The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #94227   Message #1824264
Posted By: Richard Bridge
01-Sep-06 - 03:01 AM
Thread Name: Best guitar strings for a small guitar?
Subject: RE: Best guitar strings for a small guitar?
25 7/8 is a bit longer than usual, and 25 is quite normal.

If the action of the Guild is high (and bear in mind that just as medium strings were normal on acoustic guitars about 40 years ago, so were actions higher than we would accept today - say 5 mm on the bottom E at the octave in those days, 2.5 now) and cannot be remedied by the methods suggested in detail above, then the question becomes why the Guild cannot be tuned.

I can envisage three possibilities.

First, the machine heads are knackered.
Second the guitar is distorting under the stress.
Third there is a problem at the bridge.

The second and third problems are going to require a good luthier to fix.

Machine heads:
Possibility 1 - the buttons on the machine heads are slipping on the shafts. Remedy - remove with great care and pliers, put superglue on shaft, replace with great care and pliers. If the buttons are broken you can get new ones (may not look identical) from Stewart-MacDonald. To refit the new ones may require you to heat the spindle. If so be careful not to put the new button on too far - a metal object to act as a stop is wise.
Possibility 2 - the gears in the machine head are too stiff to turn against the tension of the strings. First try a bit of WD-40. If that fixes it for a while, this is the problem. Long-term cure - remove strip clean lubricate and re-assemble and replace the machine heads.
Possibility 3 - the gears in the machine heads are so worn (or have become loose) that they are jumping back. You MAY be dead lucky and be able to juggle the gears and shafts so that every reassembled pair works. This will not last for very long. You MAY be lucky and find a screw to tighten to solve the problem, and you MAY be lucky and find the gears can be turned round so that they work (but that is not a permanent fix either). The long term solution is new machine heads. replacements from cheap to pretty damned expensive are available from Stew-Mac.
Possibility 4 - the machine heads are loose from the headstock. Remedy - new screws and re-attach. Do not use screws that are too big, you can split the headstock.

Physical distortion.
Is the neck angling forward under increased tension? Your neck joint is loose or damaged. Go to a luthier and expect a large-ish bill. Is the body distorting under increased tension? Some struts and/or joints are loose or damaged inside. Go to a luthier. You may be lucky and find that the loose bits can be glued or clamped through the soundhole. If not, the top or back may have to come off and expect a very large bill. If the top or back start to open gaps around the purfling, you may be lucky and find that the loose bits can be glued or clamped from the outside or through the soundhole. If not, the top or back may have to come off and expect a very large bill.

Is the table tilting forward? - see above. If there is no physical damage a "Bridge Doctor" may be worth trying. Google the phrase.
Is the bridge coming away from the top? A good luthier can re-attach at no very great cost.
Is the top damaged in the area or round the inner bridge plate? A good luthier can fix but the bill will be bigger.
Are the ball ends chewing up and sinking into the inner bridge plate? Try one of those brass plates mentioned above. Or the inner bridge plate can be replaced by a good luthier but it is not all that easy because the access is tricky and the fit has to be just right.

Let us know what it turned out to be...