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Hummingbird 12 Coming Home


drathbun
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My beloved Hummingbird 12 string is coming home today. I just got off the phot with my luthier and he has told me some interesting things about this instrument.

 

Apparently, the nut on this guitar was moved about 1/16th of an inch towards the sound hole AT THE FACTORY! The scale length is 24 9/16ths. I guess they discovered, after building it, that it wasn’t going to intonate properly and moved the nut.

 

So Jim is going to lower the B string slots (way too high) and compensate the saddle. I guess we will see if that does the trick. I’m thinking they must have put either the bridge in the wrong place or the saddle slot was incorrectly cut. That’s really weird because all of that is so precisely done.

Edited by drathbun
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The Hummingbird came home last night and I was able to play it for a while after I let it warm up in the case. It is -23C outside right now and just the trip from the music store home made the guitar cold enough to do damage if I took it out of the case right away.

 

The intonation is much, much better. Jim lowered the nut slots on the B strings and custom shaped the saddle. The fact that the nut was moved 1/16th of an inch towards the sound hole after it was built is still fascinating to me as I can't see how that kind of error is possible. The fix required the end of the fretboard to be filed down and created a gap behind the nut where the headstock veneer plate is now short. Since all the parts (neck, fretboard, bridge, saddle slot) are made by CNC and the position of the bridge is set by a jig, I can't figure out where the build process could be this far off. [unsure]

 

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Why didn't you get a new nut cut while it was in? Would have fixed the cosmetic issue as well as the functional one.

 

It is warranty work. The nut had already been repositioned at the factory and Jim just made the adjustments necessary for intonation. The photo makes it look a LOT bigger than it is. You need to look at it with a magnifier to see the gap. The factory obviously didn't think it was a cosmetic issue. I'm very pleased with the guitar. I played it for an hour just now and it plays and sounds like a dream.

 

I'm just perplexed at how it could be off this much when it was built. I've been through the Boseman plant and don't see where an error like this could be introduced.

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Actually, wrt the nut position.. I have a 95 strat plus, had a similar issue. Intonation was never right when I First got it.

 

Brought to a very well respected luthier..

 

He checked it several times, kind of chuckled a bit and said "here's why" showed me what he was seeing, I just shrugged,, "Really?? Beats me?" He also said, it's not the first time he's seen this, not just with fenders. Just to settle my nerves, he grabbed another strat he had in for a setup, and matched it to mine, Sure enough, plain to see, it was off by a similar margin to your Bird (somewhere between 1/32 and 1/16 if my memory is good.)

 

The strat plus has an LSR Roller nut, he said his only option was to remove the nut, take the material off the fretboard, fill existing holes, and reinstall.

 

When I got it back, I noticed immediately that the intonation was spot on. And has been ever since.

 

So, I guess the answer for this is.. "S--hhhhhhh---t happens.

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Actually, wrt the nut position.. I have a 95 strat plus, had a similar issue. Intonation was never right when I First got it.

 

Brought to a very well respected luthier..

 

He checked it several times, kind of chuckled a bit and said "here's why" showed me what he was seeing, I just shrugged,, "Really?? Beats me?" He also said, it's not the first time he's seen this, not just with fenders. Just to settle my nerves, he grabbed another strat he had in for a setup, and matched it to mine, Sure enough, plain to see, it was off by a similar margin to your Bird (somewhere between 1/32 and 1/16 if my memory is good.)

 

The strat plus has an LSR Roller nut, he said his only option was to remove the nut, take the material off the fretboard, fill existing holes, and reinstall.

 

When I got it back, I noticed immediately that the intonation was spot on. And has been ever since.

 

So, I guess the answer for this is.. "S--hhhhhhh---t happens.

 

Cool story kidblast!

 

In regards to the Hummingbird, I knew when I bought it that it had been adjusted at the store while it was in inventory. Apparently, a customer had been interested in it but it was setup too high and had cruddy strings. So the shop did an adjustment and put it back on the floor. The customer never bought it and I saw it on sale a few months later. When I bought it, I noticed an odd bit around the nut and chalked it up to the tech being a little sloppy when working on the nut. At the price I was getting this guitar, that never bothered me. The intonation sure did though and that is adjustable.

 

Now that I know the gap was left by the factory, I have to ask the question... why didn't they just replace the nut with a thicker piece of bone to fill the 1/16" gap and recut the slots?

 

Again, I'm not going to do anything at this point because the guitar is playing like butter and you have to look carefully to see the gap.

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Cool story kidblast!

 

In regards to the Hummingbird, I knew when I bought it that it had been adjusted at the store while it was in inventory. Apparently, a customer had been interested in it but it was setup too high and had cruddy strings. So the shop did an adjustment and put it back on the floor. The customer never bought it and I saw it on sale a few months later. When I bought it, I noticed an odd bit around the nut and chalked it up to the tech being a little sloppy when working on the nut. At the price I was getting this guitar, that never bothered me. The intonation sure did though and that is adjustable.

 

Now that I know the gap was left by the factory, I have to ask the question... why didn't they just replace the nut with a thicker piece of bone to fill the 1/16" gap and recut the slots?

 

Again, I'm not going to do anything at this point because the guitar is playing like butter and you have to look carefully to see the gap.

 

So many things can and often do go wrong.. I would think that cosmetic could be easily set right, but the playability is really what matters most, and if your happy, than just run with it until that drives you nutz (like the pun?) enough where you want to remove it from your life.

 

Also.. That the nut slots were high tho, is not a shocker, a common issue no?

 

I picked up a guild 12 a few months back, and the nut was a disaster. Even within the string pairs, all off. It was a real work out just playing anything in the lower registers. That got fixed within a few days of receiving the guitar, and the diff was night and day. 12 strings can be hard enough to play on their own, lets at least have a properly cut nut! Mkay?!

 

Glad it your story ended on a + note!

Edited by kidblast
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So many things can and often do go wrong.. I would think that cosmetic could be easily set right, but the playability is really what matters most, and if your happy, than just run with it until that drives you nutz (like the pun?) enough where you want to remove it from your life.

 

Also.. That the nut slots were high tho, is not a shocker, a common issue no?

 

I picked up a guild 12 a few months back, and the nut was a disaster. Even within the string pairs, all off. It was a real work out just playing anything in the lower registers. That got fixed within a few days of receiving the guitar, and the diff was night and day. 12 strings can be hard enough to play on their own, lets at least have a properly cut nut! Mkay?!

 

Glad it your story ended on a + note!

 

Yes, one expects nuts slots to be too high right out of the box. No one knows who is going to own the guitar and what their particular playing style will be. So you send the guitars out with stout action at the nut and saddle and let the user decided on first setup. It is always easier to lower nuts and saddles than to raise them. To raise them means either putting in shims (just say NO!) or making a whole new nut or saddle.

 

And yes, 12 strings are so difficult to get right. Just look at the gauge differences on the G strings alone! Getting intonation within what is tolerable is a very difficult and fiddly operation. While my Hummingbird was in the shop for weeks and weeks, I had a loan of a Taylor 356ce 12 string. Taylor makes some great 12 strings (I owned one for many years) but, OMG, when I got the Gibson back... what a difference! Holy cow this guitar is awesome. So and I happy? \:D/ \:D/ \:D/ \:D/

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