This belongs to a customer that I've done (2) vintage Yamaha necks resets. He bought it recently, not much known history.
When I examine it I find it has a Bridge Doctor, which helps keep the bridge area flat, but most people install them thinking it will bring the action down, which it rarely does enough to make a difference. There's also water damage in the heel area, the 3 piece laminated neck has cracks, and the sides are swollen. Thi makes it look like a neck reset was attempted, or it just got soaked. He confirmed the original case was very musty (the guitar ios a little) and the guitar probably got wet at some point. It looks like the whole guitar body (but not the neck) has been oversprayed and covered the finish crazing. The purfling in the rosette has oddly shrunk and separated. And there are paper shims under 3 of the strings in the nut. the neck projects 5/32" below the bridge, well into neck reset territory. The saddle only sticks out .03" to .06", and the action is 9/64" low E & 1/8" high E. The bridge has a thru cut saddle.
Vintage Guilds are know to be very difficult to get the neck off due to the wide heel and LOTS of glue, including between the face of the heel and the side of the guitar.
The saddle is a little low.
The finish damage at the binding and the heel cap is falling off.
Another view, and you can see the heel lamination.
2 days ago I finally got to taking a closer look and prep for getting the neck off. But first, I checked my sanity at the door.
Again, it looked like there was an attempted neck reset, but the heel corner lacquer is still in place. The first step is to to remove the heel cap. It's pretty much separated from the heel, but it's glued to the binding. I used a .010" saw to free it. Then I put 4 layers of masking tape on the heel surfaces (just in case) and scored thru the lacquer at the heel and fretboard joints. And I cut into the wood a bit around the heel joint. Then the 15th fret was removed and drilled (2) 3/32" dia. steam holes, both hitting the neck pocket. Separating the fretboard from the top was extremely difficult. I started cold (my recent experiment shows heat only does not soften hide glue), but I resorted to heat, hoping it would help. It didn't. I could tell the spatula dug into the top on the bass side, the treble side seemed OK. It took a long time to get all the way under it.
The heel cap area taped.
Cutting the heel cap to separate it from the binding.
The heel cap separated.
The heel area protected with tape before corner scoring.
15th fret removed. Definitely no previous steam holes.
The 1966 Guild D50 & late 60's Harmony Sovereign H1260 (recently finished).
The soundhole protected before attempting to separate the fretboard from the top.
Last night I got the neck off. But not without a massive fight. It was even harder than I thought. It was everything I read about it and more. There’s a reason many people won’t touch Guild neck resets, the wide heel and massive amounts of glue make it impossible to get it apart without some kind of damage. FIVE steam sessions (most 9 minutes each, each time running out, except the last at about 5 minutes), each one was an improvement over the last, unlike my only failure 1967 FG-110. Between each steam session I pushed the scalpel into the heel corners to cut in as far as possible, which got easier as the wood softened. I probably got in 1/8” all around, but it didn’t soften evenly. Without that there's no way it would ever come apart. The finish around there is a little ragged.
The steam setup ready to go.
Then I turned on the steam. After the first session the top inch the scalpel was completely in, but the steam wasn’t coming out of the open end of the heel. ODD!! I expected it would be pouring out!! When I drilled the steam holes I knew I hit the pocket. After the first steam session, I ran my longest drill in, and it fell right to the bottom. And pulled out lots of liquid hide glue!! The first couple of steam sessions caused liquid hide glue to spirt out of the other steam hole!!! Like a freaking volcano!! They must have FLOODED that joint with glue when they put it together!!! SO MUCH GLUE!!!! Oddly, during the first 2 steam sessions the heel never got warm!! The steam was in the pocket, but it probably took a long time to heat the large heel.
At the beginning of the last session it looked like it was ready to pop, I'm wiggling the neck, and cranking on the jig. I couldn't figure out what was holding it!! Then it popped!!! And the side cracked and separated from the neck block!! The neck was still stuck to a patch on the treble side even though above and below it were free. And the massive amount of steam swelled and delaminated the thin heel. At least it didn't break!! The first task was to get the heel clamped because I could see it continue to swell and separate!!! Then get the pieces of the top off the bottom of the fretboard and glue that puzzle back together. Then find more clamps to get the side glued back to the neck block and glue the crack. I'll cleat it later. I took a bunch of pictures quickly, but I had to move fast while things were still warm and wet. It took about an hour to get everything done.
The neck came off with great difficulty! Some of the top was stuck to the bottom of the fretboard.
The piece of the top stuck to the fretboard, and the heel delaminated.
The heel cracked.
And the side separated from the neck block.
LOTs of glue!! And you can see how the maple neck lamination has swollen.
It continued to separate as I watched it!!
So I clamped it in my Stew Mac guitar vise. I has (2) swiveling urethane coated jaws that make it easy to hold odd shapes.
The side crack glued & clamped.
I put a couple of clamps in the 14th fret area. It was swollen upward.
Today I’d like to take the clamps off and survey the damage, but the parts were wet last night, I’d rather they had 48 hours to shrink & dry before determining what to do next. But, looking at it with the clamps on it looks better than I remember. The neck heel laminations have some gaps, telling me the maple has shrunk. I repositioned and tightened the clamps. More than likely, tomorrow I’ll wipe some hide glue into the gaps and reclamp it. The mismatch of the side crack is at most .010”. It looked worse yesterday. Tomorrow I’ll use hide glue to attach some cleats to the inside to stabilize the crack. No other glue has enough tack to hold the cleats in place without clamping, even fish glue, I tried. I won’t be able to see anything else without unclamping.
Some finish chipped off of the center maple lamination.
The separation isn't bad, and I can push it together with my fingers.
