I picked this guitar up at McDonald’s in Sturbridge MA when delivering his 1966 Guild D40 after its difficult neck reset.
This is not only a famous Guild F212XL, the neck has been replaced with a high end Guild ebony neck with inlays, making it truly one of a kind. And it sounds fantastic!! He believes it is a late ‘67 or early ‘68. Guild records at the time were spotty. It’s believed the neck came from a high-end Guild Jumbo 12 string like an F612 and was put on the guitar early on. The guitar is shrouded in mystery as to who changed the neck, when and why. Some think it could’ve been Guild themselves, as custom inlays were an option at the time, but I think the Guild factory would’ve done a cleaner job. The case is marked PETER DEVIN on the side, and GUILD XL on the top front.
I’m hoping when they put the new neck on they didn’t glue the face of the heel to the side of the guitar, like it seems Guild has. And I wonder what glue they used.
My initial observations found there are more crack stop strips inside this guitar than the previous D40 last month. There is one about 2” from the neck block on the treble side, and about 2.5” on the bass side. I was thinking about adding some wood cleats 2” from the neck block, these strips eliminate that need. There are 2 cracks in the treble side near the crack stop. There are some cracks in the top, but they have been cleated inside.
The case is stenciled PETER DEVIN.
The neck has obviously been removed/replaced.
Cracks in the side. They don't seem to go thru. The long one straddles the crack stop strip.
The action is a little high. And it's tuned to Open B!! Which sounds fantastic!!
The octave B & e have been removed to be able to single note solo overf the chimeyness of the other 8 strings.
Tonight I started removing the neck. Starting with removing the 15th fret.
There's an existing crack in the fretboard that goes all the way thru into the top. Since other cracks have been fixed I assume it has been glued. We shall see.
Removed the heel cap with a hairdryer and thin scale.
We thought this was a new neck but it looks like repaired finish chips in the heel area, although there is no evidence of steam holes at the 15th fret.
Starting to loosen the fretboard.
It initially was tough but the glue finally softened and allowed the spatula all the way in. If this step is an indication of how hard the rest of the neck removal will go, it's going to be tough. The key is I hope they didn't glue the face of the heel to the side of the guitar. If it's only in the dovetail it shouldn't be too bad.
There's a new small crack in the fretboard. But looking at the removed fret picture you see it is faintly there. The larger crack didn't open.
But, I decided that's enough excitement for one night. I'll wait until tomorrow to remove the neck.
The neck is off!!! And it was easier and much cleaner than the 1966 D40. But not without a minor problem. The fretboard snapped at the 15th fret. The slot was cut 2/3's of the way thru the fretboard. It took 2 steam sessions, 8 minutes & 6 minutes. The top of the neck started wiggling slightly at 2 minutes, so I knew the heel wasn't glued to the side of the guitar like the D40. With about 2 minutes left in the second session I could feel the neck getting looser and knew it was about to pop. The glue ran out a diluted black and was very sticky. It's not hide glue. The shim on the bottom of the broken piece of fretboard was loose and wavy so I clamped it in the vise to dry. A small piece of the top was loose so I clamped it. I'll take a few more pictures tomorrow once things have had a chance to dry.
Clean!! With something missing...
Somethings still not right...
A small piece of the top clamped to dry.
I guess a little of the side did stick to the heel.
The fretboard shim clamped to the fretboard piece.
The fret slot was cut 2/3's the way thru the fretboard!
NO heel delamination on this one!!
The sticky glue bubbling out of the steam holes caused fibers from the steam cloths to stick to the fretboard.
The fretboard fix is finished, the steam holes are filled, the 15th fret is back in, and the thin cracks are filled with thin superglue.
I put tape on the fretboard for the heavy filling of the steam holes with ebony dust and thin superglue.
Filling the holes. I found a water jug that has .018" thick walls and superglue doesn't stick to it well, it takes up most of the fret slot, somewhat minimizing the amount of hard stuff that has to be removed.
Cleaned with a scalpel, various saws (Carefully!!), and the edges broken with a file to make it easier to install the fret.
The fret installed. I use to small pieces of scrap wood and pliers to crush the fret in, hammering doesn't work when the slot has been hardened by superglue.
And I filled the fine cracks with thin superglue, a few times.
