My bourgeois has a belly

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by PosterBoy, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. PosterBoy

    PosterBoy Member

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    I noticed the action was pretty high after playing my acoustic, the other day and after checking it over felt that behind the bridge it is starting to get a belly. I know this is a fairly common thing, how would a tech remedy this, is it just a case of taking a little off the saddle and adjusting it for correct intonation?
     
  2. buddaman71

    buddaman71 Student of Life Silver Supporting Member

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    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
  3. royd

    royd Member

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    Posterboy,

    guitars get bellies. not only is it common, it is normal. If it goes beyond normal, then it can be a serious issue, often reflecting construction or design problems. Other possibilities might be using strings of too high a gauge for the bracing or humidity problems. I'd be really surprised if there is a design or construction problem in a Bourgeois guitar.

    you mentioned a number of different problems though... first action. Normal bellying would cause the action to go up a bit. That is easily enough fixed by sanding down the bottom of the saddle.

    you also mentioned intonation... has the intonation gone off as well? If it is related to the bellying of the top, that would require a bit more movement of the top to happen. Dropping the action to normal might alleviate this or it may require a little more work on the saddle for compensation. Beyond that, you have serious issues. I'd try getting the action back to normal and a new set of strings first.

    buddaman71 mentions the bridge doctor. Some folk swear by them. I don't care for them as an idea or in use. YMMV.
     
  4. Trego

    Trego Member

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    what about humidity? is this guitar well-humidified?
     
  5. PosterBoy

    PosterBoy Member

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    The intonation is fine, I just presumed altering the height of the saddle the intonation would need to be adjusted.

    As for humidity, I'm in Ireland and in the wettest part of Ireland, I don't think humidity is going to be a problem!!

    Thanks for the replies guys, at least I know I won't have to pay a small fortune to get this sorted.

    I'll look at the Bridge Doctor Buddaman
     
  6. pinner

    pinner Silver Supporting Member

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    Probably just normal, but keep in mind that wood can swell if humidty is too high.
     
  7. royd

    royd Member

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    and that central heat in winter can cause extremely dry air.
     
  8. RMcFarland

    RMcFarland Supporting Member

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    No offense to Buddaman, but whatever you do, run in the other direction of anyone trying to install a bridge doctor on your guitar.

    How about snapping some pics and emailing Dana? Belly is common, and can be exaggerated on a guitar that lives in a high humidity region. Some seasoned players, such as Norman Blake, prefer a guitar with a belly.
     
  9. davess23

    davess23 Member

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    A whole lot of acoustics have some bellying. In my experience, most good older guitars show at least a little bit. (Of course, it won't happen with a laminate top...but then again, nothing much else will happen with a laminate top, either.)

    Not only normal, but unless it's extreme it's a good sign that your guitar was built like a resonant, responsive musical instrument. Just ask your tech to adjust your action by sanding the bottom of the bridge saddle down a trifle.
     
  10. JSeth

    JSeth Member

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    A little bellying is normal, no cause for concern... I would NEVER use a Bridge Doctor in a guitar like a Bourgeois... except as a stop gap until I could get it to Dana, or someone qualified to do the work necessary...

    When I took my hand made acoustic to Hawaii ( HIGH humidity) from Southern California, the neck took quite bow to it; I did not know enough to adjust the truss rod... after 6 months of this, the builder had to remove the neck from the guitar and redo everything on it! So, keep an eye on your neck relief...

    I like the idea of sending a pic to Dana and asking for his advice...

    play on...................................>
     
  11. RussB

    RussB low rent hobbyist Silver Supporting Member

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  12. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Supporting Member

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    +1 promoting the bridge doctor as excellent...for use as wood stove kindling!

    As a guitar's environment gains humidity, the top will swell up. Conversely, as it dries out the top will flatten. When the top pulls up ("bellies") and stays a neck reset will correct the neck angle. Take it to a tech for advisement.
     
  13. Jazzydave

    Jazzydave Seeker Silver Supporting Member

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    That was my first thought...
     
  14. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist Silver Supporting Member

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    This
     
  15. buddaman71

    buddaman71 Student of Life Silver Supporting Member

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    wow...sorry for all the bad advice!

