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Author Topic: "Dead notes" on Larrivee D03R  (Read 3214 times)
skywinkle
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« on: December 01, 2006, 07:57:55 PM »

I'm having a problem with my 8 month old D03R.  It has what seems to be "dead notes" on the fretboard.  Notes on these frets don't sustain or have the fullness of tone of the sounding frets; they sound more like a percussive "thunk".  The problem seems confined to the lower three strings and appears to affect primarily the "F" notes, and to a much lesser degree, the frets immediately on either side of them .  If I detune the strings, the fret position for the bad notes changes to wherever the "F" pitch will sound, so it doesn't appear to be a manufacturing defect of the fretboard, more like the guitar is "soaking up" the lower partials of the "F" instead of resonating with them (the "F" on the higher strings seems to be unaffected).  I changed from the original tusq saddle to a bone saddle, which helped a bit with sustain, but not much else.  I have tried different strings, adjusted the neck relief with the truss rod, different bridge pins, and so on, but still the problem.  Have any of you had similar problems?   Is there anything to be done about it?  Thanks in advance!
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DrLeeDetroit
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« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2006, 09:08:00 PM »

Sounds like a perfectly natural phenomenon having to do with the interaction of a guitar's resonant frequencies.

On my quitars, one of these is at the "F" and one is at the "G" -- I've heard them in other places too on other guitars but these are most common in my experience.

Sometimes these are referred to as "wolf tones," although generally then someone will chime in and say that wolf tones are technically something else. It's at least related -- and if you google "wolf tones" you'll find lots of interesting and useful information.

--Lee
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DrLeeDetroit
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« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2006, 09:09:36 PM »

Oh, one more thing. There's nothing much to be done about it, as I understand, unless you do something to change the guitar's mass (or at least the mass of the important pieces). So you could start to shave various bits and pieces, and hope for the best!
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hatofthecat
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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2006, 09:10:16 PM »

Have you inspected the soundboard ?  If it has sunk a little (due to low humidity) that might be a cause of loss of resonance.
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bikodog
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2006, 04:13:20 PM »

I had this same issue with a Taylor 414 with the 3rd fret G note on the low E string.  No one else seemed to hear the thunk, but it bugged the heck out of me.  I no longer have the guitar.  I don't hear a dead note on any of my 3 Larrivee dreads, thank goodness.
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prof_stack
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2006, 05:14:15 PM »

Dead notes or Wolf notes do happen.  Gibsons seem to have them more than one would expect. 
I returned an L05MT which also had serious dead notes, among other problems.  Bad luck of the draw. 
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DrLeeDetroit
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2006, 08:53:40 PM »

If it's bad luck, then I am positively snake-bit! I have one of these "dead spots" on all four of my guitars (two Martins, a Larrivee, and a cheapie Taiwanese-made dread). The way it has been described to me, it's going to be very hard to escape these...
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SpruceApple
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« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2006, 03:28:54 PM »

I'd still have my C-03RE if it didn't have a "dead" spot on the low G note.   :UND>

On the other hand, I have a J-10 that seems to sustain for----ev----er up and down the entire fretboard.   
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dgrose
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« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2006, 04:02:03 PM »

...It has what seems to be "dead notes" on the fretboard.  Notes on these frets don't sustain or have the fullness of tone of the sounding frets; they sound more like a percussive "thunk".... Have any of you had similar problems?   Is there anything to be done about it? ...

I had a similar problem with both my LV-19 California guitar and my OMV-09. I tried several things to fix the problem (like you did) without success. New saddle, adjust neck relief, different gauge strings. I took the guitar to a local Martin-certified repair expert (the same one Denis goes to) and he levelled and polished the frets, adjusted the neck relief (adding more camber than I had), changed the saddle and raised the action very slightly. All the problems are gone—the guitar sings on all notes. So I took my OMV-09 in and the same thing happened. I ended up taking all my acoustics to him—even the ones I thought were okay—and the improvement was remarkable.  -dg
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Denis
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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2006, 04:43:04 PM »


I had a similar problem with both my LV-19 California guitar and my OMV-09. I tried several things to fix the problem (like you did) without success. New saddle, adjust neck relief, different gauge strings. I took the guitar to a local Martin-certified repair expert (the same one Denis goes to) and he levelled and polished the frets, adjusted the neck relief (adding more camber than I had), changed the saddle and raised the action very slightly. All the problems are gone—the guitar sings on all notes. So I took my OMV-09 in and the same thing happened. I ended up taking all my acoustics to him—even the ones I thought were okay—and the improvement was remarkable.  -dg

Yeah Brian Dubbledam is awesome, isn't he Doug?  He's a true miracle worker.  I've been going to see him for 15 years or so and he always does a great job.  I love it that I have a rapport with him.  Every time I go to the Folklore Centre, I have to talk with Brian for at least 10-15 minutes.  I'm going to have him install my K&K Pure Western Mini.  I think I'll only have that done in the new year though.  Gotta play the L-03 for a while longer...just got it right?  Can't go without it yet...

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skywinkle
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2006, 07:48:30 PM »

Thank you everyone for all the info!  Over the weekend I have been researching and testing, and have some new info to share with you.  The dead notes are the result of "resonant nodes" occurring at the same frequency as the note that winds up sounding dead.  The explanation of these "resonant nodes" involves a lot of complicated acoustic theory that I can't claim to follow, but the bottom line is that the guitar body (and neck) "soaks up" the sound of the notes immediately instead of allowing them to sustain, so you hear "thunk" instead of "twannnnnngggggg!".  The player is more offended by the sound than the audience because we hear the percussive attack (and thunk) more loudly since we are right on top of it; if the audience notices, they hear just a softer note.  Now for the good part:  if you add mass (weight) to the guitar headstock or body, you can lower the frequency of the resonant node to below audibility.  Lean up against a wall while playing and let the end button of the guitar press against the wall (a sheet rock wall works for sure).  The dead notes magically disappear!  I read about this and then tried it, and I was amazed, it really works.  The same thing happens if you lean the headstock against the wall, but not as much.  My dead notes got better, but didn't go completely away.  When I moved away from the wall, the dead notes were back again.   I found a product called the "fatfinger" made by Groove Tubes that is a 3.2 ounce brass clip you attach to the headstock that is supposed to help by adding additional mass (and weight) to the guitar.  I'm ordering one and will let you know what happens.  I'm thinking that adding some sort of plate down by the end button might help too, and might counteract the "fatfinger" tending to make the guitar top heavy.  (Apparently, the fatfinger is a new version of the "fathead" from the 80's, which was a plate screwed on the back of the headstock to increase sustain by adding mass).
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