Acoustic guitar neck reset

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

llmonty
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 659
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 10:17 am
Location: richmond, va

Post by llmonty » Fri Feb 23, 2007 8:51 am

Inverse --- I have been in the same boat as you for a few years. I LOVE my 50's kay jumbo -- http://www.adamrose.org/25319/31202.html

The sound is perfect for me, as is the look and feel. Over the last few years though, the neck has pulled up even more, and it clearly needs a reset. It is playable up to the 9th fret, and beyond occassionally if you really commit to it. It also is out of intonation as you move up the neck. I get around these issues for recording through tuning down, tuning per song, etc., but would be difficult for live use, and it is just hard to play.

Basically every luthier I have taken it to, from well respected to unknown says why would you want to do this -- the guitar is crap and disposable. Then they tell me it would be more like $600 --- $300 for a reset, and then as a result you would need extra fretwork, maybe new nut and a new saddle. And 1 luthier said she wouldn't do it, even if i was CRAZY ENOUGH TO PAY HER to. They believe also that you run the risk of messing the guitar up for good if you do the reset. Like old houses, you start messing with stuff and maybe they can't but it back together again.

All the advice has been go buy another (quality) guitar for that $$. And you know what, I have tried like a bazillion acoustics over the last 2 years -- old and new -- similar body/woods, etc., and i keep going back to mine.

I may try a new saddle and/or nut to see if that helps with intonation and somewhat with string height. But it sounds like maybe you have done the best you can with the saddle.

You already have a 'nice' acoustic - maybe keeping it under less tension when not played could help? I have hung mine on a wall, and i wonder if that has not helped / made it worse.
richmond is a really cool town - supafuzz

kayagum
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3487
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 11:11 pm
Location: Saint Paul, MN

Post by kayagum » Fri Feb 23, 2007 9:26 am

What's your current string brand/gauge situation?

One string brand I've really liked on acoustics is DR Strings - they seem to need less tension to be at pitch. These may give you just enough so that it's not pulling on the neck as much.


Another consideration- the guitar nut. Is it too high on the lower frets?
"Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't." ~ Erica Jong

"No one wants advice ? only corroboration." ~ John Steinbeck

redear
gimme a little kick & snare
Posts: 92
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006 10:33 am

Post by redear » Fri Feb 23, 2007 9:37 am

I would also say do all you can before a neck reset. I too love those old Yamies. My wife had one and sold it to and exbofriend and I got mad when I heard. Anyway, Lower the sadle and nut if you can and leave it a little high so you can play slide on the thing.

User avatar
inverseroom
on a wing and a prayer
Posts: 5031
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 8:37 am
Location: Ithaca, NY
Contact:

Post by inverseroom » Fri Feb 23, 2007 11:39 am

I got an email back today from the $390 guy. Very nice fella. He thinks it's absolutely worth it to reset if you love the instrument and it will enhance your playing experience. But he didn't recommend doing anything until absolutely necessary, and that's where I think I'm landing here.

I am going to install new a new bone nut and saddle though! The plastic ones on the guitar now are crap, esp the nut, and cause the open strings to rattle. After that I think I'll be good for quite a while.

Just spent an hour messing around with it...man, a wonderful feeling neck. All the wear spots all over the guitar are right where they ought to be.

*obsessively continues checking Craigslist*

douglas baldwin
gettin' sounds
Posts: 149
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2004 6:51 am
Location: lawn guyland, new yawk
Contact:

Post by douglas baldwin » Fri Feb 23, 2007 11:52 am

douglas baldwin wrote:
Have you considered shaving down the bridge and deepening the saddle slot?


Yeah, I sort of have...do people generally shave off the top of the bridge while it's still on the guitar, or do they steam it off and shave from the bottom? The latter would prevent one from having to deepen the bridge slot, but I've never tried to get the bridge off an acoustic before and would be afraid of harming the top.
You leave the bridge on and run a router across the top. It takes an hour or so to set up so you don't ruin the top with skid marks, then the actual cutting takes about a minute. Then it takes another hour to set up the router to deepen the saddle slot, and 30 seconds to actually cut it. I've seen some guitars with bridges as low as 1/8" that played and sounded fine for what they were. It's not work for the faint of heart. Real lutherie is like that. :D

I'm glad the $390 guy came through for you. Sounds like a reasonable price, really. Best of luck on it. To paraphrase that old Irish saying, "Play like nobody's listening."
Douglas Baldwin, coyote in residence
Music and writings
Psychedelic pop and ambient soundscapes a specialty
www.thecoyote.org

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

User avatar
inverseroom
on a wing and a prayer
Posts: 5031
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 8:37 am
Location: Ithaca, NY
Contact:

Post by inverseroom » Fri Feb 23, 2007 12:08 pm

douglas baldwin wrote:To paraphrase that old Irish saying, "Play like nobody's listening."
Trust me...no one is. :wink:

User avatar
wrenhunter
pushin' record
Posts: 276
Joined: Fri May 16, 2003 2:54 pm
Location: Boston, MA

Post by wrenhunter » Fri Feb 23, 2007 6:02 pm

I was in the same boat last year, and had a new tech (who seemed good) do the bridge shaving for a buck fifty. He was good, and my guitar sounds great.

He did tell me that I'll still need a neck reset down the line. When I looked freaked out, he said most keepers need one eventually, not that big a deal. I guess it's like having your wisdom teeth out. With slightly less blood.

