Can someone enlighten me? In my woeful ignorance, I've been doing fret jobs and setups for over 30 years WITHOUT a neck jig! Despite the fact that I have never had a dissatisfied customer, I have been told that I cannot perform a PERFECT fret job without paying Stew-Mac £230 + postage for four bits of wood, a few screws and a couple of dial gauges ....and a further £60 to British Customs, which I would bitterly resent! I know William Cumpiano is slightly scathing about neck jigs, I don't know what Frank Ford uses, but I don't think I have seen it mentioned in his pages.
The only advantage I can see is the "WOW!" factor, when the customer walks in the shop and thinks. "this guy's really hi-tec!". It pays to generate mystique!
Anyone care to set me straight?

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Here's one example of attempts to address failures I encountered with the jig - rather than relying on perpendicular supports from the back rods, I attempted to maintain longitudinal force with strings.

I turned town a set of rollers of varying diameters to match or mimic the fretboard radius, which were arranged on the cross bar. With the instrument set up on the jig with tha table rotated in playing in playing position, neck adjusted, I would zero out the indicators. Then with rollers marched to the fretboard radius I would lock the frame in position, lower the roller bar to the strings, and then lock the strings up over the rollers on to the frame. Then with the strings tuned to the same tension (calculated based on new open length in frame relative to actual scale length), I could fine tune the height of the roller bar (constantly retuning) until the gauges again read zero. The assumption was that this would occur when the strings were pulling in the neck at the same tension and angle as when normally strung, and support rods at the headstock adjusted to account for gravity on the neck. Then the center support rods adjusted only to support deflection caused by leveling.

It didn't work. :)
I really need to proofread a bit more. Hope what I said is intelligible through all the typos.

FWIW , I will add my take on the matter. I tend more to the "Occam's razor" approach to guitar set-up.

First off, the fretboard is two separate fret "planes" (I know that they aren't actually "planes", but there is no other satisfactory term for them ... "surfaces" doesn't quite suffice). There is one "plane" from the nut to wherever the trussrod starts to exert force, and there is another plane from that latter point to the end of the fretboard. Relief is only applicable in that first plane. For the sake of brevity I will refer to that latter point as the 14th fret even though in practice it might well be the 12th fret or the 16th fret.

I take it as axionatic that in order to produce the lowest buzz-free action, a straight edge laid on the fretboard with the strings under tension should make contact with the first fret and the 14th fret, and should either just make contact with all the frets above the 14th, or else there should be a gradually increasing barely perceptible gap (ie fallaway). There should on no account be a gap between the straightedge and the top of the 14th fret, with the straightedge making contact with only the first and the last frets.The relief, obviously, is between the 14th fret and the 1st fret, and is whatever the player wants it to be. I do realize that many players do not seek the lowest buzz free action, but that is no reason not to dress the frets so that such an action could be achieved.

In order to achieve this geometry, I use the jig shown underneath. There are two end supports, and one center support. The center support is adjustable up or down to force the neck into the required conformation, and the neck is held in place by .019" thick polypropylene straps which are tensioned by ratchet buckles. Although the picture doesn't show it, the body simply rests on a foam support to ensure that the weight of the body doesn't distort the geometry of the fret tops. The pic also shows the three straps being used ... the center strap isn't really necessary most of the time. The pic shows a steel-strung acoustic ..I use the jig for both acoustics and electrics, and most certainly for classical guitars. 

When I do a fret dress, the guitar is first of all set up with the desired relief , the fret tops are blued, and the instrument is strapped down into the jig, with the strings on and up to tension. A thin shim is placed under the strings between the nut and the first fret to raise the strings a tad to allow the passage of my fret sanding channel (not a "beam") . You can actually do the dressing without raising the strings, but the noise is more than I, and I suspect most other people, could bear.The sanding channel is 19" long, and the section is 1 1/2" web with 5/8" wide flanges. The wall thickness is 1/16". Both flanges are lapped dead flat on a calibrated surface plate ( although calling it "calibrated" is slightly pleonastic ...all surface plates, by definition, have been calibrated ... it's a bit like saying "a trained nurse" .... all nurses are trained, by definition. I do like the sound of "calibrated surface plate",  however.). The channel has two different grits attached to each flange, 400 and 600.

