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  • Neck reset and a set-up, what exactly do they do?

    Say if you bring in an acoustic guitar to a tech to get a neck reset and a set-up.
    What exactly do those two include?

  • #2
    Say if you bring in an acoustic guitar to a tech to get a neck reset and a set-up.
    What exactly do those two include?


    Well, for starters, those are very different things. A neck reset is far more complex - it's major guitar surgery - and you're not typically going to entrust it to a run-of-the-mill guitar tech. It's a job for a luthier or, at a minimum, a very skilled tech (not the set-up guy at your average guitar store). In short, a neck reset involves removing the neck by steaming the glue joint, and then shaving the the heel to increase the angle of the neck to the top of the guitar. It's normally done when the area of the guitar top surrounding the bridge pulls ("bellies") upward over time due to string tension. As the this bellying occurs, the string action is raised higher. When it becomes too high to for the guitar to be played comfortably, it's time for a neck reset.

    A set-up on the other hand is a matter of adjusting the action by making adjustments as necessary to the saddle, nut and truss rod. Sometimes a set-up can require more extensive work, such as leveling or dressing the frets. The purpose of a set-up is to adjust the playing feel to the player's preferences - i.e., the action - while minimizing fret buzz (and other anomalies), making sure the intonation is correct, etc.

    If you want to see what's involved in a neck reset, go here and then click on the link for neck resets:

    http://www.bryankimsey.com/

    I do my own set-up work. I wouldn't think of doing my own neck reset, if I needed one.
    "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; it's inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."

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    • #3
      what don said + if you get the neck reset it will include the set up.

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      • #4
        Yup, Don covered it well.

        However, I will add that too many people jump to the "my guitar needs a neck reset" conclusion.

        A good set-up covers a lot (truss rod adjustment, fret levelling, sometimes fingerboard conditioning and sanding the saddle down a little), and humidity levels matter a great deal.

        I've seen a few of my friends worry that they needed a neck reset because of their fingerboard sinking into the soundhole; only recently have I learned how big a role humidity plays in that.

        Once you've had a guitar for 20 years or so (give or take on build quality), and no set-up work helps (filing down the saddle as far as it'll go), and the guitar is properly humidified...then it's time to consider a neck reset.
        "The wisest man I ever knew taught me something I never forgot. And although I never forgot it, I never quite memorized it either. So what I'm left with is the memory of having learned something very wise that I can't quite remember." -- George Carlin

        --Member of The Reasonable Fellers Union, established 7/20/04--

        Be kind.

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        • #5
          +1, +2, +3

          If it were a car a reset would be rebuilding the motor, a setup would be a routine tuneup.

          A guitar seldom needs a reset until it is 20 or 30 or more years old, and it is a fairly major operation. When it was orginally built the neck was "set" to the correct angle, after years of stress from the tension of the strings all the things Don talks about happens to change that angle. The technician will remove the neck and "reset" it to the correct angle again. On a dovetail neck joint the cost is usually a minimum of $250-300.

          A "setup" just adjusts the guitar to play the way you want it. It can and should be done to a new guitar, and minor changes can be made at any time. It usually takes a good tech an hour or so, costs somewhere around $35 to 75 (plus parts like strings and if needed a saddle blank), and is actually something you can learn to do yourself.

          And to add to what ET says, people jump to the conclusion that they need a setup (and start turning the truss rod or sanding their saddle) when really all that is wrong is low humidity. If you are going to have work done make sure it is properly humidified first.

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          • #6
            +1, +2, +3

            If it were a car a reset would be rebuilding the motor, a setup would be a routine tuneup.

            A guitar seldom needs a reset until it is 20 or 30 or more years old, and it is a fairly major operation. When it was orginally built the neck was "set" to the correct angle, after years of stress from the tension of the strings all the things Don talks about happens to change that angle. The technician will remove the neck and "reset" it to the correct angle again. On a dovetail neck joint the cost is usually a minimum of $250-300.

            A "setup" just adjusts the guitar to play the way you want it. It can and should be done to a new guitar, and minor changes can be made at any time. It usually takes a good tech an hour or so, costs somewhere around $35 to 75 (plus parts like strings and if needed a saddle blank), and is actually something you can learn to do yourself.

