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  1. #1
    My Loar lh-300 arrived yesterday. Gorgeous looking, great sounding instrument, but it does have one little flaw. My strings get higher as i go up the fretboard. I examined guitar, and neck indeed has backward angle as it should have, but, at least to my eye, since I'm not experienced, slightly shallower than it should be for strings to perfectly align. Bridge is all the way down so no more room to lower it.

    There are some phosphor bronze d'addario's on it which are so tight that my hands fall of after 3 solo tunes, so i imagine there would be no fret buzz if i choose to lower the action, of course, with caution. I played every string up the neck and definitely no buzz anywhere, so should i go for it, and how do i do it in the most easy way. Which part of the bridge to sand and with what ?

    And one more question, should i change strings ? I had phosphor bronze on every acoustic instrument but these are rock hard, maybe because they are new.


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    I usually go to FRETS.COM Acoustic guitar instrument care, repair for players, luthiers any time I need a reference for set up questions. There's an incredible amount of information there with good photographs. Before making any bridge adjustments, I would make sure neck relief is OK. That same site will have information regarding checking neck angle. If the neck angle is out of normal range I would think it would be appropriate to return a new instrument. I only see this getting worse over time. I use a glass table top as a flat surface if I want to sand the bottom of a saddle. Suppose it would work for the top part of an adjustable ebony or rosewood bridge. That's probably less risky than trying to sand the bottom part of the bridge where you would have to conform to the guitar top. A word of caution. Some people are highly allergic to dust from hardwoods. Any sanding should be done with proper ventilation and dust mask. Some strings will feel stiffer than others. I recall trying strings with a round wrap on a round core and they felt quite stiff to me.

  4. #3

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    A new guitar should have a playable action with plenty of room for adjustment either way. If the bridge is all the way down and the strings are too high, something is wrong. i would take the guitar to a good tech and have him/her assess the condition of the neck and the status of the bridge. If there's a defect, maybe you can return the guitar. Once you sand it, it's yours til you sell it.

  5. #4

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    I would send it back and ask for another. Sounds like a neck reset is in order.

    Edit: I see that DanielleOM had already mentioned it so +1 on what she said.

  6. #5

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    This sounds exactly like my recent LH-700. As new it was only marginally playable due to very high and stiff action, and no room to adjust the action down via the bridge thumb screws. However, it sounded very good, and I am very patient, so I elected to not return it.

    I had Frank Ford at Gryphon ( guy, I'm very luck that he's my local guy!) carve the bridge down, and of course put new strings on it. It's better now, but I may decide to thin the bridge further in the future. I didn't think it's was a neck angle problem; I think the bridge design is faulty. The base of the bridge is thick, and looks all wrong too with it's softly rounded corners.

    I'd start by looking at lots of other archtop bridges. If you can consult a knowledgeable luthier, all the better. In my case, all the thinnng so far has come form the base, although the next step may be to modify the saddle a bit (much harder because nether top or bottom are flat).

  7. #6
    I was thinking not only neck could be wrong, but bridge too, or maybe top is arched way to high. Well, that's optimistic. It's quite easy to not align neck well when you are working in a Chinese factory for minimal wage, rather than bridge.

    Anyway, returning it is not an option. I live in a wonderland where there are custom fees, VAT, postage fees, on which i already spend 1/4 of price. Besides, I'm overwhelmed with sound of it, considering the price. Sending it back is another cost. Lucky thing is, i live in a low income country, so luthiers are not expensive here.

    I guess I'm paying the price for going cheap, but still. I will check out the bridge. By the way, i do have Godin 5h Avenue, but they are different designs, so i can't really learn much from comparison.

  8. #7

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    To have to sand down a bridge is not uncommon, I had to do it on my Joe Pass with the Stewmac TOM I got.
    I did it on my Joe Pass by taping a sand paper to the top and moving back and forth slowly to shave away excess of rosewood following the curvature of the top. I could get a nice action after.
    However it is not something one expect to have to do on a stock guitar.
    In any case if it is not a neck set or angle problem any luthier could fix it easily.
    I would still suggest to have a luthier look after it though.
    Last edited by vinlander; 09-07-2014 at 11:24 AM.

  9. #8

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    It looks like the bridge bases are massive on the Loars from the web pics.

    You could shave off the bottom of the bridge and use chalk to re fit it to the top.

  10. #9

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    In my opinion, it is not possible to make a remotely usable comment without information about the current bridge.

    If you can please provide a pic or better yet some measurements, this would be extremely helpful. It is entirely possible that the general configuration of the guitar is perfectly fine, but we are just making stuff up without info.

