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PatrickCo

Realistically, what are the downsides to a "poor man's neck reset"?

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Hi all!

I have an old 1960's Yamaha FG-75 in desperate need of a neck reset. Now, it's a cheap old guitar, so I'm definitely not gonna pay hundreds of dollars to have to professionally done. I have found a handful of examples online of people doing a cheap neck reset. Where they saw through part of the neck, epoxy it (and sometimes add a bolt to help secure it) back in place to bring the neck back a bit. 

I've also found lots of people talking about how barbaric this is and tell them just to use it as well decoration or just buy a new guitar.  

Now my serious question is:  If the action on the guitar is high enough to be unplayable and it's just headed to the junk yard or the wall, why would someone not want to at least try this method? It seems like the choices are the trash bin or a playable guitar with a kind ugly looking neck joint (and some videos I've seen don't even have that). I realize it's not the right way, but if the guitar isn't worth the right way, are there downsides to doing this method? Will it only last a couple weeks before you get hit in the face with a guitar neck? Are there long term implications of taking this route? I'm headed towards taking this route with this guitar (mainly because why not) but I am not sure if there's something serious I'm overlooking.

 

Thank you all for your help and advice!

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You can do all sorts of DIY repairs to extend the life of an old guitar. Obviously you wouldn't do such a thing on something valuable but for an old beater it's fine. And, as you say, you can often do a reasonable looking cosmetic fix.

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There's another option that I did to an FG180 years ago. You separate the back from the sides and neck block, then reset the angle and reglue it. I had to replace the binding on the back, but those have plain black so it's easy.

I will say that even after getting the action perfect and refinishing with French polish it sounded no different. It's still a loud, but uninspiring laminate top guitar. I traded it for a crib when my daughter was a baby. 😎

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I build and repair guitars.  I am capable of doing correct neck resets and I do them whenever possible.   I have a 1969 FG-150 that was my first guitar, I love it and I played the heck out of it.   When if finally needed a reset bad enough I tried the conventional method and the neck wouldn't budge.  I sawed it off, converted to bolted butt joint and set the angle.  I continue to play and enjoy that old guitar and it will outlive me.

Remember that Taylors NT joint is basically a fancy bolted butt joint and that the A&L guitars all have simple versions of that joint.

Also, forumite CTGull has success steaming old Yamahas apart, I'm sure he will chime in.

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I had a Neck reset done on my Martin MC 28, I bought in the last 80's. It was done at my local luthiers place. Chris Martin IV also covered the cost of a new bridge and saddle.

 

It plays like a dream now.

 

I'm not sure it was costly, but if didn't cost me a dime.  Martin really held their end of the bargain, on that Lifetime warranty.

1508160447_MC28w-case.thumb.jpg.8baf37167c6ff314f4b847d9cd0442ce.jpg1546718493_MC28Back.thumb.jpg.d8a8087f1a83edc13b39650846b4a179.jpg

 

My latest guitar is a Martin 00028. It's very nice too.

I can't upload any more photos here. I'm maxed out and there's no way to delete them. Technical issue, I have pasted on to the power that be.

 

If you love a guitar it's probably worth fixing so you can play it.

I have no wall art guitars at my house.

 

 

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On 6/22/2020 at 3:53 PM, Freeman Keller said:

Also, forumite CTGull has success steaming old Yamahas apart, I'm sure he will chime in.

I have not seen CTG around here in about a year...don't hold your breath....

And I also agree it is worth taking a shot at doing the saw/bolt neck joint, rather than relegating the guitar to the woodpile...

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Daddy, you and I both know the OP isn't coming back which makes me wonder why I wasted my time.    I have contact information for CTG that I could pass on to him and a whole bunch of pictures of just exactly how I did my cut off neck reset (I even did a HCAG thread that I could link).   However I think I'll just crawl back in my hole and try to ignore this place once again.

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Personally, I don’t think of this as a “poor man’s” neck reset at all. You still have to steam off the fretboard extension and bridge. You’re also risking the finish around the neck joint if you’re not careful and/or using the wrong tool for the job. That’s a lot of work. The only difference is that you don’t have to pull the 14th fret and work with the geometry of any sort of mortise/tenon or dovetail joint - which actually make aligning the neck less ambiguous IMO. 
 

