I am just flat-out amazed at the amount of work you put into these projects, and how well things look when you're done. I'm in awe!
Thanks!! I enjoy the challenge, and getting those old FG's out of the cases/off of the walls and make them playable again. There are so many out there that must be unplayable.
I remembered this morning I didn't make the Bridge Doctor for this guitar!! I can't go any further until it's installed. It's going to change the height of the front of the bridge as it tips it up. I thought the neck angle was very close, but now it's going to need a bit more taken off. I'd kind of like the neck to be back on this weekend, but that might be a bit optimistic.
I installed the Bridge Doctor yesterday evening. I knew this was going to be tight, avoiding the bridge pins, and the back radius on the bridge. Instead of centering it on the bridge I moved it over to center it on the 2 back holes. That allowed me to move it a little farther forward and avoid most of the radius.
Was I nervous?? Hell yea!!
The bridge pins just clear the plastic spacer. I have a USB snake camera, I'll try to take more pics later today.
And the result?? I cranked it maybe a turn and a half. The belly behind the bridge was .25", now it's .18". It's definitely a bit straighter. I'm not going to push it right now. If I sight over the side of the guitar the bridge is about as close to parallel as it can get and be barely noticeable it's not. If that makes any sense. I think it's good. It's not good to push it too far and pop a brace. Yea, I did that once on a very warped top.
I need the bridge in its final position to be able to continue with the neck reset. I was close to getting the angle right until I realized I hadn't installed the bridge doctor. Now that I check the neck angle, the neck projection is pretty much the same, it's the back of the bridge that moved, not the front. That's good to know.
I found a bone saddle I had previously made and it fits the slot well. But it's about .05" too tall. So I sanded .05" off the bottom. Then I find it's rocking in the slot!!! The saddle is flat, the slot bottom isn't!! I had a couple of slot files made a few years ago but haven't used them much. It took a while to find them! I tried to use them but they bind in the bottom of the slot. I'll have the width reduced by .005" at work tomorrow and try again.
So this may be a stupid question and everyone else knows, but does the Bridge Doctor spacer become a permanent part of the guitar, or do you take it out later? And good job on the bridge, BTW!
It is permanent. It corrects the existing bridge tip and keeps it from ever getting worse. The tip in the bridge before resulted in zero break angle on the rear strings. That won't be a problem with a higher saddle after the neck reset, but the rear strings on a 12 string always have a low break angle.
I haven't done an update in over a week! I slowed down on this to work on a Kay acoustic I picked up, but I've worked on this a bit the last 4 days. A couple of days ago I noticed the sanding result was a bit less than expected, the neck projection was a bit low. So I took off another .04" last night. I had noticed the binding at the top of the heel joint was pushed in a little but I didn't realize why until I restrung it yesterday. After the last round of sanding the unstrung neck projection is 1/4" above the bridge and strung (2 steps down) it is 1/32" below. There's something wrong here!!! That's when I started thinking, and the only possibility was the neck block is loose, which I've never had happen. So I removed the strings and pushed on the top of the neck block. And I could see a minute amount of movement. Then I pushed on the top from the inside and saw the top of the neck block is completely disconnected from the top!!! Well, that explains it!! Technically I was still 1/32" high on the action, but I'm guessing fixing the neck block will result in being 1/32" too low. But I won't know until tomorrow. It was 9:30pm last night when I figured this out and I wasn't about to start working on it so late. I'll glue it with hide glue tonight.
The last stringing, 2 steps down. They Kay in the background.
The pushed in binding. It doesn't look that bad unstrung.
Unstrung it's crushed but not pushed back too far.
The loose top!!!!
I'm a bit upset I didn't notice this before the last round of sanding, which was probably partially unneeded. This was possibly caused by steaming the neck off, although I think the top may not have come loose until during the second string up when I heard a couple of small pops when I was clamping the guitar in the neck jig. Before doing anything yesterday I used my USB "snake" camera to look at the braces to be sure nothing was loose. Didn't look in the other direction!
In the end I learned from the experience, I can easily fix the top, although I'm probably going to have to bring the action UP afterward. I won't know until Friday after the glue has dried.
I reglued the top to the neck block. First I covered everything around the joint with tape, including the inside. I also stuffed paper towels and a regular towel in there in case any glue oozed out toward the inside. I wedged the top up with a popsicle stick.
The "glue pot". I used a plastic irrigation syringe to squirt the glue into the cracks.
I initially clamped the whole thing shut with 3 clamps.
Then after 10-15 minutes, I removed them one at a time to remove the tape. And only put one back. There are no forces involved, only to be sure the gap stays shut.
I did feel a little bit of stickiness on the inside at the middle top of the neck block, so some glue made it all the way thru.
Everything was cleaned up with hot water on a paper towel.
Yesterday I did more minor sandings & adjustments and mounted the guitar in my clamping jig. It seems to be at it's limit with the tension of the 12 strings, even with them all tuned 2 steps down.