    1. At your desired relief and action height, what is the TOTAL height of the bridge at each E string. That is the distance from the top of the guitar to the bottom of the string. Don't go nuts with precision here, just get an idea via a ruler placed next to the E strings at the bridge.

    2. What are the individual heights of the saddle and the base at the E strings. Again don't go crazy with precision, just get close.

    With this info, we can actually make useful suggestions and comment on the likelihood of a great set up on this guitar. You can very likely do the work your self with some prep and care.

    Большое спасибо,


  11. #10

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    And some added blather:

    A very wide range of total bridge heights and bridge break angles can work extremely well on an archtop. Further, most of this same wide range can produce indistinguishable sonic results.

    I look forward to pics or measurements on the Loar. While true human disasters are always possible (the "Ice Capades" come to mind here), I suspect that this guitar will end up just fine with a little careful gather of info and careful adjustment of some replaceable (if goofed) parts.

    But I am told I have a possibly annoying bias for action and expectation of positive results.

  12. #11

    I'm not sure what would be my desired height.

    As for what it currently looks like,

    I believe base is around 1.8 to 2 centimeter high to both E strings (low E string being slightly higher)

    Saddle, from base to its tip, appears to also have 1 cm of height at low E string, 1.1 at high E string.

    Base individually, is around 0.8 centimeters high at both ends, +/- difference that i can't really examine with my bare eye and ruler.

    As for pictures, i don't know how helpful are these i provided

    It appears neck has an angle, however, insufficient ?


    Action at heel obviously high

    At 3rd fret it appears normal

  13. #12

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    I too recently received a Loar archtop, a LH650, with the dreaded poor neck angle, bridge bottomed out, with very high action....of course the seller said nuthing prior to sell.

    The guitar sounds decent enuf, but unless you're Freddie Greene you'd not want to play it. I'm still trying to send mine back, the hard way....Amex on the case.

    But if I were to be stuck with this archtop, at minimum I'd start fresh with a new bridge from Antonio of

    Archtop guitar bridges.

    and of course let my luthier have at it. Nothing against a neck reset, but spending $300-$350 doing a neck reset on a Loar isn't so cost effective...unless one is keeping the guitar for life I 'spose.

    So, we've got a new member from Russia on the forum....Horosho!

  14. #13

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    Hi Boctok,

    So the neck angle looks completely workable to me. Sure, it is on the lower end of workable, but in many ways this is far preferable to the high end of workable.

    So if you are not returning this guitar, maybe it is a good idea to get it set up.

    Your bridge height measurements are more than accurate enough. Further, both the saddle and the base can be sanded lower with no ill effect.

    Do not start sanding. Far better to first get a handle on everything needed for a superb setup, then to proceed.

    In the end, it will be MUCH faster to walk through the whole setup vs. just sanding away at the bridge.

    The final height of the bridge is determined by a list of factors, only one of which is the neck angle. AND, since the neck angle is not adjustable, why don't we move on to what is adjustable.

    1. Do not buy a new bridge unless you want one for some reason. It is not necessary for a superb setup.

    2. What is the current nut height? Press each E string between the 2nd and 3rd frets. Now, while keeping the string pressed down, look at the height of the E strings above the first fret. Estimate this height. It is the thickness of a sheet of paper? A business card? More? The E strings will likely not be the same.

    3. What is the current neck relief? Press each E string down at the first fret and the 14th fret. Now look at the height of the string above the 7th fret. Estimate this height in comparison to your string diameters. Is the clearance above the 7th fret about the same as the diameter of the B string? More? Less?

    With this info, we can get started. If the nut needs work, you can decide to move forward without doing this work, or we can work our way through it. Nut files are great, but you can actually do quite a bit without them if you are patient and have some aptitude for this sort of thing.

    I will follow this thread and check in a few times per day. But note that I am in the Eastern US time zone. In any case I'll respond to each of your posts - just maybe with some delay.

    This is all do-able.

    Last edited by PTChristopher2; 09-07-2014 at 01:50 PM. Reason: spelling

  15. #14
    @ 2bop

    I'm actually not Russian, though i am a Russian speaker. Thanks for sharing your experience

    @ Christopher

    2. When i press low E string between 2nd and 3rd frets, business card just about passes the space, with high E string it passes, but tighter, i have to squeeze it in.

    3. With neck relief test, gap between fret and strings is quite small, i would estimate just about size of b string on high E, and similar on low E string, maybe smaller. I did this before and i didn't seem to notice too much neck bow, at least nothing that stands off to me (however I'm no one knowledgeable)

    Take your time, your help was already valuable.
    Last edited by Восток; 09-07-2014 at 02:18 PM. Reason: mistaken strings

  16. #15

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    OK. Great info.