The first step is to cover the abrasive at one end of the channel with parcel tape, to prevent the first fret from being abraded. The channel flange is then slipped under each string in turn, with the taped end resting on the first fret, and passed back and forth along each string path until the frets beyond the 14th fret are uniformly abraded. That takes care of the fret tops beyond the 14th, the frets which are not affected by truss rod adjustment.

The center adjustable post is now brought into play, and the fretboard is gradually straightened. This straightness is accomplished solely with the threaded center adjuster pushing upwards ... the truss rod setting is not altered. It is the wood of the fretboard which is being brought straight ... the fret tops are not a matter of concern at this point. The straightness is measured by three identical gauge blocks laid on the fretboard at the 1st and 14th frets, and the center block between the 5th and 6th frets. When the straight edge is contiguous with all three blocks, then the fretboard is defined as being straight. The main purpose of straightening the board is to ensure that after the subsequent leveling the frets are all of equal height. We have all seen examples of guitars having had freehand fret dressings resulting in the 1st fret being .010" (or more) lower than the 14th. Not good.

Once the board is straight, then the leveling from the 1st to the 14th is done with the channel (parcel tape removed, natch) and once all the blue is removed from every fret top, the center adjuster is lowered, the straps loosened, the guitar removed from the jig and the frets are crowned and polished. Obviously the neck automatically assumes the original relief once the center adjuster is lowered.

If you want a varying degree of relief for any or all of the string paths, it is a very simple matter to calibrate the jig for the required relief by using foil shims of the required thickness under the end gauge blocks, and adjusting the center adjuster until the blocks are again contiguous with the straight edge.

This process results in perfectly dressed frets, first time, every time. You need to have the knack of blending in the string paths while using the channel, but it's not rocket surgery.

Wow, thanks David and Murray. I know words are cumbersome in talking about this stuff and I appreciate the effort.There's not much choice if a forum is to be anything other than a social club.

      I spent some time when I first started making/ using a neck jig trying to do essentially what Dave did with his ingenious string tension roller thing. I tried applying a longitudinal force to match where the point of max relief was. I gave up pretty quickly. I felt I was already out on a limb time wise and told myself that even if I could somehow do it, I could never get enough return out of the cost of a fret job.

The simplified system I use now is like Murray's except I measure Tung rise (or fallaway) when strung, by setting a straight edge on spacers so it only contacts frets 1 and 12. The last frets location is measured relative to that line and I come up with a number for how much it needs to be canged, (dropped usually).

After leveling frets 1-12 or 14, I know I need to change the fallaway number X amount to have it come out as I intend when it is strung. This accommodates the neck jigs inability to perfectly reproduce the shape of the neck relative to the body without a longitudinal force.  Murray's system for the fret plane past the 14th is certainly more accurate and a great idea.

How do you prep the board during a re-fret with the straps Murray?

For frets 1-14,  in place of a longitudinal force, I put one dial gauge under the heel cap or body joint, one under the 1st fret, and one under frets 5-6 ( point of max relief). By moving the headstock support closer or farther away from the nut, and  pulling down some times with a strap at the nut, I can get the three dials to zero out at the same time. Insuring that the max point is the same un strung as strung relative to frets 1 and 14. 

For a classical, I induce back bow over a single point where I want the relief to center as Murray does, (and presumably as Dave and Hesh do out of a jig). I figure a small bend made by as few points as possible will produce, at least, a very smooth spline though them. Torturing a neck into a specific position with a lot of hold downs and supports,I fear, might make for more lumps and bumps.

The smooth spline thing is the explanation I imagine for the results that non-jiggers get or claim. After seeing dial gauges swing wildly under hand pressure in a jig, I think non jigged necks are making at least very smooth curves even if they are changing constantly as the neck is worked.

The time sink aspect of a neck jig is a problem. Almost as bad as long winded discussions on the internet. I am always striving to lesson the time to get an instrument jigged up by streamlining the jig itself. Fewer tools required, quick grips for clamping, etc.

