable effect.

 

You can modify the guitar, but with vintage guitars that should be done with care. "Voicing" the braces -- scalloping -- can give dramatic results. However, ti is a one way street.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have owned too many guitars. I’m not sure I can even think of any that were horrible sounding. The ones I have moved along all sounded very nice, but have never significantly been improved by tweaks.

Sure. Of course you can have examples of fine guitars, pretty ones, that sound great... but if string-swaps don’t help, move them along!

If you don’t want to sell your Gibsons, and are instead looking for a special fix-it place, I think you should contact Bothers Music in Wind Gap PA. Special shop. Uncommon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What type and brands of guitars are you referring to?

 

All good quality. Gibson, Martin, even Santa Cruz. Mind you, I did not say they sound bad. They just don't sound great. I spent several years buying guitars to find a few that bowl me over. I have those guitars and really, I need to sell some, they just take up room. But I have a few that come to mind that are so cool-looking, or so beautiful, it would be cool to get them to match their sound to their beauty or cool-factor.

 

I even have a Martin D41, which was a dream guitar. Bought it at a fair price, as it really needed a neck reset. In pretty much showroom condition. Got the neck reset and setup done by one of the world's finest guitar shops and it still does not grab me like it should. My D28 sounds overall better. I could say the same about some other Martins I own.

 

I actually suspect that my 'problem' might be intonation, because I am uber-sensitive to relative pitch. It could be that I can just never get them in perfect tune (to my ear). I don't understand how all of that works, I'm no guitar tech. But I supposed it could be several things.

 

Jedzep, the '56 CW is definitely a keeper. That guitar is what it's all about. A Nashville studio whiz wanted to buy it off me after playing it. Was just bowled over by it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh yeah, but I only putz around with el cheapo guitars as my sole experience was earned decades ago when I studied with a luthier for a bit (during which time I built one guitar) and do not have near the tools I would need. I learned when I attempted to rebrace an old Supertone mandolin that re-installing a back can be one heck of a frustrating experience if you do not have a proper set up. But I have enlarged soundholes, replaced pinless and floating bridges with pin bridges and such. Sometimes you will hear a difference, other times zip change.

 

The guitar that saw the biggest makeover though was one of my Harmony Sovereigns. This one I sent out. Got the whole conversion - pin bridge and maple bridge plate, forward shifted X brace, truss rod re-installed so it now adjusts from inside, and so on. Mind you, I really like the way these guitars sound as is. The Sovereign is the only guitar that I own more than one of the same model. But when this thing came back, my jaw dropped. It is loud and balanced with a dry snap to it. Infinite headroom and harmonics out the ying yang. This guitar can give a vintage Martin D-18 a real run for its money and feels better, with its Gibson-esque roundback D neck carve and 1 3/4" nut, in the process.

Edited by zombywoof

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... I actually suspect that my 'problem' might be intonation, because I am uber-sensitive to relative pitch. It could be that I can just never get them in perfect tune (to my ear). I don't understand how all of that works, I'm no guitar tech. But I supposed it could be several things. ...

 

I've run across sellers with this complaint and ended up with deals on "bad guitars".

 

Sounding in tune: I've found the number one issue is nut slot depth. For that reason I've got a set of nut slot files. It's almost always a slot or two are not deep enough so when the string is fretted in the first four or five frets the note sharp due to the string stretch. Reasonable bridge height comes into play higher up around the 7th fret and further - too high can cause sharp notes.

 

Intonation - If you haven't already, check to see if the bridge is compensated for each string. I've got some guitars with a straight bridge and some with a B compensation that intonate just fine. And I've had guitars that required a compensation for each string in order to be properly intonated. There's a member here that makes his own fully compensated bridges - jt. . So you can see what I'm talking about, below is a pic of one of my 12 strings with a fully compensated bridge - pretty much perfect intonation.

 

8x3lxxU.jpg

.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Experimentation with different saddle materials is always my first order of business if a guitar seems to tonally be lacking a bit, along with assuring that the saddle is well seated (cleanly tight, yet still easy to remove).

 

At the same time, optimizing the string break angle can be addressed. I also check to assure that each string is properly seated during string changes, using a telescoping auto inspection mirror & flashlight. Luckily, I don't have to change strings all that often!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Other than saddle changes, which do make marginal improvements/tonal changes, I’ve always found that there are so many fundamental constructional facets to a guitar that are unchangeable (without major surgery) that generally it is what it is, and a duffer won’t generally be converted into a gem without extenuating circumstances.

 

I’ve converted my ‘67 J45 from and ADJ bridge to a fixed bone saddle (I fabricated a rosewood insert, routed it and grafted it in with aliphatic resin) and it’s undoubtedly marginally improved the tone and response, but it was great with the ADJ bridge anyway, and it was only ever an interesting experiment...one that I stuck with as it’s a smidgen sweeter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Other than saddle changes, which do make marginal improvements/tonal changes, I’ve always found that there are so many fundamental constructional facets to a guitar that are unchangeable (without major surgery) that generally it is what it is, and a duffer won’t generally be converted into a gem without extenuating circumstances.

 

I’ve converted my ‘67 J45 from and ADJ bridge to a fixed bone saddle (I fabricated a rosewood insert, routed it and grafted it in with aliphatic resin) and it’s undoubtedly marginally improved the tone and response, but it was great with the ADJ bridge anyway, and it was only ever an interesting experiment...one that I stuck with as it’s a smidgen sweeter.

 

An interesting observation and one that I second. I have had the same results. I have had adjustable turned to drop in, drop in changed back to adjustable and usually with minimal results. The one that were duds were duds in spite of the change.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An interesting observation and one that I second. I have had the same results. I have had adjustable turned to drop in, drop in changed back to adjustable and usually with minimal results. The one that were duds were duds in spite of the change.

 

Indeed, I think that there’s a minimal amount apples to be picked from the bridge changing branch. I’ve played some stunning acoustics that have had ADJ bridges, and several really wonderful guitars that have the clunky old tune-o-matic in there, including Mickie Most’s J200 that Jimmy Page used on Stairway To Heaven. Nobody can argue with that guitar getting the job done!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...