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FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / Gibson J45 Progressive: it has a progressive bridge.

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Peegoo
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Buena Buena
Apr 22nd, 2018 12:29 PM   Edit   Profile  

I got this guitar new about a year ago; it's a J45 with 'modern' features.

It has an innovative internal PZM mic to amplify it that sounds like a good condenser. It records very nicely and sounds really good in a live situation. It arrived perfectly set up and it played easily and sounded wonderful.

The fretboard markers are the double parallelograms from the ES175. It gives the guitar a real dee-lux look.

It came with the Tronical robot tuning machines. I left them on for five months and tried really hard to like them, but I removed the module and installed Grover pearl lima beans. Much simpler.

The bridge is a Tune-o-matic type tray with titanium saddles, adjustable for string height and intonation just like a typical bridge on a Les Paul.

The problem is the bridge metal: it appears to be some sort of alloy that's too soft to withstand the string pressure. It's progressively caving in the center, and string radius across the bridge is now flat. This is similar to some Les Pauls, SGs, and certain ES-series guitars that suffered the same problem over time.

This is certainly a progressive thing because when new, the bridge had a radius. Over time, the string height has dropped--especially the A, D, G, and B strings, causing buzz and 'fretting out' up the neck. If the bridge is raised to resolve the fret slap, both E strings are too high.

I don't lean on the bridge when I play, and the guitar is always in standard tuning so there's no undue stress on it that might contribute to the problem.

I'm going to contact Gibson to see if this is a known issue. Their service department has always been very helpful and treated me fairly, so I hope there's a remedy, e.g., stiffer bridge alloy.

If they ignore me, I'll probably make a rosewood bridge insert that drops tightly into the rout and install a traditional bone or Tusq acoustic saddle. Because the pickup is not an under-saddle bridge piezo, it greatly simplifies such a modification.

Anyone else have a J45 Progressive with this problem? I have not looked at any guitar boards to see if there's a trend...but I'll bet there is.

J45 Progressive

(This message was last edited by Peegoo at 02:30 PM, Apr 22nd, 2018)

stratcowboy
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USA/Taos, NM

Apr 22nd, 2018 01:51 PM   Edit   Profile  

"It's progressively caving in the center..."

Maybe that's **why** they call it a J45 Progressive?

Peegoo
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Buena Buena
Apr 22nd, 2018 02:13 PM   Edit   Profile  

My thoughts exactly. I'll keep y'all posted on what Gibson Acoustic Division comes back with in response to my query.

littleuch
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Florida

Apr 22nd, 2018 02:36 PM   Edit   Profile  

Hey, what do you expect for $3k?

:-/



Peegoo
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Buena Buena
Apr 22nd, 2018 07:54 PM   Edit   Profile  

Oh, I got it for less than half that :o)

jhawkr
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Wichita, KS USA

It's all gravy from here on...
Apr 23rd, 2018 06:59 AM   Edit   Profile  

Are you keeping a humidifier in the case? My J45 starts having all kinds of issues if I let the humidity get out of whack. Maybe not the metal but the wood under the metal? Just thought I'd throw it out there. My J45 came with a "Damp-it" installed for good reason. The J45 is effected by humidity far more than my other acoustics, Martin, Yamaha.

Peegoo
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Buena Buena
Apr 23rd, 2018 10:57 AM   Edit   Profile  

I keep a Damp-It in mine, and it stays damp, in the guitar, and in the case when not in use to keep things stable.

This issue has nothing to do with humidification; it's the metal that's deforming. The bridge isn't in contact with the wood. It sits atop two screw posts, just like on a Les Paul.

jhawkr
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It's all gravy from here on...
Apr 24th, 2018 09:09 AM   Edit   Profile  

You could try heat treating the current bridge. Is it steel (shiny) or titanium (dull grey)?

Peegoo
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Buena Buena
Apr 24th, 2018 09:26 AM   Edit   Profile  

Oh, you know me very well.

I was tempted to dive right in, press it in a vise to re-establish the radius, and then take measures to preserve the shape. Then I thought It might be better to make a rosewood insert and slot it for a standard acoustic saddle (lighter in weight = better tone).

The metal carrier for the bridge saddles has a black metal electroplate, and I'm assuming it's an alloy of zinc or aluminum because it's non-magnetic.

The saddles, however, are titanium; Gibson advertises that in their description of the guitar model. I think that is simple marketing wank because if Gibson actually used titanium to make the bridge as responsive as possible, they would not have used a large chunk of metal, six steel intonation screws, a retaining wire, and two steel studs in threaded steel sleeves under the super-lightweight saddles to hold them in place.

My instincts to tear right into it are very hard to suppress, because this guitar is less than a year old and under warranty, and I want to give Gibson a chance to stand behind the quality of their materials and workmanship.

