Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Intense Guitar Upgrade: The Blueridge

A few months ago I sold off a few guitars that I no longer played.  With 24 hours of selling one I bought another... to sell.  It was a Blueridge acoustic, and the price was right.

The problem is, I liked it too much.  However, I knew it would have to go.  But first, it needed a fret job.  I thought about just fret-dressing it, but the grooves were too deep.  Someone had really played this one.  The good news was that, it didn't really have any marks, cuts, dents on the body.  So while the frets seemed old the rest of the guitar appeared to be in good shape.  I ended up installing some new frets into it.

Here's a few pictures of the work I performed.  I won't show all of them since that would involve an insane amount of pictures. 

And here is it with all new frets.

The client that was going to buy it wanted a pre-amp installed into it.  So I suggested a system, and he ordered it.  Now it was time to install it. 

I was insanely careful on cutting the hole for the pre-amp.  It turned out perfectly.  I couldn't make it any better if I were to do it another 100 times. 

However, I ran into a problem.  The slot for the saddle was not deep enough to add a piezo pickup.  This lead to a bit of a problem.  The only way I knew to make the slot deeper was to use a jig from Stewart MacDonald.  However, that was dang near $200 dollars.  So I looked for other solutions. 

To make a long story short, I bought a router base and a downward spiral cutting bit for my Dremel.  On a side note, I already had a router base, but not like this one.  This one had an attachment so that I could cut in a straight line.  I also had to make a jig that set at the angle of a pickup saddle. 

Making the jig and setting up the router took longer than actually cutting the slot.  Here's some photos.

Believe it or not, that's my jig.  The good news is that, it is exactly, and I mean exactly, the same angle as the saddle. 

Here's my Dremel in the router base. 

Since I am not a CNC machine, I knew I would cut the slot wider than the saddle.  To compensate, I used an oversized piece of bone nut, and cut it down to the correct size for a new saddle.  I followed the angle of the old saddle since it was cut just right.  Here's the finished product.

It came out perfectly.  I'll admit, I did the happy dance when I tuned it up, and took final measurements.  Every little thing came out exactly as I wanted.  It looks like it came from the factory with all the changes I made to it.  My client was exceptionally happy with all the work I performed.

Since I managed to make everything so perfect, I decided to work on my own personal guitar, a Walden D-710.  I bought the guitar as a 2nd.  The neck angle on it was incorrect so that it made the strings too high. 

Years ago, I had attempted to bring the saddle height down with not so great results.  I even had to shave down the bridge with a hand planner since the strings were so high.   

Since I now had a new jig, new router base, and a new carbide downward cutting bit, I thought I should fix it.  I also bought another oversized piece of bone nut to cut down to size.  I'll skip the long story, and just show the pictures on how it turned out. 

It came out exactly as I wanted.  The string height is finally where it should be.  The bone saddle is sitting in the slot correctly.  And I even think the sound is better.  But in all fairness, I did add a new set of strings on the Walden. 

I have to say I felt so good about all the work I performed that I felt great the entire week.  I was happy with both guitars.  My client was happy with his guitar.  And everyone was just plain happy.  It made for a good time.  I'll chalk this one up in the win column. 

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