I hung it up and put a couple of rubber grommets on the wood dowels. That makes it very difficult to accidentally knock the neck off. The neck weighs 2.25 lbs! That would put a big dent in my head if it fell off!!
I undercut the heel, in preparation for sanding to correct the neck angle.
And made the nut blank. First cutting and sanding the length to 1.97" (50mm), then sanding the thickness to .189 (4.8mm), the sand the bottom square.
Then I used the half pencil to transfer the plane of the fretboard to the nut.
Then I sanded the curve in the top of the nut, leaving .05" (1.27mm)/.03" (0.76mm) (low E to high E) to cut the nut slots in.
And tapered the top back.
And I removed the saddle. Gladly, it was not glued in, but was snug in the slot. The saddle measures .104" (2.64mm)/.105" (2.66mm) thick, thicker at the ends. A .103" (2.62mm) gage block is tight pushing thru the middle of the slot.
Earlier this month I 3D printed a nut file guide, like I've done for other string spacings. The fun part was measuring the existing nut and figuring out it's string spacings to make the new nut as accurate as possible.
First I made a table with the string sizes from the D'Addario EJ39 (medium) 12 string set. This guitar will be played in low tunings. Then the spacings of the pairs. Then the nut files to be used. Then the slot size in the Nut Spacing Block.
I didn't convert all the numbers to metric.
It'll still need some work to get the string heights correct, but it's close enough to get started on the neck reset.
2 days ago I was finally able to get back to this. My goal is to get the neck back on this weekend. I sanded the neck joint surfaces to get it back together. Put tape with center at the 1st & 12th fret areas, and on the bridge to verify the neck is centered to the bridge. The neck projects to the top of the bridge. Put the tape on the heel at .04", filed and pull sanded the heel to the tape. The neck now projects .10" above the bridge. Pretty close. Put the guitar in the neck jig and reinstalled the strings. I had put a piece of tape on every string to mark them.
Then things started to go downhill. The is the longest guitar I've even seen, I had to remove the screw that keeps the neck clamping block from falling off to push it back an additional 3/4". Then it got worst. I knew the jig is barely capable of clamping a 12 string. With the guitar being so much longer, and the wide/flat heel, I couldn't safely clamp it, it looks like the neck wanted to pop out. I had bought some BORA clamps, with the intension or redesigned my neck jig to be based on the BORA clamp. It's time to do that.
The neck jig is done!! The 2x3 is just to keep the whole thing from tipping over, dumping the guitar on the floor. I don't think it needs to support the sides of the guitar. At least, not now. And no fear of it popping out!
I based this support on the Guild BEFORE starting the neck reset. I forgot to allow for the heel to become thinner, so I had to sand a bit of the support off.
I tuned it to the requested CGCGCD. I found the heel would pull away while I was tuning. Cranking on the knob made me nervous, I don't need to crack the side. I backed off and was able to much easier tighten it and close the gap.
The nut action is way high, probably .03" or more, as expected. The action is a painfully high 11/64" (.172") low E and 5/32" (.156") high E. But the saddle is a very high .22" low E & .19" high E. And the neck relief is a bit high. I had it adjusted flat to level the upper frets. And there's no way to adjust the truss rod without loosening the fragile middle strings.
I think it's time to record my observations in the spreadsheet and walk away from this until tomorrow.
Yesterday evening I did the final steps before gluing the neck back on. I loosened the D & G strings to adjust the truss rods 1/8 turn, took .030" off the bottom of the nut, sanded a 1/16" taper on the back of the dovetail, set the tape on the heel to .04", sanded & filed the heel. Tuned 2 steps down. The neck relief is good. The nut action is close. The neck projects .05/.04 above the bridge. The action is a little over 3/32" low E and a little over 5/64" high E. But there is a .01" heel gap (equals .015" at the 12th fret). He asked for the final setup to be set to 1 step down so I reset the heel tape to .01", filed and sanded to the tape, more in the middle for clearance. Then polished the areas around the heel and fretboard.
Now it's getting close! I glued shims to the dovetail and sanded them to get the shallow 5° dovetail to fit. I practiced the clamping, then glued the neck on with hide glue. The fun part is the strings get all tangled when flipping the neck all around. Everything gets clamped first, then untangle and install all the strings except for the D's & G's. I initially tightened them to 1 step down, but loosened them some a half hour later.
