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  #1  
Old 09-01-2012, 11:18 PM
jseth jseth is offline
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Cool "Spanish Heel" Neck Reset?

Hello...

I have some questions, for those who know... my beloved Mark Angus #35 (1979) is at the point where it's going to need a neck reset... I called Mark, at the Guitar Shoppe in Laguna Beach, Ca., and we talked about it... he said that my guitar was made with a "Spanish Heel" and the neck can not be reset, but that either the fretboard can be shimmed or a new fretboard can be made to get the neck angle correct...

Since he built the guitar (!), I figure he knows what he's talking about... but I'm wondering what I should expect from this repair... will it change the overall sound/tone of the instrument? Should I be prepared for some damage to the finish around the neck/body area? Any other considerations about having this done to my guitar? Is the process for this repair as invasive as a traditional neck reset?

I've played (and loved!) this guitar for over 30 years; I don't want to just let it go... I want it to be in fine playing mettle! Seems like such a major thing to have done, I guess I'm just gun-shy about the whole thing... so, please, if you KNOW about this repair, or similar repairs to guitars with Spanish Heel construction, chime right in with whatever you have to give me!

Thanks...

John Seth Sherman
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  #2  
Old 09-02-2012, 12:25 AM
tadol tadol is offline
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You certainly should be gun shy. A spanish heel means the neck is a single solid piece, with the sides let into slots cut into the edges, so the neck cannot be removed from the body. The neck is also glued to the top and back. Major modification to a guitar built like this is a pretty specialized skill that few luthiers get alot of opportunity to practice.

That said, you need to take it to someone with the experience to attempt that kind of repair, and with the expertise to determine what your best option is. You don't mention how or if the neck is reinforced, what you're seeing and feeling that tells you it needs a reset, or how the guitar is finished. Is the neck curved, do you have a belly, is the soundboard or back showing any dips or bulges. Lots of things too look at and evaluate - hopefully someone really familiar with repairing these can add alot more to this for you -

Good Luck!
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  #3  
Old 09-02-2012, 12:49 AM
jseth jseth is offline
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thanks, tadol, for the reply...

I would most certainly be having the man who built the guitar take care of it; when we spoke on the phone, Mark told me he could fix it, no problem...

She's due for a refret, as well. James Goodall helped me with re-installing my Anthem SL, cutting a new saddle and setting up the guitar... he also did a new nut for it. He had to "slot" the high E string to get the intonation set properly...

The height of the saddle is low, barely above the bridge. No major bellying either in front of, or behind the bridge; a slight belly behind the bridge, but nothing crazy... the neck has a truss rod, adjustable...

She still plays nice; starting to get a bit of that "sitar" effect at a few spots on the B string... like I said, we're due for a fret job. They're already pretty low, too low to be just dressed again...
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  #4  
Old 09-02-2012, 07:22 AM
jeff crisp jeff crisp is offline
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Hello John,

The repair suggested for this type of guitar would no doubt be the first thing offered . Any damage to the finish would depend to some degree on what it was finished with in the first place. I cant speak for what it will do as far as tonal changes go but it will obviously change the feel/thickness of the neck. Major surgery and probably expense could reset the neck angel with the removal of the back. Its a valid option though not an often used technique. There is one more approach that could be taken that I can think of and that is to have it turned into a butt joined bolt on. To return the guitar closest to its original state, major surgery would be needed. Though you might be happy not to go to those lengths.

Jeff.
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Old 09-02-2012, 11:19 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jseth View Post
I would most certainly be having the man who built the guitar take care of it; when we spoke on the phone, Mark told me he could fix it, no problem...
These questions should really be addressed to Mark, since he both built it and will do the repair work. He will be responsible for your satisfaction in the work done. Best to discuss these things with him so that he is aware or your concerns and can address them. If you liked his work enough to keep one of his instruments for 30 years and then have it repaired by him, it seems best to trust his opinions and work.

If Mark is willing to guarantee his work (i.e. your satisfaction with the work he will do) and the approach his is going to use, the opinions you receive here are largely irrelevant.
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Old 09-02-2012, 11:43 AM
Howard Klepper Howard Klepper is offline
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Is this a nylon string guitar?

The wedged fretboard is a standard repair method, and if you need a refret, now is the time to do it. What I like to do to avoid any finish damage is plane down the old board rather than remove it. The old board can become the wedge. This job (however it is done) will make the neck a little thicker towards the body.