That evil chunk of side that didn't separate!!! The WHOLE heel surface was covered with hide glue!!
They cut a pocket in the bottom of the fretboard for the dovetail??
The edge of the heel is a bit ragged. Much on the bottom will be sanded off during the neck reset, but some will need some kind of touch up.
A definite rise in the fretboard. I'm going to make a small cut at the top of the dovetail, steam the fretboard, and clamp it down.
Guild used what looks like woven fiberglass strips to reinforce the sides. That's what stopped the side crack. Thanks Guild!! But no thanks for the extreme amount of glue!! The side crack is to the left of it. It isn't visible.
Again, the side crack isn't visible on the inside.
The neck block cracked?? I didn't take any before pictures. It looks to be about 1/8" deep on the right side and 1/4" deep on the left side. Definitely not thru.
The pieces of the top that were stuck to the bottom of the fretboard are glued back to the top.
The side crack. Stopped by the internal fiberglass strip.
The ugly heel area. The white spot is wax paper that stuck while clamping the side in place when gluing. You can see all the hide glue still on the surfaces. There's none along the edges because I spent many times forcing the scalpel in, trying to help separate it, and prevent any tears from reaching the finished areas.
This is the side that separated from the neck block, completely glued back on.
And the other side that didn't separate. A little separation. And a small gap at the binding, but oddly the binding and top aren't pushed up.
Another view of the ugliest part. You can see the steam hole went right down the corner of the neck pocket.
Another ugly view. I have no idea what messed up the top of the neck pocket.
Yea, it's ugly!! But it will be cleaned up, and most of it will be covered with the heel when it's put back together.
Last night I glued the heel laminations, a cleat across the side crack, and the neck block crack.
First I have to add tape to only get the glue where I want it. Then practice clamping. The taping takes a long time because you can't see what you're doing. Place the tape, look, remove it, replace it, etc. The fun part is moving the tape without removing pieces already placed.
I used a magnet and a nut for locating the cleat. You can also see the heel crack.
I cut a block the width of the fretboard & heel so I could move the heel up in the guitar vise.
Being sure the vise can close the separations.
Taped. I only want the glue in the crack, not all over the inside.
I forgot to take pictures of the heel taping, but it was just a strip on both sides of the center strip and one cross below.
The maple cleat in place. The hide glue tacks quickly. holding the cleat in place without clamps.
I heated the neck block with the hair dryer (to keep the hide glue from setting quickly), the hide glue was applied with a brush and forced into the crack, a few times. THIS is why I taped up the whole area. I don't want to have to clean up that sticky mess afterward, and the side chamfers are rough and would hold lots of glue and resist cleaning.
The heel laminations closed. Another small piece of finish chipped off.
I didn't worry about taping the back side, it's already a mess with hide glue.
The cleat. I tried numerous times to clean up the thin strip of hide glue but I couldn't get in the corner without possibly popping the cleat off.
The filled crack. Hopefully, enough got in there, although I can't see the crack being a problem since it doesn't look to be very deep.
My messy work table with the ever present bag a Hershey Kisses I haven't touched in months.
Now that everything is secure, the first thing I want to do is try to flatten the lift in the fretboard extension. I figured the problem was the end of the neck/fretboard swelled and the glue joint probably separated slightly. I figured I could heat the area with steam to soften the glue and wood, and clamp it flat. Sounds good in theory!
I clamped the neck in my Stew Mac guitar vise, using a couple of tongue depressors to push on the fretboard. I fired up the steam generator (didn't think I'd be using that so soon!) and sprayed steam all around that area for 3 minutes. I noticed the fretboard extension had pushed down slightly, and the end of the heel was getting warm from the floating steam. I stopped after 3 minutes to cool the end of the heel (glued yesterday, don't want it coming apart). I also noticed the fretboard extension had a slight bend at the open 15th fret, so I put in a block of wood & wedge between it and the clamp jaw to hold it up slightly. Then I applied 4 more minutes of steam.
I don't think the area is flat, but it's probably better. I'll unclamp it tomorrow and check.
I used a piece of 1/16 maple to space the blade up slightly, then cut it down flush to the bottom of the fretboard.
I bought this special narrow blade to be sure the cutter stayed in the dovetail.
Here's the lift.
And it's clamped & steamed. It looks like there's still some lift. I'll find out tomorrow.
I removed the clamps from the neck. There is a very slight bend down, about .03" at the end of the fretboard. And about a .010" bulge in the 13th &14th fret area.
I reinstalled the 15th fret (added a slight amount of curvature to the fret & slightly filed the slot for ease of installation), and taped & leveled the 13th & 14th frets, with a little overlap on the 12th & 15th.
First I marked the tops of the frets with black marker.
Then sanded with 200 grit on a 14" radius block.
The end in the fretboard has increased to about .08" at the end of the fretboard, probably from installing the 15th fret.
I used the "half pencil" to trace the plane of the fretboard on the old and new nuts. The slots in the old nut are .015" to .030" below the line!! There's no surprise why there was paper under many of the strings!
I filed the slots in the new nut, leaving them high on purpose. I can sand the bottom of the nut later.
Tonight I made the saddle blank. Using gage blocks, I found the saddle slot is tapered .104" at the bottom and .107" at the top. And after making and fitting the blank I find the saddle slot is not flat! The saddle bottom was sanded flat. The saddle rocks .015". I have some micro chisels coming tomorrow. The saddle sticks out of the bridge about .18", a little high, but I haven't rounded the top over yet.
And I started undercutting the heel with rasps and a chisel. Normally I use the Dremel and a 1/8" ball burr bit, but this is a much larger area. I'll probably still use it at some point.