The shims before sanding.
The practice clamping.
The final clamping.
The heel clamped.
I mentioned to him the single B & E strings have cut a slot at the top of the hole, not the middle, throwing them off center. I later noticed the low G string is also off center. I suggested ramping all the pin holes since the slots where cut by the strings and the windings get stuck when removing the strings.
Yesterday I ramped the bridge pin holes, better centering the previously mentioned G, B & E slots; and just slightly opening the rest of them.
And sanded the outside of the nut to finish the fit. Reinstalled the strings, (tuned 1 step down), and finding the action 5/64" low E & 3/64" high E. Hmmm... 1/64" low on the high E side. And finding buzzing for many strings in the 13th thru 15th frets. The 14th fret hump is still slightly there, I will need to level those frets again. And make a new nut with the treble side .03" higher.
But to continue with my plan, I filed the nut slots to the final heights, and fit & glued the heel cap back on. The nut will probably need some sanding on the top again. The heel cap had some bits pf wood glue on the back so I sanded it on my sanding block. And it snapped in half!! With very little effort. Well, there's a little setback. Now I had to sand nearly 1/8" off of 2 pieces, and keep them inline. That took nearly 2 hours. In the end, it looks pretty good, except for the crack. Remember, that the original neck had been replaced probably when the guitar was newish. They didn't do it very cleanly. But, with the amount of glue they used it's pretty much impossible to do a clean neck removal on a Guild.
The prep, not wanting to risk getting any super glue on the finish.
I mentioned to him that the medium strings (EJ39) are a little stiff tuned 1 step down vs. 2 steps down. Maybe use Light's (EJ38)? He finally decided to stay with the mediums (more tone out of this huge guitar) and tune 2 steps down (DGCFAD), then he can go up and down. Hopefully, the action doesn't drop anymore.
So tonight I changed the tuning to 2 steps down. And as I predicted, the high G & E strings blew out. I clamp the strings to a piece of cork behind the nut to keep them from flying and impaling me, and that worked great again, no blood was spilled. But, the action is a little over 1/16" low E & a little over 1/32" high E. The neck relief is good. The nut action is great. The saddle sticks out .225 @ low oct E & .195" high E.
I started with leveling the 12th thru 15th frets to get rid of the buzzing up there (14th fret hump), but I found my straight edge tipping in the 6th thru 8th fret area, a lot for a few strings. So I taped the 3rd thru 16th and leveled them all. It's the only way to get it to play cleanly with low action. Leveled, crowned & polished the 4th thru 15th frets.
The saddle thickness is .102" on the bass side, .103" in the middle, and .105" on the treble side. The saddle slot is tapered side to side, you can't put it in backward without forcing it, so I always mark the bottom of the bass side with a "B". The existing saddle over all height is .22" treble end, .29" bass end, a larger difference than normal. I sanded the top of the nut to set strings farther out. and filed slight chamfers on the edges of the slots to reduce the chance for string binding. I made new saddle. It fits great in slot, and sticks out .275" at both E's. Sanded .030" off the whole bottom. Installed the saddle, the remainder of the strings, and tuned 2 steps down, except the G (4 steps down since it's about to blow). The action is a little over 1/16" low E & 1/16" B, I'd expect the high E to be a little lower. The saddle sticks out .23" to the outside of both E's (not the ends). The buzzing is all gone. Nut action and neck relief are good.
Taped & marked tops of 11th thru 16th frets.
The 14" radius x 8" long sanding block. There's 320 grit sandpaper only on one half, tape on the other. This allows me to sand a small area and the other end keeps the block level.
The offending high frets are neutralized!!
Then I found rocking in the lower frets.
Sanded to remove the high spots.
Sanded & polished.
Strings back on.
Yea, the saddle is higher than my normal .19", but the saddle fit in the slot is perfect, not forced in, but no shake & no lean. The first time the action needs a 1/64" adjustment, that'll take .03" off, bringing the height back very close to my normal height. There's a lot less tension on the strings tuned 2 steps down, and the second B & high E will not be installed.
I still need to put the new strings on, which will have the string tension of 2 more strings and one tuned up further. That should increase the action slightly. And I will check the action at 2 and 1 step down. I'll know more tomorrow.