My First Neck Reset - Yamaha FG150 Red Label

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Well I started my two week guitar repair course today by removing the neck on my 1968 Yamaha FG150 Red Label to prepare it for a neck reset. I will be doing a photo journal of my course and post the photos and my experiences here for those who are interested. I also have a new, but damaged Epiphone EJ160e in the shop to practice repairing a top crack and binding break.

After watching four hours of Dan Erlewine doing resets and refrets, Miles led me through getting the neck off the Yammie. I had already done a sight down the neck and a straightedge test of the Yamaha and the straightedge pointed to the bottom of the bridge and there was no saddle left to speak of... definite neck reset candidate.

Upon closer examination, it was clear the fretboard was beginning to separate at the nut. So we determined to heat the entire fretboard, not just the extension. We also discovered some loose bracing that will require attention. So, after pulling out the pickup, taking off the strings, the tuners and the nut, I put the low watt heater pad and a caul on the fretboard and clamped them with a couple of F clamps.

After about 3 minutes, I noticed a puff of smoke... Miles said "Ooops smoked a fret marker". We pulled off the heat pad and sure enough the fret markers were toast. We just dug them out with an exacto. They are easy enough to replace. Miles ran a spatula under the pickguard and removed it very quickly by working it back and forth with the "runout". (I still can't see the runout... but I'll practice). Then he ran the spatula under the fretboard extension to loosen the glue there.

Miles then pulled the 15 fret and drilled a hole for the steam needle to penetrate the neck pocket. It was drilled off centre in the middle of the fret slot to avoid the truss rod. Steam from Mr. Coffee was inserted into the hole with a long hose and needle. Miles also added the neck removal jig which applies pressure to the heel of the neck while holding the body firm.

We put the neck in the vise and wiggled the body to loosen the glue (which I suspected was hide glue given the age of the guitar - I was right). Miles drilled another hole on the other side of the fret slot as it was not giving up easily. More steam was added and this did the trick. Not before we crushed the heel of the guitar neck with the caul on the jig. We have plans for that repair (well Miles does).

Here is the neck pocket right after removal.

Here is the neck dovetail immediately after removal.

I cleaned up the neck dovetail and the neck pocket with a very sharp chisel (like a hot knife through butter) getting rid of all the hide glue and shims and put the neck back on the guitar. We then sighted down the neck and determined it wasn't really to badly under set.

Tomorrow morning I will be doing some math to figure out how much neck material to remove. We will remove the fretboard, clean it up and reglue it. Then we'll do the reset. The next day, if all goes well I'll do a fretboard level and refret/dress. I will be cutting a new nut and saddle from bone. Once the Yammie is done, it will be on to the Epiphone and then to setting up my Rickenbackers.

Gonna be fun!



Looking forward to lots more pics! 

Have a  :coffee :donut2 on me!  I love threads like this, thanks.

Fascinating stuff  :smile: ...good luck with next stage of the "surgery"  :thumbsup


Barefoot Rob:
Fun stuff.Its addicting. :thumb

Day #2.

Well day #2 started in a boring fashion with Miles having me REview the 2hr video on neck resetting!  :crying:

Then I got to the good stuff. I had finished cleaning up the male and female ends of the neck and dovetail and chiseled a little valley on both cheeks of the heel yesterday. So Miles left me to put sign painter's tape on the shoulders and calculate the amount of reset needed. Took me a couple of tries at the formula but it finally worked out right. I needed less than I had thought, needing to raise the neck angle at the bridge by 1/8". I taped the shoulders and put masking tape on the heel indicating the amount of material needed to change the neck angle.

Then I pulled 80 grit sandpaper with equal strokes on both sides of the heel by putting the sandpaper under the heel (grit towards the underside of the heel), pressing down on the neck and pulling it out in long strokes. I did this evenly and sighted down the neck after about 4-6 strokes each time.

When the sighting got close to where I wanted to be (level with the top of the bridge) I checked the centre line of the neck from the nut the the bridge:

I discovered I was slightly strong on the treble side... so I gave the treble side about 4 extra strokes which swung the neck back to centre. Then I gave equal strokes until I could sight right in line with the bridge. At that point, I inserted some paper temp shims in the neck pocket and pressed the neck back in to check with a heavy straighedge down the length of the fingerboard. The straightedge lined up perfectly with the top of the bridge!

It was then time to repair a chunk that had pulled out of the heel. Miles put some CA glue and accelerator on the chip and pressed it into place. Two seconds and done.

Then I spent about an hour repairing the chunks out of the dovetail. I chiseled the damaged area out into an even surface, measured it with a micrometer and chiseled a replacement piece out of a block of mahogany. Matching them up took some detailed work and some finessing by Miles.

We then glued the pieces in with Titebond and put cauls on both sides and clamped it.

Tomorrow I will chisel the excess on the dovetail to make it smooth and reshim the neck pocket and glue the neck in. Then I will be removing and regluing the fingerboard, leveling it and refretting it. I'm getting excited!


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