    Your nut slots are higher than would be ideal. This is very normal for a manufactured guitar. Your slots are not outrageously high.

    But they are high enough to mean slightly higher overall action, slightly harder to play in low positions, and slightly sharp intonation in low positions.

    If you want, we can talk about ideal ranges for nut slots - or we can say yours are high, but not extremely so. The guitar will play OK with the nut as it is. We can always come back to the nut some other time after you get the bridge situation under control.

    The neck relief is in an ideal starting position. I would not touch it at all.

    So now:

    4. Lower both bridge thumbwheels all the way down. They may already be there.

    5. With the strings tuned to pitch, measure the action height of both E strings at the 12th fret. This is the distance from the top of the 12th fret to the underside of the string. You can make a simple ruler by making lines on a business card at 1mm intervals. Just measure the action to the nearest 0,5mm.

    6. Measure from the front of the nut to the center of the 12th fret crown along either E string.

    7. Measure from the center of the 12th fret crown to the front edge of the bridge on both E strings. This will almost certainly not be the same as the distance in Step 6. Don't move the bridge, just find out the current situation.

    8. CAREFULLY look at the fit of the bridge base to the top. Ideally, the base is sanded to conform to the shape of the top. Feel around the base with a sheet of paper for gaps. Some slight gaps in a few small areas are fairly common. We are looking for large gaps over large areas.

    I understand that this is some work, but it is all useful info as we get ready to fire up the chainsaw and get the bridge adjusted as needed.

    After we have this info, we can plan what needs to be done to the bridge and the base. To make it easier, I'm looking to see if you can avoid sanding the bottom of the base.


  17. #16

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    We can later go over the principles behind what we are measuring if you want. For now I am trying to get to setting up your bridge as quickly as possible. So some things I am asking for may seem excessive.


  18. #17

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    This is GREAT info. I'm very interested in this process. Kudos to you Chris for helping this fellow out.

  19. #18
    5. Action is 2.5 mm at both strings.

    6 - 7. Unfortunately i don't have proper tools atm, but i think i know what you are looking after. I took a long piece of paper and measured from nut to 12 fret and marked it. Now i took the same measure and measured from 12th fret to bridge and distance is almost exactly the same. On high E string it might be a bit longer because bridge sits a bit diagonally with low E string being little bit forward, which is something i notice on almost every archtop, apparently has something to do with intonation. If you need exact distance, i will get a proper measure

    8. This is farthest i could squeeze it in. Needless to say, small piece of paper got ripped of and stuck under the bridge


    There is a little development. While saddle definitely sits flat at high E position, it can't be completely lowered on bass end, there still remains a tiny gap. because there is not enough room above the wheel to pass it. The wheel itself blocks the saddle from completely laying flat on the base. However, this doesn't really affect my current action that much, since it's big at high E string too, which sits flat, but it does show me the bridge isn't exactly state of the art construction
    Last edited by Восток; 09-08-2014 at 08:43 AM.

  20. #19

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    Hi Vostok,

    OK, great. The measurements are fine as is. I just wanted to make sure the bridge base was not in a completely wacky location.

    I need to run right now, but I'll get back to you this evening (US - EDT). I'll lay out how much to adjust the heights of both the bridge base and the saddle. It is not hard to do.

    After we get the bridge height solved, you may just want to just play and call it finished. But if you want to do more to fine-tune the setup, that's great too.

    Don't worry about the well blocking the saddle from contacting the base. This really does not mean that there is anything wrong at all with your bridge.

    I am perfectly happy to say that your guitar is awful and has incompetent design and parts, but this does not seem to be the actual case. It just needs a little work.

    We end up with a little web forum fun, and you get a fine playing guitar that is a bit more "your's" than most players have.

    Back in some hours with details.


  21. #20

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    In the meantime can you let me know what sort of sanding tools you may have available?

    If it is nothing but various grades of sandpaper and a block of wood, that is OK. But if you can give me some idea of your access to tools or materials (like sandpaper in various grits, flat files), that will help.

    It would be great if you have a way to cut or otherwise shorten the metal bridge posts by about 4mm as well.

  22. #21

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    OK, so a quick review:

    - Ideally we would lower the nut slots a little. But since this is a little tricky, and the current situation is not too bad at all, let's call it OK for now and move on.

    - Then we would check the relief. It is just right for a starting point already.

    - Now the arched top shape is not the same everywhere. So we need to check that the bridge is in the roughly correct position. It is.

    - Now we check to see of the base conforms reasonably well to the top. It does.

