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Freeman_Keller

Yamaha neck reset

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Some of you may remember that I still have the first guitar I ever bought - a 1969 Yamaha FG-150 purchased new for a hundred bucks.   Here it is in roughly 1970 - funny, I don't recognize the guy playing it tho.   Did we really just coil the strings up like that?

Yamaha1970

Over the years the action has crept up and been lowered until finally I couldn't do it any more.   I'm going to take a road trip the end of March and wanted a guitar to take with me so I figured this was the time to get with it.

 

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Before doing anything I had to get the fretboard extension loose from the top.   The aluminum bars have been heated on my stove and is (attempting) to loosen the glue while I work a couple of thin blades between the fretboard and top.   It is not going easily....

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Before I get brutal I'd better try the usual method - some reports say that it is possible to get Yamie necks off with steam and pressure.   This is my home made neck press and an old espresso machine to make steam (and an Americano while I wait).

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Didn't work.   Time to get rough.   This is following a thread by forumite Yamahaneck.   This is a thin bladed flexible saw called a Japanese saw - it only cuts on the pull stroke and the teeth have no kerf (they are the same width as the blade)

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Working my way through the dovetail, trying to avoid the truss rod

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(I think this is as many picture as I can do in one posting... continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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OK, here is the neck off.   The wood had absorbed all the steam but the joint hadn't budged a bit.   You can also see that some of the laminated spruce top has separated and stuck to the fretboard

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Now the secret.   These are little metal 1/4-20 inserts being threaded into the heel.   I've already done some of the work to set the angle

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Now the usual flossing and futzing until the angle are correct - both side to side

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as well as up and down.   At this point I have tightened the bolts and am gluing down the fretboard extension - this is just a final check that everything is OK

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Because I pulled the 15th fret to inject steam I need to put that back and level it.   Here I am using a little straight edge as a rocker while I file it down level with the others.  You can see a little bit of the damage to the top along the edge of the fretboard - I'll try to fix that with a bit of lacquer.

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The first five frets had pretty bad divots so I leveled and crowned them also.   Because this is kind of a hassle to post pictures you'll have to take my word.    I made a new bone nut

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and found a saddle in my bag of bone that would work pretty well (one of these days I'll make a new one).   Also tried to cover up the worst of the damage to the wood with a little drop filling and some slight over spray

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Looks better than the rest of the guitar.   The action is a lot better, I have sufficient saddle to lower it in the future, setup is pretty darn good, time for a cold adult beverage and a little play time

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My beloved old Yamaha gets a new lease on live and I have a guitar to take road tripping.

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Excellent trip report Freeman!  I remember your talking with Yamahaneck about that and know it's been a long time coming.  Looks like it should hold for some time to come.  

So, if you were ever doing another one, would you skip the steam entirely and go straight to the pull saw?  

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acousticdepot wrote:

Wow ... great thread!  It is these types of discussions that will keep me coming back ... thanks Freeman!


Thank you very much.  Over the years I have done several build and repair threads - I've tried to archive some of them so I can refer back.   One of the biggest frustrations with this user name limbo that I'm going thru is that I've lost the ability to edit any of these.   If I get my old user name back this one will sink into the same black hole.     Oh, well.....

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Hi Ardvark, welcome to HCAG. As you might have noticed, that thread is over three years old and was posted under a temporary user name since at that time HC was going thru a lot of software "issues" and a lot of us lost our identities.

 

If you really think it would be informative to see a picture of that guitar all back together I could probably take one but my purpose in doing that thread was to show how a non-resettable neck could be reset. Trust me, the guitar looks like a 45 year old Yamaha with a good neck angle.

 

Since you must have been searching to come up with this old thread may I ask if you have an old Yamie with a bad neck? If so we could start a new thread and discussion.

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That's nostalgic! I went with the partial back separation and re-glue on my FG180 to reset the neck angle. The epoxy glues that they used were vicious!

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Yea I usually will do the back slip trick if the glue isn't responding to steam. I peel off the binding from the heel to the waist and then work in a hacksaw blade. Separating the back from the sides in the area of the heel to the waist. Then just reglue establishing a new angle. Clean up the binding channel and reglue the binding. Sometimes you still get a fretboard hump at the tongue and it's a good time to pull the frets, plane the board flat there and refret.

