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  1. #1

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    I've had the new custom Heritage for about a month now. It's gotten lots of playing time in that month and it was time to do a decent setup. Heritage build some wonderful guitars but set ups are definitely not their specialty. I'd heard lots of wonderful things about Paul Iverson, a VERY seasoned tech based at the Tom Lee store in North Vancouver and thought I'd spend the extra few bucks to see what a really well respected setup specialist could do for the guitar.

    First about the service ... I brought it in on Wednesday afternoon. I showed him a guitar of mine that was setup pretty much how I liked it. He asked me what I liked about it, did a few measurements on both guitars and told me he'd call me on Friday when it was done.

    I got the call at 2PM Friday. I drove over and he handed me the guitar and asked me to play it a bit to be sure it was to my satisfaction. The only way to describe it is remarkable. I've been playing guitar for 52 years and I've known a lot of really good guitar mechanics but this is easily the best setup I've ever played. The difference was stunning. Not only was it much better than the factory setup but it was also much better than the guitar I had brought him as the example of what I liked. I've put in a couple hours of playing on it now and I feel like it's been setup absolutely perfectly for my playing style and way beyond what I was expecting or hoping for.

    The price for the setup was $63 (including the provincial service tax) and I provided the strings. I consider it a bargain for what I got. I would recommend him absolutely without reservation. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that members from as far as the Seattle area might want to consider coming up to have him work on their guitars. I suspect if you called to make an appointment, you could probably arrange a same day turnaround. It's a small effort for the level of excellence in the work.
    Last edited by Jim Soloway; 01-24-2015 at 02:25 PM.
    My CD "Bare Handed" is available as a download at Bandcamp.com
    http://jimsoloway.bandcamp.com/album/bare-handed

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  3. #2

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    I wish he lived near me!

  4. #3
    Hi Jim,
    I have had Paul fix all my guitars here in Vancouver. I am very much a novice guitarist, but I am a tinkerer of guitars, hoping to be one of those techs that get what a good set-up is. I am soon about to get delivery of my first Mr. Wu guitar in February. I have one question. Did your set-up include fret dressing?
    I have on order pretty much all the tools needed to do my own fixes, set-ups, nut filing etc..
    Oh another question, what strings do you put on your Chinese archtop?
    Paul.

  5. #4

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    $63 sounds like it was a screaming deal for the playability that resulted. It is so amazing to get what was a nice guitar back and now it's been transformed into a superb guitar. Enjoy!

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Gitfinger View Post
    Hi Jim,
    I have had Paul fix all my guitars here in Vancouver. I am very much a novice guitarist, but I am a tinkerer of guitars, hoping to be one of those techs that get what a good set-up is. I am soon about to get delivery of my first Mr. Wu guitar in February. I have one question. Did your set-up include fret dressing?
    I have on order pretty much all the tools needed to do my own fixes, set-ups, nut filing etc..
    Oh another question, what strings do you put on your Chinese archtop?
    Paul.
    Hi Paul. I no longer have the Chinese arch top but I was using Thomastik Infeld Swing Series 10's. I'm down to three guitars the two custom Heritages and my one and only Soloway plank.

    As for the setup, the agreement was that he had a free hand to tweak whatever was necessary including the frets. It did not include a true "fret dress", but if he thought a fret or two were a bit proud then he had consent to deal with them. I actually didn't ask a single question about what he actually did when I picked up the guitar. I just played it for a few minutes and smiled a lot.
    My CD "Bare Handed" is available as a download at Bandcamp.com
    http://jimsoloway.bandcamp.com/album/bare-handed

  7. #6

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    Coincidentally, a student of mine showed up for his lesson yesterday with a new guitar that had also just been set up by Paul Iverson. Not only was the setup equally impressive as the one he did for me, but it was nearly identical. What this guy does to the playability of a guitar is really cool.
    My CD "Bare Handed" is available as a download at Bandcamp.com
    http://jimsoloway.bandcamp.com/album/bare-handed

  8. #7

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    It's great that you have someone close by that's able to do good set up work. Decades ago, before he became established as a maker of high end rock guitars, Terry McInturff set up a Martin D21 for me. It was about the best playing Martin I've ever come across; amazing what a good set up can do for an instrument...

