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Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?

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Vixen 20 May 03 - 08:51 AM
mooman 20 May 03 - 09:19 AM
mooman 20 May 03 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Jon 20 May 03 - 09:32 AM
Mooh 20 May 03 - 09:32 AM
GUEST,Midchuck down in the office 20 May 03 - 09:50 AM
Fortunato 20 May 03 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,Vixen @ work, who evidently has dropped a co 20 May 03 - 11:02 AM
Vixen 21 May 03 - 08:18 AM
GUEST,silverfish 21 May 03 - 08:36 AM
Willie-O 21 May 03 - 08:41 AM
GUEST,Strollin' Johnny 21 May 03 - 12:31 PM
Kaleea 22 May 03 - 04:09 AM
mooman 22 May 03 - 04:21 AM
Bernard 22 May 03 - 08:39 AM
kendall 22 May 03 - 09:39 AM
mooman 22 May 03 - 10:57 AM
GUEST,Whistle Stop 22 May 03 - 11:05 AM
MMario 22 May 03 - 11:17 AM
M.Ted 22 May 03 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,Ole Bull 22 May 03 - 03:06 PM
Frankham 22 May 03 - 04:25 PM
Mark Ross 22 May 03 - 08:15 PM
Chip2447 23 May 03 - 03:07 AM
mooman 23 May 03 - 03:12 AM
GUEST,mbazzano 10 Feb 13 - 06:48 PM
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Subject: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: Vixen
Date: 20 May 03 - 08:51 AM

D'Cats--

I know there will be a mess of you who say "You can never have too many guitars...Buy another!" That having been heard, however, here's the situation:

I have a 1985 Alvarez ($380, new). A week after I got it, I dropped it and split the top in two places, which was repaired by a local luthier who has now moved to other parts. That repair has held up very well, though the scars are not lovely to behold. It has a very nice tone--everyone who plays it can't believe it's a (relatively) cheap instrument. I like the way it sounds, and I like the way it plays, and I'm sort of emotionally attached to it after all these years.

Last year, it started to buzz, but only when I was strumming with a heavy hand. So I lightened my touch. I also took it to my first guitar teacher, who had set it up the first time, and he said that it probably needed a new nut and a bridge shim. He also pointed out that I should get the frets redone (they're a bit scalloped after 18 years) and that the fingerboard has some pretty deep depressions where my fingers go for D, G, A, C, and E. He suggested I take it to a luthier and get an estimate. I took it to a well-recommended luthier, who basically told me it wasn't worth repairing a cheap student guitar, and that I should get myself a professional-quality instrument. That's not in my financial picture at the moment.

Anyway, I just (last night, in preparation for a Friday session) changed my strings to Martin SP+ lights from the Elixir lights, because I liked the sound of the Martin strings. EVERYTHING BUZZES. The guitar sounds awful. Not different, awful. Reynaud took a look, and said the neck might have a tiny amount of bend to it, but not enough to make it sound so bad. I don't think the Martin strings are at fault, I think my instrument has some "issues" that need attention. And I'm going to get some Elixir lights onto it asap, just to get me through Friday night, and probably the next gig in June...

So, here's the questions:

Are these sorts of repairs costly?
Do they need to be done by a top-notch luthier?
Can I do them myself?
Is it worth doing them?
How long can I expect it to take?
How much would these kinds of repairs cost in New England?
Or should I really give up on the instrument, and get something better?

Any and all advice is most appreciated!

V


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: mooman
Date: 20 May 03 - 09:19 AM

Dear Vixen,

Are these sorts of repairs costly?

From what I can ascertain from your description....not necessarily.

Do they need to be done by a top-notch luthier?

No.

Can I do them myself?

I would say yes.

Is it worth doing them?

I would say yes again as you are attached to the guitar and like the sound of it.

How long can I expect it to take?

I would start out with a new bone saddle, slightly higher, and take it from there. With a little filing and shaping, this should take no more than about half an hour and may already eliminate some of the problems. If you put in a new saddle, you will probably not need a shim in the saddle slot. It could well be that you need a refret or partial refret after this length of time. This is possible to do yourself if you have access to a luthier's supplier for the correct fretwire or any luthier should be able to do it relatively inexpensively. A refinishing of the fingerboard is more tricky and will add to the cost. It may be unnecessary (but one would need to see the extent of wear).

