larrivee Guitar L-03 Repair and setup


In the studio workshop for repair is a handsome Larrivee L-03.  Rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck and a Sitka spruce top.  It is an understated design, void of much ornamentation, and it even has a clear pick guard to keep things austere.  It has black binding. I really like the look.  Its a well crafted guitar. Inside presents very clean workmanship with some of the most delicate bracing I have ever seen on a production guitar.  This particular guitar was made in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The guitar has multiple problems.  The bridge is starting to pull away from the top and I am able to get a business card inserted almost a full 1/8″ before coming in contact with a glued surface.  There are a couple of cracks in the spruce top starting from the back of the bridge to the end of the lower bout.  The largest of three cracks has a wood cleat installed so this must have been addressed at an earlier time.


The neck has an incredible amount of relief in it.  Unfortunately the truss rod adjustment is in a ridiculous recess way back into the body of the guitar at the neck joint instead of at the peghead.  It’s going to be interesting trying to adjust neck relief and almost impossible with strings on the guitar,  tightened to pitch (the way it should be done). I will need to use a mirror to see it’s position.  Only then I can I find out what type of truss rod tool will be needed to do the adjustment.   Crazy.

The good news is that even with the above problems, the guitar has stayed in perfect tuning for the couple days it has sat in the studio.

Well…. time to contact the owner and give him the news and let him know the options there are to help this worthy instrument get back into playable condition…………


4 thoughts on “larrivee Guitar L-03 Repair and setup”

  1. I bought this guitar thinking it would be my last guitar purchase. I used it for several years and really liked it. Then the top split, had it repaired elsewhere only to have the crack reappear a few months later. It still played well, but I had a concern that it wouldn’t hold up. As a result I bought a Gibson songwriter deluxe(it hasn’t helped my song writing at all) I let a friend borrow the Larrivee as his Martin was in for repair. He brought it back a few days later telling me it was unplayable, the intonation being way out. So it sat in the case. A friend suggested letting Skip take it. So a couple of weeks later I got the guitar back. The intonation is perfect and I have a this great guitar again. I also brought my Gibson which needed some adjustment to lower the action. Thirty minutes later my Gibson was adjusted and its action is excellent. I was amazed at how easy the thing is to play now. Skip not only fixed things, but also explained in detail what he did and why. Excellent work by Mr. Smithson.
    J. Wade

  2. Thanks Jim, It is a nice guitar and the repairs went well. It has a great neck, nice profile and feels good to play. Very woody tone and even volume. Happy to rescue it!

    1. There can be many things that could create problems with the bridge losing its bond to the top. Excessive string tension, humidity (too much, too little) and poor adhesion of the bridge/top/bridge plate (below the top in the guitar interior).

      Over a long period of time, most flat top guitars using medium to heavy gauge strings will exhibit some pulling of the bridge, and top from the bridge plate below the top. Its not always a problem as long as the playability or action is not severely affected.

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