To me, a true “poor man’s reset” is applying heat to the neck block and shifting it inside the body and regluing it  - which brings along its own problems. 

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3 hours ago, Freeman Keller said:

Daddy, you and I both know the OP isn't coming back which makes me wonder why I wasted my time.    I have contact information for CTG that I could pass on to him and a whole bunch of pictures of just exactly how I did my cut off neck reset (I even did a HCAG thread that I could link).   However I think I'll just crawl back in my hole and try to ignore this place once again.

Freeman, you never know...he might...but, please don't ignore HC...we are trying to bring it back from the dead ... and your contributions over the years have been masterful and professional...the kind of things some of us come here for...:wave::thu:

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23 hours ago, Freeman Keller said:

Daddy, you and I both know the OP isn't coming back which makes me wonder why I wasted my time.    I have contact information for CTG that I could pass on to him and a whole bunch of pictures of just exactly how I did my cut off neck reset (I even did a HCAG thread that I could link).   However I think I'll just crawl back in my hole and try to ignore this place once again.

...just as I'm crawling out of my hole. These are certainly trying times.

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Hi! I appreciate all the feedback about this post. My apologies that I seemed to have offended some users with my lack of activity. The truth of it is that I took the guitar into a local guitar shop to confirm my theory about the neck reset. Though it seemed pretty obvious: the bridge was low as it can go and the action was still very high. But before I took a saw or heat or any other method to it, I wanted to be sure I wasn't damaging a guitar that could otherwise be fixed. I wanted to see where that landed before chiming in again.

I heard from them this weekend and, as suspected, the neck needs a reset. I'm going to go ahead and do the reset I originally described because it seems the majority vote is that it's fine to do if the choice is that or the woodpile. I know Freeman Keller mentioned they had a thread about this with pictures? I tried to find, but was not successful, so if you could post a link, I would appreciate that greatly. Thanks!

 

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I have many of the old threads that I started back when I was active at HCAG, including this one.   Unfortunately, it no longer works.   

https://www.harmonycentral.com/t5/Acoustic-Guitars/Yamaha-neck-reset/m-p/34749697#M571501

I probably wouldn't be very good anyway because I used to use Photobucket for hosting pictures and I've given up on them too.   The process is simple,  loosen the fretboard extension as normal (heat and a couple of pallet knives, watch out for the truss rod).   Saw thru the tenon with a very thin blade saw - a gents or Japanese saw.  Be careful as you approach the truss rod - it sticks into the top of the pocket.   Drill thru the neck block and remaining portion of the tenon, install two threaded inserts in the heel.   Floss the cheek to give you the angle you want - the nice thing with the bolts is you can keep putting in off and on until you are happy.  Be careful that you don't introduce some twist in the f/b plane - its easy to do without the tenon to guide you.   Glue the f/b extension back down, deal with the frets, make a new saddle and do a setup.

On mine I attempted a normal removal but couldn't get it to budge.   On retrospect and looking at the dovetail it is possible that by angling the steam injector into the pocket better it would have worked.    I'll post that one picture 

 

 

Good luck

IMG_1139.JPG

Edited by Freeman Keller

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Morning! Thank you for the advice on the process! I ended up doing a modified version of this. I sawed through the neck with a flush cut saw until I reached about where the truss rod would be a stopped. I will admit that I had a moment there where I doubted my own sanity, taking a saw to a guitar, but it was too late by that point ;)

I then put in a pilot hold for the screw, added a smaller countersink, and screwed the neck back at a better angle. I was worried a bit about the fretboard that's on the body coming up or having a hump there, but I don't see anything. It doesn't look the prettiest. Despite my best efforts with triple layered painters tape on the edges, there's still some scuffing from the saw. I'm going to go get a stain pen to clean that up a bit though. 

I put the strings on this morning and I gotta admit, I did bring them up to pitch over the period of about an hour because I was worried I was going to get hit in the face with a broken neck, but everything seemed to hold up well. Between the neck adjustment and bringing the nut down a little (which unfortunately brought up an issue with a worn slot on the low E string that I had to fill), the action is really nice now and it plays wonderfully. 

I definitely agree, I would never do this on a guitar worth anything. That said, for this guitar, I feel like I made the right decision. And if I came across a cheap old department store parlor guitar, I would 100% do it again with something like that. 

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