1. #1

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    Hi everyone,

    I recently took possession of a newly built archtop (carved top, single set in humbucker, metal tail piece, ebony bridge). There is very slight gap between the soundboard and the center portion of the bridge (you can slip a piece of paper between bridge and top, but not anything much thicker. The length of the gap roughly corresponds to the width of the strings, i.e., ~ 2 inches. The bridge extends another two or so inches in each direction and makes complete, smooth contact with the top on those sections. My only point of comparison is my all acoustic archtop from the 40's, where the bridge contacts the top across its entire length. I see Stew Mac sells archtop bridges that don't even have a middle portion (Archtop Guitar Bridge - StewMac) which leads me to think that the gap is intentional, but I thought I would consult the collective wisdom of the forum anyway. Acoustically, the guitar is a little quieter than I would have expected, but understand that it needs to be played for a while to open up and for the finish (lacquer) to continue curing.

    Additionally, there is a buzz when I play the b note on the 2nd string at the 12th fret...it only shows up when I pick it pretty hard, and there is no buzz at at any volume for any of the adjacent strings/frets. Is this a set up issue (i.e., raise the action of all strings/just the 2nd)? or is something else going on? The guitar is currently strung with 13s



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  3. #2

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    If it’s a full base bridge it should make contact all the way across the top. The stew Mac is the to feet model and some makers use this style. The buzz at the 12 fret can probably be eliminated with the height adjust. More than likely the frets are not as level in that area as they could be. Very few guitars get them right even when new. That area is subject to wood changing and affecting the fret level also.

  4. #3

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    If it sounds good as is, I would leave it. If not, you can sand the base to match the top. I've found that some guitars sound better with a space in the center, some don't, and it seems to be unpredictable to me as to which are which. If this guitar was built in a factory, it's more likely to be carelessness, and a case of "hurry up and get it out the door" than if it was handbuilt. There are multiple YouTube videos illustrating how to do the sanding if you decide to do that.

    The buzz may be coming from something else. There are a number of threads on the forum discussing archtop buzzing, which can be caused by almost anything on the guitar, or in the room if it's amplified. I have one which buzzed because of a loose shaft in the tone pot. It can sometimes take some concentrated investigation to find the source, but sometimes it's easy. Any slightly loose part on the guitar can buzz, whether on the headstock, the tailpiece, or anywhere in between. It's also possible that a fret is low, or high.

  5. #4

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    Thank you both for your replies. The guitar was built by a luthier that is well known and respected here on the forum (I have no intention of dragging him publicly based on what could be my own ignorance). The guitar sounds fantastic, just a little quiet acoustically, which at least in part is because it is new and not opened up yet. I just wondered if the acoustic projection was being affected by the less-than-complete contact of the bridge with the top. The fact that the gap seems very symmetrical with respect to the bridge as a whole makes me think it was intentional.

    The buzz is present both amplified and acoustic...I was going to let it be for a while, maybe see how a string change suits it, maybe raise the action a hair. The buzz is only on the 12 fret B note, not anywhere else along the string. I assume the buzz is coming from contact with the 13th fret on the 2nd string, rather than a loose nut or saddle. Maybe eventually take it to local shop to see if it needs a bit of leveling...in no hurry to separate myself from it at the moment though

  6. #5

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    There are archtop bridges that are full contact bases, and there are archtop bridges that are two foot bases. Both designs are good. I've had plenty of archtops of each type. I never noticed that one design or another was obviously superior to the other.

    Gibson, for example, has used both types on different models. Gibson archtops are pretty good.

  7. #6

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    Have you tried asking the builder?