I imagine, with the fast development of 3d imaging, we might be able to see what is going on during a non jigged fret dress. Or maybe just yawn as we hit the start button, yet again, on Stew-Mac's," new! bench top Pleck machine!".


I was looking for pics of my neck jig in use and came across how I at least get double duty out of it for neck removal.

Quote:"Anyone care to set me straight?"


To me.

Straightness is the Critical Issue.

I like to start from the point of Absolutely Correct Geometry.

To be honest, in the region in which I grew up in and live, there were always lots of Toolmakers and Millwrights.

In a Factory Manufacturing Plant, a Superbly Designed and Fabricated Jig, whatever it is for, is an Absolutely Necessary Piece of Kit for the sake of Consistency. They can be Beautifully Engineered.

Because what is possible to do by Hand once a day, becomes difficult or entirely impracticable to do with as Equal Accuracy and Consistency, when the once or twice a day, becomes many hundreds of times, every day.

In my mind, Neck Jigs are Historically Aligned and Borne from Ancient Luthiers, Workbench "Holdfasts", Bench "Dogs", Bench Holes for Dowel Rods and the like, stemming from at least the 16th Century, probably the 15th and far, far earlier, if we were only able to look closely enough.

The point is, although Bench Vices as we know them today didn't come into the 18th Century, from as far back as we know when Luthier made Instruments, they also required methods to hold and stabilise the wood they were working with, as they Crafted the Instrument.  Traditionally these were Built Into Benches.



Frankly, for a Busy Workshop, my view is that Neck Jigs are today, still at their Best when a Well Designed Solution is built into a Dedicated Bench.



Now, while a Ancient, Highly Experienced Luthiers Workshop run by a Family for  many years will have developed and acquired many, often quite simple,  Labour Saving Devices.

It's for  sure that less well established Makers, new to the Craft, would have found their own individual ways to do things by hand, and very possibly, just as well, and sometimes even better than the Long Established Workshop.

It's just that the Ancient, Long Established, Family Workshop Owner, will have often found it advantageous to Migrate Time away from many Basic Woodworking Tasks, to Other Necessary Roles. Delegating these Operations, Cascading whatever it is possible to be entrusted to others that work for them. This is how you Grow a Business.

And that is really the Salient Point. Increasing or at least Maintaining Levels of Quality, whilst Increasing Efficiency and Output Productivity. Whilst that is seemingly not at all a concern for Starting Up, One Man Operation, or an Established Luthier that has a Steady but not Over Booked Workflow. For an Operation that because of Location, Footfall, or simply an Ever Growing Awareness in the Community that they are THE people to go to for Satisfaction. There can come a point, where it makes sense for Hand Operations to benefit, from whatever means exist, to Increase Throughput.



However, any type of Jig is only as Good as the person that is using it.

In Factories, Operators under pressure for more Production, can always find short cuts to the correct processes, utilising them.

You can see this in many, many Factory Products, if you directly compare, what should be Identical Samples. The vagrancies and variations are caused by deliberate operational inconsistencies that are down to Individuals, and this using Jigs.

It's for sure that No Robot can do a job as well as a Skilled Craftsman at the Top of Their Game. They can however, Consistently do a Good Job, Day and Night, don't require Training Time to Acquire a Skill Set, and so for most consumers, and certainly Company Profits, provide satisfaction.



Because Playing Styles, can vary quite a lot.

Though to my mind they really shouldn't that much.

And because Woods and Building methods vary a great deal.

Which is convoluted later as Environmental Extremes have an effect.

All Guitar related operations, benefit greatly from Luthier Skills and Experience. 



Because, and here's the Key Principle.

They have the Ability to Evaluate, Interpret and Best Judge. 

All these Factors Simultaneously,  and achieve the Best Working Compromise.

Machinery tends to Level Down to a Common Denominator, which may be very fine, though for a Demanding Artist, Not Ideal.

So for me, it's not a case that a Skilled Luthier requires these devices, its rather more a question of business levels, and particularly when help is hired or because of anticipated growth.

