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Les Paul neck removal


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OK...I need to remove the neck on a friend's Les Paul Custom (like a fool I said I could save him some money and do it myself...sheesh!). Anyone here done this? I've done a grand total of (1) acoustic neck removals (and a cheap one at that), but a LP custom is another story. I have my expresso maker, hose and bicycle pump needle at the ready. My questions are:

1) Is the fretboard extension glued to the top like an acoustic?

2) Which fret(s) do I remove to get my needle into the dovetail?

TIA

Erik

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I'm pretty sure the fret board is glued down. I also have only done one glue-in neck removal/reset, and it was on an acoustic, and the dovetail joint and neck were already loose, so I can't even say I've done one complete neck reset. But what I did turned out good . The neck needed to be more angled back, so the tricky part was taking off wood from the joint in certain areas, plus adding wood shims to other parts to get the job done. And then making it look like it was never messed with, which I did, somehow.

Why does the neck on the LP need to be removed ?

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you are much braver then I, an lp custom is quite expensive i dont know if i would wanna mess with it thats just me tho, a professional would prolly have no problem at all

To be fair, it is quite beat up; he's not even the original owner. At first I thought it might be a knockoff, but everything checks out Gibson.

I figured I've got to learn this sometime, and what better way than on someone else's axe. :D

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I hope this link helps.

Thanks, yeah I already found that (and some other stuff on Gibson acoustics), but that site is for a LP Studio model, and I've read on the MIMF that the neck pocket is different. On some LP Customs apparently the neck joint can sometimes run underneath the maple top (yikes!) and if you take out the neck pup, you can see the end of the neck. But this may be only for older Customs. My own LP Custom (early 80s) is not like that, and his I think is newer than mine (he's scared to even take the pickup off...).

His neck joint is loose, that's why we need to do this.

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OK, I think I've resolved the above "under the maple cap" issue. I found out that Les Paul necks are not a dovetail, but a regular mortise and tenon joint with only a little bit of a fretboard extension (glued to the top).

Does anyone have experience with this? It almost sounds like I'd need to remove several frets and drill down to the joint in just the right spots. If I knew the dimensions of the mortise, I could figure out where to drill.

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Easiest way will involve removing the fretboard, which will expose the tenon and allow you to try and slip a hot spatula down the sides of the mortice until you've got things moving. This will be easier if the neck is already a little mobile.

Still, it's a big job to undertake, especially if the instrument is valuable.

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Thanks everyone for your concern; I don't think the guitar is that "valuable" in that it has many dings and scratches (front, back and sides) that go through the finish into the wood, and the top edge of the headstock is also beat up into the wood (prob. the origin of the neck problem). It really needs a complete refinish job to bring it up to snuf, but that's another story.

The guitar is unplayable right now, you can see where the lacquer has cracked between the neck heel and the body, and you can see the crack open and close when you flex the neck. The problem certainly requires a certified luthier to get it fixed, no doubt. But then again, if I screw it up, THEN we can just take it to a luthier as before (and save him the trouble of removing the neck).

Setch, thanks for the tip. I too had just about reached this this conclusion, but was hoping that I could find a way to remove the neck without lifting the fingerboard. The fingerboard is bound on the sides, and in such a way that it provides a cap to the fret ends. In other words, the frets are trimmed even with the fretboard, then the binding was glued on and scraped down to match the profile of the fingerboard and fret ends. It is a nice binding job that I'd rather not have to re-do.

I might try taking out the neck pickup and drilling a couple of small holes into the joint, and steaming from there, since this is where the joint is still good. But in order not to drill blindly, I'd need to know the dimensions of the mortise. I can probably estimate it from Stahler's link (above) on the Les Paul "special".

Edited by erikbojerik
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The problem certainly requires a certified luthier to get it fixed, no doubt. But then again, if I screw it up, THEN we can just take it to a luthier as before (and save him the trouble of removing the neck).

Let me warn you Eric....

If you were to take a half arsed attempt of a repair, to a luthier, HE WILL charge you a considerable amount more for taking on a job that you obviously couldnt fix.

If the guitars value is not worth much, i would suggest selling it.

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I agree with Perry.

Nothing worse than trying to fix someone else's stuffups. And I have seen cases such as yours in the past (in another field though) where friends have said "Yeah mate. Try and fix it. If you stuff things up ...well at least you tried" wanna bet. You stuff things up, then they get the "spare bits" with you and whine to everyone about you being completely hopeless.

Just my 2 cents worth. I'd leave it alone. :D

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Again...thanks for the worries. Gibson wants a 4-figure price for this job, a local luthier would be less, but still significant bucks. I ...could... mess it up worse than it already is, but I can also stop when I know it begins to look dicey.

If you never TRY a LP neck removal, then you'll never do one...

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If its stuffed up tell him I will buy it! Sorry don't have any advice on the neck removal, but if your friend wants you to have a go at it, and your confident about it, I'd say do it, but just don't let yourself get into deep about it, or loose your friend if you mess it up :D

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Again...thanks for the worries. Gibson wants a 4-figure price for this job, a local luthier would be less, but still significant bucks. I ...could... mess it up worse than it already is, but I can also stop when I know it begins to look dicey.

If you never TRY a LP neck removal, then you'll never do one...

Once it look dicey, its too late.

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I think that it's a serious job, but if the guitar is not playable and it will cost over 1000 to get it done in the factory, ( pressuming that the local luthier will charge up close to that) I think if he follow the same steps that were pointed here it shouldn't be "to hard". The place I see going wrong is when putting it back together. Just make sure you remeasure everything before gluing it back. I think it's easier putting this one together than one made from scratch. I doubt that you get much money for it in the condition that it's in anyway.I think it's a pricy guitar to be the one that you will learn how to, but then again you have to do it once to learn right!

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^exactly, i would let the pros deal with this lp, not to disrepect you or anything as it does seem you want to learn how to do this, but an lp custom no matter what condish it is in is still and lp custom and an expensive guitar, does your friend want to shell out the bucks to get it fixed right or have a quick fix now and cost even more later?

myself, i dont deal with set necks!!!! :D

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On the neck reset I did, I was following directions from a luthier's newsletter all the way. And the guitar I did it on, it was a friends. He paid 1 dollar for the guitar at a garage sale (all wood, made in USA acoustic, no plywood).

No way would I have done something similar on an LP without the directions I had. It's even risky with directions, especially a first time attempt.

Your "patient" deserves a "doctor" with some proper training.

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