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  #1  
Old 01-12-2020, 09:37 AM
jricc jricc is offline
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Default Sentimental Guitar Repair - help needed

I just reaquired my high school acoustic, a 1974 Penco A18. It's a nice sounding Martin knockoff, supposedly a "lawsuit" guitar made in Japan. I sold it around 1976 for $50 to a friend to buy an Ovation. I recently reconnected with that friend who told me she still had the guitar. Long story short, she was going to donate it and instead gifted it to me.

I got it back yesterday and the guitar had 3 strings on it and probably hadnt been touched in 10 years. So i cleaned it, lemon oiled the fretboard, put on fresh strings. Everything appears to be in decent working order ie tuners, truss rod.

The action up to the 7 fret is ok, beyond that its pretty high. The saddle can't go any lower, so it looks like a neck reset is in order. But a reset makes zero economic sense...The guitar is important to me for sentimental reasons...

I dont need a guitar for slide, are there any other options for making the guitar playable?
Thanks in advance.
joe
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  #2  
Old 01-12-2020, 09:50 AM
Osage Osage is offline
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A fairly common thing to do with cheaper guitars is to plane the bridge. You will lose some volume and the tone will change a bit but it will lower the action and won't cost anything close to a neck reset. Any competent tech can do it. This was common practice on basically all guitars before neck sets were a thing and it's definitely not recommended for a valuable instrument but it can be a great way to add years of playing life to a cheap-o.
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Old 01-12-2020, 10:46 AM
jricc jricc is offline
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Thanks Osage! Yeah that was one thought of mine, and looks to be the smartest option. I appreciate your answer.
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Old 01-12-2020, 11:05 AM
phavriluk phavriluk is offline
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Default a thought

My opinion is that OP is in the midst of a conflict of values, the sentimental attachment to his old guitar and his concern for cost. I cannot speak to what the financial cost of doing what the guitar needs without compromise represents in OP's value system, too much money spent as compared to income, too much money spent on a guitar whose value will never support the work, or too expensive for OP's current financial status.

But as OP passes through his life, if the personal satisfaction of holding and maintaining the guitar has an appeal to him, then I suggest getting the work done right and closing his eyes to the cost if the cost is affordable. Separate the cold eye of financial value from the personal satisfaction of keeping a valued part of his past in his hands. If the work can't be done now, perhaps the guitar can go to rest in its case until the work doesn't represent a hardship.

One person's opinions....
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Old 01-12-2020, 12:59 PM
Naboz Naboz is offline
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Joe,
As Osage said, shaving the bridge is not a major cost and most competent repair techs can do it. There is also the similar option of replacing the bridge altogether--with a shorter one. Then making sure the relief in the neck is at optimum flatness...or in general; remedy the bridge and have a full set-up done.
Chiming with Phavriluk, the personal kinship vs. the monetary outlay (within reason) should lean to having that sound of the past once more in your hands.
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Old 01-12-2020, 01:11 PM
stormin1155 stormin1155 is offline
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I do "bolt conversions" on a lot of guitars like that. It's a more refined approach to the "New York Reset" or as I call it Hillbilly reset where you cut out a sliver of the back of the heel and run a screw into the block, concealing it with a strap button.

I remove the neck by making a cut between the heel and body, remove material from the heel to attain the proper neck angle, and install brass inserts into the neck heel and run bolts from the inside. Very stable, and since it is way less time consuming than a traditional dovetail reset, it is far less expensive.

Here's one I did. You can see one of the bolts in the second picture... I use two.



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Old 01-12-2020, 02:26 PM
phavriluk phavriluk is offline
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Default agreed!

I didn't want to offer a suggestion for a solution I haven't performed, but the bolt-on conversion as proposed makes so much sense.
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Old 01-12-2020, 04:23 PM
jricc jricc is offline
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Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and comments. I like the idea of converting to a bolt neck. This is a great forum! I have some thinking to do
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Old 01-12-2020, 06:13 PM
stormin1155 stormin1155 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jricc View Post
Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and comments. I like the idea of converting to a bolt neck. This is a great forum! I have some thinking to do
Someone with basic tools and good woodworking skills should have no problem doing the bolt conversion. If you would like, I'd be happy to share more detailed instructions how it is done. I've done dozens of them. My customers are all happy with the results.
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Old 01-12-2020, 07:10 PM
Neil K Walk Neil K Walk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stormin1155 View Post
Someone with basic tools and good woodworking skills should have no problem doing the bolt conversion. If you would like, I'd be happy to share more detailed instructions how it is done. I've done dozens of them. My customers are all happy with the results.
Could you start a thread, please? I tried disassembling my old college beater and ended up mucking it up pretty badly. The lesson I learned the hard way was that if you want to protect the finish you HAVE to mask the areas you don't want exposed to cutting implements or heat sources.
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Old 01-12-2020, 08:40 PM
stormin1155 stormin1155 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil K Walk View Post
Could you start a thread, please? I tried disassembling my old college beater and ended up mucking it up pretty badly. The lesson I learned the hard way was that if you want to protect the finish you HAVE to mask the areas you don't want exposed to cutting implements or heat sources.
It will take some time to put that together. The OP is asking for more detail too. I'll see what I can come up with. Next time I do one I'll take the time to take pictures. I don't want to make it sound like it's eazy-peazy and anyone can do it. It still takes some skill to do the proper cuts and get the angles right, and there is still plenty opportunity to muck things up, but if you can do a traditional dovetail reset, these are a breeze. And even if you've not done a traditional reset, if you have good woodworking skills, you should be able to do it.

