I've been asked to make repairs on this Tama TG-120, a good(high?) quality Martin copy. Another guitar left in it's case, in a closet, for years, unplayed. it will need a neck reset, among other issues. Has anyone had experience with these, and can say if it's a standard dovetail joint, that separates (relatively) easily, i.e. steam(or now, Stewmac's Heat Stick)?

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I’ve never worked on one but you could remove the 15th fret and drill through the fret slot to see if you hit the dovetail opening. That is normal what I do when I’m not sure.

as you probably know the neck block has shifted and will need repair.


I'd leave the neck in and crank it back as I glued and reinforced that nasty top crack and shifted bloc.  I'd cut the bridge to lower action as possible.

Then, I'd tell the owner that's the end.   A Tama in perfect condition wouldn't have anywhere near the resale value to support reset/refret in these parts. . .

But before anyone chucks the whole thing in a dumpster, take a close look at that pickguard. Some of those guitars had genuine tortoise guards...

There's the resale value.

Thanks for all your replies. I would certainly repair the fingerboard crack/shifted neck block(using Frank's informative photo essay on the technique!), before any reset. I was really wondering, regarding a neck reset, if the durn joint was fastened with 'AMG' or Asian Mystery Glue, as on Yamaha red labels, etc, which can prevent the joint being steamed apart. 

While I'm assuming it would need a neck reset for good action, I won't be able to tell, until the fingerboard crack is fixed, and I can string it up to tension. The guitar seems very well made, solid rosewood, and this series gets good reviews online. The owner will have to decide, once I give them an estimate.

Greg, how can one tell if the guard is genuine tortiseshell? It does look nice, but I assumed it was celluloid.

REAL tortoise????

Don't recall such a thing from those or any other days.

Easy to tell real tortoise - just stick it with a red-hot needle.  Smells like burning hair. . .

I recall their lit saying so. We sold a few of those, and those pickguards sure didn't look like any other tortoisy plastic of the time. Not just the pattern but the surface quality.

Resale is a consideration, but apart from making sure a customer knows they could replace the guitar for less than a repair, i dont like to tell them it isn’t worth fixing.
I had a 50 dollar watch that I had sentimental reasons for putting money into, the guy told me it was junk and really put me off.
When people want a cheap half ass fix on a cheap half ass guitar, that I usually won’t do, but if someone wants to put a million bucks into a wall hanger I don’t refuse because they have their reasons usually.

Meant to share this a few weeks back. I wasn't actually looking for the truss rod but I found it while restringing this Tama. Ended up re-fretting it. It has a good neck angle and I was very surprised at how good it sounds with everything sorted.

That picture is now on my computer desktop for a while, as a reminder to think outside the box and to look in "funny places" when something's not obvious. 

Thanks for the tip.... and it also helps that you took a big, clear photo!

Mark, nice contibution to this story. Looking closely, there is wool fibers stuck in the splintering surface of that worn fingerboard! I’ll bet the owner loves this guitar. Did you repair that wear?

Here's a long answer. Given the age of the guitar, the fingerboard (f/b) was fairly uneven both longitudinally (not flat along it's length) and laterally (various radii) and the divots pictured were larger in footprint and deeper. The neck angle was low ~ .035" so I took the opportunity to both improve the neck angle and level the f/b by sanding and planing with a bias towards the headstock. I removed ~ .020" total at the nut, tapering to zero at the 14th fret. This took care of the f/b, most of the divots, and has the effect of fooling the guitar into thinking it's had its neck reset to some degree. After fretting etc. the neck angle now measures .015" low which is just about perfect for this guitar. But, to answer your question about the divots, I left them as you see them. Frank has the best technique for filling them that I've come across, but the owner didn't want to purchase more of my time :) 

Good story, Mark. I like that fb tapering technique. I’m sure you are a meticulous worker.

Fooling the guitar is an interesting concept! Thanks for the response.


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