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  #1  
Old 01-19-2018, 01:10 AM
WildBill82 WildBill82 is offline
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Thumbs up Thoughts on modding Breedlove Stage Dread

So I recently picked up a Breedlove Stage Dreadnought (Craigslist special) and I am really digging this guitar, especially considering that I got an all-solid spruce/rosewood dread for a very good price. It is apparent that the previous owner had it setup, as the action is low and dead-even all the way up the neck and it plays like butter (I also dig the neck profile).

Though I like the tone of this guitar as-is, I feel that it is nowhere near its potential. I have two major (and hopefully interrelated) qualms about it: the bass response is weak and overall projection seems lacking for a solid wood guitar, I mean my 2004 Washburn with lam sides projects much better than it does. Google searches have revealed several reviewers who basically say the same thing, that the guitar seems too quiet for what it is. The Breedlove feels heavy and projects like it's got a wet blanket inside it; I strongly suspect it is overbuilt. I can see that the two bottom back braces are huge, they look like rafters in an old barn; comparatively, the braces in my Washburn are much thinner yet equally tall.

So has anyone else sanded the braces on a Breedlove dread? I'm going to hit those back braces and see what happens. Your thoughts are appreciated (minus internet pedantry, of course).
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  #2  
Old 01-19-2018, 11:28 AM
phavriluk phavriluk is offline
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My humble opinion about doing things that are irreversible: If I don't know what I'm doing, or why, I won't.

This sounds like a really nice instrument. If it was mine, I'd leave well enough alone and enjoy it as-is.
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Old 01-19-2018, 12:07 PM
Todd Yates Todd Yates is offline
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If it has a Bridge Doctor, lose that first thing.
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Old 01-19-2018, 05:03 PM
Sam VanLaningham Sam VanLaningham is offline
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Ok Iíll tell you what I think are some fundamentals of doing this in a guided way as to not take the braces down too far (.ive done so and then ended up removing back, re bracing top, making new back etc etc. And I still donít like it!).

Anyhoo, I think itís a good idea to know the starting Top back and main air resonant frequencies. The way I do it is I record the tap tones into audacity, a free recording software that has a spectral analysis viewer. I use the built
In mic on my laptop.

To get the resonant frequency of the top and the back, itís best to put a soft rag or towel in soundhole loosely. Then I start recording, hold guitar by neck and use my index finger to tap a few times on top just behind bridge. Then I turn guitar around and tap the same way on the back. A soft mallet etc is often recommended for the tapping but as far as Iím concerned, my finger works aok.

Then in the newly recorded audio file select the recorded top taps first and find the spectral analysis sub menu (I donít have computer with me right now) and plot that. There may be more than one peak but the top should be between 160 hz and 200 ish (if the recording picks up the main air, which is the resonance of the body air chamber, that will be around 100 hz ish). So note the frequency of the main top. Then close window, select the portion of sound clip of the back tap tones and do the same. There you will see probsbly the top and the back resonances. The back should be in the 200 to 280 hz range but Iím just assuming based on my own measurements....and I donít measure Breedloves. Theyíre not allowed in my house.

Ok so now you got some data. Those data donít mean a lot to everyone because thereís guitars that sound good that do not follow any standard resonances. That being said, Santa cruzes are consistently 180 ish for top and 220 ish for back (for 000 and 12 fret dread). Some say 4 semitones is a good separation between top and back. Whateva!

If one or the other are way outside of this range, thatís when Iíd think about shaving and the specifics of would tell me whether I should shave top or back. But ideally one should be patient here and do it over several DAYS. Remove wood and measure until you drop a resonance by just a couple few hz and then leave it for a day or two to let it adjust.

And Since I made such an effort to explain that Iíll give unsolicited advice that was given to me that I didnít heed and that Iíd do again because thatís how I roll!: sell the guitar and go find one you like instead. Because the moment you touch those braces, the guitar loses value and or you have to not tell the truth when you ultimately want to sell it.....and Iím guessing thatís the end result since thatís what I was told consistently happens when people mess about and precisely how I feel about the guild I did this to hehe.

Good luck!