EDIT: I just looked through my pictures, and found where I took some of the process already, so we're in luck. I'll probably post them, along with comments/instructions, in this thread for now and make a more permanent one later.

Last edited by stormin1155; 01-12-2020 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 01-12-2020, 11:42 PM
stormin1155 stormin1155 is offline
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Here are some pictures showing how I perform the bolt conversion.

Before you begin you will want to take measurements of the current state and where you want to end up. If you are an experienced tech/luthier you would approach this part the same as a standard reset.

Note where a straight edge laid across the fingerboard meets the bridge. Ideally it should align with the top of the bridge. If your guitar needs a reset it will probably align much lower. Note this both with the guitar tuned to pitch as well as with the strings loosened. This tells you how much the body flexes under string tension.



There are various formulas to determine how much material to shave off of the heel to get the correct neck angle. I'm not going to get into that. Here are a couple of links if you don't know how to do that.
http://fingerlakesguitarrepair.com/taylor-neck-reset/
https://www.liutaiomottola.com/formulae/Reset.htm

The first step of removing the neck is to separate the part of the fingerboard that is over the guitar body. Normally a heat blanket is used to soften the glue. A cloths iron can work or a heat lamp. If you use something like this make sure you protect the top of the guitar from the heat.

If the guitar has a laminate top, heat may soften the glue holding the laminates together, causing layers of the top to pull off. Sometimes the fingerboard can be separated using a good knife without heat.



The next step to cut off the neck as pictured below. I tape thin pieces of metal close to the neck heel so not to mar the body. I use a Japanese pull saw because it makes a very thin, precise cut. It helps to clamp the guitar solidly to you work bench. The truss rod may pass through your cutting path, so the last little bit of wood immediately around the truss rod might not be able to be sawn, and you'll have to break it away and glue it back into the dovetail joint area.





After cleaning up the area and making any repairs you're ready to remove material from the back of the heel to get the correct neck angle. You are only taking out a thin sliver or pie slice, the widest at the bottom, tapering to none at the top (by the fingerboard). I leave the final removal/fitting until I have the bolts in place.

Next drill the holes in the neck heel for the inserts and the neck block for the bolts to pass through. I use 10-24 thread allen bolts either 1-1/4” or 1-1/2”. These and the brass inserts I get from Ace Hardware. I made a drilling template that I use on both the neck heel and block to get proper placement and angle of the holes. I use a 1/4” bit for both.



The brass inserts have notches so you can screw them in using a flat screwdriver. However, brass is very brittle, and if you are screwing into hard wood it's easy to break them. I made this “tap” by cutting notches in the thread and locking two inserts together on a bolt. The notches cut the threads into the wood nicely. I will harden the wood by soaking superglue and recutting with the tap before screwing in the actual inserts. Make sure you let the superglue completely harden before attempting to screw anything in or you'll get part way in and get stuck there.





At this point you're down to final fitting. Unless you're a lot better at this than I, or just lucky, you'll be putting the neck on, tightening the bolts, measuring, checking, removing, sanding, rechecking... a dozen or more times. This is where your under tension vs no tension measurement you took at the beginning comes into play. You may need to put a shim under the fingerboard so you don't get too much drop-off. Then it's just filling in any cracks and cleanup...


Last edited by stormin1155; 01-13-2020 at 07:42 AM.
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Old 01-13-2020, 05:30 AM
Neil K Walk Neil K Walk is offline
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Thanks for that. I was curious to see what kind of saw you were using and what you were using to mask the area with. The hardware was about what I'd expected.

After sawing through the finish of the sides halfway through my first attempt I got my hands on one of these which finished the job with much less pain and suffering to the guitar:
https://www.harborfreight.com/12-in-...saw-62118.html
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:19 AM
stormin1155 stormin1155 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil K Walk View Post
Thanks for that. I was curious to see what kind of saw you were using and what you were using to mask the area with. The hardware was about what I'd expected.

After sawing through the finish of the sides halfway through my first attempt I got my hands on one of these which finished the job with much less pain and suffering to the guitar:
https://www.harborfreight.com/12-in-...saw-62118.html
Yes, I have one of those too. It works OK, but not as well as the larger Japanese saw.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:20 AM
packocrayons packocrayons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stormin1155 View Post

The brass inserts have notches so you can screw them in using a flat screwdriver. However, brass is very brittle, and if you are screwing into hard wood it's easy to break them. I made this “tap” by cutting notches in the thread and locking two inserts together on a bolt. The notches cut the threads into the wood nicely. I will harden the wood by soaking superglue and recutting with the tap before screwing in the actual inserts. Make sure you let the superglue completely harden before attempting to screw anything in or you'll get part way in and get stuck there.
My understanding is the notches are actually there to do the cutting, and you're supposed to jam-nut the insert onto a screw to get it in
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