Sorry Paul, I guess my question was not specific enough.
I am not coming at this from a beginner point of view.
If the fingerboard and/or frets are going to be leveled by a flat tool, the neck must be held in a specific position while this is done. If a truss rod is ineffective or absent, some method must be used to hold the neck in position at the moment the tool is passed over.
In my world it must be within a couple of thousands of an inch.
I have not heard anyone explain how they can do this with the classical neck example I gave above.
Even though every fretting situation is indeed going to be different, this does not preclude general discussions about how best to hold a neck in position during leveling.
The very point of my post was that the specifics seam to be avoided by non neck jiggers.
Sometimes the," every instrument is different" sounds too much like Hesh's ,"I've been doing it this way for 35 years and it has worked........."
Not trying to offend, just get down to the nitty gritty.
I think David is saying you can't level frets properly on a curved/bent neck so how do others do the job without a jig? It's exactly the kind of question I'd ask. 'I've been doing it my way for 3 billion years' is not really an answer is it?
I too am not looking for an argument either but I will enter an arena chained to you if that's what the people are baying for :P (that's probably not quite true)...
I wanted to second some of the things that Paul said AND add that it took me years to "begin" to understand how we do fret work. I say begin because obviously there will always be things to learn.
I also found that when I was a builder only there was no way that I would ever learn this stuff because I did not get enough opportunity to practice what I had learned. When only building it may be some months between fretting sessions.... not enough for me to get it down.
For any real answers I fear we will have to wait for my patent to go through on a Torque Pick and Digital Fret Buzz Analyzer. Only then will we have the ability to have a perfectly played "One Note Samba" on a guitar without a customer wondering aloud "Can you hear that ? Can you hear that?" Science.
Fascinating ! I never realised when I asked my innocent question, that this would run and run!
It's been good to have heard other points of view and be given an opportunity too rethink my oown take on this.
Sufficient to say that I have never ( to the best of my knowledge. I may be completely misguided in this!) felt the need in any of the setups I have done. This includes building and fret leveling classical guitars with variable profile across the strings.
I would concede that a bad backbow might well give me pause for thought, but fortunately have so far not had to face this problem.
Whatever my views, thanks for continuing to ponder the subject and give us all the benefit of your valued opinions and findings.
Sorry, got caught up in my geezer stories...
Regarding the non-jigger articulation consider this. Do we have to preserve that .015" relief or... go for level, achieve that, and then impart relief including that .015".
For me much of how I approach any fret work or getting the relief that I want were I want it starts with observing and noting what is under string tension and then correcting accordingly.
Achieving level, using bluing and long beams that are perfectly flat and checked on a calibrated surface plate is a pretty good baseline and something that we all can understand.
Simply orrienting the neck with the support in the middle of the area where you want the most relief and then some slight finger pressure on the head stock to induce a bit of back bow makes the area where we want relief proud of the rest of the board/frets. Be it a bare board or the frets themselves relief can be milled in as desired.
By the same process excessive relief can be removed as well again by orrienting that neck support fulcrum and now pulling up on the head stock with the free hand while using the beams you can correct a neck that say has more relief on the treble side.
In either example the degree of relief imparted can be what ever we want and carefully checking along the way gets me where I want to go.
OTOH going back to observing what is, under string tension first goes a very long way in how we approach any job. A mental plan is made and followed and most of the time it's gets us where we want to go.
For years, even still now, lots of folks used weights on the shoulders of the instrument for say Martins with non-adjustable rods.
Necks can be manipulated and some necks gravity does it's thing too so why not use this to our advantage. After all it's already there!
You could call it a "touch" thing like hitting a draw in golf but way easier to reliably do time and time again.
Dave Farmer replied:
Ah, some non-jigger nitty gritty articulation. Thank you!
I use a neck jig just like you describe using," neck support". The difference is, If I want to remove say .005" of relief in a non truss rod neck that has .015", with simple math I can pull back on the neck, set the dials and supports, and go to work knowing it will come out just as I intend. I can even stop, talk to a customer, go have lunch, check the dials and pick up right where I left off.
If I put an instrument on my jig and support the neck as you do, presumably on a bench top, and try and hold the headstock down the appropriate amount with my left hand, while simultaneously leveling the fret swith my right, the dials will show it is very difficult to hold steady and in the right location.
How would you know you were pulling back exactly .005" if that was what you were shooting for?
You must be a far better golfer than I. Seems like putting a draw on a 300 yard drive and landing it in the hole
Dave, at the end of the day when the project is completed, what maters is that it is done well. How you get to that point is less important. A repeatable method that you use to keep the time factor reined in and gives you predictable results should be a mainstay in your bag of tricks. If the neck jig is what works and the job is done well, then you should not feel somehow inadequate or less of a craftsman because others use a different method.
I totally agree with you Paul.
I would like to give up the neck jig because it slows me down. This topic interests me because those who say it's not necessary seem to fall into a couple of camps.
If someone says they don't use a jig because it is overkill and they can't make enough money if they use one, that makes sense to me.
It's the idea that they can be just as, or more, accurate without one that I find difficult to understand and does cause me to question my adequacy.
I'm not saying it's impossible. I just haven't heard how its done. (unless Hesh really can just push on a headstock, hold it there while he sands, and know he's removed the right amount of material in the right place).
Believe me, I'd toss that sucker in the bin tomorrow if I felt I could do as good a job with out it.
Hesh explained a little of his method.
Do the others, who don't use a jig, support the neck and push on it with their hands while they level too?
If you push on the headstock what holds the body down?
Your right leg?
Isn't that a just an awkward jig with no indicators to tell you what's going on?
That is the question I was hoping to hear answers to when I challenged people to explain.
The next time I have one anchored to the rack, I'm going to set the dials and try again to hold a long flexible neck steady with just a support and my hands.