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Alternate neck reset method?


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 Clever! The reasoning sounds solid and the 30 seconds steaming most likely doesn't do any harm to the structural integrity. A longer steaming might loosen a brace but even that would be easily addressed with a couple of clamps.

As the method is non-destructive it's perfect as the first attempt. If the problem reappears too soon, a neck reset can then be done.

Knowing that the problem usually appears after decades it's safe to call it an aging issue. Thus it would normally take the same time to straighten it by applying force counteracting string pressure. It's a well known fact and proven method to use heat to speed up the aging process - that's what archives use for testing how well certain materials behave during time. Heating the top clamped to the bar is a similarly sped up aging process, in this case however it's not about making the object fail.

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Thank you @Bizman62. It looked like a viable method, But not being a maker or a qualified luthier, I didn't know if it was a sound method or quackery. It did make sense to me.

If my guitar looks like it might need one once i get it all srtung and set up I might look into trying this. It beats paying for shipping two ways and $500 to get it fixed.

 

Ron

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1 hour ago, RonMay said:

But not being a maker or a qualified luthier, I didn't know if it was a sound method or quackery.

I'm no trained woodworker either. I'm just trying to combine everything I've heard or read to guitar making. Having a good memory and vivid imagination helps. And logical thinking.

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I totally understand. It was my thinking as well when I first saw this on Ytube.

It might be helpful if others might look at this thread and comment as well. But participation doesn't seem to be very wide spread for acoustic threads. With so many members that's hard to fathom.

I sure do appreciate your participation and comments. :) .

 

Ron

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I'm going to err towards the other side and say approach his method with caution. He mentions that the reason that his method of performing a neck reset works is that the area where the fretboard overhangs the body near the soundhole has sunken causing the neck to tilt forward and raising the string action, and that his method restores the original shape of this area of the soundboard thus tilting the neck back the way it originally was.

In all the acoustic guitars I've seen that could have done with a neck reset the problem was not that the neck had collapsed forward near the soundhole, but that the area around the bridge had deformed and twisted the bridge upwards. Resetting the neck angle using his method under these circumstances just adds another deformation to the soundboard in a different location. It might correct the issue of high string action due to the gradual misalignment of the neck and bridge caused by string tension, but it's doing it in a way that adds more distortion to the layout of the various components of the guitar.

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Thanks for your insight @curtisa. I'm going to check everything and make sure that the sound board is what is needed to make sure this is the way I want to try.

There's no rush, especially that it takes 3 weeks or more in the clamps to make it work right.

I think one of the main keys is to protect the rest of the guitar excecpt for what you want to change with the stuffing and lots of it. And do the 30 seconds of steaming. I can always do it more than once if needed. This should make it a little safer to do.

 

Ron

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8 hours ago, curtisa said:

the problem was not that the neck had collapsed forward near the soundhole, but that the area around the bridge had deformed and twisted the bridge upwards.

Thanks for reminding! Once again when someone is very convincing and explains his stuff with layman terms it was too easy to forget about other elements involved. Don't politicians do just that?

So, A) if there's a bulge in the bridge area and lowering the bridge is no longer an option, a neck reset is the only viable method. But B ) if there's a gap in the upper bout and especially if the side around the heel is tilted or depressed inwards the heating and bending method may work.

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I wonder if a bulged bridge area could be reshaped with heat and moisture?

 

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59 minutes ago, Bizman62 said:

I wonder if a bulged bridge area could be reshaped with heat and moisture?

I get the impression that the repair doesn't normally involve attempts at steaming/reforming the top - softening of the timbers due to steam/heat may make the area prone to simply re-deforming again as soon as string tension is reapplied, loosening of braces may make the repair harder to execute than it needs to be, a significant refinish would be required once complete. I can see why a reset of the neck, while a pretty drastic procedure, has become the 'traditional' method to correct the issue, and perhaps a good reason for the Youtuber, above, to propose an alternative method that is less invasive.

JLD make a device that is designed to combat a warped soundboard due to bridge rotation. Mixed reports of its effectiveness though.

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7 hours ago, curtisa said:

I get the impression that the repair doesn't normally involve attempts at steaming/reforming the top - softening of the timbers due to steam/heat may make the area prone to simply re-deforming again as soon as string tension is reapplied, loosening of braces may make the repair harder to execute than it needs to be, a significant refinish would be required once complete.

Your impression may well be right and I haven't seen steam/heat used elsewhere than in the questionable video. However, steam and heat is probably the most common way of bending wood into shapes that should last. That applies both to thicker materials like wagon bows as thinner ones such as the sides of an acoustic guitar. You apply heat and steam and when the wood has cooled and dried the new shape will stay. Isn't straightening a bent piece similar to bending a straight piece? Flattening the bent sides of an acoustic may be possible under constant pressure and infinite time similarly to the bridge area warping during years or rather decades of string pull. A heat accelerated straightening shouldn't pop immediately either. In less time than it originally took, maybe, but still slowly.

