Rickenbacker International Corporation - Forum

Accent Vibrato concerns
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Author:  maxwell [ Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Accent Vibrato concerns

I had never seen or held a 325 style Ric until I bought a used 2006 Model 1996 AFG last weekend. I suspect that I am the third owner. It had very, very large strings on it; my crude micrometer measured something like .015-.055. I did some reading about the "best" strings to use, I ended up buying a pack of D'Addario flatwounds, Jazz Lights, 0.11-.050. While they are really light for this guitar, I did read of guys using them. I thought I'd give them a try, at least....

I ended up having to raise the bridge considerably, since these lighter strings did not pull the end of the vibrato down. Those large strings required more tension, putting more downward pressure on the vibrato. My light strings did not, and so it was higher, and I had to raise the roller bridge up to contact the strings and provide a "break" in them. But I noticed that the end of the vibrato seemed awfully high; abnormally high, to me. Looking at the end view of the vibrato, you could see that the two flat portions formed a very shallow "v" (and this in fact, required me to remove the old strings and place the new strings by sliding them in from the sides, and not through the too small opening at the string slots). I also noticed a couple of rubber grommets or what looked like rubber washers half way under the spring.

Here are some photos. (There is no tension on the strings – I’m also trying to straighten/flatten the neck. You are seeing the vibrato at its highest.) Do you see anything wrong here that needs correction?


(I did not realize how dusty it was under there....)

Once I get this issue taken care of the next concern will be the neck and truss rod adjustment.... having trouble here, too.... Thanks.

Author:  maxwell [ Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Accent Vibrato concerns

Well, I searched the Internet for information and photos of this vibrato (mounted as well as unmounted), and I'm convinced that the spring on mine is either some sort of replacement, or, if this is the original spring, that it has been bent (constricted) to provide higher action, perhaps to allow more travel -- someone wanted to whammy this like it was a Floyd Rose.

I'm going to post a question about where I can buy just the spring in the General forum. After seeing this (part #01142 Vibrato Spring) on a diagram, I'm further convinced that I have the wrong spring. Look at the spring in the diagram, then look at the two photos of my spring....


See what I mean. If I can't get a lead on a retailer to sell me this part, perhaps I'll be able to learn the manufacturer. Any help here? Thanks.

Author:  maxwell [ Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Accent Vibrato concerns

Nevermind. I contacted pickofthe ricks.com, and they have the spring. I may or may not end up replacing the questionable one on my 1996 - still working that out. This is a wonderfully responsive and helpful shop, and I am glad I contacted them.

Author:  maxwell [ Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Accent Vibrato concerns

Of course, I still don't have the new spring. However, I've made an observation that is likely the cause of my problem (vibrato positioned too high). Since this topic seems to be getting some views, I'd thought I'd share:

If you'll look at the photo (link in my initial post) of the underside of the spring, you'll see the two rubber "things" that plug into the holes of the spring and provide a protective buffter for the vibrato to sit on without damaging the guitar's finish. But notice how the rubber is sort of bunched up in front (towards the neck of the guitar), sitting there sort of wedge under the spring. I believe that the position of the things is perhaps "propping" up the vibrato. I also believe that these prevent the easy and proper operaton of the vibrato. Let's say you have a large cylinder, like an old home water heater lying on its side and you're going to push it across your garage floor. No sweat - it rolls reasonably easy. Now place two rubber door stops (you know, those small wedge-shape things you used to see) in contact with the underside of the cylinder. Now try to roll that cylider: not so easy any more! Of course, the round vibrato spring doesn't truly roll, but as you depress the arm, it bends the spring and opens it up, moving the geometric "bottom" of the spring slightly forward. If there is something wedged in there, this will impede that spring action. Take away the wedges, and the spring is allowed to open freely.

I've seen a photo of an old vibrato with two small felt pads attached to the bottom of spring instead of the rubber "plugs" or grommets used today. I think I'm going to adhere some felt-like material - say, three small strips along the bottom of the spring. I've been thinking about what would be best and easiest, and it occured to me that this sort of bandage material - "mole skin" - would probably work well. The adhesive is already on one side, and a thin, felt-like surface is on the other. We'll see.... I'll be back.

Author:  JohnHall [ Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Accent Vibrato concerns

Looks like you're talking to yourself here . . .

Both sets of strings you mention would be troublesome for this guitar.

The 12-54 set as shipped from the factory and recommended in the owner's manual would more than likely solve your problems. You'll still probably need to do some neck readjustment to get the geometry under control, however, if that 15-55 set was on the guitar for any length of time.

