#1
Hi guys.

So two weeks ago I ordered an Epiphone Masterbuilt AJ-45ME from guitar center. It wasn't in any stores anywhere near me so I had it shipped directly to my home. I noticed the saddle looked very short and based on some measurements I suspected a poorly set neck.

On the advice of this forum (thank you VERY MUCH Tony Done) I took it to the GC tech and he said he sees that saddle height on 30 year old vintiage guitars and it had definitely been filed WAY down. Bottom line he said: if it were him he'd DEFINITELY send it back.. bc once the neck starts to shift I have no extra saddle to file and the only fix would be a neck reset.. a $300 repair on a $500 guitar.. not worth it.

I got the replacement today. Now if I had gotten this guitar first, I probably would have thought it was was fine.. but after my last guitar I did a lot of research on how to spot a poorly set neck. I think this guitar might be fine.. but I also think it's on the edge and after the last one I am concerned...

I have attached pictures to go along with my measurements:

Action:
1. 6th string action at 12th: 2.75mm
2. 1st string action at 12th: 1.75 mm
(the action seems slightly high on the 6th and very middle of the road on the 1st)

Saddle height: (Considering the "almost high" action, I worry the saddle is already low and I will not be able to lower it as the action gets higher)
3. Distance from bridge to 1st string: just under 3/32nds of an inch. (I've read it should be no lower than 4/32nds)
4. Distance from low E to top of guitar: just below 7/16ths of an inch (I've read 0.5 is ideal and 3/8ths is nearly a problem.. and I have just 1/16th left to go.)

The plane of the fret board comes about 1mm or 2 below the top of the bridge.
I don't know/think it's relevant but the relief at the 6th fret is about 3/1,000ths of an inch.


I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to keep this guitar....
But if this guitar will have a short life, I DEFINITELY want to send it back.

Should I give it back?

#3
I would. I mean, the new one looks okay, but especially right after getting and returning one, I'd be hesitant to take anything less than perfect. I'd return it and replace it with something besides another epiphone. They're not exactly known for their quality control, as you're finding out. If you're already spending $500, you're gettin real close to the price point of an entry level Taylor, which will be an infinitely better guitar, in every way. Plus, Taylors have a genius bolt on neck system, which makes a neck reset extremely cheap and easy, should it be needed eventually.
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Last edited by the_bi99man at May 29, 2015,
#4
Quote by the_bi99man
I would. I mean, the new one looks okay, but especially right after getting and returning one, I'd be hesitant to take anything less than perfect. I'd return it and replace it with something besides another epiphone. They're not exactly known for their quality control, as you're finding out. If you're already spending $500, you're gettin real close to the price point of an entry level Taylor, which will be an infinitely better guitar, in every way. Plus, Taylors have a genius bolt on neck system, which makes a neck reset extremely cheap and easy, should it be needed eventually.


I'm a big fan of Taylor's neck bolt system, and I personally would have gone for a Taylor 114. - But you can't fault the set up on that Epi.
#5
Quote by Tony Done
Looks almost perfect to me. I might take the action down a tiny bit if it were mine - to 1.6 and 2.5 mm, but I could live with it as-is.

OMG.. I'm going to cry.. THANK YOU!!!!

I didn't look bad.. but after that last guitar.. im on edge.
#6
Quote by the_bi99man
I would. I mean, the new one looks okay, but especially right after getting and returning one, I'd be hesitant to take anything less than perfect. I'd return it and replace it with something besides another epiphone. They're not exactly known for their quality control, as you're finding out. If you're already spending $500, you're gettin real close to the price point of an entry level Taylor, which will be an infinitely better guitar, in every way. Plus, Taylors have a genius bolt on neck system, which makes a neck reset extremely cheap and easy, should it be needed eventually.

I love the taylor design, finish and build quality.

I REALLY WANT to want a taylor. I cannot stand their tone.. it drives me nuts.
I know taylor is awesome.. I know it's me. I really wish that I could love the sound of a taylor but I can't...

