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Memphis LP Double Cut: How to remove glued-in neck?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Michael A., Sep 19, 2017.

  1. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    740
    Jan 12, 2013
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Looking for the benefit of the vast experience here. I bought this late 1970-early 80 Memphis LP double cut with original P-90s for $25. It looked cool and is pretty complete. I had no knowledge of these and found very limited info online.

    Turns out the neck has a short tenon that was originally bolted to the body with screws that were concealed in the pocket. However, my neck was removed by a PO and glued back into place. It was not pushed fully home when this was done (pics 3 & 4), and to make matters worse, the angle is too shallow relative to the body. As you can see in the photo with the spirit level on the frets, the strings would not clear the bridge saddles, even with the bridge as low as it can go.

    I'd like to get the neck correctly reseated but have these questions.

    How do I test to know what type of glue was used by the PO? I can see small bits of glue at the bottom of the pocket.

    If it is hide glue, would the usual practice of steaming it loose be advisable, given that the body is laminated/ply construction? The wood looks like it would wick up a ton of water and possibly lead to delamination, swelling, or other problems.

    If I can determine it is modern glue like TiteBond, then I would use my heat gun. I'd sand off the paint on the back of the body at the neck pocket, and apply heat there and directly into the pocket. Since no screws were used to supplement the glued joint, the empty screw holes will allow heat to penetrate. Does this seem like the right approach?

    Any other suggestions as to how to approach this would be welcomed! Thanks!

    IMG_20170917_104624113.jpg IMG_20170917_104903276.jpg IMG_20170917_104817181.jpg IMG_20170917_105230076.jpg IMG_20170918_181611324.jpg i
     

  2. Zepfan

    Zepfan Friend of Leo's

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    Those guitars were cheap Asian made. The neck was probable snapped off in shipping.
    Seeing that the body is made of Plywood, I wouldn't waste my time trying to save the body.

    Strip it for parts and use the body as a template. Get some Poplar boards from the hardware store, glue them up and cut out a better body.
     
    Chicago Matt and brogh like this.

  3. callasabra

    callasabra Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 11, 2016
    USA
    I agree with zepfan, it would a fun project but there be little value if you are successful. You could make a guitar body in as much time assuming you have the tools.

    But if you still want to do it, there are several YT vids showing how to steam a neck and that would be my first approach. Be careful not to steam the fretboard off in the process.

    The risk is as you steam/heat the neck pocket, the layers of the plywood body separate as well.

    OR..... you could drill/route out the neck (destroying the neck but saving the body) and put a new cheap neck on it. You will probably want to paint the whole thing anyway.
     
    nojazzhere and Chicago Matt like this.

  4. matmosphere

    matmosphere Tele-Meister

    260
    May 27, 2015
    District of Columbia
    I'd be surprised if someone did that bad Of a job resetting the neck. I'm wondering if it got left in a hot attic or something and the glue softened enough for the neck joint move because it was under some kind of stress.

    I say whatever method you decide to use you should focus on keeping the neck in decent shape. It's easier to make a neck than it is to make a body and even if the old one starts splitting you could still use it as a template like zepfan said.

    Worst case you're out $25. And you could probably sell the hardware for at least that.
     

  5. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    740
    Jan 12, 2013
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Thanks for the replies. I guess I'm the only one who thinks that keeping it intact and trying to get the best results from it in "as built" condition is a worthwhile endeavor. I kinda want to hear how it originally sounded, even if I later make mods like modern pickups, etc.

    I've studied the guitar a bit more and think I have an alternate plan that involves not altering the current attachment of the neck and works around it. After I level the frets, I'll do some more measurements and see if I can't get it sorted with less work needed. I'll post it here when I make some meaningful progress.
     

  6. radiocaster

    radiocaster Friend of Leo's

    Aug 18, 2015
    europe
    P90 copies often sound o.k.

    Are you sure that thing was bolted on? I mean it clearly needs to be unglued and reset, but it doesn't look like there is much wood there to screw it in. Maybe with really short screws and a lot of them.
     