Author:  maxwell [ Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Accent Vibrato concerns

Thanks for replying! Yes, it may have seemed like I was talking to myself. I did expect some sort of input earlier, but with the number of views this post was getting, it seemed like there was some interest in my plight.

My concerns with the vibrato are pretty much on the back burner now. I'll post regarding that outcome later.

You are correct, Mr. Hall, that the neck is not flat. I have read as much as I could find on this web site regarding truss rod adjustment, and have carefully noted your caution about over-tightening the nuts. I did tighten these -- and it was very, very difficult, as they were really tight. I did this a second time, gently flexing the neck (as you have described for older guitars) while adjusting the truss rod tension. But they did not tighten very much, being able to get between 1/4 and 1/2 turns in total for each nut. I used only my fingers/hand to tighten. There has been no change in the relief of the neck. I have no problem slipping the nut driver onto the nuts -- they do not seem to be bent.

In spite of all my reading, I am still unclear exactly what the diagnosis is when the nuts are too tight to turn and the neck relief has not been eliminated. In my case, when fretting the first and last frets, I'm (still) reading about 4/64"-5/64" at around the 9th fret. I'm about to order a truss rod assembly, as my impression that something has bent in a way that renders further adjustment attempts fruitless. (BTW, I can see marks on both nuts where someone has tried to adjust these....) Fortunately, I can see no outward signs of damage, such as cracks or lifting of the fretboard. I don't mind at all buying new truss rods and whatever it takes to improve the guitar. What will be frustrating is if the new truss rods do not resolve the problem.

Author:  JohnHall [ Thu Aug 11, 2011 2:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Accent Vibrato concerns

You may wish to look at the tail end of the neck to observe whether the acorn nuts have managed to pull up into the neck a bit, rendering the truss rods ineffective. They should be close to being flush. We don't usually see this in Maple-bodied instruments, but more commonly on Alder bodies. Still it's worth a look-see. The fix is to push the rods out a bit from the head, undo the nuts, beef up the wood with a little superglue to make it harder and/or add some washers.

On the other hand, those beefy strings may have induced some bow that will take time and possibly heat to get out.

Author:  maxwell [ Thu Aug 11, 2011 4:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Accent Vibrato concerns

Thank you for the advice! :D (I probably won't get to this until the weekend.)

Author:  maxwell [ Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Accent Vibrato concerns

Well, I started to do this, and am stopping until I get some further advice.... I removed the strings, vibrato, pickups (just unscrewed them from the guitar body). I removed the truss rod adjustment nuts and the aluminum plate under them -- the plate was bent slightly, giving the plate a very slight "S" shape when looking at its long edge (one of the nuts had been screwed down a little further than the other). I tapped the nut ends into the neck to expose the acorn nuts at the other end (next to pickup). I thought I would only see one lock washer and one acorn nut, but there was an additional regular nut with a regular washer between the two nuts. I had to tap the rods at the adjustment end with a thin rod to expose these nuts entirely, the adjustment ends are slightly submerged into the neck. *** They did NOT tap down very easily, and I was surprised. I could see some sort of tape wrapped around the the rods (to prevent rattling noise?). Since the rods are so tight right now (until one of the ends clears the holes that the rods sit in at a their respective ends of the neck, I suspect...). With me being probably over-cautious at this point, I've set the guitar aside to write this. I did not even remove the acorn nut assemblies to look inside for clues that one end of a rod might have dug in too far. The recess for these nut assemblies is a lot deeper than I expected. At this point I think I should go ahead and remove the rods for visual inspection. I just don't know from which end the rods should be removed. I ran across a short video of a guy tapping out a rod from a bass guitar from the pickup end and then pulling it out the rest of the way at the headstock. Also, will the tape get scraped off and remain inside the neck? Those holes (at the headstock, at least) are pretty small with little clearance for anything other than the rods. Once out, from which direction are the rods (old or new) re-inserted?

*** PS - Well, Mr. Hall, I guess initially I did not fully understand what I was supposed to be observing with acorn nuts (I've now re-read your advice)... I think both were sitting evenly, with their nut crested tops (ends) just into their cavities. The rods are really tight, and I'd rather not tap them back in until after I get a reply here. My gut feeling is that the rods are somewhat bent, and maybe I should remove them for confirmation. If bent, just get a new pair/assembly.

Author:  maxwell [ Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Accent Vibrato concerns

Well, finally realizing that I wasn't going to get any specific advice about removing the truss rods, I went ahead and removed them tonight. It was not easy! I'm too pooped out to post narrative and photos tonight, so I'll try to post my Big Adventure on a new thread tomorrow night.

Teaser: You've seen photos of truss rods for sale. Wait until you see these!

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