Epiphone Cortez Repair Blog #1: Inspection

This is a common sight on an old guitar. First, we have worn frets with big grooves in from the strings. Second, look at those werewolf scratches on the fingerboard itself. See what happens if you play your guitar much more than you cut your fingernails? The frets all the way down the neck are in pretty poor shape so they’ll be replaced. At the same time we will reshape the fingerboard and endeavour to do something about these gouges.
Another common problem: the peeling pickguard. This can happen due to glue failure, shrinkage or a number of other reasons. This one, however, is not fixed well at all. There’s more to this than meets the eye. It will have to come off: we’ll come back to it in part two.

Next we check the bridge to make sure it hasn’t lifted (probably the most common problem in older guitars). You need check all around for gaps. This is a replacement bridge which, fortunately, has been installed properly. I do see one problem, however…

At the top we have a photo of an original Epiphone bridge. Our bridge is at the bottom. Look at the difference in the angle of the saddle. Our replacement bridge has a very shallow angle of around 3 degrees. The original is about 6 degrees. This is important and problematic.

Most acoustics today have a scale length (the distance from nut to 12th fret doubled) of 25.5″. Old Gibsons and Epis have a scale length of only about 24.5″. One side effect of this shorter scale is the need for a more steeply angled saddle than usually found on pre-made replacement bridges.

This erroneous saddle angle will play merry hell with our guitar’s intonation. Somewhere down the line, this will need to be addressed.

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