  9. #8

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    It is so wonderful to hear these reports of really good techs and the work they do.
    I am envious and happy for your "new" guitar.
    I am in Northern Virginia area . Any chance a good tech in my area can be recommended?
    Thank you.

  10. #9

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    Awesome ... congrats on the set up

    Vancouver is too far for me, but the guys at Rainbow in Tucson have done great work for me and my friends

  11. #10

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    Yeah, a proper set up was pretty life changing when I finally got one.
    Jonathan Stout
    www.campusfive.com/swingguitarblog
    My new solo acoustic archtop CD, "Pick It and Play" is available NOW!
    Preview and pre-sales at jonathanstout.bandcamp.com

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive View Post
    Yeah, a proper set up was pretty life changing when I finally got one.
    Who do you go to in LA?

  13. #12

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    David Rutchinsky at Westwood Music.

    I had given up on finding someone that "got" that my set up needs were substantially different than a standard player, and likely different from a more common straight-ahead jazz player's needs.

    I happened to go into the store and play a beautiful non-cutaway acoustic archtop that was in on consignment. I immediately noticed the action that perfectly straddled the line between high enough to drive the top to sing, and easy to play, and with perfect intonation from stem to stern. When I asked who set the guitar up, the sales guy said he did it himself. I asked if I brought in my Eastman, could he do the same, and of course he said, "sure". When I brought the guitar in, the sales guy said, he wanted to show it to "Dave". My first thought was who's "Dave"? Who needs Dave?!

    The sales guy said Dave was who taught him everything he knew about setups, so I relented. Dave came downstairs from the workshop, and took a couple looks at the guitar, and asked if I had a couple minutes. Within 30 minutes my guitar played better than it ever had, and the tone had improved as well. Previously my set ups had been overly high, and while that gave volume, it was hard to play, lost sustain because it was harder to hold the strings down, and was almost "overdriving" the top, which did not sound great - then again, every other set up guy wanted to lower the strings "shred" low and completely rob the guitar of any acoustic voice.

    Once Dave set it up, the strings were easy to play, though not too low. It allowed the guitar to do the work, rather than have it throttled with tension. The guitar sang - and with perfect intonation.

    Within 60 days, I'd brought all of my guitars for treatment, and they've all come out substantially better for it.

    Most importantly, he understood the varied needs of players - he set up a bunch of the guitars in the shop, and he explained the different things he was "going for" on each of them. It was amazing how each set up suited the guitar, but also the likely player of such a guitar.
    Jonathan Stout
    www.campusfive.com/swingguitarblog
    My new solo acoustic archtop CD, "Pick It and Play" is available NOW!
    Preview and pre-sales at jonathanstout.bandcamp.com

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive View Post
    David Rutchinsky at Westwood Music.

    I had given up on finding someone that "got" that my set up needs were substantially different than a standard player, and likely different from a more common straight-ahead jazz player's needs.

    I happened to go into the store and play a beautiful non-cutaway acoustic archtop that was in on consignment. I immediately noticed the action that perfectly straddled the line between high enough to drive the top to sing, and easy to play, and with perfect intonation from stem to stern. When I asked who set the guitar up, the sales guy said he did it himself. I asked if I brought in my Eastman, could he do the same, and of course he said, "sure". When I brought the guitar in, the sales guy said, he wanted to show it to "Dave". My first thought was who's "Dave"? Who needs Dave?!

    The sales guy said Dave was who taught him everything he knew about setups, so I relented. Dave came downstairs from the workshop, and took a couple looks at the guitar, and asked if I had a couple minutes. Within 30 minutes my guitar played better than it ever had, and the tone had improved as well. Previously my set ups had been overly high, and while that gave volume, it was hard to play, lost sustain because it was harder to hold the strings down, and was almost "overdriving" the top, which did not sound great - then again, every other set up guy wanted to lower the strings "shred" low and completely rob the guitar of any acoustic voice.

