Dry Acoustic Guitars

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rparker
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Dry Acoustic Guitars

Post by rparker » June 9th, 2015, 5:49 am

My long, dry dead guitar and subsequent reaming I received story.

I might have done it to myself. I have a fairly decent every day player. A Breedlove Stage J350EF with a Jumbo body. It in was purchased as a quit-smoking prize 4 or 5 years ago, so it has some sort of sentimental value.

Part of the dangers of being in the stand is little control over humidity. It was never that great of a player in terms of action and playability. I know now that acoustic guitars can be almost as easy to play as electrics. I didn't know that back then, and not much seemed to be playing better at the store. It sure did sound sweet.

So I had some issues with the guitar which I think were, in no small part, due to wood drying out and humidity being inconsistent. It got gradually worse, but....

#1: it seemed like I was setting this thing up every 2-3 weeks. Mostly all small stuff, and normally after being unable to easily bar a G-chord at the 3rd fret or something just as easy. I used small truss rod adjustments and the under-saddle shims to manage. It would play very nicely for a week or so.
#2: It was very unforgiving on the High-E string (thinnest) in that it would slide down the edge of the fret wire if I didn't fret the string properly.
#3: Increased buzzing for no good reason.
#4: The action got so horrible in the open position that I ended up replacing the nut. I had trouble one night making a simple C-chord in the open position.

In fairness to myself, I was on the lookout for the legendary tell-tale signs of drying out guitars as directed by a salesman. None of the signals presented itself. No sunken or raised tops and no cracks. I always wondered why damage was a sign and not a result. I digress.

So a few weeks before a milestone b-day, I found myself as I often do, playing some light guitar for a few minutes before going to sleep. It wouldn't do. The action was too low. Both shims were in. Time to back off mu dual action truss-rod. I got my handy allen wrench out at got it into place. Before I could even register to myself that the truss rod was tight, it snapped. Not sure it even moved, although it had to have.

I scared the hell out of the missus, who looked over to me and saw what she later described as me looking physically ill. I sure felt it. I'd broken one on an MIM neck one time that I knew was toast anyhow. I just wanted to see what kind of pressure it took and know the sound and feel. Morbid curiosity, yes, but a lot of wanting to know what it felt like so that I knew when to stop on other guitars. Believe me, I thought I was in no danger before that night.

So fast forward a week or so, and Breedlove lets me know that it isn't warranty situation. They could not easily fix this one, as it was not one of their unglued models. I was offered what would otherwise have been a really great deal on a replacement. I was not pleased.

I run across town to speak with my newest, favorite guitar salesman. Not your ordinary, uninformed salesman when it comes to acoustics. I get his opinion on the situation, and it was not very favorable for my side.

In the mean-time, a milestone berfday prize was to purchase that, "the one" killer acoustic. Code-name "Neo", and in the form of a Taylor 614CE. (yeah, man!!!!!!!) Needless to say, I immediately adopted a brand-new strategy for how I play and store this guitar. I got an in-guitar/in-case d'Addario (Planet Waves) humidifier system. I went through the suggested pre-humidifying process that only took a few days. All is well, and it already makes a very noticeable difference in tone rather than being dry in the case as it was for a couple weeks. Quite surprising.

Back to my Breedlove, though. It's on the way back to me. It's due here tomorrow. Although their intentions were noble, it was a mistake on their part to even ask for the guitar to begin with. If a truss-rod was in no way a guitar replacement issue, as they claimed, the only thing they could have done was a neck. They said they were going to do this, or something along that line, until he realized his mistake on the neck type being glued. For their part, they were not going to charge me the shipping cost to get it out there. They were going to insist on charging me for shipping on the way back, though. I got reamed. I wanted the case. it's a nice case.