BTW, I think with a 1970 Yamaha you're contractually obliged to cover one of the following artists: Seals & Crofts, Gordon Lightfoot, or Melanie.
All the boys with their homemade microphones have very interesting sounds. -- Dan Behar

redear
gimme a little kick & snare
Posts: 92
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006 10:33 am

Post by redear » Fri Feb 23, 2007 8:11 pm

umm, you forgot John Denver.

AGCurry
steve albini likes it
Posts: 300
Joined: Wed May 14, 2003 12:05 pm
Location: Kansas City area
Contact:

Post by AGCurry » Fri Feb 23, 2007 8:20 pm

When you lower the bridge past a certain point - and it doesn't matter what technique you use to do it - you lose tone, because you decrease the pressure that the strings are exerting on the guitar's top.

I'm surprised at the prices I'm hearing for a neck reset. I had my Martin D28 done a couple of years ago for a lot less than $390, and it was a good job.

getreel
carpal tunnel
Posts: 1562
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 9:01 am
Location: The Oldest Town in Texas
Contact:

Post by getreel » Fri Feb 23, 2007 9:10 pm

Here's my baby.

Image
Image
Image

Good to know other people dig them as much as I do. It's such a great guitar. I paid $20 for mine. It played fine and I didn't mind that it was kinda beat up. A few years later, I had some repairs made. I think I spent $32 for the repairs. Then I bought a case since I liked it so much after all that. I think the case was more than I had in the guitar. BTW, the pickup sounds pretty decent in this thing. I like it better than the piezos in other guitars I owned. The repair guy replaced the knobs with those gold Gibson style ones. I still have the original black knobs too.

Another observation: I use the lightest strings I can find so I don't have to worry about the action creeping up on me. The guitar is so aged and mellow, the lighter strings help it articulate better to my ears.

OK. Now let's see some pics of yours.

RefD
on a wing and a prayer
Posts: 5993
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 9:10 pm

Post by RefD » Fri Feb 23, 2007 10:04 pm

inverse, maybe try using 10s or 11s instead?

*laments the loss of his own early 70s Yamaha acoustic to the cause of paying bills while jobless*
?What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.? -- Seneca

User avatar
treble king
gimme a little kick & snare
Posts: 85
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2005 2:30 pm
Location: Too lazy to go to the Twin Cities
Contact:

Post by treble king » Fri Feb 23, 2007 11:04 pm

I'm rather known for my collection of cheap n' brokens - if you love the guitar, get all the work done you want. It's worth it.

I'm addicted to those mahogany harmony guitars from the 60's. They ALWAYS need a neck reset. I have one that's my fav; I've written a million tunes on it, it's my go-to guitar. The rest are in various stages of disrepair.

My dad has a '62 J-45 that is literally one of the best sounding guitars I've ever heard, and yet it doesn't give me tunes like the Harmony.

It's been shot with a .22, had the top sanded down, the neck replaced and then set twice that I know of, and that was *before* I got it. Now it has a lifting top, a new bridge, and will probably need another neck set before long.

It plays in tune, mostly, and looks like hell. I'd go back for it if the house was on fire.

I have 8 acoustics with the necks off, and I'll tell you - don't do it yourself. I've seen the results of inexperience, and it ain't pretty. One guitar's dovetail is chipped, two have cracks, I haven't looked at the others recently. They make me sad; a couple aren't worth the fire they'd make.

So spend the money. Consider it like gambling, except you're sure to win. It's a horrible investment, money-wise. Musically? To play a guitar that you love, and loves you back? You can't buy that in a store.
I'm in for two, and I can pay.

llmonty
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 659
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 10:17 am
Location: richmond, va

Post by llmonty » Sat Feb 24, 2007 4:22 am

treble king wrote:So spend the money. Consider it like gambling, except you're sure to win. It's a horrible investment, money-wise. Musically? To play a guitar that you love, and loves you back? You can't buy that in a store.
See that is the thing that bothers me the most -- everyone i talk to talks about the resale value of the guitar. And in reality, I am like WTF -- I haven't sold one of my guitars since I was 13. The other thing is the gamble that the guitar loses something or god forbid gets ruined by a bad job.
richmond is a really cool town - supafuzz

User avatar
inverseroom
on a wing and a prayer
Posts: 5031
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 8:37 am
Location: Ithaca, NY
Contact:

Post by inverseroom » Sat Feb 24, 2007 5:04 am

OK, here it is...it's hard to photograph an entire guitar. I really worked the neck over with steel wool...it had literally a millimeter of gunk on it in places, and the frets were practically the same color as the rosewood. It drank up four applications of lemon oil when I was finished.

Image

Here's something else I read last night, though--it's from the Dan Ehrlewine book, where he's finishing up his brief section on neck resets, and he is talking about variations on the process.
Another way is to loosen only the fingerboard and "slip" the neck by bending it back into perspective; or the back, side, and neck-block joints can be loosened to squeeze the heel in. Of these last three methods, the first is permissible, but the latter two "slip 'n' squeeze" methods should only be used on inexpensive quickies.
I get the last thing, but the text in boldface...what the hell is he talking about? Are you like slipping in shim in behind the heel or something? I can't picture it.

llmonty
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 659
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 10:17 am
Location: richmond, va

Post by llmonty » Sat Feb 24, 2007 6:39 am

inverseroom wrote:I get the last thing, but the text in boldface...what the hell is he talking about? Are you like slipping in shim in behind the heel or something? I can't picture it.
I think that is what he is talking about. My uncle is a guitar nut and has an old german nylon string where they did just that -- used a piece of ebony as a shim -- he said it works well, but still isn't perfect. Could be an interesting option.
richmond is a really cool town - supafuzz

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: markjazzbassist and 67 guests