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  #1  
Old 11-27-2017, 06:54 AM
Ryan Alexander Ryan Alexander is offline
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Default Looking for experiences re: Lowden neck reset

My early 90s O-10 has a rather low saddle and I'd like to have the neck reset. It's very difficult to find info online regarding this procedure - I've read everything from "it's impossible, saw it off and install a new one" to "the joint is very tight and difficult to separate" to "it's a standard dovetail, straightforward job"

One of the resources that keeps coming up is a luthier in Vancouver named Nicole Alosinac. I sent her an email this morning but I gather she's very good and very busy, so it might be a while before she gets back to me. Here she shows a pic of a successful reset she performed on an O-25 from the same era as mine:



Despite the low saddle, I have mine strung with mediums and play it aggressively down into C based tunings with great success. I want to have the reset done as an investment in the guitar's future but I'm also considering installing a Barbera Soloist and I want to be sure the geometry is good before I choose the wrong Soloist height. The "low" option that Rich offers is just a hair shorter than my stock saddles.

Anyone out there in AGF land that can speak with direct experience regarding a Lowden neck reset?
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Old 11-27-2017, 08:09 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Contact Lowden directly: they should know their own product and should be able to advise you regarding neck resets on their instruments.
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Old 11-27-2017, 09:05 AM
Ryan Alexander Ryan Alexander is offline
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Thanks Charles, I had already done so prior to posting and am waiting for a response. Thought I'd check here as well
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Old 11-27-2017, 01:28 PM
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Iím in MSP, and Jed Germond did a reset on my O32 a few years back. He had no issues. Charged me $400. PM me if you want his contact info.
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Old 11-27-2017, 09:28 PM
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I kinda got screwed with a trade for a Lowden guitar from the 90s. The guitar sounded good but it had issues that were not disclosed and I was foolish not to fully vet the guitar. Regardless, I brought the guitar in to a well respected local tech/luthier and he did not see any issues in regards to resetting the neck. I should have it back in another week or so.
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  #6  
Old 11-28-2017, 01:27 AM
dantin dantin is offline
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This is George Lowden's reply in 2003 to neck reset question:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...s/topics/15099

Perhaps I can answer this:

The usual problems which eventually result in a neck reset are:- 1) The
neck angle coming up over a period of time due to the compression of
the 'shoulders' of the dovetail under long term string tension, 2)
sinkage of the sound-hole area as the guitar soundboard is compressed
length-wise under string tension, (this also changes the neck /
sound-box geometry) 3)... rarely.. the neck angle not being right in
the first place! 4) ....rarely again... the permanent swelling or
shrinkage of the soundboard, causing the bridge to either rise or fall
to a significant extent. Sometimes a neck reset can be necessary when a
mild & combined case of some of these problems occurs.

Back in the mid '70s when I was designing the Lowden guitar ( at that
stage the O series only) I noticed a tendency for some of these
problems to happen pretty early on, so I developed a number of
solutions as follows:

1) The dovetail joint compression: I removed the gap at the front of
the dovetail always present in production guitars and I made sure that
the shoulders of the dovetail matched the curvature of the guitar
sides. This increased the surface contact area within the dovetail very
significantly and eliminated neck angle instability through dovetail
movement, totally......HOWEVER.. it also made it infinitely more
difficult to inject steam to loosen the joint to remove it, if
something did go wrong! The gaps present in other acoustics both
contributed to the potential need for a neck reset.... and also
facilitated the reset itself because the gaps in the joint made it
easier to loosen the joint! I took the view that it is better to
eliminate the causes of neck resets in the first place. I am also aware
that maximum wood to wood contact within a guitar, helps promote
sustain, amongst other things. Note, the gap at the front of the
dovetail and the scalloping away of the shoulders of the neck, both
make it easier and quicker to fit a dovetail joint in a factory
situation.

2) I designed the A frame bracing (1976-1977) with two structural
braces running down either side of the sound-hole (so stabilising it)
and continuing up under the fingerboard actually into the dovetail
joint itself so that the neck wood actually butt joints with the A
frame bracing at the face of the dovetail. Sound-hole sinkage was also
eliminated as a result.... and the neck had a direct link with the
soundboard bracing itself (no bad thing) A couple of other companies
introduced A - frame bracing in the early nineties, but I am given to
understand that they do not actually continue the braces the whole way
into the dovetail itself.

3) Apart from human error from time to time, generally the neck angle
on early Lowdens was a little flatter (about 0.75mm positive measured
at nut) whereas over time I gradually increased this to more like
1.25mm positive which creates a higher saddle. This gives more
adjustment to lower the action later if it should be necessary. It
sounds like the guitar you mention has a slightly flat neck angle.

4) There's not a lot you can do about extremes of humidity or dryness
except control the humidity where the guitar is kept. This can have a
very marked effect on a guitar's action and sound. if the guitar is too
'wet' the action will be too high (or the saddle too low) and the
guitar will sound tight and possibly lose bass. if the guitar is too
dry the action could become too low and yet the guitar will sound good
(even if it is buzzing a little) Control humidity to about 45 - 55% RH
if you can.

