I've got a 1954 Gibson J-185 in my shop right now that needs a neck reset. Badly. I assumed this instrument would have a traditional dovetail neck joint, and began to act accordingly. After my first unsuccessful attempt at releasing the neck (no harm done to the instrument, I promise), I discovered that the truss rod appears to from the neck all the way through the heel block, so that it's bolted at both ends. I unbolted it at the heel block, but the neck still doesn't want to release.

Is anyone familiar with this model of guitar, or this type of neck/truss rod setup?  I'd like some advice removing the neck before I attempt to proceed.

--D. Scott Nettleton

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Ah, yes. I kept meaning to respond to this.

Just to clarify, the only trouble here was that the truss rod was installed through the heel block. I never could pull it out; it's as if the cavity itself was tapped for the rod or (more likely) the rod was glued in place somehow.

I ended up removing the entire fingerboard as Ned suggested. I then cut into the top and the heel block, removing the wood that was restricting the truss rod. After removing the neck, I reinstalled the fingerboard and performed the reset as usual. I glued the wood that I had removed from the top and heel block back onto the underside of the fingerboard before reattaching the neck. She plays great now, and that makes it worth all the effort to me.

Pictures are attached.

--D. Scott Nettleton


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