And masterbuilts have a great rep as far as I've heard. (Masterbuilts HAVE had QC issues.. but if I understood right, not more than Gibson, Seagull, Taylor..)
#7
AWESOME!

And btw.. I LOVE how this guitar sounds.. and the only guitars I've loved were Gibsons, all solid martins, and some breedloves

I liked seagull A LOT.. but it wasn't what I would get if I could find better. And for sound, I absolutely loved this masterbuilt.. and I loved the masterbuilts in general.

Ok, I'm done!!

THANK YOU!
#8
Quote by Stevuke79


I REALLY WANT to want a taylor. I cannot stand their tone.. it drives me nuts.
I know taylor is awesome.. I know it's me. I really wish that I could love the sound of a taylor but I can't...


Don't want to want a guitar! You like what you like, and that's about the end of it.

For the life of me, I cannot like the sound and feel of almost any Martin. No matter what.

But that's just me... I have no desire to want one in order to "fit in" or appreciate them or anything, I just don't prefer them as instruments.
My God, it's full of stars!
#9
congrats on your masterbilt

btw, i'm not a big fan of taylors, either. they're just too bright and clean for my taste, but i can appreciate that they're quality guitars with a tone i just don't happen to like.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#10
Quote by the_bi99man
...[ ].... I'd be hesitant to take anything less than perfect. I'd return it and replace it with something besides another epiphone. They're not exactly known for their quality control, as you're finding out. If you're already spending $500, you're gettin real close to the price point of an entry level Taylor, which will be an infinitely better guitar, in every way. Plus, Taylors have a genius bolt on neck system, which makes a neck reset extremely cheap and easy, should it be needed eventually.
Oh, I don't know that I'd say a 100 series Taylor is, "an infinitely better guitar", than an all solid Epiphone Masterbilt. I'll spot you the bolt on neck.

I don't know as I'd go along with all these BS measurements either. The only two that actually matter are, the string height at the 12th fret, and how much saddle is sticking out when you get the string height where you want it.

Additionally, I'm not really sure why current Epiphones are getting a bad rap on QC. I pulled 2 EJ-200-SCE's out of the box, and they're pretty close to perfect. Of course, someone's else's results may vary...
#11
Quote by Captaincranky
The only two that actually matter are, the string height at the 12th fret, and how much saddle is sticking out when you get the string height where you want it.



Yes. However, I recently discovered that Martin use three different bridge heights, and choose the one that will give correct amount of saddle showing. That seems faintly dodgy to me, so I've started taking more interest in the distance between the top and the strings. The standard seems to be 1/2" or just a little less for Martin-style guitars.
#12
Quote by Tony Done
Yes. However, I recently discovered that Martin use three different bridge heights, and choose the one that will give correct amount of saddle showing. That seems faintly dodgy to me, so I've started taking more interest in the distance between the top and the strings. The standard seems to be 1/2" or just a little less for Martin-style guitars.
Ibanez does something similar. However, Their high bridges are already notched out in front of the strings. It lessens the ambiguity.

I mean, if the bridge wood proper is too high, then you have to get out the depth gauge, for the saddle groove, and then possibly the router to cut a channel in front of the strings.

However, we're talking about an Epiphone, not a Martin.

My two Epis are slightly different saddle heights, to net the same string height.

You have to consider the very slight error in neck angle present, when one saddle is sticking up 3/16", and another is at 5/32". 1/10 of a degree error in neck angle might cause that. It should still be in manufacturing tolerance. After all, this is wood we're dealing with, not stainless steel.
#13
Here's a closeup of the Ibanez, "solution".



EDIT: I just checked my 2 Epis. One has a slightly thinner bridge. It also has the least saddle showing. Both of the guitars have approximately. the same string height, and there is very, very little, to no difference, in playability.

I know all these operations are done with jigs. But, as I said before neck angle does seem to be critical to the point where it has to compensated for, post facto.
Last edited by Captaincranky at May 30, 2015,
#14
Quote by Dreadnought
Don't want to want a guitar! You like what you like, and that's about the end of it.