BTW (Charles), I think it is a naive repairman who guarantees "satisfaction." The correct guarantee is that the work will be done to professional standards.
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Old 09-02-2012, 12:21 PM
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murrmac123 murrmac123 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Klepper View Post
Is this a nylon string guitar?
Definitely not a nylon strung guitar IMO

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Old 09-02-2012, 01:44 PM
Howard Klepper Howard Klepper is offline
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How do you come to have a photo of jseth's guitar, Murray?
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Old 09-02-2012, 03:40 PM
jseth jseth is offline
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well... I HOPE that he just used the search function to find a pic I had already put on this Forum... otherwise, well, I don't know... but it might be a little creepy!!!

Thanks, everyone, for your considered responses... and thanks to anyone who read my original and realized that conjecture or an uneducated opinion was not needed!

I will talk to Mark about all my concerns; I wanted to gather information about the whole "Spanish Heel" construction method, so MY questions would be fairly informed...

Thanks again!

Oh, I also have Mark Angus #58, the only 12 string that Mark has made, constructed in 1983... fortunately, the neck/saddle relationship on that one is just fine!

play on................................>

John
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  #10  
Old 09-02-2012, 08:27 PM
henderson is go henderson is go is offline
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Perhaps Frank Ford could help?
http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luth...ichreset1.html
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Old 09-02-2012, 10:53 PM
jseth jseth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henderson is go View Post
Now, THAT was something else! Thanks for the link; Mr. Ford does amazing work, and I will certainly let Mark Angus know about this nifty little article! Seems reasonably straightforward, too; not that I would try it, but for someone who knows what they're doing...

This option actually seems to be the best of all he's listed; he didn't mention either the time spent or the cost of the repair, but it looks promising. At this point in the proceedings, I don't know if the work will be under Mark's lifetime warranty or not... I hope it is, and that he can make some money off of a refret so he doesn't feel like the whole thing is for free...

Thanks again for the link!

John
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some fall...
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  #12  
Old 09-03-2012, 12:27 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Klepper View Post
BTW (Charles), I think it is a naive repairman who guarantees "satisfaction." The correct guarantee is that the work will be done to professional standards.
Rather than turn a small snack into a 12-course banquet, I'll just say, "Sure, you're right", and leave it at that.
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  #13  
Old 09-03-2012, 11:47 AM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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I have done bolted neck conversions, but I generally consider it only on cheap guitars.
The wedge fingerboard is a good option, as long as you don't mind the neck getting thicker at the body. If you do, the neck can be reshaped, but that would require refinishing the neck.
The block can be slipped by taking the back loose in the upper bout. This is also known as the 'California neck set'. After the block is reglued in the new position, the back is trimmed and the binding reinstalled. At least some finish touchup is normal. The most difficult part is separating the back from the block without damaging it. This is a repair that will benefit from experience.
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  #14  
Old 09-03-2012, 12:01 PM
Howard Klepper Howard Klepper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
Rather than turn a small snack into a 12-course banquet, I'll just say, "Sure, you're right", and leave it at that.
If you disagree, I'd rather you say so, and that you would rather not hijack the thread with a discussion of it (understandable). The double positive in "Sure, you're right," is often used to indicate a negative.

OP, there is stuff left out in Frank's photo essay--everything about resetting the neck angle and how that will affect the fit of the heel, the finish retouching (the heel will no longer match the finish marks on the sides after it is set back), and the change in intonation (there will be more than .010" of wood removed at the top of the neck by the time the heel is fully fitted). I would not convert a fine guitar from Spanish to bolt on construction. And Frank is wrong that the wedged fretboard requires extensive touchup; see my first post re the right way to do that job.

What John calls the "California" neck reset (I resemble that remark!) is getting to be a lost art, but can be appropriate. I would avoid it if the guitar has the Spanish foot on its heel inside.
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Last edited by Howard Klepper; 09-03-2012 at 02:22 PM.
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  #15  
Old 09-03-2012, 01:43 PM
arie arie is offline
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i can't understand why someone would build a steel string guitar with a Spanish heel. to be clever? to be crafty? to channel the spirits of long dead craftsmen? to give repairmen nightmares? sure the Spanish method can be faster and requires less tooling to build, but should this be the only reason?

granted the op's guitar has held up for 33 yrs without a problem and seems like a decent guitar but there are other ways to resist modern string's tension and modern players needs for heavier strings and alt turnings, then an ancient method originally conceived for strings made from feline intestines. maybe this how it was done in the 70's ?

re: fixin' it, i'd go for a new fretboard installed by the builder. it's actually not as much work as it sounds.
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