Warped top on my acoustic

StuartSStuartS Posts: 167Member
edited August 2016 in Guitar Chat
I pulled my acoustic out of the cupboard last week but after a few days of playing it remembered why I put it away to favour an electric. Let just say its never been the easiest guitar to play.

The guitar in question is a Lorenzo Western Steel strung guitar, it cost me a grand total of £85, so I don't imagine it is that good for quality and I have owned it for about 13 years.

Action around the 12th fret is pretty high, but I do like some of the acoustic tones, although some notes/strings can sound dead. It is currently fitted with Daddario 10s.

Anyway, cut to the chase. Last night for the second time I noticed a big bulge after the bridge prob about 2-3mm, but this time also a depression around the sound hole, using a straight edge from neck to bridge, meassured at about 3-4mm.

Both of these are causing guite big tilt in the bridge and the saddle isn't really doing its job.
Looking from the bridge end, the bridge is also slightly twisted in relation to the fret board.

Now I am going to make the assumption that there isn't much I can do about this without throwing time and money at it, and for what the guitar is worth, it probably isn't worth it.

However, is this something that will eventually happen with all acoustics over time, regardless of cost or material. Or just a case of this will happen to cheap guitars?

Comments

  • LesterLester Posts: 1,550Member, Moderator
    My guess is that one of two things (or both) will have contributed to this: one, the wood used for the top was not up to the job and, two, the storage conditions were unfavourable. If you had said that you got it out of the loft then I would have been far more suspicious than out of the cupboard (because storage temperature and humidity will fluctuate more in the loft). A cheap guitar will not have been made from quality wood so whilst this can happen to any guitar, yes it is more likely to happen to a cheap one.

    Like you, my assumption is that you have firewood in the making so just keep playing it until it becomes unplayable. You can get a replacement Lorenzo from £45 to £79 new which will probaly last another 13 years.

    One last thought: 10s are extremely light gauge for an acoustic. I wonder how this guitar would have coped with a more normal gauge, eg. 13s.
  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 841Member
    This is a not too uncommon phenomenon known as 'belly up' on an acoustic guitar.

    As the strings pull on the bridge the front wants to dip into the sound hole and rise behind the bridge. As suggested it might be the storage conditions or (relatively) poor timber/construction or often one or more of the internal braces stuck to the underside of the front have become loose or partly unattached. This might be accompanied by a buzz or rattle at certain frequencies but not necessarily.

    To be honest with a total of £85 invested in the guitar it would probably cost all of that to fix unless you want to have a go yourself for the experience.

    If you want to have a go, take of all the strings and tap the top listening for a rattle, use a dentist/mechanics small mirror to look inside and see if any struts are parted (pressing lightly on the top in certain areas may help.

    Identifying the problem is only part of it, next you have to get a slip of glue soaked paper into the crack and arrange a clamp system to press inside against the top.

    There is an excellent online resource at a site called Frets dot com. Frank Ford is a real master.

    http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier/Technique/Setup/BuzzDiagnosis/Brace/brace.html

    http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier/Technique/Structural/LongPipette/longpipette01.html

    And the link on how to do it.

    http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier/Technique/Guitar/Structural/XBraceWrinkle/xwrinkle1.html

    As I said, it's probably not financially worth the worry of repairing and you'd be best sinking the money into a better guitar.
  • StuartSStuartS Posts: 167Member
    The guitar hasn't been stored in the loft/garage or anything like that, but my parents house where the guitar originally lived was quite damp (always moisture on windows etc), my currently house is the driest of the three it has live in. The guitar has always been in a gig bag (either standing up or lying down).

    In regards to strings, it used to have heavier strings, but I changed them to try and get something similar in feel to my electric, I guess the damage was already done by then, I've just never noticed (apart from the rubbish action).

    I have seen an item called a JLD Bridge Doctor this morning, which re-straightens the top, it isn't that much, but only seems to be available in US. It would be a shame to get rid of the guitar after having it for so long, but not worth throwing money at it either.
  • The23rdmanThe23rdman Posts: 1,560Member
    It really isn't worth spending any money on, tbh, Stuart. I wouldn't be surprised if the heavier strings had a major bearing on the problem. I can't imagine a laminated top like that having the bracing that would cope with anything much over 11's.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,871Member, Moderator
    Sounds to me as though 13's might have wrecked the top altogether.
    Take the strings off and, using a mirror, have a good look inside under the bridge. A brace may have come unglued.
  • Ape09090Ape09090 Posts: 2,744Member
    I agree with Jocko ,get a little mirror in there or your arm if it'll fit and see if any bracing appears/feels/looks loose.
  • StuartSStuartS Posts: 167Member
    I will see if I can see anything tonight. I would be very surprised if the bracing is still attached, maybe it hasn't got any :-)

    I have no idea what strings it came with, but I remember changing them years ago as I was having issues holding chords.

    In preparation for a change I had a look at some acoustics at lunch. I didn't have very long, but played a nice feeling Crafter parlour with fantastic action, nice neck (about £180), the only downside was the G string caused an awful resonance from the guitar when played around the 2nd-5th fret. Apart from that, I liked a lot about it. Certainly more comfortable sitting down than my dreadnought.
  • StuartSStuartS Posts: 167Member
    Well I looked at the Lorenzo tonight and I don't think it's good news.

    Basically a long brace that runs diagonally right under the bridge has split in two for about 5-6 inches.

    I guess it could be fixed, but I think it's time for a new solid top.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,871Member, Moderator
    Strings off. White wood glue and a couple of G clamps (B&Q). Glue it, clamp it, leave it. It might work, it might not. If not, the extra glue may make it burn a bit better!
  • StuartSStuartS Posts: 167Member
    Originally Posted By: Jocko
    the extra glue may make it burn a bit better!