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I realize this is an old thread, but I've been able to remove the necks of 4 different vintage Yamaha FG's, 160, 170, 180 & 200; with more waiting. All with steam.

 

It wasn't easy. Getting the fretboard separated from the top was very difficult. I use a 75W halogen light 1" from the fretboard, with an aluminum foil covered piece of cardboard as a sheat sheild. I used a 1-1/4" x 7" spatula to get under the fretboard from the bridge side only. The glue takes a long time to soften, and rushing it will cause the spatula to dig into the top and make a mess.

 

I improved my technique each time, reducing the total time for removal from 4 hours to 1 hour for the fourth one. The big secret is the neck pocket isn't under the 15th fret, it's about 1/8" towards the heel, so you have to drill your steam holes on an angle. I also verified that they were put together with hide glue, the softened glue balled up and looked like Jell-O, and smelled like hide glue. I think the problem is they used too much. They even glued the heel of the neck to the side of the guitar. It did have a little of the side wood stick to the heel, even after 6 minutes of steaming. Using a neck press is a necessity.

 

And since I'm a newbie to neck resets, removing the neck was the easy part. The whole process of sanding and shimming the heel takes a lot of time and energy. I slightly overset the first one (the saddle is .21" tall) and have to take it apart to do it again.

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. . . Did we really just coil the strings up like that? . . .

 

Wadya mean, "did"? How else would we coil 'em?

 

=O.

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Youse guys might want to try using one of these contraptions to remove the fingerboard extension.

 

Demand Products - Bowcutter 12™

 

You can get the wire and transformer pretty cheap and make your own wire tensioning frame. You dial in the amperage and the chromium wire heats up. I used one to cut rigid foam to airfoil shapes for R/C airplane wings.

Edited by Idunno

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This is an old thread about a subject that comes up from time to time - most Yamahas from the 70's need neck resets, can it be done? I'm glad that CTGull is having good luck doing them, I doubt that I'll try again. I've turned down several in the past year or so - its just not worth my time and effort when I'm uncertain of the outcome and know that its going to be a battle. Kind of a paradox - if the guitar is an absolute piece of junk I might try it, but I certainly couldn't charge the owner the going rate for a reset. If its a great guitar (like mine) but the outcome is uncertain and there is a very good chance of doing damage, why would I risk it?

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This is an old thread about a subject that comes up from time to time - most Yamahas from the 70's need neck resets' date=' can it be done? I'm glad that CTGull is having good luck doing them, I doubt that I'll try again. I've turned down several in the past year or so - its just not worth my time and effort when I'm uncertain of the outcome and know that its going to be a battle. Kind of a paradox - if the guitar is an absolute piece of junk I might try it, but I certainly couldn't charge the owner the going rate for a reset. If its a great guitar (like mine) but the outcome is uncertain and there is a very good chance of doing damage, why would I risk it? [/quote']

That's why I've found some junky vintage FG's and practiced on them. I agree, it might be risky if were doing for someone else. I have no problem taking the risk on my own $20-$75 Yamaha's. Yes I found a 1971 Yamaha FG-180 (red label NG) for $20 on Craigslist! The action was so high it wasn't playable with the nylon strings someone had put on it! The neck is off, I just need to finish the one I started and maybe a FG-170. After I do the 3 junky ones I'll do the 3 minty ones.

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The problem is that when you're done it still sounds like a plywood guitar. No midrange presence or complexity' date=' just woof and sizzle. ;)[/quote']

Do you say this from experience or is it just your opinion? You know what they say about opinions...

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I've owned 3 FG180s and done a bunch of work on a 150, 160, and a couple of 320's. I've played many many others since the 70's.

Mine wasn't a mean throwaway comment - I stand by my comments. Play a nice solid wood guitar for an hour then grab a 70's FG. I guarantee it will sound bland by comparison and you'll be wondering if it needs new strings.

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I had, or have had, about 15 70's FG's and a couple of 80's FG's. When they moved the truss rod adjustment from the headstock to inside the sound hole they started severely overbuilding them. Dead, very little resonance in comparison to the 70's models. I picked up a 1980 FG-300D (Japan only model with walnut back & sides) for $30. It needs a little work and I'll sell it. It's dead.

