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Straightening a Neck. Place Your Bets, Will It Work?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Raulo, Feb 20, 2020.

  1. televillian

    televillian Tele-Afflicted

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    i did something similar once and it worked. sold the guitar so i don`t know how long the remedy lasted
     
  2. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    A friend has an old Harmony acoustic with *no truss rod* and the neck had bowed badly, the guitar was basically unplayable.

    I used a method similar to Raulo's to straighten the neck, left it clamped for about six weeks. I ordered a set of the lowest-tension acoustic strings I could find (at stringsbymail.com, a great outfit btw), total of just 90 lbs. It's been several weeks since I unclamped & restrung it, and so far so good.
     
  3. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    .

    I rigged something like that clamping system up and left it for a year and no change. I tried in the oven pretty warm and no change.

    In the end I pulled the frets with a clothes iron and then heated the fretboard to soften the glue to remove the fretboard.
    I re-glued the fretboard straight and installed stainless frets. Plays great now.

    .
     
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  4. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Ya can always try this.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Raulo

    Raulo TDPRI Member

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  6. Raulo

    Raulo TDPRI Member

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    I think I am exactly at this point now. I will continue testing with heat and steam. Thank you.
     
  7. Raulo

    Raulo TDPRI Member

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    Thank you so much for all your comments. It seems that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I will continue testing with your advice and let you know the results. And if not, I will try resin ... resignation (local bad joke).
     
  8. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Afflicted

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    So no amount of trying to tighten the truss rod will straighten the neck? Are you sure it’s working properly?

    If it is, heat straightening requires prolonged, high heat. Much more than an occasional hit with a hair dryer can give.

    StewMac sells a “neck straightener” but it’s expensive.

    You could try rigging up a few light fixtures with some 150 watt bulbs and a timer. But in my experience, wood has a “memory“. It seems like heat clamping works for a while, but then the neck wants to go right back where it was.
     
  9. Raulo

    Raulo TDPRI Member

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    Yes, the tech confirmed that the truss is in good condition. He also showed me some oak from old barrels he could straightened up. Although he didn't told me his secrets, this gave me hope to do my own experiments. I've seen more aggressive wood treatments (i.e. direct flame) not suitable for a guitar. But I think I've been too careful so far, so I will follow your advice. Thank you for your time!
     
  10. Guitardvark

    Guitardvark Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

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  11. Neel

    Neel TDPRI Member Gold Supporter

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    If it has a twist in it will take steam and someone who knows how to use it.
     
  12. Rooster-p

    Rooster-p TDPRI Member

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    I would try steam, something to get it wet and then twist it if you're way don't work. I have used this method to bend wood building custom furniture and it works so I'm sure it will work in reverse, to take the bend out.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
  13. Clive Hugh

    Clive Hugh Tele-Afflicted

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    I have a strat neck that had a huge up bow, caused by moving from hot humid tropics to super hot dry desert, I wrapped it in hand towels and poured boiling water over it, then clamped it flat till it cooled down. It worked, then I had to file the fret sprout caused by desert climate
    I have done the towel and boiling water to bend wood making a canoe so knew it works really well from past wood heating.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
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  14. Cagey

    Cagey TDPRI Member

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  15. Rhomco

    Rhomco Friend of Leo's

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    Are you sure you don't have a dual action truss rod?
    Rob
     
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  16. Donelson

    Donelson Tele-Afflicted

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    The notion that all USA Fender Guitars are some "high end products" is wrong IMO. I have a tele H1 from 2007 or so. Its neck has the same problem that this poster mentions. The neck has warped to where the truss rod is useless. Way too much "relief". I did nothing wrong to cause this issue. That neck is wrecked. Fixing it with "steam" or any of that, was deemed useless by a luthier I took it to years ago. That neck sits in a box. I did not throw it away. It will probably sit there until I die.
     
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  17. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    No - it isn't.