    Ha ha, I like it.

    If I get the time to look at it at the weekend, I may give it a try.
  • Ape09090Ape09090 Posts: 2,744Member
    it's amazing what a bit of wood glue well applied can do,I'd have a go at it if I thought I could get good clamping pressure where it's needed
  • henrysbhenrysb Posts: 3Member
    Get a " Bridge Doctor " fitted , sorts out bulges and increases volume , tone and sustain , .
  • The23rdmanThe23rdman Posts: 1,560Member
    That bridge doctor gadget looks fantastic.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,871Member, Moderator
    Might just do the job. A lot cheaper than a luthier.
  • BUDSY1BUDSY1 Posts: 138Member
    Best with another guitar as also can Purchase a used one

    from your nearest Gumtree site which u can have checked out

    before buying

    and many bargains are had but its your call.
  • StuartSStuartS Posts: 167Member
    I am going to try to have a look to fix it at the weekend, but will only have limited time.

    Looked at and almost purchased a Yamaha F310 yesterday, played very nicely and for £110.

    However, the finishing was pretty poor (yes I know its a budget guitar) but I didn't expect to see/feel a 6 inch crack in the finish between the side and back. The fretboard and sound hole on another were also pretty shabby. So I decided to leave it.
  • StuartSStuartS Posts: 167Member
    I didn't get any time at the weekend, but decided to order a doctor bridge. I fitted it last night without issue but had problems tightening the rod (needs a 3/16 hex key). So I will be purchasing one of them today and trying to straighten the top tonight. For around £20 it will be worth a shot. The worst that will happen is it doesn't work, hopefully it will make it a little more playable again.

    In the meantime I am still looking at other possible replacements, eg Cort Earth 200, but have not tried enough to have decided on body size. However, I really need to sort a few things out (sell some guitars/stuff etc) before the possibility of a new acoustic.
  • StuartSStuartS Posts: 167Member
    Oh my goodness! There is life in the old dog yet.

    If you had told me a week ago that a bulge at the bridge and a depression around the sound hole would have made much of a difference to the sound, tone and projection of a guitar, I would have told you 'your nuts'. It's just hollow wood and some metal strings, right? A few degrees in bridge angle won't matter.

    But £20 later, I have now tightened the doctor bridge (the top is almost flat again!) and slightly re-adjusted the truss rod (for correct relief) and it feels and sounds miles better.

    Ok, this isn't a Taylor (substitute any other high priced guitar) but I have learnt something in the last few weeks/months, sentimental value means more to me than the £ that something cost.

    When I bought this guitar, my girlfriend (now my wife) was with me and no matter how crappy this guitar might be, it means something to me, maybe if my son takes up guitar this is something that I can pass down to him in years to come 'daddy's guitar'.

    Anyway back to the important part. The JLD Bridge Doctor is the real deal, I was pretty sceptical, but wanted to give it a try and it's worked. Its like the guitar has got a second wind. Crüe tension on the strings is better, there appears to be more sustain, it just sounds more musical.

    What I do still hate about this guitar is the tuners, they are awful! So they will be changed in the near future, then I may even decide to send it to Richard for a setup (never had one in my ownership). But I have a smile on my face right now, I really thought this guitars days were numbered.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,871Member, Moderator
    Great stuff. Some nice, reasonably priced tuners here:
    http://www.axetec.co.uk/guitar_parts_uk_036.htm
  • The23rdmanThe23rdman Posts: 1,560Member
    Sentimental value is priceless. I'm glad that Bridge Doctor works as I may add one to one of mine as an experiment.
  • StuartSStuartS Posts: 167Member
    Thanks, Jocko and The23rdman. I am glad I gave it a go rather than just writing the guitar off.

    Also thanks for the link for the parts.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 2,916Member
    Take all but two strings off. Play it slide a'la Seasick Steve.
  • StuartSStuartS Posts: 167Member
    Originally Posted By: Kevin Peat
    Take all but two strings off. Play it slide a'la Seasick Steve.


    Don't know what your talking about?
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,550Member, Moderator
    You need to know who Seasick Steve is and have a look at his guitar.
  • StuartSStuartS Posts: 167Member
    Well the new tuners are have also been fitted. It needs a little work on the nut as one or two strings are sticking when being tuned, but that's a job for another day.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,871Member, Moderator
    Try rubbing pencil lead on an emery board and sprinkle the dust below the strings. I actually have a bottle of graphite powder in my toolbox. You don't want to try enlarging the nut slots without the necessary nut files. Could lead to a new nut needing fitted.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 2,916Member
    Seasick Steve

    You'd need an extra string and a bottle-cap pick up.
  • StuartSStuartS Posts: 167Member
    Thanks Jocko. I did put some on when I changed the strings but maybe I didn't cover it well enough, definitely worth another try before worrying about the nut.
  • BTNMICBTNMIC Posts: 2Member

    Just to let forum members know that we have started stocking the JLD Bridge Doctor in the UK (both the Screw Mount and Brass Pin Mount versions) and you can find both on our eBay shop at: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Bette...ml?_fsub=12133918010

    We are also in the process of developing some bespoke strings to use in conjunction with the Brass Pin version of the product.

     

    Paul Storrie

    Better Than New Musical Instrument Company Ltd.

    020 8252 1034 ext 201

  • Johnny7Johnny7 Posts: 25Member

    Hi

    I have a Harmony Sovereign from the 70's that has suffered belly bulge, I had thought of trying a Bridge doctor thing but thought they only sold it the U.S.!!

     



    I may look in to odering one from here in the UK 


    John 

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