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Unread 12-21-2005, 10:22 AM   #1
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Acoustic guitar problem

Okay, here's my dilemma...
I own a 15-20 yr. old Ovation Acoustic/Electric. Deep bowl, with a piezo in the bridge. My problem is that the neck seems to be warping on me. It could be because one time while changing the strings, I left it stringless for a few hours. That could have caused the neck to bend one way. But you'd think that could be solved with a small truss rod adjustment. It wasn't.
My problem now is that on the 9th-15th frets on the 4th & 5th strings, I get either buzzing or no response. Especially on the 4th string. It's fine up to the 9th fret. Then once I hit the 9th fret, it "jumps" up to the 15th fret. IOW, when I fret it on the 9th fret, the string is also touching the 15th fret, so it makes the sound that it would as if it was being fretted on the 15th fret. The thing is, it's only on the 4th and 5th strings, for the most part. On the rest of the strings, when I fret around those frets, it's fine.
I noticed that the neck had some bow to it (the kind where the neck was bent so that the middle of the neck had bent away from the strings.) So I tightened the truss rod around 1/2 a turn. No change. I tightened a little more, and the strings just started buzzing when they were open, and the problem still wasn't fixed, so I turned the truss rod back to where it was before I had started adjusting. I did allow a day or so in between adjustments to give the wood time to adjust. But again, this did not help.
What confuses me is why this only happens on the 4th & 5th strings. The strings are not individually adjustable. However, the bridge is defenitely showing age, as the strings seem to have dug some pretty deep grooves in it. (I'll try to get pictures up, but it will be several days, as I am away from home.) Could it be that the grooves in the bridge have been worn down more on the 4th and 5th strings, to the point that I'm having this problem? Can I replace the bridge, even though it has the piezo in it? This problem just developed a few weeks ago. I'm a little clueless here, so any help is greatly appreciated.
Thanks guys.

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Unread 12-21-2005, 11:53 AM   #2
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i'm not sure about this particular guitar, but on many acoustics i've seen, the piezo element is actually underneath the saddle and not an integral part of the guitar. this means you can remove and replace the saddle without having to do anything to the piezo element.
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Unread 12-21-2005, 12:24 PM   #3
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first off, leaving the strings off for a few hours generally isn't going to cause this type of problem.

1) if you're saddle has grooves in it you *definitely* need it replaced. steve is right, the pickup element is underneath the saddle and not part of it. care must be taken when removing and reinstalling the saddle. the pickups aren't *really* fragile, but still it's better to use caution.
just a little history for you: ovation invented the under saddle pickup.

2) AFTER the new saddle is on check the truss rod. when you have a bad saddle to begin with there's no point in messing with the truss rod.

3) a guitar that old is more than likely going to need to have its frets levelled.

4) take it to someone competent with all of this work who can also inspect the neck just in case it has warped some. i'm thinking positive though and i wouldn't jump to that conclusion. it'll cost you some $$ to get all this work done, but it'll be worth it to have a guitar in good playing condition right? unless it's one you just never or rarely play, then maybe not. that's up to you.
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Unread 12-21-2005, 12:32 PM   #4
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On occasion the 14th fret likes to jump up a bit. Something about the joint where the neck meets the body. I saw a couple at the music store that were a bit messed up in that way. Fret-work may well be needed.
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Unread 12-21-2005, 12:49 PM   #5
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also, i hate to be a downer, but check where the neck meets the body for lifting. I was talking to a guitar tech who told me that because of the compound body of the Ovations, the neck and bowl expand and contract at more variable rates than a standard all-wood acoustic, which can sometimes result in neck separation. apparently he sees alot of these at his work.
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Unread 12-21-2005, 01:33 PM   #6
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I've seen a lot of Ovation guitars with separated neck/body joints, and some (though not all) of them show the same type of problem you've described above.

Nate
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Unread 12-22-2005, 02:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thesteve
also, i hate to be a downer, but check where the neck meets the body for lifting. I was talking to a guitar tech who told me that because of the compound body of the Ovations, the neck and bowl expand and contract at more variable rates than a standard all-wood acoustic, which can sometimes result in neck separation. apparently he sees alot of these at his work.
I checked, and I think you may be right. The neck joint seems to have risen *slightly* above the normal level. I will be taking the guitar to a tech right after Christmas. What would be the best thing to have him do to fix this problem? And where could I find a new bridge? I looked on ebay, but the only bridges I found were of the whole thing: wood and all. I just need the saddle part.
Thanks guys.
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Unread 12-22-2005, 04:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thesteve
also, i hate to be a downer, but check where the neck meets the body for lifting. I was talking to a guitar tech who told me that because of the compound body of the Ovations, the neck and bowl expand and contract at more variable rates than a standard all-wood acoustic, which can sometimes result in neck separation. apparently he sees alot of these at his work.
Yes. That's what I was talking about when I said the 14th fret likes to jump up. Thanks go to The Steve for knowing what he was talking about.
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Unread 12-22-2005, 05:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by byrnnryb
I checked, and I think you may be right. The neck joint seems to have risen *slightly* above the normal level. I will be taking the guitar to a tech right after Christmas. What would be the best thing to have him do to fix this problem? And where could I find a new bridge? I looked on ebay, but the only bridges I found were of the whole thing: wood and all. I just need the saddle part.
Thanks guys.
just search for an acoustic guitar saddle at www.stewmac.com
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Unread 12-23-2005, 12:01 PM   #10
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the place you have the work done should have saddles on hand as well.
if for whatever reason you buy mail order, other than stewmac try:
http://www.fqms.com
i like those people. super to deal with.
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Unread 12-24-2005, 02:29 PM   #11
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Thanks guys. You're all a big help.
One more question: What kind of work should I expect for them to do to fix the lifting problem? Will leveling the frets fix it? Or is it something that's going to cost me an arm and a leg?
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Unread 12-24-2005, 05:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by byrnnryb
Thanks guys. You're all a big help.
One more question: What kind of work should I expect for them to do to fix the lifting problem? Will leveling the frets fix it? Or is it something that's going to cost me an arm and a leg?
if the neck is actually lifting, they're going to have to do a neck re-set...which basically means taking the neck off and reattaching it...i have no idea how much this would cost.
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Unread 12-24-2005, 10:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thesteve
i have no idea how much this would cost.
me either. i'd guess at least an arm though.
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Unread 01-16-2006, 08:49 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thesteve
i'm not sure about this particular guitar, but on many acoustics i've seen, the piezo element is actually underneath the saddle and not an integral part of the guitar. this means you can remove and replace the saddle without having to do anything to the piezo element.
Thinking back to my older Ovation, which I've long traded in, I believe the piezo on that model was actually part of the bridge. The bridge was about 1/4 or more in width and the replacements that you can get from stewmac and other suppliers won't fit. If it does need a new bridge (which I doubt) Ovation themselves would be the only probable place to find one. My guess though is if bridge height is the issue the bridge could be shimmed by a competent guitar technician. Ovation actually ships their guitars with extra shims so the guitar shop can customize the set-up for the buyer.
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Unread 01-16-2006, 09:22 PM   #15
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I second, third, and forth about taking it to an expert luthier having them inspect it, give it a set up, and do any other necessary work.

But, I would definitely suggest checking with the folks over here:

http://www.ovationfanclub.com/cgi-bi...ultimatebb.cgi

They're well versed in the idiosyncrasies of Ovations, good and bad. Of course they're mainly good (I play Ovations)
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