How much would these kinds of repairs cost in New England?

I live outside the US (Belgium) so cannot comment on the likely cost but I would say less than $50 so far.

Or should I really give up on the instrument, and get something better?

This is entirely your choice but the guitar sounds fixable to me!

Best regards,

moo


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: mooman
Date: 20 May 03 - 09:25 AM

P.S. If there is a slight bow in the neck this can usually be corrected by a small truss-rod adjustment (no more than 1/4 turn at a time!). If it is buzzing because of that, the neck may have bowed in a convex rather than concave direction. 9i.e. is it bowed backwards or forwards?). Also worn frets may cause a buzz of the strings against the higher ones. New strings are always a little "floppier" and liable to stretching until they settle down.

moo


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 20 May 03 - 09:32 AM

Mooman sounds a lot more practical than me... I'd do the saddle and nut but not the frets if the needed doing. I'm also a little wary of truss rod adjustment.

I find it hard to imagine that it's not worth fixing. I'd suggest you try another luthier.


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: Mooh
Date: 20 May 03 - 09:32 AM

If it was my guitar I'd fix it myself. The frets may only need, or you could make do with, a dressing rather than a full or partial refret. A new nut and saddle are small repairs which you may be able to do yourself, especially if you get good advice from www.frets.com or elsewhere.

The sentimental value eclipses all other rationale. Fix it and keep playing it.

In the meantime, create a small longterm instrument saving fund to pay for new instruments and repairs. For the price of a daily cup of coffee, pack of smokes, pint of beer, lottery ticket, or what have you, you can fund some music fun.

Otherwise I agree, follow mooman's advice.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: GUEST,Midchuck down in the office
Date: 20 May 03 - 09:50 AM

Vixen, I donno where you are, but you said New England.

If you can get the thing to Rutland, VT., our own bigchuck (Sandy Morse) can do the work easily, will do it well, and is quite inexpensive. But you have to nag him if you need it in a hurry.

You can probably PM him if you want to follow up.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: Fortunato
Date: 20 May 03 - 10:19 AM

Hello Vixen and say hey to Reynaud. Here's my 2 cents:
I personally would not undertake a fret job unless you have some corresponding experience. As for raising the saddle, if it's too high the intonation will go off. Often saddles must be compensated to allow for variance and I think that's a luthiers job.
Here's the deal,IMHOP. If you want to keep the guitar because it's a part of your life, then pay the $200-300 dollars it will cost to fix it right, all the way. Then you will most likely be set for several years. If you are ready to move on, then put it in the case with a humidifier, slack the strings, and go look at the basic models of good guitar brands, Taylor, Larivee, Seagull, etc. These new guitars are generally much better than guitars made years ago. Plop down the $250 -300 you would have paid and pay the rest off on time. (I know credit is evil) A guitar is worth a little interest, and you'll probably play it the rest of your life. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish!
Just my opinion of course, but I've never regreted the money spent to purchase a good guitar.
Hope to see you at the Getaway.
Chance


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: GUEST,Vixen @ work, who evidently has dropped a co
Date: 20 May 03 - 11:02 AM

Mudcats are the best!

Mooman--thank you for the practical and speedy response!

Mooh--FRETS.COM is *amazing* Thank you for pointing me in that direction! I *do* have a "change can" (39 oz coffee) that I've been patiently adding pennies, nickles, dimes, quarters, and half-dollars to for 5 years. It's about 2/3 full, but I don't think it's enough yet...maybe I should take it to the bank and find out!

Midchuck--I'm in NE Connecticut (we actually have said hello at NOMAD). I'll PM Sandy and find out more--thank you for the referral!

Fortunato--As you probably know from the Getaway, I have a fondness for Kendall's Taylor. I also recently heard a Collings that I really liked the sound of, but I didn't get to play it. I picked my Alvarez out of several of that model the guitar store had in stock, and after spending hours and hours over a couple of weeks plunking away on everything they had, including things I couldn't afford. I was such a rank beginner, I'm amazed they put up with me, but they were really helpful and kindly refrained from criticizing my ineptitude. I go there now to buy things, and the owner still remembers when I bought this guitar. In short, I'm dreading the process of finding another one.

