A network for historic guitars and vihuelas
I have what I think to be a circa 1830s guitar (which, interestingly, is almost the exact body outline of the Lacote guitar that Crain's site has drawings for.....must have been lots of copying the popular guitars?) with a great sound but action way too high at 12th fret (like 5mm first string) and no way to correct this by bridge or nut adjustments....so seems to need a neck reset.
When the back was off, I took the attached photograph and it would seem there is some kind of pin attaching the neck (no nail head so not sure if wood pin or metal pin with no head, or removed during a past repair and not re-inserted) and the hint of some kind of tenon inserted into the neck block (maybe) t attach neck to body. The neck is either veneered really well or is solid wood no veneer. The back is the typical veneer (satinwood I think) over spruce but sides are (satinwood?) solid wood, very thin .8 mm average so I would hesitate to do a lot of slicing and prying around the sides.
I've done lots of putting destroyed old guitars together from scratch, but never tried to vivisect an otherwise solid guitar to reset the neck. I can't find anyone local who wants to tackle this, so it may be me.
Any suggestions on how to approach this safely? If there is no baby-steps method, I might just wait til I have the money to pay an expert out of town....
I think too many people do neckresets. If nothing has moved, then why take it apart and remove some wood, on a guitar which was perfect when built?
During the cause of time, something bent on the guitar and therefore it can be straightened again.
I've had 2 romantic guitars with too high action and a very low bridge but I just built a cardboard box around the neck and connection to the body, put in a 40W bulb and connected a thermostat at 80C to the bulb.
The guitar was fastened to a straight plane(a table) with some clamps and during a week I would clamp the neck more and more down, while checking it's shape and both of these guitars have kept their new shape now for 2 years.
The bulb should be shielded inside the cardboard box, so it doesn't radiate directly onto the guitar or table, it shall only heat op the air.
The thermostat I bought online from China, for appr. 11$
I have also straightened a deck that was too low in front of the bridge and a bulb behind.
I put moist cloth on the inside and a jack under the sunken part and a piece of wood and a clamp over the bulb. Adjusted the jack and clamp during 1-2 weeks. I didn't disappear but became noticeably less.
A neck reset isn't done to counteract a warped neck, it's done to re-establish the neck/body geometry due to the effects of string tension and time on the body of the instrument. Soundboard, back, sides. It all moves. They aren't in the same shape as they were 200 years ago. Nor would you expect them to be.
I'd wait for that out of town expert. It's an advanced repair.
The two guitars were in reality straightened both at the neck joint and the neck itself, but if you say a neck doesn't bend, then it must be so. :-)
But, as I said "During the cause of time, something bent on the guitar and therefore it can be straightened again."
Thank you all for responding. It does seem like something I might want to wait on handing off to more of an expert or at least until I get as much info as possible...an ounce of prevention. Perhaps I'll try the heat-and-clamp technique on a more destroyed specimen at some point and see if it's a process I can control :) But I suspect it does want it's neck reset.