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EW10ASE-OBK Issue
arumaibanez
#1 Posted : 8/23/2014 12:13:04 PM

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Hello Forum! It's a privilege to be here. First of all, let me say, that I love Ibanez, and have been inspired by musician's who play these fine instruments. I have always loved your semi-acoustic and bass guitars. I own a few bass guitars and really enjoy them thoroughly. I am posting here today because I have an unusual issue with an Ibanez acoustic guitar. I restore guitars for a hobby and recently one of my neighbor's son's EW10ASE-OBK came into my shop with a broken neck. It actually broke last year; and since that time, his son has moved to Europe. My neighbor also just moved away from the area, and when I was helping them clean-up, they asked me if I wanted to keep the guitar since they were going to throw it away anyway.

Well, I remembered how devastated his son was when the guitar broke. It was just dropped lightly, but the neck broke violently. My neighbor's son is getting married soon, so I thought I'd repair it for a wedding gift. The neck was actually broken in a spot that makes repair a good possibility. However, in order to get everything back together properly, I had to remove the fingerboard. I was shocked at what I found under the fingerboard. You can see by the pictures below;

two pieces

My neighbor bought this guitar new at a store here in Japan. It was not a factory refurb or anything like that. The first thing I noticed is that the neck is made with two pieces of wood glued together as shown in the photo above. You can see the distinct line caused by the different woods used (just a bit right and above center in the photo).

truss-rod cavity

The next thing I noticed is that the truss-rod cavity is a mess. It looks like it was manually chiseled out with little care for quality.

gaps

Finally, the number and size of the gaps between the neck and body assembly are just cavernous. No wonder why the neck just split with a minor drop. I think my neighbor bought the guitar 3 or 4 years ago; and so, I know there are no warranty claims that can be made; but my question was, has anybody seen this kind of issue in Ibanez guitars? My basses and every electric Ibanez I have seen and played to date have been excellent. This guitar is made in Indonesia, but surely Ibanez must have quality control standards in place to prevent things like this from creeping into the market?

Anyway, I'm going to do my best to fix this neck. It's going to be a lot more work than I anticipated, but hopefully, I'll be able to get this done before the wedding. I sure would be interested to hear what experience you all have with this kind of thing here on the Ibanez forum. Thanks for reading my post.
RIX
#2 Posted : 8/24/2014 11:12:24 PM
RIX


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Hello arumaibanez,

I have heard and seen this type of break before in other guitar forums. And it’s basically the same story of just a minor drop and the neck breaks right about in the same place. Because it’s never happen to me or someone I know I haven’t been able to examine a break like this first hand to really give an opinion as to what is the cause. Offhand it looks probably a case of not enough glue, or the neck and fingerboard were clamped with too much pressure and too much glue was squeezed out.

As far as the location of the scarf neck joint is concern that is pretty common practice. Originally the Scarf joint was closer to where the nut is located. This enables the luthier to use less wood in the construction of the neck. By making the Scarf joint right at the nut location the luthier could just flip the end piece, which would become the headstock, over and it would have the perfect back angle for the strings. I believe you still see this in classical guitar construction. I think it was move from the traditional location to where you see it now in the photo to help strengthen the joint by the use of the fingerboard over lapping the joint. And as you can see the joint itself did not fail. As for the difference in color of the wood as long as the wood is of the same hardwood species it shouldn’t matter; especially if the guitar is going to be painted rather than have a natural clear finish. A thicker piece of wood has to be used in the making of the neck headstock in other to achieve the correct angle of the headstock, so it may be difficult to get a perfect color match.

Wow, my eyes really open wide when I saw the second picture. First it looks like this might have been some kind of fix done in the factory of maybe later and not revealed. In the first picture the channel for the truss rod looks clean, but in the second picture the channel looks hacked. For whatever reason material was routed out and then pieces of wood were glue in, but instead of routing the channel it looks like a handsaw was use. To some degree this doesn’t seem to be a bad idea; it would help to strengthen the neck to body joint and possibly help reduce the neck from warping at this location. The problem is that it is really bad looking work and very little care was taken; additionally if you didn’t know the neck was built like this and needed to remove the neck using the usual method it would be a nightmare, because it just wouldn’t come apart.

Last observation: the area of the body where the fingerboard once covered. The wood there does not look like it would be spruce. This is why I avoid painted acoustic guitars; you just don’t know what is under that paint.

