Hi all,

First post here, but I've been reading hundreds of pages for years!  I have yet to attempt any more than spot fretwork on cheap guitars, pickup installs, and saddles/setups., but maybe someday...

To my question - with CF guitars having been produced for 20-ish years now, are there issues that potential purchasers should be aware of?  Let's leave tone opinions aside, if possible!  As a community of repair folks, y'all have probably seen a thorough sampling of what can go wrong with these things. 

I know that carbon fiber guitars are a totally different animal and are in all likelihood "un-repairable" in the event of serious damage.  That's OK with me, at least for the purpose of this discussion.  I'm more concerned with fatal flaws in their designs or construction.  Marketing says they are virtually indestructible (barring running over it with your car, as seen on AGF).  Marketing has been known to lie!

For example, are they difficult or impossible to refret?  There is a variety of fingerboard materials used, from carbon fiber to more typical Richlite-type stuff.  Do necks creep over time?  Some manufacturers (e.g. Composite Acoustics) don't use truss rods, claiming the necks never need adjustment...of that I'm skeptical to say the least. 

Any thoughts are appreciated...including "you're insane!" if applicable.

A little background: I'm considering replacing my Taylor 510 (engelmann/mahogany) with a CF guitar.  I bought it new 15 years ago after a long search for my first good guitar, and have loved it.  But - I'm tired of humidifying it in Arizona, being afraid of my kids breaking it, having to carefully plan out taking it out anywhere (and bringing it into restaurants cause it can't stay in the car), et cetera. 

I was able to play a few Rainsong models locally and was pleasantly surprised.  Their "unidirectional" low-end models actually sounded pretty good to my ear, and I think I could be happy with one.  Plus, I could sell the Taylor and come out about even cost-wise.

But really, I'm swooning over the Emerald X20.  Somebody restrain me, before I order it and have to explain it to my wife.

Tags: Carbon, Emerald, Fiber, Rainsong

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hi Danny,

rather underwhelming response to your queries eh, Carbon fiber and composites have had a a shaky existence in guitar making for quite a while. My observation is that its taken a while for the combination of wood and composite to be fully understood and exploited and this has led to a fair degree of mistrust and disinterest from general luthiers and repairmen.   The composite Martins are a guitar  that most of us are familiar with and a fair number of us have repaired them when the top has sprung loose after a knock or drop.  But, they are repairable and sound ok for what they are.  I've refretted composite necks and providing you use the appropriate procedure it can be done.  That's not to say its easy or cheap to do.   The carbon fibre you generally see is kiddies stuff and it will bend/creep if you put sufficient pressure on it - the stuff they make aircraft and bridge reinforcements out of is stronger but it will bend just fine under load.   So keeping a neck in relief with a set CF neck with no truss rod becomes a crap shoot if you change string gauge significantly unless the neck is sufficiently stable to maintain a pre-dialed relief under a wide load set.   All this stuff is up to you the buyer to consider, but I presume that the next generation composites will be better than the originals as the knowledge base and manufacturing expertise increases.   The word "presume" means I probably don't know -so go buy one and tell us how it goes,




I've had my OM1000  since December 2001, no trussrod, no problems whatsoever, other than if I take it outside to play in the sunlit garden, the top gets REAL hot!  Stays in tune, though; it's my de facto baritone, BEADF#B, 13-56.

Here it is:

Composite Acoustics guitars were popular ~10 years ago with performing rhythm players. They were based in Lafayette, LA at the time before being bought by Peavy and made a dread size which came in two different "voices" in addition to smaller models similar to the Rainsong pictured above.They wouldn't win any prizes in a sound quality contest with an equivalent priced wooden Martin/Taylor etc played in a living room setting but were bulletproof once set up.

I have not worked on one but the frets are installed and removed just like a standard wood fretboard. Melt the CA glue holding them in with a soldering gun, etc. They came without a trussrod so you may need to be more aggressive with a file on frets number 14 to the end of the fretboard to prevent string rattle.


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