So where does all this leave you, when considering a Lowden guitar
which may need a reset? Firstly, it is difficult to remove most lowden
dovetails because there should be no gaps to work with. Therefore
experience has shown at the factory that it is less expensive to simply
replace the neck itself.

However, it seems most likely that the neck angle was always a little
flat seeing that neck angles on Lowdens do not tend to move. Therefore
if the saddle is just too low then there is another cheaper solution
which involves re-working the bridge in situ. The purpose is to lower
the position where the strings emerge behind the saddle which means you
can lower the saddle and still maintain a good rake angle for the
strings. This work takes a couple of hours or so, but is effective
where the problem is not too severe. A good repair person can certainly
do this without excessive cost ( probably about the price of a re-fret
or so). I am available to advise any repairman who needs to carry out
this work,

Hope this info helps,

regards,

George
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  #7  
Old 11-28-2017, 10:26 AM
Ryan Alexander Ryan Alexander is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M19 View Post
Iím in MSP, and Jed Germond did a reset on my O32 a few years back. He had no issues. Charged me $400. PM me if you want his contact info.
I found your old post just before you responded, thanks for the info! I'll PM you shortly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mbroady View Post
I kinda got screwed with a trade for a Lowden guitar from the 90s. The guitar sounded good but it had issues that were not disclosed and I was foolish not to fully vet the guitar. Regardless, I brought the guitar in to a well respected local tech/luthier and he did not see any issues in regards to resetting the neck. I should have it back in another week or so.
Very curious to hear how this works out for you. What model did you get? My O-10 is one of my favorite guitars ever. I hope yours ends up becoming a cherished instrument

Quote:
Originally Posted by dantin View Post
This is George Lowden's reply in 2003 to neck reset question:
Danny - thanks for posting this, I found it just the other day and it does contain some interesting info from the source. Cheers!

I'm still interesting in hearing first hand accounts from folks who have had a neck reset done on their Lowden. I'm not really into modifying the bridge, or replacing it with a pinned version to achieve more break angle as was suggested by another local repair shop.

Next step is to take it back to a very talented local luthier friend and fellow AGFer Ned Milburn (hi Ned!) for another look.
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Old 11-28-2017, 01:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Alexander View Post



Very curious to hear how this works out for you. What model did you get? My O-10 is one of my favorite guitars ever. I hope yours ends up becoming a cherished instrument
.
The guitar is a D-22. I will let you know more when I get the guitar back. I also hope that the guitar turns out to be a keeper. If not it is a lesson re-learned. There are some sleezy people out there and buyer beware. Hope the seller sees this and remembers that Karma is a ........
Me, I'm a pacifist at hart but I do believe in karma. The universe has a way of making things right.
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  #9  
Old 11-28-2017, 03:58 PM
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murrmac123 murrmac123 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dantin View Post
This is George Lowden's reply in 2003 to neck reset question:....

Back in the mid '70s when I was designing the Lowden guitar ( at that
stage the O series only) I noticed a tendency for some of these
problems to happen pretty early on, so I developed a number of
solutions as follows:

1) The dovetail joint compression: I removed the gap at the front of
the dovetail
always present in production guitars and I made sure that
the shoulders of the dovetail matched the curvature of the guitar
sides
. This increased the surface contact area within the dovetail very
significantly and eliminated neck angle instability through dovetail
movement, totally......HOWEVER.. it also made it infinitely more
difficult to inject steam to loosen the joint to remove it, if
something did go wrong! The gaps present in other acoustics both
contributed to the potential need for a neck reset.... and also
facilitated the reset itself because the gaps in the joint made it
easier to loosen the joint! I took the view that it is better to
eliminate the causes of neck resets in the first place. I am also aware
that maximum wood to wood contact within a guitar, helps promote
sustain, amongst other things. Note, the gap at the front of the
dovetail and the scalloping away of the shoulders of the neck, both
make it easier and quicker to fit a dovetail joint in a factory
situation.
Talk about shooting yourself in the foot ... I did actually own a Lowden a couple of years ago , (and a fine sounding guitar it was too) but after reading that reply, I would certainly never buy another.

I particularly take issue with

"the shoulders of the dovetail matched the curvature of the guitar
sides"


If the neck heel is tapered, then it behoves the maker to ensure that the contact area between the heel and the sides is absolutely flat, irrespective of the curve of the shoulders.

If the neck heel is parallel, then of course it doesn't matter. But the Lowden heels are tapered ... so ...I really don't get what he is trying to say.
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Old 11-28-2017, 04:30 PM
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murrmac123 murrmac123 is offline
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I should really edit that last post, but will add another.

There may be confusion about the term "shoulders".

George Lowden quite correctly uses the term "shoulders" to refer to the components of the neck heel on either side of the tenon, which abut onto the sides , at the top of the upper bout. Some luthiers, infuriatingly, have in the past erroneously referred to these shoulders as "cheeks" , when talking about a reset.