I have other guitars to play--but I really want to play this one!



jhawkr
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Wichita, KS USA

It's all gravy from here on...
Apr 24th, 2018 10:11 AM   Edit   Profile  

If a zinc alloy (pot metal), it's junk and not heat treatable anyway. However, if it is aluminum, you might be able to age it in an oven @ about 350F for 48 hours to increase hardness & temper. If aluminum, I would think a black anodize might be what is (plated) on there. Not sure if zinc can even be plated. At any rate, if you end up making a wood bridge and want to play around with an aluminum bridge anyway, the overage process would be interesting. If the aluminum is bending under string pressure, it's almost sure to be a high form-ability aluminum. My guess would be 6061.

jhawkr
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Wichita, KS USA

It's all gravy from here on...
Apr 24th, 2018 10:16 AM   Edit   Profile  

Another question. Could you shim it in the middle where it is sagging?

Peegoo
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Buena Buena
Apr 24th, 2018 10:59 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks brother.

Yeah, my first thought was to press the bridge back to proper radius, and then make some sort of jack to keep it from collapsing. But that negates the adjustable nature of the thing.

If I were to make it a semi-permanent height setting like that, I'd go the extra step and make a custom bridge insert from rosewood that drops in, perhaps with little saddle inserts made of fret wire for perfect intonation.

There are several ways I can address this if Gibson ignores me.

First thing I'll do is scrape the plate/anodize off the bottom of the bridge and do the acid test. If it turns dark, it's zinc, and if it stays clear, it's aluminum. If it is aluminum, I'll try hardening it in the oven. If it's zinc, I'll go 100% custom :o)

jhawkr
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It's all gravy from here on...
Apr 24th, 2018 02:43 PM   Edit   Profile  

You appear to have a sound plan. If we hadn't been eaten by a corporation last year I would suggest sending the part to me. We could do a laser scan, create a model and machine a replacement out of the material of your preference, heat treat, age, CAD plate, decorative anodize, whatever. But now we have a board of directors that don't look kindly on that sort of thing! ;o)

Peegoo
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Buena Buena
Apr 24th, 2018 03:29 PM   Edit   Profile  

Holy moly, THAT would be cool.

I have made several guitars that contain pieces and parts (hardware, pickups, etc.), made by friends of mine. These are the guitars that have that certain 'extra' something that makes them magical and more inspiring to play. It creates a deeper personal connection to the instrument.

I'll give Gibson a week to get back to me and if they don't, then I'll go with Plan B.

Probably a bad idea to state that here because Hey Gibson--if you're reading this and you decide to wait me out and leave me flapping in the wind, I will, with extreme prejudice, cease to be your Ambassador of Goodwill.

stratcowboy
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USA/Taos, NM

Apr 24th, 2018 03:47 PM   Edit   Profile  

Not only are they reading this, they are hanging on every word you say. And to top it off, they will see what you come up with so that they can incorporate what you guys invent into their next New-and-Improved Progressive model.

reverend mikey
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You're old. Then vintage. Then good!
Apr 24th, 2018 03:55 PM   Edit   Profile  

I look at that saddle "design" on an acoustic guitar and I *shudder* wondering what it's doing to the acoustic tone of the instrument... how does it sound acoustically?

I'd be wanting to find a way to drop a bone saddle into that bridge asap.

P.S. I have a J-45 Standard and I love it immensely - so no anti-Gibson sentiment - other than "what were they thinking on an acoustic"?!

Hammond101
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Apr 24th, 2018 04:02 PM   Edit   Profile  

I've seen these cave in on USA Les Pauls. Those guitars have far less string tension than an acoustic. What were they thinking? The LP parts were die cast.

It's a unique idea but poorly executed unfortunately.

I hope Gibson takes care of this with upgraded countermeasures.

Peegoo
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Buena Buena
Apr 24th, 2018 04:51 PM   Edit   Profile  

It actually sounds really good; it sounds better acoustically than my Taylor 814CE. I imagine a lighter bone saddle would improve the tone even more.

A pal brought over a high-end Martin and we compared it to the Gibson. We took turns playing 'em and while each one had its own voice, neither one of us had a preference.

Peegoo
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Buena Buena
Apr 24th, 2018 10:44 PM   Edit   Profile  

Gibson Customer Service replied to my email and gave me two options: ship the guitar to Bozeman, MT for a bridge replacement, or take it to a local certified repair shop for warranty service. I chose door number 2 because I prefer not to ship the guitar, and the shop is 30 minutes away.

If they sent me the part directly, the guitar (and the replacement bridge) would go out of warranty.

So that's good news...we shall see if this fixes the issue!

Hammond101
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Apr 25th, 2018 12:26 PM   Edit   Profile  

I've played some vintage Gibsons with the adjustable saddle and they sounded great. These were the U channel type with a standard saddle in the groove.

My first acoustic guitar, an Epiphone circa '72, had this style of saddle.

There is a smoothness to the other brands you mention that an auditorium bodied Taylor doesn't have. Their dreads seem a bit more focused in the mids. How old is the 814ce?



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FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / Gibson J45 Progressive: it has a progressive bridge.




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