For instance, a relative of mine is a Violin Maker, and though he has all kinds of Specialised Tools in his Workshop, the Overwhelming Majority of all his work is achieved using just Two Chisel Like Tools, that are Worn Down to Half their Original Length.

Were a New Employee to be told  to tidy the Workshop, they should be entirely forgiven, if they threw them in the Rubbish Bin without a second thought. Clearly, there is a Dichotomy, a Division, a Sharp Paradoxical Contrast in Tooling, Methods, and perhaps of most Significance, the level of Skill Set that is Required.



For Sure.

Jigs are needed in Factories.

Please don't jump on me for this, my friends.

But one of the Best Designed, Guitar Factory Jigs I've ever seen.

Is at the Ovation Factory, where Jig Sections hold the Top Bindings to the Body.

Using Compressed Air, Switchable Metal Jigs, individually press All the Bindings into Curves.

For sure, the same job can be done using Traditional Methods, but Expert Engineering can provide Alternative Techniques.



To me.

Whether a Neck Jig is Genuinely Required.

Comes down to Available Skill Sets, Speed and Consistency of Accuracy.

When the Level of Workload comes to the point of Extra Mechanisation being a Requirement.

My Preference is for a Dedicated Workbench with Highly Protective Surfaces, and this builds in Additional Stability and thus Accuracy, and I might say, Ease of Working too.

The down side to this is that whatever Solution is Built into the Bench has to be Designed and Fabricated Perfectly, as its difficult to alter or change once you have Created the New Work Station.

Obviously, if over the passing of time, one decides one wants to Upgrade or Change Out the Existing Technology for a Superior Incoming System, then it's obviously more inconvenient than swapping over a Transportable Jig.



I believe, if you get the Design Right.

The Potential Benefits far outweigh the longer term Potential Disadvantages.

For me it's not that either/or is De Rigueur, but more a matter of Genuine Experience versus Speed, Accuracy and Consistency, in a situation that envisions, Ever Increasing Workflow.

Stewmac and others provide a Turnkey Solution for New Operations. Whilst Experienced Luthiers may find that a Workshop Project where they Invent, Design and Fabricate their Own, Better Solution or simply Clone an Existing Proven Model, is an Interesting Challenge.



Finally, allow me to restate.

That New Kit is No Substitute for Confidence.

Unless you have the Genuine Experience to Properly Interpret, Neck Issues.

New Kit will Not Compensate or Make Up for any Skill Set that an Individual might be Lacking.

Whether the Work is done entirely "By Hand", or using "Jigs". Ultimately, the Final Result will be No Better than the Dedication and Performance, of the Individual.



Quote: 'I've been doing it my way for 3 billion years' is not really an answer is it?


With respect.

It has been and is, an answer for the 3 Billion Year Old.

You see Neck Jigs didn't appear first, and following that, Luthiers decide that they could use them to make Better Instruments.

Luthiers Fabricated Instruments by Hand, and far, far Later, Developed Additional Methods to increase Consistency, Accuracy and Output.



Which came first?

As the 3 Billion Year Old.

Had to work out, how to do it.


Who is Cleverer?


Here's an Analogy.

The Protestant Church, (whose Early Moravian Church Descendants, established a Factory and built Guitars at C.F. Martin in Nazareth) believe like all Good Protestants, in the Authority of Biblical Scripture.

However, Good Catholics believe in the Authority of Biblical Scripture and also the Sacred Tradition. What does this mean? Well, the Holy Bible didn't exist as we know it during the time of the Early Church as much of the New Testament didn't first appear until 70 A.D.


Matthew = Matthew - A.D. 55

Mark = John Mark - A.D. 50

Luke = Luke - A.D. 60

John = John - A.D. 90

Acts = Luke - A.D. 65

Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians,  Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy,  Titus, Philemon = Paul - A.D. 50-70

Hebrews = unknown, mostly likely Paul, Luke, Barnabas, or Apollos - A.D. 65

James = James - A.D. 45

1 Peter, 2 Peter = Peter - A.D. 60

1 John, 2 John, 3 John = John - A.D. 90

Jude = Jude - A.D. 60

Revelation = John - A.D. 90


Yet the Church Existed all this Time and Never the Less, Grew.

