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I made a Les Paul a couple of years ago modelled on a 59 Reissue although I left the neck thicker by 2mm. I recently decided I wanted to bring it down to match but in the process I sanded the edges of the fretboard making them angled. If I squared the edges of the fretboard it would end up being about 3mm too narrow at the 5th fret and way too narrow at the Nut

I have a couple of ideas on how to fix this but none of them are easy. Here are the ideas I came up with

 

1) Spray massive amounts of Nitro along the edge and shape it from there

2) Pull frets, square edges of Fretboard and add Binding. This would leave a step under binding which I would fill with Nitro

3) Same as 2 or 3 but use 2-pack Lacquer to fill with

4) Re-shape width and make narrower string spacing for people with smaller hands

5) Cut Neck off and replace

6) Sell as "unfinished project" and let it be someone else's problem

 

Here is how the damage was done

IMG_3468.thumb.JPG.131a42f6543e588982de0c70ce687eb1.JPG

 

Anyone else been in this situation? Any suggestions appreciated

Cheers, Doug

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Oh dear...

The first question that popped into my mind: Is it playable, and more importantly, does it feel nice?

If the answer is yes, then the next question is: Does the angled fretboard matter other than that it may not be identical to that of an original LP?

If the answer is yes, how about accepting it as a feature customized according to the preferences of the player?

The biggest issue with lacquer on the neck is that it becomes sticky when your palms sweat. For what I've learned about Nitro is that one of the main features of it is that it can be applied very thinly so using it as a transparent filler seems illogical. A thick layer of lacquer of any kind may start cracking which can be very inconvenient. Lacquer fragments in your palm don't feel nice!

If the edge of the fretboard really is so sharp it's uncomfortable to play, re-shaping the width or cutting the neck off and replacing it are the only viable alternatives if your goal is a quality instrument. For reshaping the existing one, squaring the edges and binding the fretboard would look nice, but instead of lacquer or nitro I'd use wood filler and paint the neck - and ruin the nice looks of mahogany! Also bear in mind that wood filler can crack as well as lacquer or nitro. Anyhow, painted necks have been around forever, hiding the most beautiful pieces of wood.

 

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sounds an aweful lot like one of those situations where you need to walk away and get over the emotional aspect of it so you can see it clearly and then decide the best path fwd. 

get a clear head, then assess the situation... can't tell you how many times I've neglected to take my own advice in similar situations! 

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Yes it is playable but after a while you notice it cuts into the palm. I agree I don't think using thick layers of Lacquer is an acceptable option. Being a Les Paul part of the fretboard goes over the body so there is a transition from being straight to curved. If it was on an angle for the whole length of the fretboard it would be less of an issue. Painting the guitar doesn't solve the problem of the fretboard edge being on an angle. Unless I put binding on it and come to think of it, that introduces a whole range of difficulties

Yes I walked away to get over it. I did this about a month ago and I'm just looking at it again now. Good advice though, thanks!

Taking a photo of this is a challenge. Especially as I have no batteries for my camera and had to use my phone. I took a photo from different perspectives as some people may see it in one photo and not another

 

I think the best option is to square the edges and make narrow string spacing for people with smaller hands. I met someone recently who said she can't play guitar because of this reason, so that's where I got the idea

The issue with any fix is the section that goes over the body. Really want a straight edge along whole length of fretboard

IMG_3648.thumb.JPG.ff91425c541cebf7196817169ffc902b.JPGIMG_3649.thumb.JPG.6eba9e85a0fad189cd092c11489b69c7.JPGIMG_3650.thumb.JPG.bcbf7a02ea92b3cc9446b51d2726efe0.JPG

Edited by Crusader

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it sounds like the frets are sticking out now that you recarved? that's not biggy. Just stick the some painters tape (not masking tape) along the end side of the fretboard to cover up the fret ends, then go over them with a file - that will protect the wood and you will see the ret ends disappear, you might need to do a new fret end dressing job, you might not. 

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I'd almost consider that just extending the contour of the neck profile to include the edges of the fretboard. Some people may even prefer it, particularly those players used to wide/skinny neck profiles. You could always gently round over the top edges of the fretboard to eliminate any potential sharpness and just blend the fretboard edges near the heel a bit further to ease up the transistion between profiled fretboard edges and where the body meets the neck

If it were me I'd finish it as is and sell it as a one-of-a-kind comfort feature, rather than trying to bandaid it back to its original shape or expend even more energy cutting it out and rebuilding a new neck.