    - So with the bridge bottomed-out the action is about 2,5mm at the 12th fret. Ideally, we want to bottom out at less than 1mm. This way we have some extra adjustability if time or seasonal changes require it. A practical action height for most players is between 1,5mm and 2,5mm. So we want to have the choice to go well below 1,5mm - just to have some adjustability range without bottoming-out ever.

    - To get your action down to zero, we would need to lower the whole bridge assembly a total of ~5,0mm. So we should aim for a minimum of 4,0mm lower. Having a small remaining gap below the thumbwheels is fine, so going for the full 5,0mm is OK.

    - You have plenty of wood depth and mass in both the base and the saddle. Arguably a bit too much wood for the best response from the guitar's top. So we can happily sand a path of destruction in the base and saddle confident that if anything we may notice a more expressive "opened up" sound from the top. Probably we will notice no difference.

    And the steps:

    9. Put a cloth under the front edge of the tailpiece to keep it from dropping down and damaging the top.

    10. Loosen the strings until they are a bit slack. Do not mark the bridge location. We can get it right were it should be anytime we want - you'll be able to do this easily when we cover it some posts from now.

    11. Lift the strings a bit with your finger and slide the bridge and saddle out.

    12. Take the bridge off the base and measure the depth of the wheel cutouts. They will be maybe 2 or 2,5mm

    13. Sand the bottom of the bridge until you have made the whole bottom level with the current wheel cutouts.

    14. The hard part: Cut, file, or sand (depending on the tools you have) new thumbwheel cutouts. These should be about the same depth as the wheels themselves. They must be LEVEL to each other, and square to the post holes. Go slowly as you get close to finishing them, and check frequently by placing the bridge back on the base. This is fast and easy after you do it a few times, but tricky at first.

    15. Once this is done, put the bridge back under the strings. Position the bridge so the high E (the thin plain wire string) saddle is about 1,5mm farther from the center of the 12th fret than the distance front of the nut to the center of the 12th. Swing the bridge so the low E (fattest string) saddle is 4,5mm farther from the center of the 12th fret than the distance front of the nut to the center of the 12th.

    16. Tighten the strings. You may break one here, so have spare strings.

    17. Check the action height at the 12th fret and let us know what you find. We will then move on to the base.

    Take your time, ask anything, and understand that this is definitely do-able with very good results using even extremely basic supplies.

    Last edited by PTChristopher2; 09-08-2014 at 02:17 PM. Reason: spelling

  23. #22

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    Don't worry about the posts sticking up through the top of the bridge. We'll get to that later; it will all look fine.

  24. #23

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    Oh, and,...

    From the pics, I estimate the bridge break angle to be about 10 degrees on the low E.

    While I like to stick to principles and direct experience, it may be interesting to note Benedetto's views on break angles.

    In summary, they are that once you have "enough", any more makes no difference. Yep, the Big Guy tested this.

    In my opinion, this is 100% consistent with my observations. Get yourself about 7 degrees, and you are all set. (There are some guitars with even less break.)

    On your guitar, you can easily give up 2 to 3 degrees of break angle with no ill effect whatsoever. In fact, the slight break angle reduction as you lower your bridge will have the practical effect of reducing the force on your 2,5mm thinner bridge (which is still strong enough to take even a higher break angle.).

    So all is well in Loar-Ville. Enough break angle, and enough bridge wood. Makes you want to get the bad boy adjusted and start playing.

    This stuff actually works.

    Last edited by PTChristopher2; 09-08-2014 at 02:19 PM. Reason: spelling

  25. #24
    One more thing

    Quote Originally Posted by PTChristopher2
    15. Once this is done, put the bridge back under the strings. Position the bridge so the high E (the thin plain wire string) saddle is about 1,5mm farther from the center of the 12th fret than the distance front of the nut to the center of the 12th. Swing the bridge so the low E (fattest string) saddle is 4,5mm farther from the center of the 12th fret than the distance front of the nut to the center of the 12th.
    Are you sure both should be farther from 12th fret ? (Maybe i got some wrong idea on how bridge should look like)

  26. #25

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    The distance from the front edge (closest to the nut) of the bridge saddle to the center of the 12th fret crown will always be best set a bit longer than the distance from the center of the 12th fret crown to the front edge (closest to the bridge) of the nut.

    We can go over why this is the case if you want, or leave it for later. But be assured, if you set the bridge abut 1,5mm "long" on the high (thin string) E side and about 4,5mm long on the low E side, you will be closer to ideal than many guitars that are being played right now.


  27. #26

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    I am working a little in the dark here with no idea what sort of tools and materials you can get. Can you advise?