    Once Dave set it up, the strings were easy to play, though not too low. It allowed the guitar to do the work, rather than have it throttled with tension. The guitar sang - and with perfect intonation.

    Within 60 days, I'd brought all of my guitars for treatment, and they've all come out substantially better for it.

    Most importantly, he understood the varied needs of players - he set up a bunch of the guitars in the shop, and he explained the different things he was "going for" on each of them. It was amazing how each set up suited the guitar, but also the likely player of such a guitar.
    That's what it's all about. I can relate two similar experiences I had with two different guitar techs. I had just taken delivery of a bew Golden Eagle, in person at the Heritage plant. Ren did the set up and tweaked it a bit further while I was there playing it. I was very happy with it . . really didn't think it could be improved upon to any noticable extent. Heritage stopped using their Plek long before I took delivery, but I was intrigued by the concept. I researched who some of the better Plek technicians were and Phil Jacoby's name come up repeatedly. I took my Golden Eagle to Phil, (Philtones, Baltimore MD) he asked me to play the guitar for him so he could see how I hit. He did the Plek, then a fret polish, a tweak of the nut and saddle slots. The difference was amazing.

    Similarly, I took a newly acquired (about a year ago) 1994 Guild Artist Award to Steve Hayes, a tech local to me in NJ. The AA played . . OK, but not great. Steve did a set up which included proper radius of the saddle, corrective nut slot and saddle refinements, a little bit of fret leveling . . then polishing. The diffence is just amazing. But, these guys need to speak with you and see how you play and what you want from a set up.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  15. #14

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    I spoke with Phil last week about having a look at my JH Sadowsky.

    I received it 11/5 and it had some buzzing when playing more tan 2 or 3 notes in different registers

    Actually it almost sounds more like a distortion than buzzing (this is unamplified).

    Roger is recommending Warden Guitars in Woodstock MD. (John Warden)

    Roger is not a Plex enthusiest and Wardens doesn't use Plex but Phil does,

    Anyone familiar with Warden guitars as compared to Phil?

    Is doing the Plex necessary on a new Sadowski or just a simple tweak?

    Thanks for any info///
    Last edited by jazzimprov; 01-29-2015 at 01:58 PM.

  16. #15

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    A Plek machine is just a tool (albeit and powerful and expensive tool). Like all tools, it will only be as good as the person operating it. Setting up a guitar is always a process full of compromises and I think the real talent of a great technician is knowing which compromises to make and how to make them in the most effective way. Whether they do it with files by hand or with a Plek machine, it is still their knowledge driving the process.
    My CD "Bare Handed" is available as a download at Bandcamp.com
    http://jimsoloway.bandcamp.com/album/bare-handed

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzimprov View Post
    I spoke with Phil last week about having a look at my JH Sadowsky.

    I received it 11/5 and it had some buzzing when playing more tan 2 or 3 notes in different registers

    Actually it almost sounds more like a distortion than buzzing (this is unamplified).

    Roger is recommending Warden Guitars in Woodstock MD. (John Warden)

    Roger is not a Plex enthusiest and Wardens doesn't use Plex but Phil does,

    Anyone familiar with Warden guitars as compared to Phil?

    Is doing the Plex necessary on a new Sadowski or just a simple tweak?

    Thanks for any info///
    The type issues you're describing may not even be attributable to frets. The distortion you describe could be a sympathetic vibration from one or more components. Also, I don't want to take issue with Roger, but any who doesn't sing the praises of a Plek set up, when done by a technician who is very well trained and understanding of the Plek machine's capabilities as well as it's limitations, must be living on another planet. As Soloway rightly pointed out, a Plek in the hands of an incompetent tech is valuless. Guys like Phil Jacoby and his mentor on the Plek from Nashville Joe Glaser are extremely competent and proficient in set ups with, and without a Plek. With either of them, a set up of your guitar with the results scored on a scale of 1 to 10 . . would more than likely be a 9. With either of them, the addition of a Plek would take it to a 10. That's just an indisputable fact. So then, to answer your question of the necessity of a Plek on a new Sadowski . . no . . it's not necessary. If it was absolutely necessary, how the heck did we survive without them before they were invented?