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ADFinlayson - No the frets aren't sticking out, what cuts into the palm is the edge of the fretboard and that could be solved by Curtisa's suggestions. What is most annoying is that the fretboard is straight-edged over the body then starts to curve past the 16th fret

Curtisa - thanks that's good advice

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2 hours ago, Crusader said:

ADFinlayson - No the frets aren't sticking out, what cuts into the palm is the edge of the fretboard and that could be solved by Curtisa's suggestions. What is most annoying is that the fretboard is straight-edged over the body then starts to curve past the 16th fret

Curtisa - thanks that's good advice

Weird, I start the curve of the neck inside the fretboard edge on my builds, I find it makes for a more comfortable feeling neck. But if the edge of your fretboard is sharp, I guess just going over that edge carefully with a scraper would knock and sharpness off. I see what you mean where the fretboard goes from straight to curved at the 16th, I wouldn't worry about that though, @ScottR gave me some fantastic advice the other day - some thing along the lines of. I know you can't unsee that, but to everyone else it looks perfectly normal. So Joe Bloggs guitarist will never even notice it.

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5 hours ago, curtisa said:

I'd almost consider that just extending the contour of the neck profile to include the edges of the fretboard. Some people may even prefer it, particularly those players used to wide/skinny neck profiles. You could always gently round over the top edges of the fretboard to eliminate any potential sharpness and just blend the fretboard edges near the heel a bit further to ease up the transistion between profiled fretboard edges and where the body meets the neck

If it were me I'd finish it as is and sell it as a one-of-a-kind comfort feature, rather than trying to bandaid it back to its original shape or expend even more energy cutting it out and rebuilding a new neck.

I actually make all my necks that way on purpose. I roll over the edge of the fretboard like @curtisa suggests and dress the fret ends to match. I don't make heels on my necks; instead I carve them to blend with the body at the join. My fretboards are also straight sided from the end to where the neck join carve starts, at which point it angles back like yours does. I find it very comfortable and it allows me to leave a little more meat under the truss rod and still feel quite thin, because the neck carve begins in the fretboard instead of below it.

SR

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Yet one idea:

Expand the idea of binding to the neck as well to create a semi laminated neck. That would allow for reshaping the neck. A contrasting 0,5 mm veneer would allow for using the same wood without looking cheap.  It would be relatively easy to do at the heel but blending it into the headstock might be problematic with the veneer in place.

That said, what @curtisa and @ScottR said are better alternatives unless you really need to get the edge square.

Nekfix.thumb.JPG.eb0095be8be957bf8e00624d0f0ffec8.JPG

Edited by Bizman62

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Yes the most important thing to consider is how much it means to me, how much I want it to be like a Gibson and how much effort I want to put in. The thing is once I've chosen which path I take I can't bail out and decide to go another

Thanks for all your replies, it does help

Bizman62 I didn't mention it but I considered that idea, it would end up virtually being a 3-piece neck and would lose any benefit of being one-piece. But good call though, thanks for the suggestion. I might consider a variation of that idea - just router the surface and glue on a piece which would end up just being a thin layer. I've done such things before and had good results but not in such a critical area

However I think it would be wiser to stick to doing something simple and not be concerned about the fretboard edge not being square. Thanks for those suggestions guys

So just for the record here are some photos showing just what the problem is, they are mostly self-explanatory

IMG_3660.thumb.JPG.a68fda2c3dadec907e2555511c89ae11.JPGIMG_3663.thumb.JPG.42d76325ed083dbfee079999566dd867.JPGIMG_3661.thumb.JPG.5c7f592edfc28c1beb12d5c0c2bb90b1.JPGIMG_3662.thumb.JPG.61625e838c668824df30617b13632d36.JPG

 

IMG_3654.thumb.JPG.356f3eab4bf0a93dfcd7bcdcfd07be26.JPG

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Yes, the last shot really explained the issue at hands. 😍

As the images #3 and #4 show, you've already jumped off the path of it being a carbon copy of a Gibson neck.

The angle doesn't look bad at all, only a few degrees. Out of curiosity I used your method on my '94 Fender AmStd Strat and to me it looked like it was angled both ways, i.e. similarly to yours and rounded inwards.

An easy way to make the sharp edge to feel more "played in" is take a piece of 400 grit wet'n'dry, fold it to an inch diameter slightly flattened roll which you can tweak around your mid finger and lightly run along the fretboard edge. That will round the ends of the frets at the same time, the laziest and fastest way to do that.

frtend.JPG.4b2008a7feeaab7a82c63c0045b65072.JPG

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Thanks guys yes I'm a Goose!

Bizman62 I thought that was some weird kind of "Smiley-Face" and then realised it represents fingers. Yes thats a good idea. However it reminds me of something else you use wet-n-dry for; have you ever polished the ports on a Honda CR500?

