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This Yamaki was their top-end model in 1971, with gold Grovers and the world’s supply of MOP inlay. It's pretty unique. I'd hoped to fix it, but now I realise I have neither the experience nor the tools to do such a job.

The X-braces under the 3mm top are only 9mm x 7.5mm, making the top fragile, and it has caved by some 5mm. The top has cracked beside the fb extension on the bass side, probably a victim of 'hot car syndrome'. Then someone compounded the problem by fixing it in its shifted position with white glue. Internally everything seems solid, no broken braces.

The neck needs re-setting, but the joint is made by 5 parallel dowels running through it, so conversion to a bolted joint is probably the only option. (Compared to this the cracked headstock and top cracks are the easy bits.)

I realise that this is the sort of job most sensible luthiers will run and hide from, and that it'll probably cost more to fix than it's worth. But if there's someone out there who enjoys such a challenge, please let me know - either here or thru pm.

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Kerry, Paul - I count 11 Yamakis sold for over $1000 in the last 12 months, so there's not just one crazy person out there!  Top-end models are rare because they didn't make many.  Early (lightly-built) models are rare because most of them didn't stand the test of time.  This is an early, top-end model.   I didn't buy it as in investment, or as a wall hanger, I bought to restore and play, but I still don't want to screw it up because I'll never find another one.  The value is academic, it's only a measure of its rarity.  FYI, I paid $200 for it.

Inlays in black resin?  Yes, Petros do the same, so I don't see that as an indicator of 'cheap'.

So back to my questions - what height of saddle should I shoot for, and how big should I make the cleats?

Ian,

No disrespect toward your guitar. It is what it is. To you, it's priceless & that's all that counts. I apologize if I upset you.

To answer your question relating to saddle height: I like to see right around 3/16" of the saddle above the bridge. That will give you a string break angle that will drive the top very nicely. I suspect a second reset will allow for that.

OR..you could shave the bridge & ramp the string slots to increase the break angle of the strings over the saddle. It's all about the break angle, not so much the height.

Best of luck

 I'd make the spruce diamonds a little less than half inch point to point. Make SURE that the grain runs opposite to the grain of the top though, otherwise, it will all split as soon as there is stress. The ramping that Paul is talking about in the bridge is a great idea too. 

 Here ya go...  Closer to a quarter inch... Placing these diamonds is quite difficult. Use the FRETS method of placing magnets on the top. AND make sure you have everything ready before you start. Wet rag for glue, etc OK? 

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Paul - no offence taken, I value your input.  The ramp issue is very valid, because the pegs are arranged in a curve - nice, but the break angles are unequal.  Maybe I should ramp the inner ones to equalise the angles.

Kerry - the points of the diamond line up with the crack, correct?  So the cleat grain is at 45deg to the top grain?  I was thinking to get a long-reach clamp, because then you know where the bottom jaw is putting the cleat (because you can see the top jaw).  You suggest magnets - will positioning the top magnet drag the bottom magnet (and its cleat) into correct alignment?  Either way sounds tricky.

Guys, thanks again  - your help is much appreciated!  I'll take some pix of work to date for you to critique!

I use a plug cutter to make cleats and a glue stick to stick them to one of the magnets. You need to secure the top magnet with masking tape, apply glue to the cleat and put it inside the guitar opposite the outside magnet. I sometimes use a slot screw driver to place the inside magnet. The piece of corian with the shallow flat bottom hole has the cleat inserted in it and is then held on the belt sander for proper thickness.

Some pix attached.

I used thin CA for the headstock crack. The cream/black/white neck binding fell apart when I took the FB off, so it's all replaced, cream is a little off the original colour.  You can see the new UTB and one neck bolt in the end-on pic - neck is now straight.  Previously the low E was fallling off the FB. 

None of the repairs is as invisible as I'd like, although I haven't done any refinishing so far. 

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Couple more: one shows the long lower bout crack, and the other the heel.  Reset heel should be tighter.

Criticism, suggestions for improvement welcome!

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Hi Ian,

Have you tried hydrating the guitar to see of that crack closes up some before you try gluing it up?  I haven't gone back and carefully read the thread again so I may not remember  it but I don't recall you ever mentioning how you were going to close up the crack. My concern is that we are talking about cleating a crack that needs to be closed first. If you have already figured this out, please ignore me but I think I would want to splint that crack if I couldn't close it tightly and closing that crack would come before cleats.

Hi Ned

When the strings were off, the crack was more open laterally.  It closed up almost totally when I heavily hydrated it, but wouldn't stay closed under normal humidity.  So Plan A was to splint it, although I was worried about getting the colour to match.

However: with the strings on now, and humidity around 33%, the crack has become almost entirely a vertical displacement, which I can close up by top-pressure on one side.  So I thought maybe cleating was better and a less visible repair.  But my inexperience with HHG and the inaccessibility of the crack means I'm not confident to do a good job. And maybe it will open again laterally once I take string tension off...

So based on what you say, I think I'm talking myself back to Plan A.  What tool do you use to widen the crack enough to get a splint in? 

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