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SwedeChariot 08-13-2021 01:25 PM

Twisted Bourgeois Neck
Hi AGF. I have a Bourgeois Banjo Killer with a funny little problem. It came with high action (these bluegrassers, RIGHT?) and when I took it to the shop's luthier for a setup we discovered a little twist in the neck, making the action high on the bass side only. The shop offered to take it back and order a new one, but here's the thing: I'm the first owner, but the guitar has been hanging in the shop since 2007. And the Sitka top has the sweetest naturally aged tone you've ever heard. So instead we decided to slant the saddle and nut to compensate and see how it played. Problem solved!

And that was fine for many months, although the intonation is a little off when I capo up, which means I have to retune a lot. No big deal in my living room, but I'm starting to perform at open mics and increasingly feeling like maybe I ought to make a warranty claim and get the neck fixed or replaced. (Which seems like an inevitability anyway because I'll run out of saddle sooner or later and need a neck reset).

So I've been mulling this over, and in the meantime, something else has gone wrong with the neck. A patch of varnish (or is it poly?) has worn of the neck. I baby this guitar and it hasn't come within six blocks of alcohol or deet, and the luthier has pointed out that it seems to want to flake off when you prod the margin with a fingernail. So I'm wondering if Bourgeois was experimenting with some kind of base coat in 2007 that didn't work out, or...? (I play the guitar a couple of hours a day, but I still feel like I ought to get more than 8 months out of a neck finish).

So anyway, the finish repair seems straightforward enough, but I want to ask for some forum wisdom on the twist. Does that seem like something a manufacturer might want a do-over on? Is there a repair we should try so that we're not throwing away a salvageable neck? The shop is still offering to take the guitar back, but I've just really fallen in love with this exact guitar.

I'm including a photo of the neck. The nut is taped off because it has already been filed to compensate for the twist. You can see that relative to the binding on the top, the bass side of the neck is higher than the treble side.
Twisted Bourgeois Neck Photo

phavriluk 08-13-2021 02:49 PM

A thought
Back to the dealer so the dealer can consult with the mother ship. Is this instrument covered by the manufacturer's guarantee?

And if the dealer is willing to replace the instrument with a new one and it was my problem, I'd swap in a heartbeat. I would not be willing to deal with qc problems on a new (NOS, anyway) instrument, especially one so costly as that one.

Rudy4 08-13-2021 03:52 PM

Nut slot depth is always set for clearance over the first fret. I've never heard of anyone addressing neck twist by changing nut height. That's a recipe for poor lower fret intonation, buzzing, or excessive force needed to play in the lower positions.

This sounds like the "fix" has got off on a bad start, so I'd cut my loses if it can be exchanged at the dealer level.

You'll quickly get used to a new instrument. Dana builds so his guitars sound good out of the chute.

"Neck twist" is highly overblown as a source of intonation difficulty. Except in extreme cases it can usually be remediated by a slight shift in the saddle stopping point. If you have twist in combination with a truss rod that can't correct the relief then it's a problem.

SwedeChariot 08-13-2021 07:08 PM


Originally Posted by phavriluk (Post 6785304)
Back to the dealer so the dealer can consult with the mother ship. Is this instrument covered by the manufacturer's guarantee?

Funny you should ask—I have an update about this. When the dealer asked, Bourgeois said the guitar was not a warranty item because of the length of time it sat in the dealer's shop. But it was sold to me as a new guitar, and when I sent in my warranty registration, they acknowledged and registered it. They don't know that yet (because my dealer didn't know that), and so for now I'm hopeful that this is just a miscommunication and that we'll sort it all out on Monday.

SwedeChariot 08-13-2021 07:13 PM


Originally Posted by Rudy4 (Post 6785343)
Nut slot depth is always set for clearance over the first fret.

My mistake—the luthier taped off the nut just so I wouldn't be distracted by the height on the bass side. He didn't modify the nut to compensate for the twist—only the saddle. (But I still found a way to get distracted.)

Roccorobb 08-13-2021 07:29 PM

If Bourgeois will work on it, they could just swap necks. Part of the beauty of the bolt on design. Keep your naturally aged sitka and pair of with a brand new neck in minutes

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