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  • Neck Reset

    I would like to try my hand at a neck reset for an acoustic guitar. Can someone recommend an inexpensive acoustic that uses hide glue for the neck?

    I have a cheap Fender 12-string I could try, but I think it used epoxy.

  • #2
    It doesn't have to be hide glue, AR comes apart with steam too. If it has hide originally then you need to put it back together with hide - are you comfortable working with it? For a victim, er subject, I would look for American built guitars from the 50's and 60's at yard sales and pawn shops - old Harmonys are particularly good. Stay away from Yamha's from the 70's - we have one forumite who claims he can get the necks off of them - I haven't been able to.

    One of the ironic parts of doing this work is that the easiest guitars are often the most expensive and not necessarily where you want to start. Martins and Gibsons are usually pretty easy but you are dealing with a valuable guitar. Guilds often have the finish applied after the neck was installed which means you have to deal with it too. Sometimes you don't know what you are getting into until you get into it - this was a cheap Fender resonator - it does have a dovetail joint but it was full of something that looks like bondo. I ended up converting it to a bolt on

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    • #3
      Thanks for the info Freeman, it's very helpful. If the victim survives I may try my hand at the fixing my Guild F50.

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      • Freeman Keller
        Freeman Keller commented
        Editing a comment
        Guilds are often finished with the necks on. That means you need to score the finish at the heel and risk chipping. Usually the finish is nitro so it can be repaired but I've avoided doing any Guilds.

        I will tell a Guild horror story tho, a customer brought a really nice Guild 12 string - beautiful maple back - for a setup. I showed him that the neck angle was bad, told him I wouldn't do it but gave him a couple of names. Six months or so he brought it back to me to install a UST - I pointed out that the bozo who he sent it to had shaved the bridge rather than doing the neck, not only would I not install the pickup his guitar was basically toast.

    • #4
      I'm going to add that I have a funny paradox when it comes to neck resets and my little repair "business". I'm capable of doing them but I don't like to. I really don't like doing them on expensive guitars - particularly vintage ones. I tend to send these to people who are really experienced and can take the liability. I did this with both my old Martins - I sent them to someone I really trusted, puckered up and paid the price.

      I'm more interested in doing resets on guitars that aren't worth much - the yard sale specials - but the problem is, can I really bill the owner what the work is worth. The going rate for a professional reset is $300+ (and when you've done a few you'll understand why) - is it really justifiable to charge even half that on a guitar that might be worth a hundred bucks. Once you have reset the neck they still require nut and saddle work and often frets.

      I see lots and lots of old Yamies that could be really nice guitars if they had a reset but in my experience they just don't (normally) come apart. Everything else is a crap shoot and resets can be very invasive. Good luck.

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      • #5
        The Guild was made sometime between 1973 - 1975. I bought it around 1981 and sold it to my brother a few years later when I needed some money for college. I stayed in Texas and he moved to Tennessee. I always considered this guitar the one that "got away".

        About two years ago I was visiting my brother and he gave me the guitar. It still sounds as good as I remembered. But, the neck needs a reset, refretting, etc. In the 34 years that it was MIA, the guitar had been refinished as best he could. It was before the internet and youtube, so he did it with limited information.

        Anyway, my plan is to bring it back to its former glory. Before any repairs on the Guild are attempted, I will practice on one or two victims first and see how that goes.


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        • Freeman Keller
          Freeman Keller commented
          Editing a comment
          Nice story. I'll be interested in hearing how it all works out.

      • #6
        It turns out the cheap Fender F-330-12 might make a good test subject. I was able to release the fretboard extension from the body fairly easy. I did leave some indentations on the top around the neck. Won't make that mistake on the Guild.

        I decided to just cut off the fretboard at the 12th fret on the Fender for easy access to the joint. That might be the way I do it for the Guild because I've read their necks can be difficult to steam off. My reasoning is that it should make the job a lot easier, the guitar already had a hole repaired on the side and doesn't have the original finish, so I'm not destroying any value due to it's vintage. Also, the neck has binding so the cut should be invisible. Not sure at this point, but it seems like the best idea for now.

        I'll post some photo updates as it progresses. It will probably be a long, slow process though because this is a busy year for me with various other projects at home and work.


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        • #7
          Often I find an old guitar that along with needing a reset ,has a few loose braces along with maybe a chewed up bridge plate and maybe a few cracks that need cleating and repair.....maybe some kerfing has pulled away and fallen off.....maybe a brace is broken.....maybe someone else botched a repair in there.....hell...maybe I want to convert the guitar from ladder brace to x brace.

          In these cases I find it makes more sense to remove the entire back in order to get at these repairs easier. Then when I glue the back on, I glue on the lower bout of the back all the way up the waist. After that dries, you can set the neck angle while gluing up the "tongue of the back to the rest of the kerfing and neck block.

          The whole procedure works easier than doing a traditional neck reset...and doing all that work through the sound hole.
          "I don't want to be immortalized through my work. I want to be immortalized by not dying." Woody Allen

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          • #8
            Originally posted by RGx2 View Post
            It turns out the cheap Fender F-330-12 might make a good test subject. I was able to release the fretboard extension from the body fairly easy. I did leave some indentations on the top around the neck. Won't make that mistake on the Guild.

            I decided to just cut off the fretboard at the 12th fret on the Fender for easy access to the joint. That might be the way I do it for the Guild because I've read their necks can be difficult to steam off. My reasoning is that it should make the job a lot easier, the guitar already had a hole repaired on the side and doesn't have the original finish, so I'm not destroying any value due to it's vintage. Also, the neck has binding so the cut should be invisible. Not sure at this point, but it seems like the best idea for now.
            Most of the time people put something on the top on each side of the f/b extension to protect it - if nothing else some tape. Then heat the extension with a small heating blanket or a special little tool that you heat up on a stove and then put on the extension. Most glues, including PVA, AR and HHG will release with heat. Work a thin pallet knife blade under the extension and is should separate from the top. Cutting it off introduces a whole new set of problems - you'll have to recreate enough of the 12th fret slot to be able to glue a new one in place. And cutting thru binding will be more visible, not less. It is possible with the cut off extension to introduce more of a hump at the joint, particularly as you kick the neck angle back (however if you leave the extension on you might have to shim it)

            Normally once you get the f/b extension loose you pull the 15th fret, drill two holes on either side of the truss rod and inject steam - you can see where it will flow into the space between the dovetail and the neck block.. The only glue should be on the two faces of the dovetail, keep working the joint and eventually it should come loose.

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