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how i set up a neck

daddy ray

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i've had a run of problem necks to deal with lately


without exception the thing that finally brought these guitars to me was that the truss rod had been over tightened in an attempt to correct an original problem & had ceased to have any effect on the neck thus creating a more serious secondary problem...rendering them unplayable

(these were all single action rods)


these have all been nice guitars that warranted repair vs. being discarded for one reason or another


most of the guitars in my collection were bought real cheap because the previous owner threw up their hands in frustration & decided they'd rather buy something new (maby they were just looking for an excuse to buy)


i currently have a seagull acoustic in the neck jig that was previously put out of commission by a "repairman" that thought he could correct an excessively high action by continuing to crank on the rod...when what the guitar actually need was a neck reset due to "settling in" & bridge that was starting to rotate slightly


so it's getting a neck job as well as a truss rod


i always strongly suggest that an owner opt to have carbon fiber rods installed when the fingerboard is off as they add trememdous stability to the neck & i use them in all my necks as well


the mahogany necks seem to be somewhat more flexy & tend to benefit more from the carbon fiber than the stiffer maple necks


after the fingerboard is off the neck i jig the neck solid in it's static condition (i want a perfectly straight neck to perhaps .010" back bow when the strings go back on so the only task for the truss rod is counteracting string pull)...do my mill work to correct the neck to bridge angle...shim w/maple & remill the trussrod channel (the double action rods are narrower than the s.a. rods & need a snug pocket to sit in)...& mill my carbon fiber channels


at this point i clamp the fingerboard dry on the neck with a couple of appropriately sized pieces of fretwire installed...lay feeler guages over that to simulate string height & check with a long straight edge to verify where the strings will contact the bridge...i'm shooting for the bridge to need .010/.015 shaved off on an acoustic to achieve perfect string height


if it doesn't fall within specs i do a little final alignment work with a long sanding block...recheck...etc till i'm happy with what i see


i use 1/16 drill bits as locater pins in holes drilled through fret slots prior to fingerboard removal when rebonding the fingerboard to assure proper location for intonation


once the glue is dry if the fingerboard is out of specs for straightness i block it flat...once again verifing angle to the bridge


all that's left at this point is refret & final setup


when stringing a neck that i've been this deeply into i usually pull everything to pitch gradually letting everything settle in adding truss rod as needed...give it a day or two to verify stability & then give it the final setup


if the guitar is someone elses i'll let it sit for another couple of days to make sure before i send it home...want it right the first time...i hate comebacks


study it as a science/practice it as an art


thanks for allowing me to share this with all of you


have fun now!

whatever the mind of man can concieve & believe it can achieve!

study it as a science/practice it as an art!

luck...that's what happens when preparation & opportunity intersect

properly percieved every situation becomes an opportunity

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