Its Teachings and the Manner in which this Movement Conducted itself was Governed during that era, by Oral Teachings, Practices and Traditions before the Complete Holy Bible, as we know it today, Properly Existed in Use.

Over 2,000 Years later, both these Forms of Denomination of the Christian Church, Successfully Exist.

I would suggest that both Luthier's that Work by Hand, and those that prefer to utilise Neck Jigs.

Are Equally Capable of a Successful Coexistence.




Like the Protestant and Catholic Arms of the Church.

There is indeed, a Great Deal that Both Types of Luthier Operation, can and should Learn from Each Other.


And that is the Most Salient Point of All!



The Early C.F. Martin Guitars has a Paper Label in the Sound hole.

Charles A. Zoebisch & Sons was what it said, and he was New York's Exclusive Distributor for the Brand.

The C. A. Zoebisch Instrument Company was Carl August Zoebisch Sr. and his sons C. A. Jr. Herman Ernst and Bernhard Zoebisch were a Brass Instrument Manufacturer in New York by 1860.

As well as Manufacturing Brass Instruments, they Imported, Distributed and Sold Musical Instruments and were especially aggressive in Promoting and Distributing C.F. Martin Guitars


Charles Zoebisch Jr. was an extremely successful Entrepreneur and Businessman. Being the Vice President of a Bank, he was also very wealthy indeed, and as a Devout Believer in the Moravian Church, he was Treasurer of the Moravian Church of America.

Although the Moravian Church had its origins in Ancient Bohemia and Moravia in what we know today as the Czech Republic. They were right at the forefront of what we know today as Protestantism, in fact, John Hus of The Bethlehem Chapel in Prague, was a central location for the Czech Reformation.

Hus was burned at the Stake in 1415, but The Moravian Church (Unity of Brethren) as we know it arose following that, and formed itself into an Organised Movement. This was One Hundred Years before the Establishment of the Anglican Church, and Sixty Years before Martin Luther began The Reformation.

Saxony was an area where The Moravian Church became firmly established, after fleeing persecution during the oppressive Thirty Years War. Under the Patronage of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a pietist nobleman. The Eighteenth Century saw the building of the community of Herrnhut. This New Community became a Strong Safe Haven for many more Moravian Refugees from several parts of Europe.



'The Moravians first came to America during the colonial period.

In 1735 they were part of General Oglethorpe’s philanthropic venture in Georgia.

Their attempt to establish a community in Savannah did not succeed, but they did have a profound impact on the young John Wesley who had gone to Georgia during a personal spiritual crisis.

Wesley was impressed that the Moravians remained calm during a storm that was panicking experienced sailors. He was amazed at people who did not fear death, and back in London he worshiped with Moravians in the Fetter Lane Chapel. There his “heart was strangely warmed.”

Moravians were able to establish a permanent presence in Pennsylvania in 1741, settling on the estate of George Whitefield. Moravian settlers purchased 500 acres to establish the settlement of Bethlehem in 1741. Soon they bought the 5,000 acres of the Barony of Nazareth from Whitefield's manager, and the two communities of Bethlehem and Nazareth became closely linked in their agricultural and industrial economy.'



This Land was Owned by The Moravian Communities, and very much akin in Landscape to their Saxony Homeland.

Christian Frederick Martin and his Instrument Maker pal Heinrich Schatz, both were from the Moravian Stronghold of Saxony, and in 1839 C. F. Martin moved from New York to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where their Major Factory is based Today.

The Martin Family joined The Moravian Communities Church and went from Strength to Strength. During the late 1840's, C.F. Martin was Designing and Building his Own Guitars, making New Business Contacts and Expanding Economically along with the Country as a Whole.

After the American Civil War C.F. Martin Established a Powerful and Dynamic Business Relationship with Charles A. Zoebisch & Sons, his New York Exclusive Distributor. And Charles Zoebisch Jr. was a Devout Believer in the Moravian Church, and Treasurer of the Moravian Church of America.



I feel that many Americans interested in Traditional Folk Instruments.