Sam
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Old 01-19-2018, 06:35 PM
Truckjohn Truckjohn is offline
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As posted - record tap tones of the back, top, and air.

I don't recommend working the top braces. Usually - you can get better results by:

1. Tune the back so it's about 4 semitones higher than the top.
2. Check that none of the 3 land directly on a scale note... Ideally - you would prefer them all to be about half way between notes.
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Old 01-19-2018, 06:44 PM
WildBill82 WildBill82 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Yates View Post
If it has a Bridge Doctor, lose that first thing.
It has the Bridge Doctor and I've wondered if that thing was really just a tone suck. I never heard of anyone removing those, guess I assumed they were integral but if it's copacetic I will rip that puppy out of there pronto. The company promotes it as adding strength and stability at the bridge, but I don't think it needs it; goes back to the original issue of the thing being braced like an Amish barn anyway lol

But thanks man, that's good info.
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Old 01-20-2018, 05:07 AM
terryj47 terryj47 is offline
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I have a Breedlove Pursuit concert. Cedar top. Lam Sapele B & S. It is a very good sounding guitar. Very warm and also sparkly. It has the bridge doctor. I've never touched it. No need to. I do know these things can be too tight. I would think long and hard before removing it. It may be structural. Good luck with your tone quest.
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Old 01-20-2018, 10:15 AM
YamahaGuy YamahaGuy is offline
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I have a Yamaha AC3R which had electric guitar low action and played great but had no projection -- so much so I nearly sold it. Anyway, I ended up putting a taller saddle in it to bring the action up to "normal" and the projection was amazing all of a sudden.

As a tinkerer myself, I'd like to try to shave some braces, but for sake of a quick fix, have you considered a taller saddle?
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  #9  
Old 01-20-2018, 11:35 AM
WildBill82 WildBill82 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YamahaGuy View Post
I have a Yamaha AC3R which had electric guitar low action and played great but had no projection -- so much so I nearly sold it. Anyway, I ended up putting a taller saddle in it to bring the action up to "normal" and the projection was amazing all of a sudden.

As a tinkerer myself, I'd like to try to shave some braces, but for sake of a quick fix, have you considered a taller saddle?
I have considered the saddle's break angle, wondering if it was steep and long enough. Breedlove uses a pinless bridge and the string almost looks like it's just laying on the saddle. I intend to have a luthier put a bone saddle in it so the goal will be to optimize the saddle while keeping the perfect action it already has. I think it is wise to go that way first, before taking sandpaper to it. Thanks Yammie
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  #10  
Old 01-20-2018, 03:28 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildBill82 View Post
the goal will be to optimize the saddle while keeping the perfect action it already has.
What, practically, does "optimize the saddle" mean? If the break angle is near zero, changing the saddle while keeping the same height/break angle won't accomplish anything. If the geometry is the issue, nothing is "optimized", you're simply switching from one material to another while keeping the same geometry.
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Old 01-20-2018, 08:20 PM
WildBill82 WildBill82 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
What, practically, does "optimize the saddle" mean? If the break angle is near zero, changing the saddle while keeping the same height/break angle won't accomplish anything. If the geometry is the issue, nothing is "optimized", you're simply switching from one material to another while keeping the same geometry.
...the idea is to get an optimal break angle with a different (taller) saddle, then adjust the neck to get the action I want.
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  #12  
Old 01-20-2018, 09:41 PM
Todd Yates Todd Yates is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildBill82 View Post
...the idea is to get an optimal break angle with a different (taller) saddle, then adjust the neck to get the action I want.
Adjust the neck how?
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  #13  
Old 01-21-2018, 12:33 AM
WildBill82 WildBill82 is offline
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Additionally, there's an issue with the strings moving around on the saddle a little bit. I've never had a saddle made before but I imagine you could make a taller saddle with notches for the strings and keep the action right where you want it.
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  #14  
Old 01-21-2018, 07:59 AM
YamahaGuy YamahaGuy is offline
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I've seen people "notch" the saddle where individual strings go, but 99% of compensated saddles I've seen have smooth curves rather than sharp notches to get the intonation right, with the B string being the exception. If the strings are moving around on the saddle, then the break angle is definitely too shallow.
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