Again, Thank you all!!!

V


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: Vixen
Date: 21 May 03 - 08:18 AM

Well, I went home last night armed with a mess of info from Frets.com (what a wealth of expertise!)

First of all, when I tuned it up, the buzzing didn't seem as bad as it had been in the morning, so maybe the string stretching/retuning cycle was helping things...

However, I'm pretty sure I have a nut problem, and maybe a bridge issue for the D string, which buzzes at both ends. It looks like the strings are too deep into the grooves in the nut, and the strings are hitting on the frets.

My frets are no where near as worn as the ones in the pictures at Frets.com, and the depressions my fingers have worn aren't as deep as the ones in the pictures either, so I think those are very minor concerns at this time.

I'm in the process of locating a luthier to take an educated and experienced look and give me an estimate.

Thank you all again!

V


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: GUEST,silverfish
Date: 21 May 03 - 08:36 AM

If you love it - stick with it. If repairs are extensive (and expensive) enough to radically change the feel and playability of it, then is the time to replace it. Of my 7 guitars (all regularly used) I still tend to use my favourite - one of the cheapest, but with a beautiful sound and action. About a year ago it had its 2nd major neck job by a luthier in 25 years - in between I fiddle with repairs myself (cardboard shims under bridge and nut, etc.) I reckon in another couple of years it will need further major surgery, but until then, while people are pleased to hear it and I am happy playing it I shall continue to use it. It may even see me out. It cost £40 (pounds sterling in late 70,s - and cost me at least 4 times that in work over the years - let alone cost of strings - but outlasted 1 wife and is loved more than ever.... If it's a cheap guitar then you won't lose much, and may gain in experience and skill by doing repairs yourself - at least you'll then have some idea of when you're being ripped off. Best of luck


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: Willie-O
Date: 21 May 03 - 08:41 AM

Everything you're talking about sounds like routine maintenance for an older guitar. Just as you know you're going to have to fix the exhaust system and brakes on an old car, and it's usually worth the money. As long as it doesn't have structural complications from the old repaired top split, which sounds like it's OK.

One advantage you have if you want to do (some of?) the work yourself is that you're not going to affect the guitar's value a lot if you mess up. It's a player's instrument worth 2-300, much more important, it's your instrument.

One thing that I'd suggest if you're going to send it out, is find not necessarily a luthier (builder) as such, but ask around for a well-regarded repair specialist, ideally one who specializes in regulation and setup.   I am fortunate enough to have a great luthier in my neighbourhood, but when my Martin needed a lot of help a few years ago, he pointed me at such a person instead of undertaking to do the repair himself, and I was extremely pleased with the results. (A guitar that had never had correct intonation has been great ever since). For luthiers, repair jobs are a sideline, and a lot of them, like the one you talked to, don't really care to work on inexpensive instruments.   

Good luck, and I bet a year from now you'll have two nice guitars...

W-O


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny
Date: 21 May 03 - 12:31 PM

Hmmmmmm! Don't waste time and dosh on a lost cause. Save the money on repairing your cheapo. If you don't have a stash of moolah, put what you saved down as a deposit on a quality guitar (Lowden/Santa Cruz/Martin/Collings for example, but there are lots of others), stop smoking/drinking/gambling/running around with wild women (men?), or whatever your drug is, and pay it off over a couple of years. Nothing cheers the heart like playing a fine instrument - I know, I played 150-quid (240 dollars to you) cheapos for years but learned a valuable lesson when I got my Lowden.

