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  #1  
Old 01-16-2010, 08:18 PM
Attacking Mid Attacking Mid is offline
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Default DIY - Resetting a Seagull Neck

My son came home at Christmas from college with his Seagull S6 showing severe signs of dehydration. After spending about 3 weeks humidifying the guitar, it mostly came back into shape, but as I measured and examined, it became clear that this guitar was not going to be playable without a neck reset.

Professional neck resets are not very practical on a guitar that cost $400 new and is now worth maybe $200. I'm a do-it-yourselfer to the core, so I did a lot of poking around on the net until I felt ready to conquer this project of restoring my son's guitar to a state of playability. The worst that could happen is that I would screw up a guitar that was already virtually unplayable.

I thought others might benefit from my experience, so in the spirit of the many DIY's from the BMW automobile forums I follow, here is what I did...



The action was uncomfortably high at about 5/32". Before humidifying this guitar back to shape, it was even worse. The top was sunk about 3/8" when I first saw it.



Laying a straightedge along the frets and extending to the bridge, shows the neck angle has deteriorated such that it is lined up slightly below the top of the bridge. While this isn't terrible, it wouldn't work on this particular guitar because of...



The shorter saddle is the one that was in the guitar when it was sold new about 8 years ago. I bought this guitar brand new from a local guitar store. While it's possible someone at the store lowered the saddle, I don't think that happened. When my son and I picked it out, we debated between this guitar that was hanging on the wall vs. a new one in the box. Neither of us knew anything about guitars at the time, so the dealer just took my money and sent us blissfully on our way... no setup at all.

Hence, I believe this short saddle (along with a very short bridge) is how the guitar left the Seagull factory. While I might have been able to sand the saddle a little bit more, there simply was not enough height left to lower it enough to get to an acceptable action height. So.... the only answer was to reset the neck...



Here's the sticker partially peeled back revealing the two neck bolts. After removing these two bolts, the neck can be flexed back enough to begin...



Here I'm ready to start sanding the base of the neck. There's a neat little calculator at: http://www.liutaiomottola.com/formulae/Reset.htm This calculator at least gives you some idea how much you're trying to take off. I made a very light mark on the back of the neck to help me know how much to sand.



Here you can see my 60-grit sandpaper is showing signs of a good workout. Basically, you put the sandpaper in the gap, then apply pressure to close the neck gap, while you pull the sandpaper out. I found that you don't want to always pull the sandpaper completely out of the gap. I did this at first, and it resulted in excessive material removed at the very top (bottom of neck).



I had to check myself three times by bolting the neck back up and checking where a straightedge hit on the bridge/saddle. Here's the neck all bolted back up. You can still see the effect of excess sanding at the very bottom of the neck. I think this could be avoided by not pulling the sandpaper all the way out on each stroke. You can also see there's a gap under the fingerboard. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that, if anything.

The top of the guitar simply doesn't have the same shape it once did, so I'm not sure it's practical to try to get that fingerboard down flush. I may try loosening the neck and see if I can somehow clamp things into place while retightening the neck bolts. However, the guitar seems to play fine, so that may be a project for another day.



I put the low E string on and tuned it to get an idea where I was. Uh oh! My action is way too low! Actually, I expected it to be too low, as I hadn't yet installed the new saddle.



Here the guitar's all back together with the new (much taller) saddle and tuned to play.



A quick check of the action shows I'm now actually a touch higher than I was aiming for. However, I still had one more adjustment. The relief in the neck measured about 0.020" with the strings resting on the first and fourteenth frets (measured at the seventh fret). Once the trussrod was tightened to bring the relief down to "just a little" - maybe 0.003", the action measured right at 6/64" - exactly what I was aiming for.

I am by no means a guitar technician, but I am the type who is not afraid to tackle whatever problems I encounter. I'm sure many on the forum with much more knowledge/experience than me will probably cringe reading this post. I would welcome your comments and criticisms.

Best regards,

AM.
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  #2  
Old 01-16-2010, 08:33 PM
daniel1703 daniel1703 is offline
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Firstly, nice post.

Second (and lastly), in the final picture, it seems that your fretboard is lifting from the guitar top.
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:17 PM
jsmarshall jsmarshall is offline
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If it plays good and sounds good, I say congrats! After all, it would've been unreasonable to send it to a tech (I own a Seagull as well). Like the above poster, I'm a little concerned about the gap b/t the fingerboard and top. Is this a result of the dehydration/top sinking or a result of you trying to reset the neck?
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:06 PM
barrangatan barrangatan is offline
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Attacking Mid - great post and good work. I wish more guitars come with bolt on neck...

I also want to ask if the frets had been sanded down previously. From the picture, the 11th, 12th and 14th frets seem quite flat at the top. Does it cause any buzzing?
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:47 AM
Attacking Mid Attacking Mid is offline
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I strummed it pretty hard for about an hour last night, and there is a very slight buzz on the high e string when fretted only in a couple of places - I think it was the 3rd and 4th fret. I'll probably wait till everything settles back into place and if it still has that buzz, I think adding back just a touch of neck relief with the trussrod should eliminate it. It's barely noticeable.