Anyway, good luck with the repair; I hope it works out for you. Let us know how it turns out.
RIX
arumaibanez
#3 Posted : 8/27/2014 2:26:48 PM

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Thanks for the reply, encouragement, observations, RIX. I was just so surprised since this guitar was bought new. You never see work like this on new Yamaha's, Takamine's, Aria's, Ovations, Martins, Taylors, etc... Like you said, I'm really glad I didn't attempt to remove this neck using the traditional method. At best, it would have been confusing, and at worst, it may have been hack sawed off, lol!
arumaibanez
#4 Posted : 8/29/2014 6:10:05 AM

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Oh yeah, can any body recommend a decent hard case to ship this EW10ASE-OBK? It needs to go to Europe and will need a relatively sturdy case. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
arumaibanez
#5 Posted : 9/13/2014 4:37:23 PM

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Okay, so I've started work on the EW10ASE and thought I'd share my progress. Hope you all don't mind!

drawing

I needed to make a special alignment jig to make absolutely sure the neck was going on straight. I made a very accurate drawing and put it on a super flat piece of wood that was just the right width for this project.

headstock position

After a bunch of dry runs, I mounted the headstock onto the alignment jig.

gluing position

Positioned all the pieces for gluing, and double checked my alignment...

neck clamping

After alignment verification, I applied the glue (I used super reliable ZAP 30-minute Epoxy) I applied the neck clamping...

body clamp

...and added a body clamp to apply upward pressure toward the headstock.

sound hole clamping cavity

to apply the body clamp, I needed to open a square block large enough to fit the clamp head. The sound hole was the perfect area to fit this clamp hole.

waiting time

Checking for shifting and slippage every five minutes until the glue settles (that will take about 30 minutes to an hour). Then I'll let her sit for 72 hours. At that point, I'll start filling in the cracks and gaps before I re-install the fingerboard. ZAP glues are great adhesive products and once it dries, the bond should be stronger than the wood. I'll further fill any gaps in the wood and cracks in the finish with Gap-a-Zap and Slo-Zap CA; and finally, I'll apply the fingerboard using hide glue. Then I'll clean and sand and put the final touches on her, and she should be ready to go in no time at all!

I'll post some more when I get there!

RIX
#6 Posted : 9/14/2014 2:52:27 AM
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arumaibanez, looks like you have a good start on the neck repair and everything should work out okay.

Looking at your photos makes me this that this guitar even though sold as new at one point was re-worked and stain or painted black. From the photos you can see that this guitar was made with either quilted maple or figured ash and would of had a natural finish. That may explain the earlier photos of the two pieces of wood that were inserted right at the neck and body joint.

Well keep us posted on your progress.
RIX
arumaibanez
#7 Posted : 9/14/2014 8:06:53 AM

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Thanks for the comment RIX. I've been doing a bit of research on my own and found that the "ASE" designation in the EW10ASE-OBK model number signifies "Ash." The patterns in the wood certainly seem to support this conclusion. As far as the color goes, the "OBK" apparently designates a solid flat black finish. The Ibanez 2008 catalog actually shows an Ibanez Exotic Wood Bass with this color scheme. This color is actually popular in Japan, and I've seen black ones around here and there. As hard as it is to believe that something like this would get into the market, a really close inspection of the finish (including the neck and body) seems to indicate that this came from the factory in this condition.

I can only think of two scenarios:
1). It was re-worked at the factory in Indonesia and stamped "Refurbished" (as, I think, is legally required when selling refurbished instruments in America and Japan), but the dealer or retail outlet took the indicative sticker off and sold it as a regular stock item. However, in my experience, "Refurb" guitars usually have a stamp on the inside label as well as the external headstock sticker to prevent occurrences like this. I don't know enough about Ibanez's quality assurance procedures, and so I have no way of knowing for sure; unless some Ibanez personnel sees this post and cares to comment. Along these lines, it could be that the dealer or retail outlet reworked the guitar locally and sold it as a new guitar, but the final paint job seems to negate this possibility.

2). The guitar was reworked at the factory in Indonesia and mistakenly or dishonestly released into the market, assuming nobody would ever take her apart to see the innards.

I am sure that the Exotic Wood series are not assembled like this one (if they are, that would be a tragedy, and I don't even want to think about the ramifications of such a possibility). It is really obvious that the normal dove joint of the neck and dove joint block that should be in the body are not even remotely accounted for; so, where ever this was done, the person had to restore the neck joint without scraping the existing body or neck, and because the guitar was already mostly (or completely) assembled, they could not rebuild the neck joint block in the body or the neck joint of the neck. In either case, it's not a pretty picture. I think the solution is like you said, don't buy a solid colored acoustic guitar from Ibanez! I don't mean to bash Ibanez because I own and have played their instruments; but I must say, I don't think I'll ever buy an Ibanez acoustic guitar. Of course, I'm thankful that the break on this one is repairable, and at least, she'll be able to continue singing in the hands of her original owner.

I'm really looking forward to fixing her and stringing her up. I've heard a lot of good things about the pre-amps on these guitars, and can't wait to take her through her paces before I ship her off to Europe!
arumaibanez
#8 Posted : 9/20/2014 3:42:52 PM

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So, I hope you all don't mind me sharing the continuation of this neck repair. I must say, it is going very well so far...

