Weird issue-neck shifting?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by backalleyblues, Oct 17, 2021.

  1. backalleyblues

    backalleyblues Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Howdy all!

    I normally don’t post here, but I had an issue last night with my main tele, a ‘77 partscaster I’ve nicknamed Eye-Gor...

    We were playing the last set, almost at the end when I went to make a motion to the band to bring the volume down with Eye-Gor (the usual dip your neck move) when the guitar suddenly went out of tune about a 1/4 step-not just one string, THE WHOLE GUITAR! So I switched over to another guitar, finished the night, and before I pack the guitars up, check the action and tuning again. Action looked ok, strings lined up correctly on the neck but still out of tune that 1/4 step. So I retune it, put it back in its case and go home, checked the guitar this morning everything seems fine, and it held tune overnight. Just checked it again a moment ago, action and alignment are fine, tuning slightly out, but nothing drastic.

    any ideas, things I should be looking for, etc? The guitar has been fine and stable since I had it refretted back in March, and has been played on a number of gigs since then-last night until this kerfluffle it was the ONLY guitar I played (other than slide tunes) and sounded fabulous all night!

    thanks in advance,
    Franc Robert
     
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  2. JL_LI

    JL_LI Poster Extraordinaire

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    Check the four screws that secure the neck. Tighten them with a #2 Phillips head screw driver. Too small a screw driver may damage the screw heads. Check the screws holding the bridge in place while you’re at it. If anything is loose, check the 12th fret harmonic against the fretted note and adjust the saddles as needed.
     
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  3. medownsouth

    medownsouth Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    If the neck is loose after you have snugged the four screws, you might have to plug and re-drill
     
  4. Boreas

    Boreas Poster Extraordinaire

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    I would say you diagnosed it OK. I would loosen the screws a little, realign, and re-tighten. Check to see if you can make it shift again. If the neck is a little loose in the pocket, you may need a shim. My guess is the the moisture content changed a little and the screws loosened.
     
  5. Peegoo

    Peegoo Doctor of Teleocity

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    Detune all the strings three full turns of the tuner buttons before you loosen the neck screws.
     
  6. eMGee

    eMGee Friend of Leo's

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    Perhaps your neck wasn't tightly butted to the back of the neck pocket and the tension of the strings finally pulled it back and tight.
     
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  7. CCK1

    CCK1 Tele-Holic

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    Known problem, tighten ‘em.
     
  8. Boreas

    Boreas Poster Extraordinaire

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    If it keeps slipping, you could also try some dark fiddle bow rosin on the faces to make them a little more grippy. But make sure you get aligned where you want it before you torque the screws. And be careful not to strip the screws!!

    Another thing that helps is to drill out the holes in the body so that the threads of the screws don't interact with the body - only the neck. You don't really have to use a drill, you can just remove the neck, insert the screws into the body, and turn away with a screwdriver, stripping the wood "threads" out of the body wood. I usually wax or soap the screw threads first to keep from tearing out too much wood. Keep pressure on the screws and strip the threads both directions. Basically, you don't want threads in the body, you just want the screws to spin freely. If you have significant threads in the body, it cuts down on the amount of pulling force the screw has on the neck. But in your case, I doubt threads still exist in your body because of the age. Some people even convert their neck joints to machine bolts.
     
  9. backalleyblues

    backalleyblues Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    OK, so I went and checked it again, still in tune, action is the same... went to tighten the screws, was able to tighten only about 1/8 of a turn on all 4 screws (wasn't going to over-torque them!). Funny thing is, it's been a very resonant guitar the whole time, part of what drew me to it in the first place! We'll see how it behaves on the gigs this weekend-if I have issues with it, I'll run it back over to my luthier...

    Franc Robert
     
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  10. Boreas

    Boreas Poster Extraordinaire

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    1/8 turn is pretty significant. I bet it will be fine.
     
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  11. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Sounds like (to coin a phrase) you inadvertently did the "chiropractor trick." Lots of builders do this, IRRC including Suhr. With the strings at tension tuned to pitch, if you back off the neck screws about 1/8 of a turn- just enough to crack them loose - you might hear a cracking sound as the neck shifts itself in and up against the screws. Then retighten. It shouldn't move enough to affect the geometry or the intonation, but it will allow for the most "resonant" connection between the neck and body. If on the other hand you see that there's an alignment problem where the strings are farther from one edge of the neck than the other, it's a good idea to detention the strings, loosen the bolts enough to move the neck side to side until things are aligned, then retighten.
     
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  12. backalleyblues

    backalleyblues Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    After gig report-

    Played the guitar most of Friday night, it behaved absolutely perfectly... played again last night (Strat saw most of the action) again perfectly fine-so I’m guessing tightening the screws solved the issue. Thanks everyone!!

    Franc Robert
     
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  13. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    It's possible it moved then came back into position by the time you checked it next am maybe....
     
  14. backalleyblues

    backalleyblues Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    It's possible it moved back into position that night as well, I did tune it up, and nothing seemed out of place at that point (though it was midnight!)

    Franc Robert
     
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