Today did one final minor sanding, some touch ups and glued & sanded the dovetail shims to fit the pocket. THEN, glued the neck to the body!! Now I wait until tomorrow after work to string it up and see how it looks. The last 2 stringings showed I was right where I wanted to be so today I took a little more off the heel to compensate for any possible movement after gluing and the final string tension, which should be very close since he wants it at Open C (CGCGCE). I can't wait to hear it!!! I'll keep the old strings on it (providing they all survive one more tuning) and wait a few weeks for the guitar to settle in before the final setup and install new strings.
Update from last night:Things have not quite gone as planned. The neck is slightly overset in comparison to the clamped measurements. I installed all the strings and couldn't tune them because they were all hitting the 14th fret and I didn't want to risk breaking them. I made a taller (to figure out when I am) & tighter saddle. I was planning on making a tighter saddle anyway. It's a bit high. .22" low E & .20" high E above the bridge. Maybe .05" higher than nominal, but the bridge doctor will keep the bridge in place. Then I was able to tune it to open C. AMAZINGLY I STILL HAVEN'T BROKEN ANY OF THE ORIGINAL STRINGS!!!! I don't see how my luck can possibly last any longer. But, onto the bad news. The action is a little over 3/64" low E & a little over 1/32" high E. Low but very playable. That's not the problem. The problem is the dreaded 14th fret hump. All the strings buzz at the 9th fret and up. Above the 14th fret the fretboard dives off into the ocean of the soundhole. The typical result of a radical neck reset. In some cases, a thin tapered shim is added under the fretboard extension for those who venture up that high.
I can't seem to take a pic the 14th fret hump, but it is caused by having low action in a combination of a slight amount of neck relief. Putting a straight edge on the fretboard shows it hitting on the 1st & 14th frets with a gap in the middle. If I eliminate the neck relief there will be no hump, but the action will be even lower. Not acceptable.
I'm going to let it hang and see if anything changes. And think about it. One possibility is to level the 8th thru 14th frets, reducing their heights on a taper, with the most taken off of the 14th fret. The problem with that is, like other steps, it's a guessing game since you can't see the hump when there's no string tension. I'd have to do it by carefully measuring the fret heights with my dial calipers. But I'd rather let it hang for a week or 2 and see if there is any change. Worst case I have to take the neck off and make a minor adjustment to the neck angle in the opposite direction to increase the action and lower the saddle slightly.
It is fun messing around in Open C, just adding a note here and there, with the low C or G droning.
Thoughts from today: Well, after thinking about it overnight I've decided to take the neck off and increase the neck angle slightly. Maybe .015/.020" at the top of the heel. .015/.020" at the heel = .045/.060" at the saddle = .0225/.030" at the 12th fret. I'm going to put the block spreader back in before so if the top/neck block separate again, the neck block won't move and throw the numbers off. I'll let it dry for 2 days before refitting it. Probably have the neck back on this weekend.
Update from Last night: I removed the neck. Of course it was easy since it has just been glued on. About 5 minutes to heat & loosen the fretboard and literally 1 minute of steam to loosen the dovetail. Then I cleaned up as much glue as possible before it hardened. Tonight I can plug the steam holes at the 15th fret and put the 15th fret back it. And possibly get the neck joint to fit back together again since I put very little steam into it. There's a little finish blushing (from the steam) that needs to be polished out.
The plan is to remove a .02" wedge of wood from the top of the heel to tip the neck up slightly. Then glue it back together this weekend.
Since I can't easily measure how much wood I'm taking off, it'll be gaged by the neck projection. It projected 3/16" (.19") above the bridge before I took the neck off. Once I get it fitting together I'll check again. .02" off the top of the heel should result in a .06" reduction in the neck projection, which will raise the action by .03". I'll be reducing the neck relief slightly. The desired result will be a slightly flatter neck and 1/64" higher action. And no buzzing between the 8th & 14th frets!!
Tonight I fit the neck back into the neck pocket, which wasn't bad since I had removed most of the glue while it was still soft. A little sanding and it fit. Then, with no strings, I clamped the neck & body in the neck jig and checked the neck projection, 1/4" above the bridge but there is the gap under the fretboard. So I repeated the test with the fretboard clamped, as it will be glued, and found 7/32" above the bridge. Then I filled the steam holes at the 15th fret and reinstalled the 15th fret. This is much harder than it sounds, taking probably an hour and a half. Then I marked the sides of the heel with tape and removed an approx. .02" wedge on both sides from the top down. Clamping the neck & body in the jig AND with the fretboard clamped, found the neck projected only 3/16" above the bridge. I would have expected 5/32". So I put it down for the night and will check it again tomorrow, and possibly remove another small wedge.
SUCCESS!!! I reinstalled the strings, tuned to CGCFCE (open C except the G tuned down to F to save them from breaking). The neck projects 5/64" above the bridge. The neck relief is good. The action is 1/16" low C & a little less than 1/16" high E. The saddle is the same high .22"/.20" with plenty of room for adjustment.
Now I'll let it sit for a week or 2 and see if anything changes.