And the Roots of their heritage from Great Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and the  European Continent would be Fascinated to know a Great Deal More about the History of Music.

The Moravian Church had an Incredible Influence on The History of Music, particularly in America and it's a Compelling Story with Far Wider Implication than Most People Realise.

In Particular the History and Growth of Church Music, the Spread of Hymns we all would Instantly Recognise. Much of this is all tied up with the Growth, Influence and Missionary Zeal of The Moravian Church.

A Friend of Mine, another Oxford Professor, recently made a Documentary Series on The History of Christianity. The Series Traces the Entire History and Spread of Christianity, but for C.F. Martin Owners, this Singular Program below, entitled.

"Reformation: The Individual Before God". Deals in part with the Rise and Influence of the Moravian Church, and the Powerful Manner in which it Influenced The History of Church Music.

What I'm really writing is about is the fact that C.F. Martin Guitars, are Historically Embedded into a Far Deeper Set of Powerfully Strong Roots, than probably anyone realises.


Watch the Program, and Appreciate the Wonder of those Deep Roots in World History.

C.F. Martin is a Far More "Musical" Company of Greater Historical Significance than is commonly understood, But it's because of the Influence of the Roots that it Grew From.

I believe it's Impossible to Properly Understand the Forces that Drove C.F. Martin. Without Properly Understanding the Historical Musical Forces of the World in which he Lived.



You can expand the Movie to Fill the Screen

It's not far into the Movie before you begin to learn of the Moravian Protestants.

I must Confess to being Indebted. To my Friend Diarmaid MacCulloch, Kt, FBA, FSA FRHistS.

For helping me Better Understand the True Significance of the Moravians at Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

And Enthusiasts that visit the C. F. Martin Factory might also enjoy a Visit to the Moravian Historical Society based at 1740 Whitefield House Nazareth, whilst on a Day Out.



Diarmaid, as well as being a Notably Distinguished Professor at Oxford University. Has recently been Knighted for his Services to Scholarship.

So his Proper Title is Prof Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch. And Americans here will be Delighted to Know that he sits on the European Advisory Board of Princeton University Press.

When Decorated he stated: "He was Extremely Honoured, Flattered and Delighted by the Award which showed how Valuable Arts Subjects like the History of Religion were. They are the Sanity of our Society. Without them we wouldn't have Memory and we wouldn't Know How to Look at the Future Properly."



I'm sure many Fine Americans.

Will feel the same about their Nations, History and Heritage.

And So Much of that History and Heritage, is Explained and Covered in the Film. Do Watch it All the Way Through.

Whatever its understanding the significance and need of, whether its "Guitars", "Denominations" or the "Tooling of Neck Jigs". 

Looking back into History will reveal all we need to understand. Where the "Tooling of Neck Jigs" are concerned, again to my mind,

We find a direct link, as far back as we can go. 




You're not a soap maker by chance, are you?

I'd like to see a picture of your fret sanding channel.  Please?!!!!  Did you buy it or make it?  This is an awesome description of how you level.

 Quote:"You're not a soap maker by chance, are you?"



I can't imagine why anyone might ask that?

Never the less, thank you for your Stimulating Posts.

That I'm sure, everyone finds, So Interesting, as I do myself.

However, I grew up in an environment, where Historically Notable Designers.

Would come up with a New Idea by the end of their Working Day, and would need their Invention, Fabricated.

By the time they came in the very next morning, the New Part, The New Jig, or whatever was need to Manufacture it, was Ready and Waiting for them.




Every Manufacturing Facility I have "an interest" in, has its own Jigs and Fixtures Dept.

However, what was once upon a time, all done "In House", increasingly utilises Specialist Companies, mainly because of the Pace of Technological Advancement.

It's not enough to be Manufacturing a Premium Product today. Demanding Consumers, Desire Superior, Innovative Design and Engineering Solutions that Reflect their Own Upwardly Spiraling Aspirations and Highest Expectations.

Understanding what Consumers both Want and Require. Designing and Creating the Best Product on the Market. Bringing it into a Marketable Reality, Way Ahead of All the Competition, and if at all Possible, way before anyone else even thought of it, requires Fast Prototyping, and Fast Manufacturing Lead Times.

