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Author Topic: Mahogany Bracing  (Read 948 times)
wrench
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« on: December 25, 2017, 11:27:34 PM »

Does anyone have a 4th generation xx-02 with hog bracing? If so, what are your impressions of it?

I have an L-02 born in December 2016, and I bought it in June 2017. Every luthier's reference I can find says NO NO NO on mahogany bracing, but I don't think Larrivee always follows the crowd. I believe this guitar might be less than optimal for soft fingerpickers, but I am a flatpicker, and this guitar screams with clarity and joy when flatpicked. I A-B'd this guitar with an L-03, and the 03 was indeed more responsive and had more sustain, but started breaking up when the 02 was begging for more. It has some neck issues I haven't completely figured out yet, but I really like this guitar, hog braces and all.   
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Walkerman
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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2017, 03:47:20 AM »

Does anyone have a 4th generation xx-02 with hog bracing? If so, what are your impressions of it?

I have an L-02 born in December 2016, and I bought it in June 2017. Every luthier's reference I can find says NO NO NO on mahogany bracing, but I don't think Larrivee always follows the crowd. I believe this guitar might be less than optimal for soft fingerpickers, but I am a flatpicker, and this guitar screams with clarity and joy when flatpicked. I A-B'd this guitar with an L-03, and the 03 was indeed more responsive and had more sustain, but started breaking up when the 02 was begging for more. It has some neck issues I haven't completely figured out yet, but I really like this guitar, hog braces and all.   

Never heard of hog bracing.
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George
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« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2017, 02:22:28 PM »

This is the first I have heard of Larrivee ever using Mahogany for bracing...
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George
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2017, 04:52:16 PM »

I asked Jean about hog bracing, and he said they did use it, but only on a few 02 models.
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broKen
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« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2017, 05:41:19 PM »

Thanks for the information. So what's wrong with the neck?
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wrench
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2017, 12:28:52 AM »

Thanks for the information. So what's wrong with the neck?

The problem statement, as it were, is the guitar is very hard to play. This obviously would nudge one to inspect the neck, and sure enough I find some weird stuff. Checking neck relief when fretted at one and fourteen shows about .035" at the seventh and eighth frets of the sixth string. The first string is actually a little more. If you break the neck into three separate, six or seven fret sections, the relief never gets out of hand; about two to three thou per section. Adjustment of the truss rod changes the relief only in the middle section of the neck. The neck behaves differently (bows a different amount) in each of the three different sections under string tension.

So, what's right with the neck?

Well, first of all, the instrument is incredibly stable. It never goes out of tune. Furthermore, the phenomena I note above is completely repeatable. Looking a little further, when the strings are removed, and the guitar is placed on a precision bench and inspected with precision inspection tools, you find this must be one of the most perfect instruments ever made. The fretboard is perfectly straight down its centerline. The edges of the neck are also straight, and they are parallel in height, as well. Every place on every fret measures the same distance to the fretboard surface within .001". Every dimension I can think of to measure is optimal. Then I string it up, and the neck bows in the center and twists away from the first string. Then that whole section seems to drop away from the fingerboard extension. But it does it the exact same way every single time, so I am reluctant to say there's anything wrong about what it's doing. I know simply this is what this neck does, and I've never seen another do it this way. I admit quickly and humbly that just because I don't understand it, I don't declare it wrong or defective.

Strings, by the way are EXP16. When I bought the guitar, it had DADGAD strings; three lights and three mediums. I've seen this guitar should have shipped with mediums, but mediums would not have gone into the nut slots. The three DADGAD mediums were sitting on top of the nut when I got it. I have since fit the nut slots in a very precise manner for correct nut action, and adjusted the saddle to 5/64" on six at the twelfth fret and 3/64" on one at the twelfth fret. All these set up dimensions are lower than I normally use. 

I thought about leveling the frets and just starting over, but as I mentioned earlier, the frets are incredibly level when the instrument is unstrung. I would need to simulate string tension without the strings, and I just can't bring myself to start cutting stuff when I don't know the outcome.