I was OK, I had the readies, but I'd have gone into debt to buy the guitar. Debt's only evil when it's unmanageable.
Johnny


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: Kaleea
Date: 22 May 03 - 04:09 AM

You would not believe all that I went through trying to get a little work done on my neck because of the buzzing of a couple of strings on my old Gibson. My dear, old Gibson I've had for decades--my ONLY guitar! In the end, some screwball screwed up the bridge, made a sanding effort of sorts on the fingerboard, and the buzzing still went on. I did what I did when I was just a teenage kid with a cheap guitar--I tore a little piece of paper off the envelope in which the string came, folded it into a small thing, and placed it carefully just under the string directly on the bridge. It raised the strings ever so slightly so that they did not buzz. This I did in the presence of the local "expert" dipstick who came so highly recommended by a great many people in my area of the midwest. He was amazed that the buzzing ceased immediately. At least he declined payment for ruining the original rosewood bridge, and making a mess of the rosewood neck. I was not a happy camper, to say the least. I think in the end, I will have somebody drop a new bone bridge in--shaped according to Gibson factory specs of course!--& that should do the trick. If you love the guitar, talk to everybody in your area who works on guitars. When you have a gut feeling that the person is the right person, remove the paper from under your strings & hand it over--& pray! Let me know, & I'll pray with you!


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: mooman
Date: 22 May 03 - 04:21 AM

My feelings too Kaleea!

It seems to me Vixen is attached to her guitar and likes the sound so, for me, the initial experiment of filing and dropping in the saddle slot a slightly higher bone saddle as I mentioned above is worth the couple of dollars it will cost and Vixen could certainly do this herself. It might even solve the problem!

moo
(ex-Lowden, ex-Guild, ex-Gibson, ex-Manson and ex-Martin owner ....even those were not Nirvana for a nerd such as myself...don't go on the make but rather go on what you personally like! I now play a very fine but slightly unfashionable German-made guitar!)


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: Bernard
Date: 22 May 03 - 08:39 AM

As you only noticed the buzzes after changing strings to ones you don't usually use, part of the problem may simply be the difference in tension of the two typse of string.

Some guitars are more susceptible to this - I have an old Eko Ranger 12-string (which I haven't used for thirty years!), which is pernickety about the truss rod setup. To have it right for one set of strings means that for a slightly lighter set of strings it 'kicks back' and buzzes at the fourth fret, but only when you are playing it... very disconcerting!

I've got a few Yamahas these days, all of which needed a bit of tweaking when new! Thirty years later I'm not hankering for a Lowden, Taylor, or even a Martin (of which they are blatant copies)...


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: kendall
Date: 22 May 03 - 09:39 AM

I wouldn't put a $40.00 saddle on a $10.00 horse.
You have gotten your money out of the cheap guitar, now, you are probably ready for a good one. A good quality guitar will make you want to play.


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: mooman
Date: 22 May 03 - 10:57 AM

On the other hand a $2 saddle is cheaper than a $1000 dollar guitar!

moo


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: GUEST,Whistle Stop
Date: 22 May 03 - 11:05 AM

Lots of good advice here, but unfortunately it's all over the map; some people say repair it, some say don't bother. For myself, I own some very high quality guitars, but still hang onto my 1985 Alvarez, which is a surprisingly good instrument. Don't let the name on the headstock make your decision for you.

I hope you recognize the limitations of advice from an on-line forum; none of us can actually see, hear or play your guitar, so even if we know a thing or two about guitars generally, there's really only so much insight we can offer. I agree with those who say to bring it to a good repair person (one who is skilled in the mechanical aspects, but also has good judgment about what's worth doing and what's not) for his /her recommendations. If you're not sure where to find such a person, and driving to Lexington, Massachusetts isn't too much of a burden from northeast Connecticut, I recommend bringing it to the Music Emporium. Joe (don't remember his last name) is the manager and principal repairperson, he has done some repair work for me, and I can vouch for his skills and judgment. Their phone number is (781-860-0049. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: MMario
Date: 22 May 03 - 11:17 AM

I like the way it sounds, and I like the way it plays, and I'm sort of emotionally attached to it after all these years.

I think you answer is in that statement right there.


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: M.Ted
Date: 22 May 03 - 12:13 PM

You didn't say anything more about your guitar than that it was an Alvarez, so we don't really know what it is worth today. It is worth noting that it is unlikely that the same guitar costs $380 new today, anyway. It is also worth noting that a certain times, there were Japanese copies of certain famous guitars that were as good or better than the guitars themselves. Don't automatically assume that any new instrument you buy is going to be an improvement.

As to the luthier, well, luthiers are in the business of making instruments, and in selling them. Enough said about that.

As to the case for getting a better guitar--keep in mind that some of the best guitarists ever played instruments that were regarded as mediocre instruments--they knew how to get great music out of them, regardless of what anyone else thought.

