Over the years the string tension can cause the neck to change its angle to the top and make it impossible to get a lower action. The solution is to take the neck out, re-cut the angle and put it back in.
In a previous blog I wrote about an alternative technique for re-setting a neck so this time I'm going to show you the traditional method. Most of my re-sets are done this way.
Guitars are put together with heat reversible glue, if they weren't then I couldn't do my job. The first step in the removal of a neck is to release the glue on the end of the fretboard - the part that overhangs the body
Acoustic guitar necks are usually glued in using a dovetail joint to give stability.
I gently warm the board until the glue is soft enough to slide an old butter knife under it.
I remove 14th and 15th frets (which are located above the dovetail joint)
I drill four 2mm holes deep into the joint through the fret slots.Into these holes I inject steam. I use a steam cleaner with an armoured hose attached and a long hollow needle attachment to blast the steam into the holes. This steam softens the glue and with a bit of effort the neck will come out.
This is a Gibson J45 with the neck half out, it belongs to a player from Christchurch.
This is the neck joint. You can just see one of my holes down the side of the dovetail. As soon as the neck is out I clean any glue off while its still soft.
Here's the body. The warmth from the steam usually softens the lacquer enough for it not to crack.
This is a Martin HD35 I repaired for a player while on tour from Switzerland. Notice martin have sprayed the finish on the body before the neck is attached.
This is the HD35 neck.
This is a 1969 Gibson SJ which interestingly has a different dovetail shape from the 2005 model J45 I've shown above.
This one's a Guild - it didn't come out as cleanly as some of them.
This is a 1963 Gretsch archtop - note the packing in the side of the neck pocket.
And finally an Ovation - I had to remove the fingerboard first to get at the neck joint with this one.
As you can see I do a fair few neck re-sets and get to dismantle some lovely old instruments.
For me it has to be one of the most satisfying jobs - making old guitars live again