I am far more certain it's just hard to play than I believe something is wrong, and I wonder if this could just be the string spacing not suiting my hand, but I play similar size necks (long scale Seagull) effortlessly. If I never figure this out, I might not even care. This guitar is otherwise the most incredible instrument I ever experienced, especially for my playing style, hard to play or not and sounds heavenly with hog bracing, even though it shouldn't.

But I appreciate any ideas, and I'll bring more donuts if I have to.   
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George
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2017, 01:13:38 AM »

It sounds like the neck "twists" under tension.  I have heard of this, but it is very rare.  My suggestion is you should contact Larrivee service and let them make a determination?

Here are some donuts and coffee for you...   
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George
wrench
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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2017, 12:20:22 AM »

It sounds like the neck "twists" under tension.  I have heard of this, but it is very rare.  My suggestion is you should contact Larrivee service and let them make a determination?

Here are some donuts and coffee for you...   

Thanks for weighing in George. Empirically, that is exactly what it looks like it's doing. If I were a magician, I'd be thinking carbon fiber rods under the fingerboard. The only other twisted guitar neck I ever saw was on a $59 Harmony in 1970. That one stayed twisted unstrung though. Although I really love this guitar, I'm not in a rush to fix it, so when I can find the time, I'll give the dealer first crack at it. I haven't done that yet only because of driving distance.

Thanks for the coffee and donuts. Enjoy some of this  while my guitar's in the hospital.
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B0WIE
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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2017, 12:00:14 PM »

If is new/under warranty, send it in for repair, NOW.  Neck twist issues rarely improve and once wood settles in the wrong shape, it doesn't generally like to go back. They often prefer to repair rather than to replace and you want repairs like this since asap.
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wrench
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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2018, 08:28:29 PM »

Here's a part update and part PSA (Public Service Announcement). The summary version is the guitar is OK now, and the PSA is I probably caused the neck problem myself.

Now the longer version. With the brutally cold and dry winter in full swing a few weeks ago, I got all of my herd out of their cases to tend to some humidifying. When I got around to the L-02 and gave it my usual neck relief check, I was quite surprised to find the relief significantly reduced. Not all the way there, but noticeably lower. Then it occurred to me that if the neck was straightening in the dry environment, then it must have distorted in a wet environment. Then it hit me. On an August night, I made the unwise choice to leave the guitar out on a stand, with the neck directly in the path of a window fan. Overnight, it became tropically humid, and the next morning, dew had formed on the neck. I didn't give it any thought at the time, but it was soon after I started to notice playability issues.

On that recent inspection, I noticed the body seemed dry, and frets were overhanging the fretboard in a few places. But I wanted to continue drying the neck until it stabilized, while humidifying the body. So I put a humidifying sponge in the body, but taped a sheet of heavy plastic over the sound hole, and in the neck cavity of the guitar case I placed a handful of desiccant packets. I serviced the sponge weekly, and after about three weeks, the neck is looking really encouraging. The relief seems just about right now, and I played it nearly all this past weekend. If it remains stable over the next couple of weeks, I think I'll do a little light fret work on it and be real happy about this. This is not the ending I thought this story would have, so I'm thrilled.

The PSA - keep your guitars away from fans in high humidity summer weather. I should have known better because I killed another guitar with careless use of summer weather. I know we often think of dryness being more harmful than wetness, but apparently, I'm 0 and 2 on summer humidity.

Now back to the hog braces. I think lighter touch fingerstylists would absolutely hate this guitar. The more I play it with a pick, the more I like it. Pick choice seems important to get the board to accelerate. Picks that I would normally find laughable sound great on this guitar - a 355 shape celluloid actually sounds subtle, clear, and controlled. 351 and 346 shapes, regardless of thickness and bevel, just don't seem to create the acceleration required to launch the board. I do like it. I probably wouldn't go out of my way to acquire another, but I'm glad I have this one, and I won't let it go.   
 
 
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