            And to add to what ET says, people jump to the conclusion that they need a setup (and start turning the truss rod or sanding their saddle) when really all that is wrong is low humidity. If you are going to have work done make sure it is properly humidified first.


            BTW, props to Freeman for the link to the Bryan Kimsey site: he's the one that led me to it a good while back. That's where any of mine are going if they ever a need a neck reset.
            "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; it's inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."

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            • #7
              For a quick neck reset, buy an Alverez RD20S and you will need one quick
              Black Alvarez RD20SBlue SnarkWampler Ego Compressor"He That Hath The Son Hath Life, He that hath not the son, Hath not Life" I John 5:12Alvarez Alliance Sr member"He that hath the Son hath Life, He that hath not the Son, hath not Life"1 John 5:12

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              • #8
                For an easy neck reset buy the new Taylor guitars. From the literature I've seen they bolt on completely including the fretboard to the body. They use sized wooden shims to make the neck angle correct. Bolt on neck guitars are easier to reset.
                What good is a guitar without a guitarist?
                What good is a guitarist without a guitar?

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                • #9
                  Amuse:Say if you bring in an acoustic guitar to a tech to get a neck reset and a set-up.What exactly do those two include?


                  Recent anecdotes:

                  Reset:

                  I had the neck reset on 1972 Guild D-25 in 2003. It was the 30th year I'd owned the guitar. International Vintage Guitars on Tchopitoulas Street, New Orleans did the work. I'm not sure they are still there, post-Katrina. They removed the neck and reinstalled it.

                  I never noticed the guitar bellying. But it was getting difficult to play. It plays like a dream now. Action is better than it was when I first bought it.

                  Setup:

                  I just bought a brand new hand-made cutaway jumbo that was not set up when I picked it up at the shop.

                  The nut was jagged at each end. I could have punctured a finger. The action was way too high. The saddle was too high. The frets were like 5 mph speed bumps. They reminded me of the frets on a low-budget Gibson SG one of my sons bought from GC in Metairie for $500.

                  The neck was fine. But the guitar wasn't set up. Vietnamese are very good working with their hands. I think local guitarists set their own guitars up. I think the luthier expected me to do that too. It was reasonable, given the milieu in which he operates.

                  So I gave the him a sheet of written instructions in Vietnamese, explaining what a set up was. To keep everything enjoyable, I gave him $50 extra too. (So he wouldn't think I was complaining about his workmanship). Very generous of me. $20 up front. $30 more if it was set up exactly the way the paper specified.

                  (a) Lower the saddle, (b) sand the ends of the nut & lower it, (c) sand down the frets, and (d) adjust truss rod (if necessary). I told him 2 business cards at the 12th fret is where the action should be. (I would have said, "one credit card". But I don't think he knew what a credit card is.) He'd apparently never heard of this rule of thumb.

                  He did a Hell of a good job, once he could read in his own language how a guitar should be set up. He got everything exactly right. The instrument is truly a pleasure to play now. The action is really nice. Frets are low. It's 2 business cards at the 12th fret. And no frets buzz anywhere.

                  I've done the same thing with different luthiers on every guitar I've purchased over here. They have a hard time understanding "set-up". They are used to delivering un-setup guitars. They live in a DIY culture. But once it's explained to them precisely what needs to be done, (and you slip them some extra money), they do a Hell of a good job.
                  He has escaped! Youtube , ‚ÄčMurika , France

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                  • #10
                    For a quick neck reset, buy an Alverez RD20S and you will need one quick


                    I've played some great Regent-Series Alvarez's. I'm sure there's some hit and miss ones out there because of their price. But I've seen two solid-spruce topped dreads in a local music store that have been hanging there for about a year, and they're in fine shape.
                    "The wisest man I ever knew taught me something I never forgot. And although I never forgot it, I never quite memorized it either. So what I'm left with is the memory of having learned something very wise that I can't quite remember." -- George Carlin

                    --Member of The Reasonable Fellers Union, established 7/20/04--

                    Be kind.

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