Next up, is what about my every day player? I was certainly not going to be bringing no $3k gee-tar out onto the deck for a casual morning strum. Not during the over-protective stage at least. The way I saw it, I was out what was then a $1,100 guitar. I was offered what would have otherwise been a very nice deal on a replacement. They were certainly not going to lose money, but not making much, either. I had to put on a narrow focus view of the situation. I could get a brand new Breedlove in the same price range for a really nice discount. Not even the local GC could come close to it with a typical holiday sale. Not even with double the discount. It would have been like trading in a damaged $1k guitar. Trade in values are horrible, as anyone who has ever tried has found out. GC's game is to look online at eBay and Craig's List to see what the going used price is, and then offer half. That's about where I would come out on this if I decided.

I decided. When putting on the binders, it was too good to pass up. It's due here tomorrow as well. Due here by week's end is another in-case/in-guitar humidifier system. I got the Breedlove Studio model, Concert shape series. I went over the GC and Sam Ash to test drive the lot. Lots of really nice players in the $500 - $1,000 range, btw. One dud in the bunch was a Stage model. Same problem I had. The thin-E string sliding off the fret wire. I was stunned.

If you're still reading this, my strategy on this guitar is going to start off much different than the last Breedlove. I got the strategy after reading some articles which included an interview of someone high up at Taylor. To paraphrase, it was sort of an "if you don't do anything else suggested, at least put it in the case one week a month with a humidifier system. It will be like a spa, and it will thank you for doing so." So, that's what I will try until I see the first sign of drying out. otherwise, it will live in it's case a few feet away from where the stand was anyhow, and will be semi-convenient to pick up. It will also allow me to do the same to a modern-day Dobro and a true $100 beater I got online that played better than my old Breedlove ever did. Sort of rotation thing. it's Monday, time to change out guitars.

Now what to do with the old one?

And what to do with all my electrics?
Roy

"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

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Nuno
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Re: Dry Acoustic Guitars

Post by Nuno » June 11th, 2015, 4:27 am

Hi Roy! I hope you are doing well.

Try to go to a good luthier. I did it with my Ramírez several months ago. It is my very first guitar and it is also a sentimental thing. He confirmed that it hadn't any fix. He recommended to me to remove the strings and to keep it in the case (it is no longer playable, it has several important affairs: the bridge is almost unglued, the neck is broken, and many more).

On the other guitars, I always try to play/review all of them at least monthly. Generally I do it a weekly maintenance to the acoustic.

I don't live in a very wet/dry area so I don't use any humidifier system but I always return guitars to the case/bag after a playing session.

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Re: Dry Acoustic Guitars

Post by rparker » June 19th, 2015, 12:42 pm

Hi Nuno! All's well as it can be. Thanks! I hope you're doing well yourself.

What sort of weekly maintenance do you do to your acoustic? I'm rolling along with a staggered case hydration schedule with the new Breedlove, Dobro and ESP-LTD acoustics. The Taylor stays in the case except for when playing.

I'm considering a room humidifier for a spare room in the Winter months for the electrics to rotate in and out of. I'll keep tabs on the humidity via a meter and get a feel for it first. Don't have to worry about that until October or November when the air changes.

On a it of an update on the old Breedlove, I got hosed. Brought it in to someone for another opinion, or several as the case was, and all said the same thing. To paraphrase, "maybe a bit of a sign of dehydration starting, but nothing at all major." A couple of "seems normal for 5 year-old range" type of comments. More pointed was that the truss rod should not have busted using normal routines. Oh well.

I did put a socket up at the first fret to make a slide out of it. (dual truss-rod, and the opposite from normal part broke) it works OK, but really darned clean for a slide guitar sound. That, and it's just kind of heart breaking. It's up in a closet for now, but I will likely put it in Craig's List or something.
Roy

"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin

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Nuno
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Re: Dry Acoustic Guitars

Post by Nuno » July 2nd, 2015, 6:51 am

I try to play all my guitars weekly... although usually it is more one of those New Year's resolutions...

Maybe my electrics can be in the case or bag more days/weeks but I usually review and play my acoustic at least weekly. If I am in a hurry I just play some chords to allow that the guitar vibrates.

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