I mentioned the gap under the fretboard in my post. Keep in mind, this guitar was pretty distorted from being dried out. the soundhole was sunken about 3/8" (it LOOKED worse than it measured), and the fretboard extension over the soundboard was pulled down at a pretty good angle into that sunken soundhole.

With the way this poor guitar has been stretched/pulled/shriveled/rehumidified/neck shaved, it's really not surprising things don't want to line up as new. I would imagine there are a couple of things I could do: oval-out the neck block holes to allow the neck to bolt on slightly lower, or just try inserting glue under the fretboard and then clamp it and force it back together as-is.

It seems to play just fine, so I'm not overly anxious to do anything about just yet.

As far as the frets being flat, to my knowledge, they've never been filed. Maybe I'll buy a fret file sometime and try to restore some shape to those frets. Next thing you know.... this will be back to being a $400 guitar

AM.
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Old 01-17-2010, 10:53 AM
Guitarpix Guitarpix is offline
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Nice post AM! I enjoyed the process! Like others the gap at the fretboard worries me a touch but I think with the bolts loosened, it clamped properly and then the bolts re-tighten it could probably be solved quite easily..
I need to do this to my S&P Pro Maple... I'm about out of saddle. I think I may follow your procedures here. I'll probably sandwich the top and back with some felt lined boards and clamp it to secure the fretboard to the body before I loosen the bolts. That shouldn't hinder the flex I get for sanding at the neck joint...
Thanks again for the post. Glad it turned out well for ya! -Pix (Chris from the flock)
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:03 PM
Mike_A Mike_A is offline
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awesome post! and surprising that the seagull had a bolt-on neck.
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:56 PM
davis53 davis53 is offline
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Can you post a picture with a straight edge on the frets to the bridge after the neck reset? Good work.
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:22 PM
deltoid deltoid is offline
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You should have let this guy remove it for you...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaYJG4HKVU8

..or maybe not!
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:56 PM
ironman187 ironman187 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike_A View Post
surprising that the seagull had a bolt-on neck.
On a $400 acoustic...not so surprising.
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Old 01-17-2010, 10:06 PM
thall thall is offline
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This is why I will always have a bolt on neck.

You did a fine job there, and taught us a few things in the process. Very thoughtful of you to take pictures as well- Thanks!

Maybe you want to leave it alone be for a while, to let things settle in through some humidity changes. Maybe then you could address the cosmetic issues?

Oblonging the holes sounds fine, but as the saying goes 'Perfect is the enemy of good' ! Or leave well enough alone.

Then again, who can resist the urge to tinker?
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Old 01-18-2010, 06:52 AM
3 chord 3 chord is offline
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Thanks for posting and the pics were great.

Good job and I totally agree with the DIY approach on an inexpensive guitar.

And as Red Green used to say, "if the women don't find ya handsome, they should at least find ya handy".

Last edited by 3 chord; 01-18-2010 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 02-16-2010, 02:57 PM
Attacking Mid Attacking Mid is offline
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I thought I would follow up on this project. The guitar played well despite the slight flaw of the fretboard having a small gap above the soundboard. I recently took it back apart and was able to eliminate the gap with the use of a clamp squeezing the fretboard down while I tightened the neck bolts. No more gap!

I'd been playing the guitar quite a bit every day, and despite substantial callouses, I found my index finger getting too sore to be able to continue. Part of the issue is my beginner status means that I'm playing a C chord frequently which requires fretting the 2nd string in the first fret.

In examining the nut slot heights, I realized the E, b, e strings where relatively higher than the others. When fretted at the second fret, there was more gap between these strings and the top of the first fret.

Using a small hacksaw and torch tip cleaners, I successfully lowered those nut slots, and now I can play painlessly! I couldn't believe the difference it made - now it almost feels like I'm playing an electric.

This guitar became my project when my son brought it home from college in nearly unplayable shape. I had planned to fix it and ship it back to him, but this guitar and I have bonded with all we've been through. I take care if it, and it teaches me how to play (and how to set up guitars!)

I told my son that I don't think he's getting this one back. I'm going to buy him a different guitar and have it delivered to him at school. He needs a cutaway and pickups to be able to play in his church's worship, so we should both be happy.

I'm just so pumped to have successfully revived this guitar from being miserable to being a joy to play. I hope this will inspire others to consider making their guitars play the way they were designed.

AM.
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Old 02-16-2010, 03:20 PM
blindeman blindeman is offline
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Great stuff! Thanks for sharing!!!
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  #15  
Old 02-16-2010, 06:04 PM
Chris Kemp Chris Kemp is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deltoid View Post
You should have let this guy remove it for you...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaYJG4HKVU8

..or maybe not!
That's funny! Did I hear him say

Last edited by rlouie; 07-31-2011 at 08:40 AM.
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