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Slothead56 01-26-2020 02:41 PM

Replacing the neck on a 40+ year old Gurian
Not the worst idea I’ve ever had, but probably not the best either...

The nut on my 42 year old Gurian Jumbo Rosewood is a very thin 1 5/8”. Like many, I’ve grown accustomed to the generous 1 3/4” neck on my Martins.

How crazy would it be to have a new neck made with the more comfortable 1 3/4” nut? I really do love everything about this guitar. I can live with the skinny neck but just wondering.

Oh. I suspect that this would take a bit of Gurian knowledge as the neck is held to the body by a couple of ebony pins.

Thoughts? (Other than to tell me I’m nuts.)

rstaight 01-26-2020 02:47 PM

I feel you should look at the spacing at the bridge also. With a narrow nut you could also have narrow string spacing.

But for a 42 year old guitar I would be afraid of devaluing the guitar.

I would personally leave it alone.

Bill Kraus 01-26-2020 04:20 PM

You may want to contact Mr. Gurian, unless I am mistaken he has stepped away from his company that has supplied guitar makers with parts for many decades, and gone back to building guitars. Seeing as though he is probably most familiar with the neck joint, and also the builder, it may be advantageous to have him do the work, that way you still have an "all Gurian" guitar. If he prefers not to, he may be able to suggest someone he trusts. I see you are in central PA.,I have been to the Woodstock Luthiers Invitational Show many times and I think I've seen him there every time I have been there, he's a regular. Perhaps there is a chance you could make arrangements to go to the show and leave it with him. He may go to the Artisan Guitar Show in eastern PA. also.

tadol 01-26-2020 05:04 PM

Fitting a new neck on an old guitar is not a trivial project - you might find a good used guitar for a very similar cost -

hermithollow 01-26-2020 05:06 PM

You could try recutting the nut slots to put the e strings closer to the edge and respacing the strings in between. There is only 1/8th inch difference between 1 5/8th and 1 3/4 so you might get things within 1/16th just by replacing the nut
and recutting the slots.

gfirob 01-26-2020 10:25 PM

I looked into this once for a 40's series Martin and it was very expensive and I was discouraged from doing it by most of the guys I asked. Better to sell the guitar and replace it or just learn to love it (which is what I did, but it took more than five years.

mirwa 01-26-2020 10:34 PM

If your happy with the guitar then absolutley do it, first find a competant luthier and get them to make you a new neck.

Its a decent size job, dont expect much change from 1k, if your okay with that then go for it

I can make a rough cut neck in an hr and a bit (Labour time not glue dryjng time), that is scarf cut, stacked heel, truss rod slot cut and rough shaped

It takes me around another 9hrs to turn that into a finished functional neck on an existing guitar


DenverSteve 01-26-2020 10:44 PM

I have to agree with Mirwa. It's your guitar and if you care for it enough to make it better for you - go for it. If done professionally by a good luthier no one will care that the neck has been replaced. String spacing at the saddle is a no brainer and easy to do.

mirwa 01-26-2020 11:14 PM

In photo sharing mood today.

Here is one i did earlier, my point any good luthier can do this for you

Start of job

Old neck removed

Rough cut neck being test fitted

Neck now shaped / fitted and new fingerboard ebony to customers requests

Inlaid with in house cut shell, fretted, new nut etc


Finished with new logos etc

Slothead56 01-27-2020 06:39 AM

Thanks everyone. Was curious as to consensus. Think you convinced me to let it be. The guitar has tremendous sentimental value. No change to occur.

redir 01-27-2020 07:46 AM

That's the neck joint described in Cumpiano and Natelson's book. Very difficult to execute. I wonder how many people got frustrated and gave up in that section of the book. In the early 90's I used CN book for a couple guitars and have more or less adopted that open style of building, but used a dovetail instead. Later he updated it on his online accompaniment to the book saying the following:


I learned the system in the Gurian workshops during the early seventies. The system was reportedly adapted by Michael Gurian and Walter Lipton from post-and-beam barn construction. In this ancient joint, oak pins are hammered through holes in the mortise into holes holes drilled in the tenon, holes drilled slightly offset, thus drawing the two tightly and permanently together. On the barn, both mortise and tenon were massive, and the pin was knocked in with a hammer.

The joint's guitar counterpart requires much greater finesse and precision. An offset of one to two sixty-fourths of an inch is correct: much more and the pin simply refuses to enter the tenon or, if it does, mayhem can ensue: the neck shaft can be drawn forcibly away from the fingerboard. This rarely happened at the Gurian shop: we all learned how to install it without problems. But, alas, hindsight has shown that it is not a good neck joint to learn to do from a book or expect to get it right the first time every time. I've become aware over the years that although some students seemed to handle its challenges pretty well, other people using were stymied by the precision required for it to work properly—if not the number of special gadgets, fixtures and implements that have to be fashioned to handle its assembly.

Mr. Paul 01-27-2020 08:11 AM

Understand your final decision, also understand why you would consider changing the neck. Those Gurians were great guitars but many folks found them just about unplayable because of their skinny necks.

Skarsaune 01-27-2020 09:29 AM


Originally Posted by mirwa (Post 6276849)
In photo sharing mood today.

Here is one i did earlier, my point any good luthier can do this for you

Nice work. I'm finding matching up a neck to an existing dovetail challenging on a current project. Did you already know the details of the one shown, or did you have to measure it once it was apart?

rwe 01-27-2020 03:31 PM

Gurians don't have dovetails... (Ok, I think that's not new for you.) I also have some problems with the slim necks. Meanwhile I could solve the problem by buying 2 Gurians with a broad neck... - but before getting these instruments I asked a luthier in Germany about fitting a new, broader neck with the profile similar to a seagull s6 neck. It was about 10 years ago and he estimated costs of 500 EUR. But I didn't realized this project and now I have Gurians with a smaller and with a wider neck.

mirwa 01-27-2020 10:18 PM


Originally Posted by Skarsaune (Post 6277082)
Did you already know the details of the one shown, or did you have to measure it once it was apart?

Once apart

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