One Piece again!

The neck jig worked well and the neck is back in one-piece. I can actually twist the neck pretty hard and everything stays in tact. Testimony of how incredible the Z-Poxy works!

filling the gaps

I decided I'd better clean-up and fill-up the severe gaps in the truss-rod cavity. Loose debris in this area can cause annoying buzzing, so I filled up all the gaps with Tite-bond wood filler.

filled up

With the truss-rod cavity filled and secured, it was time to re-install the fingerboard. Just in case, my friend ever needs to take the neck apart again, I decided to use the traditional hide glue. After a bunch of dry runs to verify clamping strategy, I glued the fingerboard into place, and waited 72 hours...

glueing the fingerboard

With the fingerboard secured, it was time to take off the clamps and proceed to the final stages of this project. There will be a lot of scraping and sanding required to clean things up...

after the clamps

The front of the headstock needed some paint and wood chipping repair too...

headstock - front

Tested a variety of paints...lacquer, poly-urethane, and acrylic. The flat black acrylic silicon finish is quite durable and seems to combine well with the existing paint.

painting

Just wet sanding and painting...planning on four coats with wet sanding using 400 grit sand paper in between...looking very good so far. I should be completely finished by tomorrow! Just a few more coats to go! Oh yeah!
RIX
#9 Posted : 9/20/2014 4:33:23 PM
RIX


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Looking good arumaibanez.

Any luck finding a hard shell case? I have both my EWs in gig bags, so I'm afraid I'm not much help.
RIX
SNick
#10 Posted : 9/20/2014 8:04:10 PM
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Great work so far. Clap
arumaibanez
#11 Posted : 9/22/2014 1:09:49 AM

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Thanks for the comments RIX and SNick. I haven't had a chance to get my case yet, but I'm thinking a standard dreadnought style hard case will probably work. I'll be ordering something appropriate in the next day or two to prepare the guitar for shipping. The project turned out better than I expected, and the last thing I need to do is to dress the frets.

clean neck

Although I can play the guitar at this point, I still need to let the paint job dry out completely. The neck and back of the headstock turned out rather well.

headstock front

I couldn't quite get a perfect match to the original finish, and I didn't want to cover the "Ibanez" logo with paint; so I left just a bit of color transition on the front of the headstock. Unfortunately, it's a bit noticeable.

fingerboard

Removing the fingerboard requires an enormous amount of heat, and the 8th fret (on the bass-side) lifted out of the socket - ever so slightly, but enough to cause a major "buzz." Gluing the fret into place with just a bit of CA glue and a simple re-dressing of the frets will correct this.

Neck

The neck went on really straight albeit skewed about a millimeter to the right, but that's the way she was when I got her, and the skew won't be significant enough to cause the neck to warp later...(as long as the guitar is kept in a atmospherically balanced environment when stored over long periods of time).

neck angle

After the reconstruction, it will take a few days or weeks for the neck to settle in properly. I'll need to perform truss-rod adjustments several times before shipping her out.

display

Handsomely displayed in my office for now...despite the neck condition, it's hard not to like her after all the work that went into restoring her. I played her through a PA, and the Ibanez pre-amp does not disappoint. Especially using the low impedance XLR output. The notch filter is amazing and enables a musician to play this guitar at high decibels without worrying about feedback and loss of definition in tone quality. Just fantastic...I now know why my friend's son valued this guitar so much. It sure has been an educational journey for me. I hope this thing doesn't get damaged on the way to Europe!
RIX
#12 Posted : 9/22/2014 10:06:11 PM
RIX


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Excellent job arumaibanez. It really looks great and I bet it songs great too.

Thanks for taking us along on your repair journey; I'm sure your friend will appreciate your hard work once he receives it.
RIX
arumaibanez
#13 Posted : 9/24/2014 3:10:14 PM

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Thanks RIX. Yup, it sounds really good. Once I dress the frets all the buzz will be gone, and the neck angle is perfect, so I should get really low action. Immediately following the repair, the neck was pretty stiff, but now with the string tension and truss-rod movement the neck is setting really nicely. As I mentioned earlier, this guitar really shines when played through a PA. Very crisp and clean sound. Thanks for the encouragement!
RIX
#14 Posted : 8/4/2016 5:41:55 PM
RIX


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Interesting video in reference to the initial post and pictures 2 and 3. In the very last minutes of the attached video link he points out the the truss rod slot. Notice that in the truss rod slot right where the neck joins the body the neck and body have been routed out and two pieces of wood have been glued in on both sides of the slot. I would still like to know the purpose for this; does it help to reinforce the neck body joint or does it help keep the neck straight at that point.

neck joint and truss rod slot exposed

RIX
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