  7. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    740
    Jan 12, 2013
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I suspect that it originally had 5 countersink wood screws in the 5 holes at the end of the tenon, plus 3 round head wood screws adjacent to the fret board. These probably were torn out of the body, leaving no good body wood to screw into when the neck was reset. I'm just guessing at this, having never seen the pocket with the neck out.

    See post #18 in this thread:
    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/any-knowledge-of-memphis-guitars-brand.182624/
     

  8. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    740
    Jan 12, 2013
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I'm largely having this conversation with myself, but I'll post the progress in case any part of this is useful to other readers. Where I left off, I was uncomfortable with the idea of steaming a laminated body pocket, as I could do more harm than good. I was also reluctant to use my heat gun, since wood is a not a good conductor and I thought I might char the body before penetrating the glue joint. So I had decided to go to Plan B.

    Option B was to rely on the apparent stability of the existing glue joint and try to use the neck as is. I would fill the gap between neck and body with wood filler for better cosmetics. And I'd remove the inserts for tune-o-matic bridge and stop bar, plug the holes, and redrill for a wrap-around bridge closer to the neck to maintain scale length. But after a night of thinking about this plan, it seemed like the same kind of kluge that was done to this guitar in the first repair. And that is just not how I like to do things, it would have bothered me no end, and eventually a crack between neck and body would appear.

    After much thought, I realized a slow heat penetration over a matter of hours may do the trick. An idea immediately popped into my head, a heat chimney to direct the heat directly into the pocket.

    First, I made a heat shield from a scrap of roof flashing for the front of the guitar that masked off the painted face and allowed heat only where I wanted it. Then I attached a clip-on shop light to my Work Mate, reflector pointing up. I dropped a section of metal dryer duct over the bulb to form the heat chimney. Then I turned the guitar face down on the top of the Work Mate, clamping it in place with some protection under the cross plank. I put a loop of wire through the head stock holes so I could suspend some weight to apply leverage to the neck as it hopefully became loose in the pocket.

    I turned on the drop light at 11am, and then went about my chores. I checked it after 10 minutes or so, and the chimney was very hot. I was optimistic that this was going to be effective.

    On the roof to clean gutters and take pics of some flaking stucco for a repair estimate. Trimmed trees that come near the house. Washed dirty siding. Washed the trash and recycling rollouts.

    About 2 hours later when I checked again, I could press on the head stock and see substantial movement at the joint between neck and body. I then added a C-clamp to press the neck heel down out of the body. I got this idea from jvin248's thread http://www.tdpri.com/threads/steamed-repairing-a-broken-neck-prs.762673/ on his neck removal of a PRS. I could see the neck was moving, and each time I rechecked, the C-clamp was loose again. It was working!

    At 3 I checked on it again, and I could tell the neck was close to coming out. Removed the guitar from the Work Mate, flipped it over and rocked the neck forward and back a few times and out it came.

    Here is the contraption that made this all work out. The amazing thing is that it took me no more then 15 minutes to find the parts in my workshop, assemble it, strap down the guitar and turn it on. I'm having a Happy McGyver Day!


    IMG_20170923_130245588.jpg IMG_20170923_145221663_HDR.jpg IMG_20170923_131022421.jpg IMG_20170923_131014794.jpg IMG_20170923_130337122.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
    SweetClyde99 likes this.

  9. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    740
    Jan 12, 2013
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Here's how the neck and pocket look now they are apart. You can see the taper of the original tenon that gives the neck angle. Whoever glued the neck previously had added a shim underneath it. I cleaned up the pocket with some chisels and now only need to flood the floor of the mouth of the pocket with epoxy or similar to bind the plies. Then I'll carefully clean up the tenon with the plan of a hardwood shim to replace any lost wood.

    I'm open to any suggestions as to how to make this joint as stable and strong as possible.