Loosening braces is by my logic not a potential issue. Steaming a neck joint off takes a pretty long time despite holes being drilled into the seam. Heating the bridge to break the glue joint for detaching involves both time and a hot spatula. Thirty seconds to heat the warped area is nothing compared to those. Someone here has made a tutorial about how to flatten a glued-on thin veneer neatly using heat to temporarily melt regular wood glue... So although it's true that heat cracks glue joints, cooling will rejoin them. Properly shielding areas that don't need heat and adequate support/clamping to prevent braces and such from falling off while hot should work.

My logic may fail here, please correct if I'm wrong.

 

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@Bizman62, if i decide to try this, and it causes more harm than good, I'll sure let everyone know. But most any harm done , like loosening the braces, can be fixed normally. There is very little belly bulge on the Regal at the bridge, but there is a "dip down" towards the sound hole from the neck. I'm thinking this might be a good way to fix that, even if it only last 5 years or so.

I think if it doesn't work, I'm might be no worse off and a neck reset will be on the schedule anyway in the future from a qualified luthier.

I'm not quite there yet. I want to see how it looks once I get the new bridge and saddle on and string it up. Then I'll decide. :)

 

Ron

 

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10 minutes ago, RonMay said:

but there is a "dip down" towards the sound hole from the neck.

Like B ) in my earlier post? I'll be waiting for your decision!

 

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9 hours ago, RonMay said:

I have seen something similar called "The Bridge Doctor".

The link I mentioned *is* the Bridge Doctor, As far as I'm aware JLD are the only makers of it (although it's not a particularly complex device. I'm sure it could be DIY'ed by just about anyone).

 

5 hours ago, Bizman62 said:

Loosening braces is by my logic not a potential issue. Steaming a neck joint off takes a pretty long time despite holes being drilled into the seam. Heating the bridge to break the glue joint for detaching involves both time and a hot spatula. Thirty seconds to heat the warped area is nothing compared to those.

FWIW, I'm not suggesting that steaming/heating isn't performed by some in order to flatten a warped top, but it appears to be less common than resetting the neck. For whatever reason the more common approach appears to be to steam the neck off, re-shape the heel attachment faces and re-attach the neck. That may be for the reasons that I listed, could be others, I don't know.

Another possibility is that the braces themselves may have also deformed along with the top, and getting them to re-flatten at the same rate as the top when steamed/heated might be akin to pulling on a loose thread in your knitted jumper. Maybe because the repair itself tends to be expensive and only economical on particularly valuable instruments, it makes sense to play with the fragile parts of the guitar as little as possible and attack the problem on a part of the guitar that can withstand more invasive work. Dunno...

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8 hours ago, curtisa said:

Another possibility is that the braces themselves may have also deformed along with the top,

I was thinking about the same. Then again, it also depends on the type of bracing. Is it an X or a fan or just a ladder...

Anyhow, this is an interesting topic! I'm not at all against the traditional resetting method but as we all agree it's both time consuming and delicate - and traditional! I wonder if the steam/heat method is just something very few have ever given a thought about? Inexpensive household steamers or rather vapor steam cleaners that produce low moisture steam haven't been on the market too long either and investing to a laundry size steamer would not be cost efficient for a luthier.

There's tons of inexpensive guitars suffering from a deformed top so experimenting shouldn't be too expensive! If I only had a workshop...

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In my experience I have found that it is the soundboard at the bridge, bulging up, is what causes most of the problem. Shaving the bridge weakens it causing it to bulge more.

I have repaired 2 guitars recently by using the Stew-Mac method of removing the bridge and heating the sound board and bridge plate with a heated aluminium caul and clamping everything down to take the bulge out and letting the guitar stand for a few weeks. Cleaning up the bridge and soundboard then reattaching the bridge.

I made my own cauls from aluminium for a few dollars and they work great.

The one guitar, an Ibanez Gibson lawsuit copy, lowered the action so much I had to raise the saddle.

The other was a Yamaha 12-string which a previous repair attempt had had the bridge cut between the pins and the saddle to give enough break angle for the strings over the excessively lowered saddle thereby ruining the bridge. When I got it off it was so weak I could bend it with light finger pressure. I had to make a new bridge.

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@Bizman62, this Regal is old enough, at least for this brand, that it has the traditional ladder bracing like a lot of the Harmony, Silvertone, and Gibson guitars of that time period.

I do happen to have a home steamer so if I decide to do this, then the cost will be only my time and maybe the purchase of 2 or 3 more clamps. I think clamping the neck right is also one of the keys to have a successful operation.

@KeithHowell, the sound board at the bridge is mostly flat and the only major "dip" is between the neck and the sound hole. If I raised the minor dip at the bridge it would make the neck angle finish even lower than it does now. At least that's what I believe would happen if the neck angle doesn't change more to the level of the bridge/saddle height. This is why I'm waiting to take a look at the angle once the new saddle is here to see how much I would have to raise the neck angle. I really appreciate your thoughts and ideas. :)

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