A lot of modern guitars pass the shop without me writing about them on the blog. When they leave the premises after repair/adjustment, I am as happy to get rid of them as the owner is over having it repaired! But sometimes I am surprised, like this time, by a circa 1988 Kramer Ferrington semi-acoustic parlor guitar of the "hard rock power ballad" type. Everything in the design was black and sharp. The nut and saddle was in black plastic. You can read more about it here. Or here.
After a chat with the owner, it was decided that it would get a major overhaul with a reglued and replaced saddle, a re-fret and above all a nut intonation. A lot of work on a plywood guitar from the 1980s, but when I looked it up, they go for around SEK 10 000. More money than I thought.
Upon closer inspection, I could tell that the neck was in good condition and that, amazingly, it actually sounded really good. The tone was there, but not the volume, which was about half of the volume on a regular GammelGura. The intonation was lousy, I was later able to ascertain that the saddle was placed about 3-4 mm too high up on the bridge!
A new bridge was made. I also took the opportunity to wet the inside of the top around the bridge and put the top under pressure for a few days to flatten out the top which had a rotational deformation around the bridge. The new bridge was glued in place, as it was a plywood top, I glued with slow curing epoxy glue. It turned out that the top had an unusually nice and delicate X-bracing and was otherwise a light build. That is the explanation why it sounded unexpectedly good. The sound hole was extra large, so it was easy to access the inside.
There was no room above the string pins on the bridge plate for a K&K mic. It had an under saddle pickup and a lump with a battery attached to the side that didn't work. The mic did not work as the pickup under the saddle was in bad condition. I ordered a bunch of simple under saddle pickups for this and similar repairs in the future. They are easy to change as there is a small miniature plug at the end which connects to the lump of most similar mics.
The guitar was measured for intonation and about 2 mm was shortened on the top of the fingerboard. On the new bridge, a saddle ditch for the sdadle was milled 3-4 mm further down than the original. One thing I didn't think about was that the hole for the pickup at one end of the saddle ditch ended up right on top of one of the X-braces with the new placement! By drilling the hole diagonally through the top I was able to mount the pickup without drilling holes in the X-brace. When it was done the mic sounded lousy, but with the bass on max and the treble on minimum on my simple acoustic Laney guitar amp in the room it actually sounded OK :)
It made it vibrate all weekend in the shop, probably at least 7 days, while I worked at home with the bookkeeping that I neglected all year. To my surprise, the vibration worked on this one, even though it was all plywood. My usual three days is enough for solid wood guitars, but all the glue in the plywood seems to require at least double that for effect.
The black color was horrible, the slightest scratch or thumbprint was visible. I put some Fulgentin on the top which worked well.
The result was a guitar that intoned and played perfectly and had a great tone with sustain and a balanced, creamy and open tone. I could actually play it for half an hour without getting tired, which rarely happens with modern guitars. I would have liked to keep it to be able to play quietly without disturbing the neighbors late at night. With its small format and lightness, it reminded me of a small parlor. A cutaway, 16 strings to the body and 65 cm scale made it feel a bit like an electric guitar too. Cool guitar!