The term "shoulders" of course, can also refer to the curved sides of the upper bout ....

Hope this clears up any potential confusion
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Old 11-28-2017, 06:11 PM
LouieAtienza LouieAtienza is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murrmac123 View Post
Talk about shooting yourself in the foot ... I did actually own a Lowden a couple of years ago , (and a fine sounding guitar it was too) but after reading that reply, I would certainly never buy another.

I particularly take issue with

"the shoulders of the dovetail matched the curvature of the guitar
sides"


If the neck heel is tapered, then it behoves the maker to ensure that the contact area between the heel and the sides is absolutely flat, irrespective of the curve of the shoulders.

If the neck heel is parallel, then of course it doesn't matter. But the Lowden heels are tapered ... so ...I really don't get what he is trying to say.
I believe he's referring to fitting the shoulders dead with the heel area of the sides, leaving no gaps, as opposed to the often used technique of slightly undercutting the shoulders to allow easier fitment, which in turn leaves a sharper edge to the shoulder which digs into the side wood. Or in other words, his preferred look is to have a rounded upper bout, and he "copes" the shoulders to match the curve rather than undercut them. This gives him maximum surface area.

I understand what you say, just have the heel area flat. But I suppose that's an aesthetic he doesn't prefer.
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Old 11-28-2017, 07:56 PM
Ned Milburn Ned Milburn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murrmac123 View Post
I should really edit that last post, but will add another.

There may be confusion about the term "shoulders".

George Lowden quite correctly uses the term "shoulders" to refer to the components of the neck heel on either side of the tenon, which abut onto the sides , at the top of the upper bout. Some luthiers, infuriatingly, have in the past erroneously referred to these shoulders as "cheeks" , when talking about a reset.

The term "shoulders" of course, can also refer to the curved sides of the upper bout ....

Hope this clears up any potential confusion
I now am careful to avoid being absolute and dogmatic about terminology. Saying, "Sit on your fanny" in N.A. is fine, but don't say it to a lady down under without being prepared to be slapped.

That said, some guitars are built with sides that are FLAT where the neck joins the body. Some, the sides continue to bend as they intersect the neck.

This as well as the fact that the "tail" portion of the dovetail on many guitars has limited (non-full) wood-to-wood contact area. As well, the "shoulders" (or whatever you want to call them) of the heel that contacts the sides, or "ribs" of the guitar, well these shoulders sometimes contact the sides (ribs) only on the outside few mm, rather than full contact.

It is pretty easy for me to understand from the writings attributed to George posted above that he aims for full contact wood-to-wood joinery with his dove-tails, and this fullness of wood-to-wood makes it more challenging to remove his necks than more common designs that have a cavity inside the dove-tail.

That said, while I understand his (George's) theory, if he is choosing a jointed guitar, it makes sense to build it so it can easily be dis-jointed. Otherwise, just build a solid Spanish style heel.

Well made mortise & tenon bolt on necks seem to me to be ideal for non-Spanish heel neck/body joints.
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Old 11-28-2017, 11:07 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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changed my mind.

Last edited by charles Tauber; 11-28-2017 at 11:21 PM.
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Old 11-29-2017, 02:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ned Milburn View Post
I now am careful to avoid being absolute and dogmatic about terminology.
No dogmatism on my part, I hope ...it's just that for at least 500 years, the components of a mortise and tenon joint have been universally referred to in the English speaking world by the same names ...and the "cheeks" are the sides of the tenon ... the surfaces of the tenon which glue to the sides of the mortise.

How, why, and when, in the luthiery world, the term "cheeks" first became misapplied to the "shoulders" is a mystery.
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Old 11-29-2017, 04:19 PM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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Whatever you call them (cheeks or shoulders), IMHO, compression of the sides (denting) is a non-issue. In order for compression to take place as a result of string tension, the fingerboard would have to shift on the top, and the dovetail glued surfaces would have to come unglued. If either of these actually happens, the neck is loose, and needs to be reglued.
That is not to say that there is not some denting of the sides from undercutting the neck mating surface, but this is not due to string tension, but due to tight fitting when the joint is assembled. This denting is more common on softer woods like mahogany....much less so on rosewood or maple.
As someone who has done over 1400 resets in the last 33 years, I absolutely question the practice of leaving no gap at the end of the tenon. IMHO, it does nothing but make the joint much harder to steam apart.
My resetting record includes many, many 1920's and 1930's guitars, which are old enough that they should show some evidence of the denting of the sides causing the neck angle to change. I have not seen it.

Quote:
I am given to understand that they do not actually continue the braces the whole way into the dovetail itself.
I can't see how it would make any difference. Once glued together with a well fitted joint, the neck block and neck function as one mass. As long as the A-frame braces are connected to this, it is irrelevant whether they continue to the neck itself.

Last edited by John Arnold; 11-29-2017 at 04:33 PM.
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