    If sanding by hand, note that the hard wood will cut notably faster across the grain vs. with the grain. So do the bulk work across the bridge base, then finish with some sanding with the grain.


  28. #27
    I'm not sure yet, but I think it will be sanding paper, flat file. I was thinking of some small saw to help me get rid of excess wood bellow thumb wheels quicker, but it might not be necessary.

  29. #28

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    A small saw will allow you to cut slots across the grain where the thumbwheel cutouts end. This will help in my opinion. But a file will also cut a nice interior edge to the thumbwheel cutout.

  30. #29

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    Hiya Vostok,

    No hurry on this, but note that I will be 100% out of internet communication from Friday AM until Sunday evening EDT. (In the future, this will likely be known as the "Golden Era" of the forum.)


  31. #30
    I'm trying to assemble proper tools. I'm under impression that there is no way to do this with sand paper only, at least i don't have confidence. Stay tuned.

  32. #31

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    In principle, you could do everything with sandpaper only, so long as you had a block with a sharp 90 degree edge on it. But it would be difficult and take some time.

    I suppose in principle one could eat a bowling ball, but it would be a sub-optimal experience I expect.

    Yes, a flat file and a fine-toothed saw would help some. (With the bridge, I mean. Probably need ketchup for the bowling ball.)


  33. #32

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    Anything ever happen with this?

    I want to stay responsive, but don't want to end up watching for no particular reason. (I have no PM connection or automated notices regarding the forum.)

    It seems fairly common to never hear again about something, even when it seems to be rather hanging there

  34. #33

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    My last guitar needed some bridge tweaking. Just a bit of wood removed below the thumbwheels with a dremel tool set everything right. Not a difficult job and has worked out well. Of course the first step was the forum telling me that this is a common situation and the fix is easy. Helpful posts are never wasted here.

  35. #34

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    There are a couple of good stewmac videos on youtube about this. If you are only doing this once, you shouldn't need much more than sandpaper and something to protect the top of the guitar.

    Having a saw to remove excess material will make the job go faster.

    Stewmac sells a jig that helps keep the bridge perpendicular while you are sanding which will give you a flatter base. No roundd bottoms or rocking bridges.

  36. #35

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    EDIT: To seem less critical of non-specific referral to Stewmac vids,...


    >>> stewmac videos on youtube about this. If you are only doing this once, you shouldn't need much more than sandpaper

    If by "this" you mean sanding the base where it contacts the top, note that we are not talking about that at all. We are talking about sanding the bottom of the saddle for now.

    What I am trying to do here is avoid non-specific "advice", and instead observe/measure the actual situation, then think our way through to actual action.

    If you are referring to adjusting the bottom of the saddle, then I suppose one could recommend a jig that specifically helps in keeping the recessed areas flat that rest on top of the thumb wheels. Do you suggest a specific jig for this purpose?

    Knowing the OPs general situation, this may not be the shortest path to his preferred action height.

    I really suggest a situation-specific approach. Maybe:

    - What are we doing?
    - Why are we doing it?
    - What did we observe/measure that made us decide to do it?
    - What do we expect to observe/measure after we do it?

    Then you pick up the tool. (Or as a forum member recommend a specific tool that addresses the detailed issue at hand.)

    We have several very good luthiers and techs here (and one seemingly colossal hack of a "pro" tech). And while things like a Stewmac tool or vid can be helpful, they can also miss quite a bit regarding the actual situation with a specific guitar.

    The OP and others started with a genuine question about the viability of this guitar's construction (the neck angle), and its effect on the action being too high for the OP. I was sort of harbo[u]ring a dream that we could stay with simple "in-house" observation and measurement to see of the guitar was in fact viable, and if so, what was needed to optimize it for the OP.

    In my opinion.

    Last edited by PTChristopher2; 09-20-2014 at 10:36 AM. Reason: spelling

  37. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by PTChristopher2
    Anything ever happen with this?

    I want to stay responsive, but don't want to end up watching for no particular reason. (I have no PM connection or automated notices regarding the forum.)

    It seems fairly common to never hear again about something, even when it seems to be rather hanging there
    Sorry for not dropping a word or two

    A luthier told me he will do it for free, so i let him do it instead, but now he has been moving so everything got delayed a bit. I'm sure there will be no problems

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Восток
    Sorry for not dropping a word or two

    A luthier told me he will do it for free, so i let him do it instead, but now he has been moving so everything got delayed a bit. I'm sure there will be no problems
    Can you promise some pictures of the completed work? I'd love to see it, since this same work might be in my future. Good luck.