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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2022 5:36 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Hi Everyone,
I have an old Takamine in the shop that a customer brought in to take a look at. When plugged in, the low E is significantly lower than the rest of the strings. I don't have any experience with electronics but I told him I'd research it with no promises.
Any ideas on what it could be or how to go about diagnosing?
Thanks for any help!


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2022 8:07 pm 
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Start by changing the strings. It's the cheapest thing on the instrument.

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These users thanked the author Chris Pile for the post: guitarradTJ (Thu Sep 29, 2022 8:24 pm)
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2022 8:26 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Thanks for the suggestion. Strings look good, he says he just changed them . Problem has been there for some time, gone through a bunch of sets.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2022 9:39 pm 
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Cocobolo
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I’m assuming it has an undersaddle pickup. You might check to see if the saddle is flat on the bottom or if something is between the saddle and the pickup that might prevent the saddle from bearing down under the E string. The saddle needs to contact the pickup solidly all along its length.



These users thanked the author bobgramann for the post: guitarradTJ (Fri Sep 30, 2022 12:35 pm)
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2022 11:53 pm 
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Is the bottom of the saddle perfectly flat? And is the floor of the slot in the bridge perfectly flat? A mismatch of .003" can make a difference.

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These users thanked the author Chris Pile for the post: guitarradTJ (Fri Sep 30, 2022 12:35 pm)
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2022 1:52 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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1). How are the break angles over the saddle for ALL strings. Lack of sufficient break angle makes weak, not as loud notes.

2). Is the client tuning conventionally and not a slack tuning like the heavy metal vomit music crowd likes tuned to low C on the low e ;) PS: I actually like heavy metal vomit music :)

3). Tak electronics, the crystals can wear in time and not be as effective, sometimes you have to replace the element and good luck finding them they are hard to find. We rip out the OEM crap and go aftermarket when the OEM stuff wears out.

4). As the others have said is the saddle bottom flat or are there any shims creating any space between the element and the saddle bottom. Not only the saddle bottom needs to be flat the slot it sits in needs to be perfectly flat too.

Because it's a Tak I would be interested to know how much saddle is showing proud of the bridge. I suspect that over time this saddle has been taken lower and lower to lower the action and counter the neck angle deteriorating. This happens to all Taks and most steel string guitars over time. If the saddle is low enough the break angle will suck so bad that the downward pressure on the saddle and hence the crystals won't be present and you will have weak sounding notes.

If this is the case it needs a neck reset which is generally not economically feasible on a Tak since it can be $1K job with the other stuff that usually goes along with it.

Could be a bad element and worn out crystals though too if the break angle, saddle height, saddle bottom, etc are all good to go.

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These users thanked the author Hesh for the post: guitarradTJ (Fri Sep 30, 2022 12:35 pm)
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2022 12:50 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Thanks for the responses!

2). Is the client tuning conventionally and not a slack tuning like the heavy metal vomit music crowd likes tuned to low C on the low e ;) PS: I actually like heavy metal vomit music :)


Hesh, thanks for your detailed answer, you are THEE man :)
I also indulge a bit in the heavy metal lol!
Here are a few more pictures of the guitar. The low E does seem to have less of a break angle than the rest of the strings. I'll be working on it this weekend and going through all of your suggestions.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2022 5:01 pm 
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What’s the saddle made of? If it’s bone, in addition to the excellent answers you’ve already received about saddle and slot flatness, I’d be inclined to throw in a test saddle of some homogeneous material, like micarta or tusq etc. This is to rule out the possibility that a more or less dense pocket of bone is contributing to the unevenness.



These users thanked the author joshnothing for the post (total 2): Hesh (Sat Oct 01, 2022 5:00 am) • guitarradTJ (Fri Sep 30, 2022 5:36 pm)
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2022 5:08 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Hey Raul :) so we both like a little Metalica and maybe some Ozzie and Black Sabbath too. :)

OK it's a classical and I didn't know that.

Neck angle (action at 12th (quarter)) looks good
Saddle height and respective break angles look good

Now this may be a stupid question but a battery change can work wonders especially for the older electronics of the past. There is a preamp in there and the signal that is most power hungry is the bass this is true of speakers too. Maybe a working but functionally weak battery needs to be eliminated as an easy quick check thing?

If none of this pans out for you I think it's the element or the preamp and age is partly to blame here too.