To that end, Many New, Innovative, ways to create Jigs and Fixtures for Prototyping and  Manufacturing Trials have been Developed, and are Increasing Utilised, as I Explained. Because the Technologies Involved are at times Cutting Edge, often on the Cusp of what is Humanly Possible, it's absolutely necessary to Employ the Services of Third Party Specialists who have Developed New Materials and properly understand All the Issues.   

Certainly we have "Hives" of Research and Development, and therein Highly Focused, In Depth Consultants that Advise on whatever Specialist, Industry, Manufacturing Technology you might consider. Additionally, there are Specialists who are dreaming up, New Ideas one couldn't imagine. It is The Future, ten or twenty years ahead.  It is Jaw Dropping, Mind Boggling Stuff, and to be frank David, I sometimes wonder where it will all End? Though I'm not sure if I feel like that, simply because of Innovative Technological Change itself. I think its the Sheer Pace and Scale of Technological Change, that perhaps I find most Challenging. By the time one is up to Speed on any Technology, it already appears to be, being Superseded and about to be Eclipsed, by some Newly Emerging Idea.

One way to stay ahead of that game, is to Fund, Innovative, Pure Research, of the kind that seems to happen less and less these days. So that happens along with more Focused, Applied Research, and at times, both flow out into New and Superior Performing, Products and Components. In addition, a special interest of mine and one that I have long been a Strong Advocate for, involves what I call a Multi-Disciplinary Approach. Today, it warms my heart that several Universities, have adopted this approach. Simply put, we all know that in certain Fields of Research, a point of impasse, is reached and however much money is thrown at a problem, its seems no genuine headway is made.

What is believe in, is the Capability to Step Back from a Problem, where the Specialists involved can't see the Wood for the Trees, right now, and in truth, haven't been able to, for quite a while.  If one has a Big Enough, Global Overview, of All the Research that is Going On, in Fields that might at first appear to be entirely unrelated. By Working and Moving Laterally, Across Completely Different Fields of Scientific Research, (rather than continuing to hit a brick wall), one can sometimes find that Seemingly Unrelated Research, can offer a New Way Forward, and not only Promise, but Bring Genuine Advancement, once we apply what has been learnt elsewhere, to Our Specific Problem. Where I live, today, this Method and Approach, has become Increasingly Normal and Easy to Accomplish, and is Strongly Facilitated by Certain College's in Particular, with which I have had links to in the Past.



But here's the thing David.

By utilising Rapid Prototyping Methodologies, and Direct Digital Innovations.

The Drop in Lead Time for Development is Staggering. Typically  what would have been accomplished in 18 days, now takes only 1 1/2 Days, an improvement of 92% In Performance.

But that's not the end of the story by any means. There is also a very  impressive, concomitant Drop in Costs, which is 58% over what could be today considered as Traditional CNC Machining in Aluminum.

Quite often, existing Aluminum Dies can be Lined utilising New Technologies to Prototype New Components and Parts. Despite this, I must confess that I find Traditionally Milled Turned and Bored, Aluminum Jigs and Fixtures can be a Thing of Beauty.


So you will appreciate, how I warmly enjoy.

Seeing the Pictures of the Various Aluminum Jigs

That the Inventive Luthiers on this Fora, have Developed.

As Working Solutions to Address a Practical Workshop Problem.



Despite all this.

My Irish Daughter in Law and my Son.

Have just returned from  some Family Celebrations in Slane and Dublin.


Here's the Jig they like the Most!




Peter you would like David very much and I know this from my own interactions with you in the past.  Both of you are as bright as they come!

Great to see you posting again and I hope that all is well with you my friend.

I always find the juxtaposition of large scale manufacturing and small shop manufacturing to be interesting. In the one, jig, pattern, tool making almost always happens, at least partially, away from the point of use and the people who will use the devices. Often the device is fairly complex and robust in comparison to a device made in a small shop environment. 

