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Shaving neck profile


pb47
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Hello, I'm looking into sanding down the neck of my guitar because it's a little bit too chunky for my hand.  I am concerned that I could take too much wood out and cause problems with the truss rod or tension of the neck.  Does anyone have experience doing this procedure? 

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I've done it once, but only on an old beater (an experiment to see what a trapezoidal neck profile felt like). Unless you know exactly what kind of truss rod was installed and how deep the truss rod channel was set into the neck there's a very real risk that you'll either weaken the neck at some point along its length or punch straight through the back into the truss rod cavity.

On the one I did I ended up going quite close to the truss rod slot behind the nut. At a guess I might have reduced the thickness at that point by 3mm. If I tapped on the back of the neck behind the nut it gave off a 'papery' sound, which was a sure indication I had come close to going straight through. It held up OK to string tension, but I doubt it would have been very stable or resilient to knocks and general abuse. Much later on I used that same neck to practise removing a fret board. Once I had it off I could measure how close I'd come to going through the back - it was less than 2mm.

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3 hours ago, pb47 said:

Good to know. Surely, you have to be careful to only remove a little bit of the wood.

. Do you need to take the tension off the neck before doing this job?

I think the real issue is that you won't know that you've gone too far until it's too late. As @ScottR suggests, you may have better luck re-tapering the sides rather than making the neck slimmer overall.

Loosening the truss rod is probably a good idea, if only to minimise any movement that may occur as material is removed, which could lead to inadvertent over-carving as you work more material from the neck.

I guess just go slowly and carefully would be my only suggestion. Re-shaping a neck is something that can't be undone.

What kind of guitar are you hoping to do this to? Is the neck a bolt-on? Maybe you can buy a pre-made neck to swap out?

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it's a 59 gibson es 125. (Not a solid body, I know.) It's also not a bolt on neck and it's vintage. Not something to modify on a whim. I'm only considering this because the neck hurts my hand sometimes when I play for long periods. And I don't see anything else of interest in my price range. I'm about 98% sure on keeping this guitar. It would take something really perfect for me to trade.

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I hear you, I wanted an es-175 but they are 3 times as much money. This guitar is worn one. It's full of nice scars that scare off collectors thats why i got it cheap. I most likely wont shave the neck... I'm just in the process of figuring out how to make it fit my hand better, which could also possibly be fixed on the fretboard side of the neck..

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Yeah, not sure I'd recommend doing something like that to such an instrument. They may have been entry-level archtops for their time, but...y'know...it's a vintage Gibson!

FWIW, here's a page showing some pics of an ES125 undergoing a truss rod replacement. Looks like a standard Gibson design. The truss rod sits in a curved channel wedged in by a wooden cap along the length of the channel. The point at which the truss rod is closest to the back of the neck would be in the middle rather than the nut:

http://www.mumfordguitars.com.au/3.html

http://s45.photobucket.com/user/shakarocks/media/Trussrodcurveillustration.jpg.html

 

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