    Here's a quick analogy; is a straight edge or a fret rocker absolutely necessary to level frets? My answer is no, it is not. By a process of trial and error, a good tech can get a very playable fret height consistency throughout the whole fret board. Would a straight edge and/or a fret rocker insure an even better and more consistently accurate fret height. Only 100% of the times.

    But, here's the kicker . . a Plek set up is usually only slightly more expensive than a non Plek set up. So then . . why forego the superior technology?
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2 View Post

    But, here's the kicker . . a Plek set up is usually only slightly more expensive than a non Plek set up. So then . . why forego the superior technology?
    Before I say anything else I want to stress than I am not opposed to the use of a Plek. There are some great technicians using them. But they are not universally available so in many locations they are not an option. In other locations you may have to choose between a great technician without one and a less great technician with one. All things being equal, I'd go with the tech with the Plek, but all things are not always equal.
    Last edited by Jim Soloway; 01-29-2015 at 03:49 PM.
    My CD "Bare Handed" is available as a download at Bandcamp.com
    http://jimsoloway.bandcamp.com/album/bare-handed

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway View Post
    Before I say anything else I want to stress than I am not opposed to the use of a Plek. There are some great technicians using them. But they are not universally available so in many locations they are not an option. In other locations you may have to choose between a great technician without one and a less great technician with one. All things being equal, I'd go with the tech with the Plek, but all things are not always equal.
    I can't disagree with any of what you said here. I too would choose a great tech without a Plek machine over a mediocre tech with one. But, that's irrelavent to the matter as introduced by jazzimprov. If Sadowski is recommending a tech in Woodstock MD . . then Phil Jacoby is easily available to him in Baltimore. Phil is a master technician on the Plek.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2 View Post
    I can't disagree with any of what you said here. I too would choose a great tech without a Plek machine over a mediocre tech with one. But, that's irrelavent to the matter as introduced by jazzimprov. If Sadowski is recommending a tech in Woodstock MD . . then Phil Jacoby is easily available to him in Baltimore. Phil is a master technician on the Plek.
    Yes but ... (and you may well be right, so take this as just some thinking out loud). I know Phil (I've sold him wood in the distant past) and I've heard nothing but good things about him so this should not be seen in any way as a criticism of him or his work ... I don't know the other tech at all ... but I have enormous respect for Roger Sadowsky and if I asked him who he would recommend to service one of his guitars my first inclination would be to do whatever he told me.
    My CD "Bare Handed" is available as a download at Bandcamp.com
    http://jimsoloway.bandcamp.com/album/bare-handed

  21. #20

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    Paul has always done very good work on my guitars.

  22. #21

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    Roger did recommend John Warden (passed on thru one of the guys working for Roger at the shop) I got the impression this was more of someone Roger worked with at some point (6 years ago was the last time Ward had communicated with Roger) rather than this was "the" tech to go to in the Virgina/MD/DC area for Sadowsky guitars)

    I have no problem having an excellent tech such as Phil using the Plex on the JH as long as he is of high caliber.

    Sounds like if you trusted him with your Heritage with good results, then that would be a good recommendation for me.


    The distortion is more acurate as to the problem I am having, strange., haven't really run in to this before.....

    I think Phil or John suggested the same thing.... so what "components" could cause this?


    Also John suggestion changing strings to see if there is anything going on there but I don't see that // but ........


    ...............should call this thread ..... "Per-Plexed"
    Last edited by jazzimprov; 01-29-2015 at 05:13 PM.

  23. #22

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    Not to be perplexed. Given the additional info, I'd just take it to Phil and say fix it. You'll be fine.
    My CD "Bare Handed" is available as a download at Bandcamp.com
    http://jimsoloway.bandcamp.com/album/bare-handed

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway View Post
    Yes but ... (and you may well be right, so take this as just some thinking out loud). I know Phil (I've sold him wood in the distant past) and I've heard nothing but good things about him so this should not be seen in any way as a criticism of him or his work ... I don't know the other tech at all ... but I have enormous respect for Roger Sadowsky and if I asked him who he would recommend to service one of his guitars my first inclination would be to do whatever he told me.
    I'm a bit more of a skeptic that most. I would wonder why it was that Roger was recommending anyone at all over Phil Jacoby. There are obviously many many many techs as good as Phil Jacoby. But, very few, if any are better than Phil. So, why would Roger's recommendation not include Phil in addition to John Warden? Why would Roger's recommendation include the caveat that he's not a big endorser of a Plek? Would it be because John Warden doesn't have one? These are the things I wonder about. Is John a personal friend of Roger's and Roger wants to steer busines his way (in addition to believing in John's skills)?

