Creek Don't Rise

New Old 5-string Deering Sierra ~2000
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Author:  paulrace [ Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:08 am ]
Post subject:  New Old 5-string Deering Sierra ~2000

My ebay Deering Sierra just arrived. I keep calling it a Deluxe, since it has the same exact features of my Deering Deluxe 6-string from the same period. The only thing different is a satin finish instead of a glossy on.

It's been "rode hard and put up wet," but there is no irreparable damage. Minor belt-buckle indentations on the back of the resonator, and some varnish peeling along one edge of the fretboard, but those two things were mentioned in the ad.

What wasn't mentioned: First three frets are worn under the strings almost to the fretboard, but there isn't any fret buzz yet. Fretboard is filthy, head is filthy, and nearly worn through in places. Chrome is corroded through several places, especially the arm rest. The fifth-string spikes on frets 7 and 9, which I was counting on using, have been hammered down so hard that they can't be used. The previous owner probably never played in any key but G and considered them a nuisance when he went up the neck. So, not exactly abuse, but still. . . .

Neck seems very good, neck angle seems good, things seem nice and solid. Tuners seem fine. It's heavy, but you pay for that. :-)

That said, if I spend a few hours cleaning it up, put ~$300 into replacing the worn frets, fixing the spikes, and other minor issues, it will still be cheaper than what everyone else was asking for their beat-to-heck ones. So I'll clean it up, try to pull the spikes up a little and see where it goes from there. Look for a review eventually.

Author:  paulrace [ Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Old 5-string Deering Sierra ~2000

Still not reworked, because I haven't had time to tear it apart. Why do I need to tear it apart? Because I ordered a Kavanjo banjo head with a pickup installed for the thing.

At the moment it is very playable, though I am having trouble getting used to the weight. The tone ring and cast resonator flange add more weight than I expected. The specs say 11 pounds, but it seems like more. Of course the volume and tone produced are nearly unmatched, so it's worth the sore shoulder (in spite of the premium strap).

When dragging around, the case adds another eight pounds or so. People who pick it up in the case are surprised that it's so heavy. I've come across the Deering gig bag that should fit this, so I might trade off when I'm just going to a friend's house or something.

More later. :-)

Author:  paulrace [ Fri Sep 30, 2016 2:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Old 5-string Deering Sierra ~2000

Okay, I have taken it apart, cleaned it up, and reassembled it with the Kavanjo head. I used the resonator flange mounting for the jack, which Deering doesn't recommend to amateurs, since you have to dremel out enough space in the resonator head for the back of the jack to fit. But I was able to install it without drilling a hole clear through the resonator or something.

I was also able to pull the spikes out with a pair of needlenose pliers and reset them. I have played it "out" twice. In one case (a workshop) there was no amplification. And in the other, I was solo and had good enough acoustics to be able to use a mic. So I haven't really tried the Kavanjo out yet, except at home. One of these days, I'll do a direct recording of the thing to give folks an idea of what it sounds like without amp coloration.

Conclusions: It is rock solid; it weighs a ton; it has fantastic tone; it holds its tune well; it projects well.

I have a theory about instrument upgrades in that I never upgrade until I've put in so much work on an instrument that I've reached the limits of what it can do for me. Based on that metric, I can't see ever upgrading this puppy - I wouldn't outgrow it in a whole "nudder" lifetime. And this is a banjo that was somewhat abused before I even saw it. There is nothing like a professional instrument to spoil you in a hurry.

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