I have an old Japanese Martin copy that I play most of the time, and I also have a very expensive custom guitar that I nearly never play. Do what pleases you. Besides, if I told you what I thought of certain of the guitars touted above, this thread would drift considerably--


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: GUEST,Ole Bull
Date: 22 May 03 - 03:06 PM

Since you're in New England and the work you need is not High Skill type, have you tried the "Daddy's Junky Music" chain store? They have set prices for basic setups and repairs. They are on the web. It's worth a look.
For me I studied doing this kind of things for myself. A most rewarding hobby.


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: Frankham
Date: 22 May 03 - 04:25 PM

Vixen,

I think that an off-brand guitar can serve you quite well. A lot has to do with the player. Sometimes, an adaptation in playing to a specific guitar can create a different and good sound. Leadbelly played on an old Stella which wasn't maybe as pretty as a Taylor or other 12's but it worked well for him. Odetta has played an old Gretsch (I think) and loves it and adapted her playing style to it.
It depends upon how important your guitar playing is to your performance. If you sing and the guitar makes that happen better even though it's not "top-of-the-line", then it works.

A lot has to do with the player. I personally don't really like the six string Taylors, Lowdens,Larivees and all the ones that are supposed to be good. I like my old Martin 0021 or the clear frequency response of the Guild. But that's just me. Guitar pickers are often mavericks and that has to be respected.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 22 May 03 - 08:15 PM

Frank, Odetta played an old '50's National(the body I think came from Gibson), she called it "Baby". She kept it strung with silk & steel and it suited the way she played to a T.

Mark Ros


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: Chip2447
Date: 23 May 03 - 03:07 AM

If ya love her and can put up with her quirks, keep her...


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: mooman
Date: 23 May 03 - 03:12 AM

Vixen,

I'd fix it for you for free! (but I'm in continental Europe!)

I'm planning a musical trip to the US East Coast next year with two UK 'Catters (almost certainly to take in New England). If it isn't sorted by then....I'll still fix it for free!

All in all, from the descriptions you've given, I don't think this is a major job or a reason to go out and splash out a lot of money on a new instrument (unless you actually want to!)

Peace,

moo

moo


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Subject: RE: Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace?
From: GUEST,mbazzano
Date: 10 Feb 13 - 06:48 PM

Ovation Guitar - common or rare occurrence? On Sept 13, 2010 I purchased an Ovation Celebrity CC24 acoustic electric guitar online from Musician'sFriend. Agent's nae was Brooke, serial no. of guitar is C10040445, Sales Order No. S03303078. Guitar and soft case came to a total of 448.99. The guitar carried a 24 month warranty, 3 months and 9 days after the warranty ran out the Ovation started to come apart. The multi-ply top binding started to separate from the Lyrachord Bowl back. It started as a two inch gap and quickly expanded to 12". On December 22, 2012 I called Musician'sFriend and spoke with Justin, he gave me a number to call. Taking into consideration the Christmas holidays I finally got an answer on January 3, 2013 . From January 3, 2013 I spoke with John, Joel Weik, Brenden Green, Miss Lindsey Timothy, Ms.Lindsey again,Brenden Green again, and Patrick Hooper. Finally, on January 15, 2013 I was told to ship Ovation Guitar back to KMC Guitar FactoryService in NewHartford, CT. Their technician will decide what could have caused the problem. Ovation Guitar was shipped by Fedex at a cost to me of $75.37 on January 19, 2013. On January 28, 2013 I received email from Brenden Green at Musician'sFriend. He told me that KMC had decided that the problem was due to impact damage and that the warranty did not cover impact damage. I was told that the Ovation Guitar would be shipped back to me and I received guitar on February 3, 2013.
At 71 years of age, this is not my first guitar and all my other guitars are STILL in great shape. I also have found out that this problem with the Ovation Guitar is not that rare. Has anyone else out there had this problem? What direction do I take now? Surely Ovation can come up with a better answer than IMPACT DAMAGE. Please pass on this iinformation to any friends that may be owners of Ovation Guitars. Maybe they can help with a solution. Please respond to my Facebook page or fayebazzano@yahoo.com


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