...wear gloves!

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Never owned or even driven a motorbike bigger than a 50cc...

But I've done the sanding that way, bare handed without any issues. You've already filed the fret ends flush with the fretboard. Notice that only the first and the ring finger only keep the paper curved and even the mid finger only acts as a guide so it's only the three-fold paper having a springy contact with the wood and the fret ends.

I forgot to mention that the paper is being used dry.

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Yes using sandpaper dry is not as bad as wet but I have this issue with my finger tips during winter, the skin cracks and never heals. I go through packets of bandaids. Regardless its a good idea and thanks for the tip!

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3 minutes ago, Crusader said:

finger tips during winter, the skin cracks and never heals

Ouch! I once met a young copier repairman who had to wear cotton gloves on his utterly greased hands all nights (talk about foreplay...) and similar gloves at work on days. The plastic colour powder caused him similar issues.

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Well I made a template today to straighten up the edges of the fretboard, which is one of the problems, they weren't straight in the first place. I made it so I can slide it along to get whatever width I desire. Once I have the edges straight I will see how square the edges are and take it from thereIMG_3692.thumb.JPG.44ef582add8fe7a8cbabb824b37caa84.JPG

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3 minutes ago, Bizman62 said:

Ouch! I once met a young copier repairman who had to wear cotton gloves on his utterly greased hands all nights (talk about foreplay...) and similar gloves at work on days. The plastic colour powder caused him similar issues.

Oh dear not to good! I once met a man who was constantly using a handkerchief and I asked if he had a cold. He said no, he has hay fever - all the time, night and day. Had been to the doctor numerous times and they had no idea, no cure. Consequently this fellow didn't have many children

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Exactly how are you going to use that template? With a router you'd have to pull the frets off which I think is not ideal at this point. With a file or sanding beam you'd easily end up taking material off the template as well. You're making me curious!

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Yes I used a router  - I think frets are soft enough, and if not I'm willing to sacrifice a router bit

The Fretboard in now 1.5mm narrower than normal and I will make a new Nut with a smaller string spacing. I will also keep the fret ends steep. I was toying with the idea of binding on the fretboard edge and build the neck out (that idea of gluing a piece of wood either side) but I think its easier to deal with reshaping the heal etc. Just for the record the neck started off being 2mm wider than normal

Here's some pictures of progress, and by the way I use a Lami Trimmer as a Router

In the second photo - I think I can sand the fretboard edge to blend that in and after a coat of lacquer you won't notice it

Looking at the Heel...oh well that's a headache for another day!

IMG_3693.thumb.JPG.2a0427841c49553ab4611144f483a1d1.JPGIMG_3695.thumb.JPG.cabc6884065cdac160650dd5ee91998a.JPGIMG_3697.thumb.JPG.866b127d3094554eb64fdcad75759635.JPGIMG_3698.thumb.JPG.79af1450eab7c68e130e2eed35cf43fc.JPGIMG_3699.thumb.JPG.5645b0e29e1bde336687f51dc69062ee.JPGIMG_3700.thumb.JPG.4a1c412d06828b4a1d6e72476c6b97e2.JPG

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Wow! Never would have guessed that a router bit would cut through frets! Then again, they weren't stainless steel...

AFA the second photo, since the deepest cut seems to be just at the side dot that'd be a perfect line for the rest of the neck. Make it rounder if you wish but start with that bevel. A cabinet scraper might be the right tool although a sanding block might work as well, or a Shinto saw rasp.

For the heel... You obviously mean the parts where the neck is wider than the fretboard? If it's the traditional LP type neck joint it's a no-brainer. On the upper side simply cut the excess off, on the lower side make the cutout a little wider, blending it in at the 17th or 18th fret.

The rolled sandpaper method works well with steep fret edges as it only cuts the sharp corners away, leaving a maximum width of fret wire under the e-strings. Actually I've done my best fret end jobs with that method!

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I have a spindle sander which would be ideal for the cutout side. I just hope the body binding will hold out, it will become very thin

I think it would be good to have a bit of angle on the fret edges but I could give your idea a go first

I'm still thinking about binding the fretboard though because I was thinking about it before this happened

Might not do anything today, just dwell on it a while

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Credit to whom it belongs. I saw it on a Crimson Guitars video, probably the nine hour build or some other fast forward challenge. With the side note that it's not the right way but the result being surprisingly good.

Anyhow, the sandpaper is only for rounding the fret ends, you'll still have to put the angle on the edges. That said, 90 deg is an angle as well and sometimes it may be needed to maximize the playable fret width. A slight bevel would be preferred, though.

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