    IMG_20170923_144726353_HDR.jpg IMG_20170923_144935642.jpg IMG_20170923_145037345.jpg IMG_20170923_145052691.jpg IMG_20170923_181729458.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
    callasabra likes this.

  10. matmosphere

    matmosphere Tele-Meister

    260
    May 27, 2015
    District of Columbia
    Very nice. Glad you got it apart. I totally see the value in what you're trying to do. My thought was more that if you could only save one part it should be the neck.

    I'm wondering if those screws weren't there to hold the neck while it was being glued.
     

  11. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    740
    Jan 12, 2013
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Thanks for the encouragement! I hope I'll be able to save both the neck and the body and reunify them. The pickups probably will change, since they are really just Strat type single coils under the covers and not wound like P-90s.

    I'm pretty sure the neck was just screwed in originally. If you go to the post that I link to in #7 above, you'll see another owner describe this neck joint as a concealed bolt-on. There were no screws at all in mine when disassembled, and a shim added to the tenon that I'm sure was a later repair, before the neck was glued into place. I'm sure the PO had done a repair when the neck joint had become loose. It does not look like there was traumatic tear out of the screws from the body, since the screw holes in the body are clean and undamaged.
     

  12. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity

    Aug 3, 2010
    Loganville, Ga.
    Great innovative approach to getting the neck off.

    Since it's original design was screwed in, why not try that again? If the original screw holes are in good shape, and you can find exact matches for the original screws. Maybe harden up the screw holes in the body with some CA glue. Plan B would be to fill the existing screw holes body and neck with dowel sections, then drill new ones in different locations. The dowels would help strengthen the areas where the holes previously were.
     

  13. Frontman

    Frontman Tele-Meister

    339
    Jul 10, 2014
    Tokyo
    It doesn't look like the neck was originally screwed in. Asian guitars made in the 70's usually came from Japan, and the Japanese are not likely to glue on a neck, and then add 8 unevenly spaced screws as well. I had an old Burny Les Paul Junior with P90's and a set neck, it looks just like the OP's Memphis, but without any screws holding it together. You can see that a couple of dowels were used to line up the neck to the body, that wouldn't have been done if the builder were going to use screws. Likely the neck got knocked loose, and the former owner added the screws to tighten it up himself.
     
    matmosphere likes this.

  14. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    740
    Jan 12, 2013
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Thanks Rick, most appreciated! The problem is that the floor of the pocket is now only about maybe 12mm thick as a result of the previous repair and what I had to clean up this time to get down to undamaged plies. Even those are somewhat damaged at the mouth of the pocket. It did occur to me that once I remove the damaged shim that is glued to the bottom of the tenon and get back to the original 13mm thickness of the tenon, then I possible could glue a piece of solid hard wood to the entire pocket floor to get maximum adhesion, and then drill and tap the new piece of wood for machine screw inserts, reinforcing the holes in the new wood and in the plies below with CA. My main concern is that the weak point will be the tenon itself, with too little thickness to resist the bending imposed by the string pull.

    Further comments and suggestions welcome!
     

  15. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    740
    Jan 12, 2013
    Virginia Beach, VA

    What you are seeing that makes you think there were vertical dowels locking in the neck are apparently some filled voids in one of the ply strata. If there were dowels retaining the neck, why are there no holes for the dowels in the tenon?

    I'm confident my guitar had the neck screwed in by the factory and that was the original neck joint. That same observation was made by the owner that I linked to in post #7 above. Here is another guitar where the screwed in neck was documented by a guitar shop with a 5 star rating.
    https://reverb.com/item/89358-memphis-les-paul-special-70-s-80-s-cherry-red

    That's 3 guitars with the same arrangement by folks who actually have them in hand. Just saying...
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2017

  16. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity

    Aug 3, 2010
    Loganville, Ga.
    Maybe a Fender-esque plate on the back, with T-nuts inserted from the top of the tenon, so the flange of the T-nuts would act as washers, reinforcing the attachment points. Machine screws thru plate into t nuts in neck tenon.
     

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