Neck reset on an Avalon cutaway

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First things first - I am NOT thinking of doing this myself. Not for a nanosecond.

Having said that, I'm almost as nervous about entrusting it to a professional.

So, my problem. I've had my Avalon A200CE since 2005. It has always had a virtually invisible saddle. I used to really enjoy playing it, but then I bought an Avalon L2-20 from @prudd of this parish a few months ago. The difference between the two guitars is marked, in almost every sense - looks, finish, playability, sound, the lot.

In particular, the saddle on the L2-20 is a good 2-3mm prouder of the bridge than the saddle on the A200, yet the L2-20 still plays better than the A200, which would suggest to me that the neck needs a reset (and very probably always has done). I'd put pics up but as I no longer have either of my websites, I've nowhere to post them first, though I might try to sign up to imgur or something if I can't work out how to link to dropbox maybe.

I emailed Avalon themselves and didn't get a reply. (Maybe it went into their spam box, I don't know.)

Anyway, I'm still wondering if I should have it done.

Does anyone know roughly how expensive it would be and is it worth doing, and how much damage would it do to the finish, all that sort of stuff? I know there's the "If you'll play it when it's done v ignoring it if you don't" argument, but I'd equally hate to see it come back looking less than it does now, because then I'd have spent the money and still not be happy.

Thoughts?
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  • TheOtherDennisTheOtherDennis Frets: 739
    edited November 30

    Hmm, not working properly. (Yes, I've looked at the instructions thread, but they're for posting from dropbox using an iphone or ipad, and I'm not using either. I'll keep looking...)
    If you must have sex with a frog, wear a condom. If you want the frog to have fun, rib it.
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2148
    Hi @TheOtherDennis ;

    Is the action height itself OK?  If so, then - providing the strings aren't actually fouling the bridge - the only major effect of a very low saddle is possibly reduced break angle as the strings go into the pegs. 

    Do the peg holes have notches on the saddle side?  These can help the break angle.

    Lastly, is the neck a bolt-on or a dovetail?
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  • Hi @Andyjr1515,

    No, the action is a little too high, but still usable, and the strings aren't fouling on the bridge. The neck is a dovetail joint.

    It's a combination of action and sound - both are better on the L2-20. The sound is clearer and more rounded, there's more volume and it seems to sing a bit more, and the action is more even along the neck. The A200 seems slightly muffled next to the L2-20.
    If you must have sex with a frog, wear a condom. If you want the frog to have fun, rib it.
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  • brucegillbrucegill Frets: 146
    I might be completely wrong, so I apologies if so, but is the A200 the ones built in the Far East? And your L2-20 made in Ireland? So not really comparable. Again, sorry if I have that wrong.  @ToneControl would know. 
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 6343
    what does it say on the label?
    all the text please

    The one I found online was made in Ireland


    AFAIK only the Silver series were made in the far east, there were not many made

    I'd recommend phoning Steve at Avalon, he has run the business since 1989 when they started as "The Lowden Guitar company", he knows all the models.

    I'd say that if there were not much saddle showing, then the guitar might have developed a "belly"
    I'd say take it to a local luthier for their opinion before deciding anything

    You can do a test by looking at youtube videos, and holding a ruler across the top.

    Resetting the neck would be costly, I'm guessing £200-£300. 

    If you want repairs done exceptionally well, an option is to send it back to Avalon, probably £25 each way postage. I think you would then be guaranteed good results
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2148
    Hi @Andyjr1515,

    No, the action is a little too high, but still usable, and the strings aren't fouling on the bridge. The neck is a dovetail joint.

    It's a combination of action and sound - both are better on the L2-20. The sound is clearer and more rounded, there's more volume and it seems to sing a bit more, and the action is more even along the neck. The A200 seems slightly muffled next to the L2-20.
    While it's just a personal view, I think a reset neck, which may well improve the playing feel, is very unlikely to sort the muffled sound. 

     Yes, a better break angle over the saddle would help - as would bone saddle and nut if not already fitted - but in my own experience, the overall sound is much more to do with the top thickness and wood and, crucially, the bracings and their tuning than those other things.


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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 6343
    Hi @Andyjr1515,

    No, the action is a little too high, but still usable, and the strings aren't fouling on the bridge. The neck is a dovetail joint.

    It's a combination of action and sound - both are better on the L2-20. The sound is clearer and more rounded, there's more volume and it seems to sing a bit more, and the action is more even along the neck. The A200 seems slightly muffled next to the L2-20.
    While it's just a personal view, I think a reset neck, which may well improve the playing feel, is very unlikely to sort the muffled sound. 

     Yes, a better break angle over the saddle would help - as would bone saddle and nut if not already fitted - but in my own experience, the overall sound is much more to do with the top thickness and wood and, crucially, the bracings and their tuning than those other things.


    If, as I suspect, the guitar was made in Ireland, you have a guitar that should be around £3k new if sold today, and it's worth spending £200-£200 to make it right
    If the OP thinks the sound is wrong, the guys who made it still work in the same workshop, who are clearly in the best place to resolve it. 

    Having said that, AFAIK if the guitar has bellied a little, and that's why the saddle has been lowered, I think the notches in the peg holes can be deepened to improve the break angle, as a cheap fix.

    First step is to phone Steve at Avalon, he's not always in, and he was off work with an illness recently, so I'd say try again now, and make it clear that if major work needs doing, you'd send it to them.
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 6343
    A200 would be a Gold series
    Mostly made in Ireland, some made in the Czech republic (Furch I think) when they were too busy for a short period. 
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2148

    First step is to phone Steve at Avalon, he's not always in, and he was off work with an illness recently, so I'd say try again now, and make it clear that if major work needs doing, you'd send it to them.
    Yes - fully agree that should be the first step, whatever.
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  • TheOtherDennisTheOtherDennis Frets: 739
    edited December 4
    It's a Gold series, serial number A00511, made in Ireland, with a label identical to the one in @ToneControl's post. I've done nothing to the saddle or the truss rod since I bought it in late 2005. I bought it from Sheehans (may they RIP), whose chap did this in his set up, to try to get the action nice and low. He said at the time it was as low as the truss rod would take, which is why I was thinking of a neck reset.

    EDIT: I've measured the distance from the top of the bridge to the bottom of the low E (6th) string on both guitars. On the L2-20, it's a gnat's nudger off 2mm. On the A200, it's so low I can barely measure it, less than 0.5mm, maybe even as low as 0.25mm. 

    To be clear, it doesn't actually sound muffled, it just sounds like that in comparison to the L2-20. I was mostly happy with it till I got the L2-20, which is just a clearer, more defined sounding guitar that's easier to play than the A200. 

    And I began by emailing Avalon, but I didn't get a reply. I can only assume that because I included pics, it went straight into their spam folder for security reasons.

    I'll try again with the address @ToneControl gave me in your PM.
    If you must have sex with a frog, wear a condom. If you want the frog to have fun, rib it.
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