We've had to replace these elements maybe a dozen times as the crystals do deteriorate over time and with use. If it's the preamp it was not intended to be serviced and that's when an aftermarket solution is prudent. Often the after market stuff especially modern stuff is WAY better too.

Be sure to let us know what you find out?

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These users thanked the author Hesh for the post: guitarradTJ (Mon Oct 03, 2022 12:16 pm)
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2022 1:58 pm 
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Cocobolo
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First name: Raul
Last Name: Ortiz
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Hesh wrote:
Hey Raul :) so we both like a little Metalica and maybe some Ozzie and Black Sabbath too. :)

OK it's a classical and I didn't know that.

Neck angle (action at 12th (quarter)) looks good
Saddle height and respective break angles look good

Now this may be a stupid question but a battery change can work wonders especially for the older electronics of the past. There is a preamp in there and the signal that is most power hungry is the bass this is true of speakers too. Maybe a working but functionally weak battery needs to be eliminated as an easy quick check thing?

If none of this pans out for you I think it's the element or the preamp and age is partly to blame here too.

We've had to replace these elements maybe a dozen times as the crystals do deteriorate over time and with use. If it's the preamp it was not intended to be serviced and that's when an aftermarket solution is prudent. Often the after market stuff especially modern stuff is WAY better too.

Be sure to let us know what you find out?


So I dove into the guitar this weekend and found an uneven saddle. both edges were not in contact with the pickup, especially the low E. I made a new one and got better results, but still not great. You have to find "the sweet spot" on the frequency lever. No room for error, and not a great sounding string. I think the preamp is done?
The customer really likes the sound of the guitar. It's his main gigging instrument. He plays a lot... clean sound, no effects.
What would you recommend to replace it with? I don't want to change the sound too much, and would like it to be an easy swap.
Thanks again for all your help!


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2022 2:31 pm 
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Cocobolo
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If the bottom of the saddle slot is not also dead flat, replacing the undersaddle pickup won’t help. Make sure that the slot is flat.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2022 2:09 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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guitarradTJ wrote:
Hesh wrote:
Hey Raul :) so we both like a little Metalica and maybe some Ozzie and Black Sabbath too. :)

OK it's a classical and I didn't know that.

Neck angle (action at 12th (quarter)) looks good
Saddle height and respective break angles look good

Now this may be a stupid question but a battery change can work wonders especially for the older electronics of the past. There is a preamp in there and the signal that is most power hungry is the bass this is true of speakers too. Maybe a working but functionally weak battery needs to be eliminated as an easy quick check thing?

If none of this pans out for you I think it's the element or the preamp and age is partly to blame here too.

We've had to replace these elements maybe a dozen times as the crystals do deteriorate over time and with use. If it's the preamp it was not intended to be serviced and that's when an aftermarket solution is prudent. Often the after market stuff especially modern stuff is WAY better too.

Be sure to let us know what you find out?


So I dove into the guitar this weekend and found an uneven saddle. both edges were not in contact with the pickup, especially the low E. I made a new one and got better results, but still not great. You have to find "the sweet spot" on the frequency lever. No room for error, and not a great sounding string. I think the preamp is done?
The customer really likes the sound of the guitar. It's his main gigging instrument. He plays a lot... clean sound, no effects.
What would you recommend to replace it with? I don't want to change the sound too much, and would like it to be an easy swap.
Thanks again for all your help!


Nothing on the market is going to sound exactly as bad as what your client is used to and likes.... ;) You can try just replacing the element and you can buy the elements on Amazon for about $10. They have six crystals in a row wrapped in reddish foil, gold at times too and you may get some new life in it just from the element.

Beyond that you are in the wild, Wild West of commercial aftermarket pick-ups. K&K pure mini about $100 is excellent but not active so no battery or controls or preamp. LR Baggs are all good too with the Anthem being my current favorite for a high-end pup. Fishman is good these days, lots of choices but no drop in direct replacements.

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These users thanked the author Hesh for the post: guitarradTJ (Tue Oct 04, 2022 1:35 pm)
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2022 12:34 pm 
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Walnut
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on a classical, sometimes the way the strings are tied can affect this. the string running under its self sometimes wont let the string bear down on the saddle like it should. i also aggree with another saddle made of micarta or graph tech. one thing not mentioned is you could add scotch tape to the E area only. since we know it is .002" thick start with 2 pieces directly under the E saddle. sometimes thats all it takes, but you may need more. this is a last ditch effort solution when you dont want to or do not have the ability to route the saddle slot. good luck


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