    When I land at an airport at around dinner time . . and I'm in a town where I'm not familiar with the better restaurants (a very rare occasion, for sure) . . the last person I'm going to as for advice on where to find the best restaurant in town will be the taxi driver. I know he gets a Duke for referrals. Not saying that's what's going one here with Roger . . . buy, I'd certainly be wondering. Roger sell a lot of guitars. If he's not doing after sales service work, he needs an affiliate to work with . . and business is business. I'm sure that John is indeed very good. Roger couldn't stake his credibility and reputation on it by referring his customers to John if he didn't believe in him. I'm just saying that I would exclude others, just because Roger referred me to John.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzimprov View Post
    Roger did recommend John Warden (passed on thru one of the guys working for Roger at the shop) I got the impression this was more of someone Roger worked with at some point (6 years ago was the last time Ward had communicated with Roger) rather than this was "the" tech to go to in the Virgina/MD/DC area for Sadowsky guitars)

    I have no problem having an excellent tech such as Phil using the Plex on the JH as long as he is of high caliber.

    Sounds like if you trusted him with your Heritage with good results, then that would be a good recommendation for me.


    The distortion is more acurate as to the problem I am having, strange., haven't really run in to this before.....

    I think Phil or John suggested the same thing.... so what "components" could cause this?


    Also John suggestion changing strings to see if there is anything going on there but I don't see that // but ........


    ...............should call this thread ..... "Per-Plexed"
    Plek . . not Plex. You must have old Marshall amps on your mind. :-) Don't disregard John's suggestion about changing strings. Remember , the bottom 4 srings are wound. It'll cost you all of $15 to give it a try. No big deal.
    Could be loose tuning machine buttons, something ion the tail piece, pick guard bracket, pickup. Probably the biggest single pain in the ass to a guitar tech is locating the source of a sympathetic vibration on an arch top. I was readt to shoot one of my Golden Eagle . . I was locked and loaded!!! Then, I finally discovered that the huge H spot welded onto the bail tail piece had a couple of broken welds. Super Glued the underside of the tail piece in every area where the H made contact with the tail piece . . problem solver. Took the clip out of the Sig Saur, took the round out of the chamber . . put the pistol back in the gun safe. Never heard another damned peep out of the guitar. So, I either scared the shit out of it and it was afraid to buzz again . . or the Super Glue did the trick. ;-)
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway View Post
    Not to be perplexed. Given the additional info, I'd just take it to Phil and say fix it. You'll be fine.
    Final thoughts on Phil Jacoby and a heads up to jazzimprov; Phil is every bit as good as I say he is . . and many people know it. He gets referrals and endorsements such as I've given here, from many people. As a result, he's always very backed up and turn around time is an issue. I knew that before I went to him. So, I called him in advance and asked him to schedule my repair as if I just dropped off my guitar that day . . and tell me when it would be worked on. He looked at his schedule and told me "about 3 weeks". I said "OK . . that's fine. Let's put a date on the calander for 3 weeks from now and I'll bring in the guitar on that day and you can do the repair while I wait". I offered to prepay the $160 fee for the Plek set up so he knew I was serious about the date. He refused my prepayment and scheduled the set up. I watch and learned as he did the work. When you see a guy like Phil do this kind of a set up, as I did, it's far better than just a referral.. or even getting the guitar back 3 weeks later and the work was perfect. You actually see what went into making it perfect. You talk to the tech during the work. You understand what he's doing and why he's doing it.