    These last two sentences describe different things - the first is actually fine: Loosening the rod should result in a slight forward warp ("relief") - NOT a flat neck. Necks are designed to have slight relief under string tension. Tightening the rod removes relief incrementally (which is why you turn the rod only 1/8-1/4 turn AT MOST with the strings loosened, re-tune and re-check the relief.).

    Very few players prefer a rod tightened to the point that the neck is dead-flat ("zero relief") under string tension, and more tightening can create an undesirable back-bow or break the rod.

    So when the rod is loose the neck is bending *which* way?

    What is the neck relief with the rod fully tightened (at least according to your tech)?

    What are the string heights at the nut? Was the nut re-cut...or replaced....when the neck was installed on a different guitar? It's almost always required.

    If you lay a straightedge from the first to last fret with the neck mounted, where does the straightedge plane meet the bridgeplate? Neck angle may be another issue.

    Regardless of wood hardness, did your tech check to see if the trussrod was fully bottomed out (at the end of the threads) when it could no longer be tightened?

    If not, the neck needs to be pre-tensioned (as you are doing in your pictures) and the rod tightened with slack on the trussrod. I assume he is NOT tightening it under string tension? If so, NEVER go back. You need a new tech. That's how you snap a trussrod.

    If there were still threads available at the truss rod nut the neck could be pre-tensioned - again, as you are doing - and the rod tightened while under that reverse tension. NO NECK WOOD IS SO HARD THE ROD CAN'T BE TIGHTENED. Only when the rod is bottomed-out or something is broken is there a problem - reverse warps with a fully *loosened* rod, broken rods or rods no longer attached at the "fixed" end that prevent the rods from working properly. And even those can be overcome by a good tech.

    There's just something wrong with this whole picture. Is your tech a full time professional, a music store counter employee, a part time garage tech or ??? Because none of this makes sense, plus quite a bit of information is missing (relief, 1st fret action, neck angle, amount of threads left when rod is fully tightened.).

    Again - the way you are describing and picturing the situation the rod is not being tightened correctly, as it can't POSSIBLY be an "overly hard wood" issue. Sorry, but if that is what your tech is saying it's absurd - I suggest taking it somewhere else and getting a second opinion (and IMO you'll end up with a new tech). Meanwhile, post the additional information (relief, action, straightedge etc) and clarifications regarding the tightening procedure and warp direction and we maybe able to get to the bottom of it.

    But it's impossible to determine what is going on as it;s being desxcribed and pictured. there's too much conflicting information and not enough detail.
     
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  18. Rooster-p

    Rooster-p TDPRI Member

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    I've been working with wood for 50 years and guitars for 40 and I have never seen a neck I couldn't fix one way or another. Heat and water usually does it. Just a matter of persistence and common sense, not rocket science.
     
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  19. brians356

    brians356 Tele-Meister

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    Referenced in the bibliography of Dan Erlewine's book is Complete Guitar Repair by Hideo Kamimoto (1978) wherein is describes in detail straightening a neck. The neck is slowly heated right through, then clamped against a stiff board or bar with shims positioned to force the opposite bend while it cools. He describes both a purpose-built combination clamping bar / electric neck heater, and simply using an alcohol lamp (shifted around thoughtfully!) to heat it. The example is a fingerboarded neck - the heat softens the glue. This probably aids the process since the glue will cool and help prevent the neck from springing back.
     
  20. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Friend of Leo's

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    My luthier modified a clothes iron, to where the heating element is a piece that covers the guitar neck.
    He leaves it clamped in that for a period of time, which softens the glue, and I think it sort of shifts the contact between the fretboard and neck if that makes sense. Then he removes the heat and lets it cool.
    It straightens out necks, but it doesn't last forever usually according to him it will need to be done periodically.
    He does this on acoustic guitars with no truss rod most often when the neck has too much relief.
    I think you'll need to either buy a heat straightening heater, or make something similar to what my luthier did for this to work.
     
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