    I was simply remarking that i installed a BD on a couple guitars over 15 years ago with zero problems and it perfectly corrected the issue, to this day, and also improved the stability and tone of the guitar. i'm kind of interested in hearing WHY it's such a terrible, horrible, travesty of a "contraption"

    Seems to have very positive reviews (4.5 ave out or 38 reviews) on the Stew-Mac product page, but those are all probably just stupid hacks like myself. I guess all Breedlove guitars, including my very fine Ed Gerhard sig, are garbage as well, since they have them installed at the factory.

    Again sorry for the bad advice...I was just throwing it out there.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012
  16. zombywoof

    zombywoof Member

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    Wasn't it Norman Blake who said never trust a Martin that does not have a belly.
     
  17. 84Bravo

    84Bravo Member

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    Yes.
     
  18. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Supporting Member

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    It is, as you state, a "contraption", a prop, a crutch, a measure employed in place of having proper structural work performed. I am not surprised that reviews available on Screw-Mac (a retailer of this product) are positive! Your local Yugo dealer will have sterling recommendations for Yugos, too! One on-line commentary I saw suggested a Blueridge guitar as a fine application for this, and I agree. If a customer came to me requesting a neck reset on a Blueridge, I would do everything in my power to get out of it, perhaps including the recommendation of a bridge doc.

    Among those who have expressed distain for this product I believe no one has suggested that you are a "stupid hack" or that "all Breedlove guitars, including my very fine Ed Gerhard sig, are garbage" (I have kept my opinions on Breedloves to myself here). It seems your thin-skinned self exclusively owns all of those assignations. Sorry you reacted in this manner.
     
  19. Rob Sharer

    Rob Sharer Muso-Luthier

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    I think the boys above in Leitrim might give you a run for your money in the rain department!

    Let me speak from my own considerable experience dealing with flat-tops that reside in Ireland: the natural bellying process that all guitars go through over time happens at a MUCH faster rate in the Irish humidity. Assuming all the braces are tight and that the belly is round and full rather than rippled and unhealthy-looking, what you really need is a neck-set.

    I resided for years in County Clare (just South of Galway, for the geographically benighted) with two brand-new Tacoma guitars, both of which required neck resets at around 2-3 years of age. That's pretty quick by normal standards. The good news is that once the bellies had formed and settled in, that was it for top movement. After the neck resets, both guitars were back in top form and gave no more trouble.

    For the record, you really should give the Bridge Doctor a miss in this case. It will change the sound of your guitar, and is in any case not the right job for a fine guitar like yours that is undergoing a natural part of its aging process.


    Rob

    p.s. I was staying in a B&B in Wicklow once, and it was so damp that it rained indoors.
     
  20. royd

    royd Member

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    buddaman71, as I said, some people rave over them. You're obviously one as are the folk who bought them and reviewed them on the StewMac page. I would guess that those who chose to purchase them did so because there were problems with their guitars which they didn't want to pay to have fixed in a more traditional way. It sounds as if they saw improvement for a very low price as did you. I did read through some of the reviews and the ones I read seemed exclusively to be lower end, inexpensive guitars. Is that a part of the picture? Got me.

    So here's why I wouldn't put one on a fairly expensive guitar like the OP's. First, the guitar was designed without one. Adding a structure like this simply has to change things outside of the original design specs. Second, I would never consider putting a screw through the bridge in a guitar like the OP's. That would drop the value of the guitar significantly. There is an option of using a different kind of bridge pin to hold the mechanism in place. It isn't clear to me whether this requires some modification of the pin hole. Again if it does, that would impact the value of the instrument. Plus, this method of attachment changes the string angle and down pressure on the saddle. If the OP has a UTS pickup it would likely impact the sound of the pickup. Also, guitars are designed with a specific angle for the string to go over the saddle. This way of mounting the device changes that angle. Because it isn't a permanent change to the guitar, it might be worth a try... but even then the design of the device itself must impact the way the top vibrates. Indeed, even the designer says that is one of the results of using the device. Bottom line, I wouldn't do anything that takes the guitar outside of its original design parameters.

    Breedloves are designed with the Bridge Doctor in mind and as part of the system, they contribute to the sound the designer envisioned. Just because it works there doesn't tell us anything regarding how well it will work in a differently designed guitar.
     

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