1980 Daion The 80 12-String Dreadnought Guitar

My friend Rick is an avid Daion collector, and for good reason -- these are absolutely great guitars. Considering their upward market trend, too, other people are figuring that out. This 12-string version of "The 80" oval-hole dreadnought guitar came through him, and is one of two Daion 12s he has in the shop here. I'm currently a bit lusty for this instrument after finishing-up work on it!

Said work included replacing a split, coming-off bridge with a same-size, custom-made one, a light fret level/dress, proper (individual-string) compensation and adjustment of the saddle, and a good setup. It's strung with a "Jake-spec" set of strings in gauges 24w/48w, 17/36w, 12/26w, 8/18w, 14/14, 10/10. That's both lighter and heavier (in some regards) than an average set of 12-string "10s," but under the fingers makes this feel like you're playing an electric 12-string even tuned fully up to pitch.

The tone of this guitar exceeds its materials -- it has the bright, jangly sparkle and definition you'd expect but also a nice, creamy, lower-mids accent. This makes it really nice for that sort of lower-string thumping that's so tasty on a 12-string.

The guitar itself is all-ply in construction with what appears to be figured-mahogany veneer on the whole body and a "real mahogany" neck. It's bound in maple on all edges, has a cool tortoise pickguard, the excellent "oval" soundhole shape, and a rosewood, lightly-radiused fretboard. My new bridge is rosewood, too, and the headstock veneer is as well.

The original nut is brass. The neck has a medium-ish C-shape to it that recalls early-70s Martin 12-strings. It's comfy but bigger in the hand than, say, a Taylor 12-string.

The brass position dots are a nice touch.

While this has an undersaddle pickup installed (it had one in the original bridge and is clearly aftermarket), the piezo unit is damaged and so the pup's not working. We'll have to figure out what to replace it with. My money's on a K&K and a better-looking volume knob!

My new bridge is in the same shape as the original, but I cut its top profile differently (it's simply an "arc" over the top like on a Guild bridge) and, of course, eliminated half of the bridge pins. I've always liked the antique 6-pin 12-string load designs from the 1920s, and this is my modern take on it. The pins follow the line of the saddle slot and have two string ramps each, with two notches at the pin-hole to accept two strings at a time.

It works beautifully, looks trim and tidy, and will cut down on the problems that arise with the double-row pin bridges -- namely, the usual split on the rear row of pins that necessitated me making this bridge in the first place.

As you can see, there's plenty of saddle. Note also how the saddle's top is compensated for each string individually. This helps when you've got a capo half-way up the neck!

The tuners are nothing to write home about, but they work just fine after a lube.