    The only draw back, was that Phil too played my Golden Eagle after he set it up. That was quite a humbling experience. Phil's a monster player.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  27. #26

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    ok, I had to take some "artistic license" on the per-plexed joke....... (sound over spelling.....)

    "per-pleked" ....nah...

    so, I don't get the impression that Roger was trying to push business to the other guy, it seemed more like he was trying to come up with a name in the area I was asking about and maybe John just came to mind as John said he hasn't talked to Roger in over 6 years. (Apparenty Roger was at NAMM when I called the shop to ask for a recommendation and he got back to one of the guys there).... but hard to say --wouldn't be unusal for someone to throw out a name of someone they have worked with at somepoint for whatever reason.....

    One last thing , I noticed that if the guitar (tuning) starts to go flat it will "distort" more. When I bring it back up to where it is suppose to be, the "distortion" will be significantly less....if that means anything....

    I'll swap out the strings and see.... they threw in a few extra sets when I bought the guitar.
    Last edited by jazzimprov; 01-29-2015 at 06:32 PM.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzimprov View Post
    ok, I had to take some "artistic license" on the per-plexed joke....... (sound over spelling.....)

    "per-pleked" ....nah...

    so, I don't get the impression that Roger was trying to push business to the other guy, it seemed more like he was trying to come up with a name in the area I was asking about and maybe John just came to mind as John said he hasn't talked to Roger in over 6 years. (Apparenty Roger was at NAMM when I called the shop to ask for a recommendation and he got back to one of the guys there).... but hard to say --wouldn't be unusal for someone to throw out a name of someone they have worked with at somepoint for whatever reason.....

    One last thing , I noticed that if the guitar (tuning) starts to go flat it will "distort" more. When I bring it back up to where it is suppose to be, the "distortion" will be significantly less....if that means anything....

    I'll swap out the strings and see.... they threw in a few extra sets when I bought the guitar.
    Why would the guitar start to go flat? Who put the current strings on it? It's possible that the strings are slipping around the tuning pegs. Are you noticing a bowing develope in the neck causing the string tension to loosten?

    Man . . . you need to get that guitar to either John or Phil in a hurry. Something isn't right.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  29. #28

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    From Roger:

    "Here are a few possibilites:

    1) a wire inside is vibrating against the top or back.
    shake the guitar and listen if you hear anything rattling inside

    2) the pickup may be vibrating…..try raising the pickup to increase the spring tension.

    3) pickup may be vibrating against the mounting ring…..a tech needs to open up the inside of the ring a bit.

    4) Play the offending chords and have someone dampen each string one at a time, BEHIND where you are fretting it. If this is the source, you may need to loosen the truss rod a bit or have a tech shim the nut a little bit"



    Lastly,

    regarding Phil:

    "I do not know Phil, but you should trust your local players recommendations..."


    Sounds good to me........

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzimprov View Post
    From Roger:

    "Here are a few possibilites:

    1) a wire inside is vibrating against the top or back.
    shake the guitar and listen if you hear anything rattling inside

    2) the pickup may be vibrating…..try raising the pickup to increase the spring tension.

    3) pickup may be vibrating against the mounting ring…..a tech needs to open up the inside of the ring a bit.

    4) Play the offending chords and have someone dampen each string one at a time, BEHIND where you are fretting it. If this is the source, you may need to loosen the truss rod a bit or have a tech shim the nut a little bit"



    Lastly,

    regarding Phil:

    "I do not know Phil, but you should trust your local players recommendations..."


    Sounds good to me........
    Sounds good to me too. Roger is doing when many here are doing . . just enumerating possibilities without have inspected the guitar personally. Your best bet is to get it to a tech. As I said in my initial reply to this thread, it seems more like a vibration than a fret issue. But, getting it to an expert is the wisest thing you can do.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  31. #30

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    Stumbled on this thread a little late. Just wanted to note that when I lived in the DC area, I used John Warden for neck and fret work, and he was outstanding, and was generally considered to be *the guy* for that kind of work in the DC area among the musicians I knew. Getting to his shop involved a bit of a drive. This was 15 years ago, though.

  32. #31

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    Thank you, I shall try to pull up information on John Warden.