For the life of me, I cannot like the sound and feel of almost any Martin. No matter what.

But that's just me... I have no desire to want one in order to "fit in" or appreciate them or anything, I just don't prefer them as instruments.

I know .. and thank you.
What I meant was: I like the sound that i like, .. and I wish that the branch which produced this sound was also the brand that had a bolt on neck.

(In addition to the bolt on neck I also thought that Taylors had an unmatched finish in that price range.. But to my novice eye, this Epi is finished beautifully as well. Even the pickguard seems very nice.)

But yes, I do love the sound that I love.
#15
Quote by patticake
congrats on your masterbilt

btw, i'm not a big fan of taylors, either. they're just too bright and clean for my taste, but i can appreciate that they're quality guitars with a tone i just don't happen to like.


Thanks Patti!

And it's nice to hear that there are experts that don't love taylors either. Means I'm neither crazy nor ignorant.
#16
Quote by Captaincranky
I don't know as I'd go along with all these BS measurements either. The only two that actually matter are, the string height at the 12th fret, and how much saddle is sticking out when you get the string height where you want it.


The only reason I gave 1,000 measurements is because I don't know what to measure.. I was just try to spot a problem if there was one. (it is strange to me that this guitar also has like zero relieve. Maybe 0.003" or 0.004".

After this thread and some more reading I feel better... The way I figure it now... I think I can lower that bridge by about 3mm... which means I can correct for 6mm of action eventually.

Which will hopefully last me many many years.
#17
Quote by Stevuke79
The only reason I gave 1,000 measurements is because I don't know what to measure.. I was just try to spot a problem if there was one. (it is strange to me that this guitar also has like zero relieve. Maybe 0.003" or 0.004".
As long as your guitar is not buzzing, the less relief a neck has, the better the guitar. It simply means the neck is straight, and the frets are level. Hopefully, that's the case for you.

Neck relief can be a seasonal issue, with a tiny adjustment being needed from winter to summer. Oddly, I have found maple moves more than mahogany, despite the fact that it's harder and denser. But still, it doesn't move much.


Quote by Stevuke79
After this thread and some more reading I feel better... The way I figure it now... I think I can lower that bridge by about 3mm... which means I can correct for 6mm of action eventually.
And now the bad news. You have those measurements reversed. If you can lower the SADDLE, (not the "bridge"), about 3mm, that would drop the action by 1.5mm

Don't worry excessively, (I know I'm talking to the wall here), but if the action is decent now, even 1.5mm is a lot of adjustment.

You won't find a guitar where the action could be moved by 6mm. Even if you did, the neck would be on wrong the opposite direction. (Too much "fall away". meaning too steep of a negative angle in relation to the body side).

Quote by Stevuke79
Which will hopefully last me many many years.
With proper care, it should.......,Happy New Guitar Day!
#18
Quote by Captaincranky
As long as your guitar is not buzzing, the less relief a neck has, the better the guitar. It simply means the neck is straight, and the frets are level. Hopefully, that's the case for you.

Neck relief can be a seasonal issue, with a tiny adjustment being needed from winter to summer. Oddly, I have found maple moves more than mahogany, despite the fact that it's harder and denser. But still, it doesn't move much.


AWESOME!! Thank you!

And this might be obvious.. but I think the shorter scale length.. 24.75 means I should have less relief too.
(If you just look at it from a leverage perspective.
1. shorter scale length means less force from the strings. which should mean less relief.
2. shorter scale length means less torque on the neck.. which should mean less relief.)

And now the bad news. You have those measurements reversed. If you can lower the SADDLE, (not the "bridge"), about 3mm, that would drop the action by 1.5mm

Don't worry excessively, (I know I'm talking to the wall here), but if the action is decent now, even 1.5mm is a lot of adjustment.


Ahhh.. got it!!

And yes.. you're talking to the wall.. I'm a worrier as you've clearly noticed!

With proper care, it should.......,Happy New Guitar Day!


Awesome! thank you!