In a small shop, it usually the case that the designer, maker and user are all the same person. The device may be something that will be used over and over but it's pretty common for it to be a "one off" use item too.  I think that this changes much of the  process of creating the device. Most of the jig, pattern and tools that I seen in small shops are not as refined or as precise as what is used in a large production facility and I I think this is  because the person using it know exactly how it was meant to work and is able to compensate for its lesser quality. It's also often the case the the device is being made on the fly and/or, at the very least, on a shoe string budget ( if there even is one).  This just wouldn't work in a high production environment with it's separation of skills/jobs and their need for careful repeatability from what are often low/no skilled users. I think the intimacy between the builder and the product in a small shop is one of the factors that accounts for the obvious differences in the definition of "quality" a small shop setting and a factory setting and I think that it also explains why so much good work can be done with pretty simple tools/devices.

I love the exchange of ideas about the devices that small shops use and I think it has made a difference in the productivity of all small shops. There is certainly much less reason for a small shop to need to "reinvent the wheel" as they try to streamline their processes.  I also think it has lead to more refined and sophisticated devices that are affordable in a small shop environment. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, take a look at the "Green" book on tools you can get on the GAL publications page or look at the two volumes of "Trade Secrets" with the hundreds of good ideas compiled from many years of submitted suggestions.  A LOT of these ideas are still viable today but there are some that have been refined, sometimes by another person sending in an idea that's now published a few pages away from the original.

The discussion we've had here about the neck jigs has bought me a new appreciation of this collaborative process.  Just  David's post about his attempts to refine the neck jig  is worth reading the thread because of the information found in that single post. Rather than discourage me from trying one of these for myself, I find that this discussion has made me more likely to try one... just not with an expectation of the same accuracy I thought it would provide before. This was actually one of the things that made me hesitate. I wasn't sure that I was up to working to that standard.  NOW, I think that a neck jig could be a type of training tool to help me understand parts of a process that I don't understand  so well now. Rather than thinking of it as a tool to make accuracy, I'm thinking of it as a tool to reveal inaccuracy so I can learn to adjust my approach to fret work. ( I think this is the one area where I feel the most inadequacy.)  In my case, I will probably NEVER do enough fret work to get really good at it just doing it as I have been. 

I also see that it could help me just as a jig to hold a guitar while I work on it. It's certainly not something that I could use for every activity but there are lots of time that suspending the whole guitar "in space" would come in pretty handy. In fact, I've got some ideas floating around in my head that might allow me to use it for some of smaller instruments too, with some modification.  I can see where, used in this way, it could become one of my everyday tools. ( Maybe a Go box that attaches to the jig so I don't have to change the alignment of things as I glue on a top or back?)  I could even see where I might use more than one in a much simplified form so I could set up more than one instrument.

Anyway, I'm finding a lot of food for thought in this thread. Thanks everyone.  

Hi all. I am a hobbyist/amateur guitar repairer. Very interested in this discussion. I am not surprised to hear that most pros do not need a neck jig. But for me with no experience, I approached fret levelling with much hesitation.

I built my steel guitar holder before I'd read anything on the internet about repair....I figured I needed a device to hold everything steady. It is cork protected and loads a guitar in less than sixty seconds. I use it to pry a neck off and I have a variety of neck saddles that I can position as required. It's also very helpful when I'm using a router on a bridge. I clamp the holder in a vertical position when I reglue a neck.

By the time I decided to learn fretting and levelling, I had encountered Dan Erlwine's jig so I copied it and made an attachment for my holder. I use the attachment (the unpainted part) for levelling only. The first job and every one since has been perfect, i.e. no buzzing on any fret until the action comes down so low that they all buzz. The hardest part for me was getting my head around how to tension the truss rod when the guitar goes into the jig strung and tuned. I've got it sorted now and I can predict how much I can affect the relief, even with low-power Harmony rods. I have found that the gravity effect on vintage acoustic guitars is inconsequential, so I level with the guitar in its back only. I use a long piece of 1"x 2" steel extrusion to reads within .001" of dead flat. The idea is to not run the sandpaper off the frets at either end as I follow each string line. 

It's pretty fast to use, and it takes the anxiety out of fretwork for me. That's part of the definition of "hobby", isn't it?



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