 

My FG-300 & FG-350W are pretty sweet for plywood guitars, most people will swear they're solid wood, but yeah they won't top a $3000 Martin. But at 1/10th the cost they can be a good substitute.

 

Unfortunately almost all of my FG-1x0 models need neck resets or I've taken the necks off waiting for a neck rest. I really need to get back to them. But I have a lowly FG-110, a $99 list price guitar, that has sustain and resonance normally reserved for $2000+ guitars. Of course it doesn't have the same tone as a high end Martin, but it's damn amazing for a beater I picked up for $40. I'm not even going to clean it up, it'll be the ultimate "sleeper", people will be amazed when they hear it. I'm hoping the higher FG-1x0 models sound as good or better. But there's no guarantee.

 

I think part of the FG-110's sound is it only weighs 3.50 lbs!!! When I noticed how light it was I bought a digital luggage scale and started weighing guitars. Logically there should be a correlation between guitar weight and resonance & sustain. There's less mass to deaden it. The 1971 FG-180 weighs 3.86 lbs, I expect it will sound great. FG-170, 3.88 lbs. The FG-200 is 4.34 lbs. I've heard the FG-200's are as good as the FG-200, but I doubt it with that weight.

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I don't believe it sounds like a $2000+ guitar. This voodoo has been around for decades. "Martin killer" is just nonsense. They were the first decent cheap guitars and almost everyone has played one,

which is why they have the folk hero status.

 

They're surprisingly loud and have big (inarticulate) bass, which makes them good campfire guitars. The lack of strong percussive mids leaves a nice hole for the voices. Useful guitars.

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The light weight is part of what made them successful. Using all laminates let them brace them lightly to get all of the volume they could.

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I had, or have had, about 15 70's FG's and a couple of 80's FG's. When they moved the truss rod adjustment from the headstock to inside the sound hole they started severely overbuilding them. Dead, very little resonance in comparison to the 70's models. I picked up a 1980 FG-300D (Japan only model with walnut back & sides) for $30. It needs a little work and I'll sell it. It's dead.

 

My FG-300 & FG-350W are pretty sweet for plywood guitars, most people will swear they're solid wood, but yeah they won't top a $3000 Martin. But at 1/10th the cost they can be a good substitute.

 

Unfortunately almost all of my FG-1x0 models need neck resets or I've taken the necks off waiting for a neck rest. I really need to get back to them. But I have a lowly FG-110, a $99 list price guitar, that has sustain and resonance normally reserved for $2000+ guitars. Of course it doesn't have the same tone as a high end Martin, but it's damn amazing for a beater I picked up for $40. I'm not even going to clean it up, it'll be the ultimate "sleeper", people will be amazed when they hear it. I'm hoping the higher FG-1x0 models sound as good or better. But there's no guarantee.

 

I think part of the FG-110's sound is it only weighs 3.50 lbs!!! When I noticed how light it was I bought a digital luggage scale and started weighing guitars. Logically there should be a correlation between guitar weight and resonance & sustain. Find legal steroids online There's less mass to deaden it. The 1971 FG-180 weighs 3.86 lbs, I expect it will sound great. FG-170, 3.88 lbs. The FG-200 is 4.34 lbs. I've heard the FG-200's are as good as the FG-200, but I doubt it with that weight.

 

Over the years the action has crept up and been lowered until finally I couldn't do it any more. I'm going to take a road trip the end of March and wanted a guitar to take with me so I figured this was the time to get with it.

Edited by atomic7732

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Over the years the action has crept up and been lowered until finally I couldn't do it any more. I'm going to take a road trip the end of March and wanted a guitar to take with me so I figured this was the time to get with it.

 

 

My 150 is my road trip guitar and has remained playable after the reset detailed in this old thread. You might want to check out the forum that CTGull has created just for Yamaha's

 

http://yamahavintagefg.boards.net/

 

He apparently is doing neck resets in the usual fashion, I would definitely suggest contacting him for further information. I haven't tried another since I posted the original thread - however if I do find one in a yard sale or something I'd give it another shot.

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I guess I can't add more than 1 link to a post. He's got 2 Youtube channels, maybe there is a maximum number of video's.

 

 

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