Hello! I could not find any other discussions on this topic, so here is my first post:

A while ago, I did a neck reset on one of my own guitars, and it turned out I might have overset the neck angle just slightly. By my standards, the action is currently comfortably low with medium gauge strings. Now I intend to sell the guitar, and for all I know, the next owner might prefer a higher action. The problem is that I don't think the bridge can handle a higher saddle. The bridge is original and has not been shaven. The truss rod is non-adjustable. I did the gluing with regular white glue.

Is there a way of relieving the neck joint just a tiny bit? Anything at all would be better than nothing. I was thinking about using weights to increase the strain on the neck joint, and then leaving it under tension for a couple of weeks or something... Perhaps even carefully heating the neck joint area while under pressure. Would this help at all? Is it risky business? I would like to avoid having to re-reset the neck or installing an oversized bridge. What would you people have done?


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It is hard to judge exactly how high the action will be on a neck reset. I've been surprised more than once after doing my best measuring and calculating. One guitar that comes to mind is a D-28 that I replaced the top on. The neck set was such that I had to make a very tall saddle. This put more stress on the bone and it eventually cracked because of all the forward pressure on it. I tried to live with it but I eventually bit the bullet and reset the neck to correct this problem. A taller bridge will probably hurt the sound of the guitar some. If there is a solution other than resetting the neck, I'd be interested in hearing about it too.
Ronnie Nichols
I wouldn't jump the gun and raise the action until I got some feedback from potential buyers. After all, the action might be exactly where alot of players might like it. You might want to see how the action is with light gauge strings just to make sure you have that covered, as not everyone is comfortable with medium gauge strings.

Given that the guitar has a nonadjustable truss rod and you'd certainly want to avoid another round of neck resetting, you might want to consider tapering the fingerboard. A very moderate drop of about 0.5mm at the 12th fret isn't too tough to do, shouldn't compromise the integrity of the neck severely, and might make the difference you're looking for in the action. Of course, doing this means you're in for a fret job but I think the overall effort this way would be less than a neck reset and certainly would be less hazard to the finish.

Heating the neck with some sort of device is certainly possible but likely not very successful if the neck has a solid truss rod. Likewise, as Ronnie says, an overtall bridge and/or saddle is a pretty risky approach both tonally and structurally.

Beast of luck,
The question I have is how much saddle is protruding above the bridge now???
You can go as high as 3/16" and should not have a problem.
For my preference, I prefer the action at 7/64" low E and 5/64" high E with medium strings, measured at the 12th fret.

Otherwise, the only simple answer is to reset the neck. I redid a D-28 a couple years ago, that was overset, and it worked fine. I removed maybe .002" off the heel, below the fingerboard and tapering to nothing at the end of the heel. The only concern is throwing off the intonation, which in my case was still fine.

make it a new bridge ...a little taller....unless of course its some vintage....pre war martin or some such thing
Thanks for your replies! By the way, it is a 60s D-28 with some cleated cracks and a new maple bridge plate, original bridge.

Thanks for your advice! I don't think I will go for tapering the fingerboard, since the guitar is somewhat collectible.. I guess I should have said that right away, so sorry about that... Regarding the neck, I was actually thinking of heating only the neck joint, and not the neck itself. My thought was that this might soften the glue in the dovetail joint just enough to raise the action a tiny bit. Much the same way that leaving a stringed guitar in a hot car can raise the action permanently.

The saddle currently protrudes 3/16" above the bridge, which is normally supposed to work fine I guess. However, I just discovered that a small crack is beginning to form on the bridge on either side of the saddle because of the forward pressure.

Do you guys think that heating the neck joint is too risky to try?
its pretty risky considering what it is your trying it on ...if it was a 1983 yamaha i'd say go for it...i'm pretty in tune w/ the vintage world and a new bridge is the way to go especially considering it is forming a crack one is going to notice a bridge thats a 32nd taller..but thats just my humble opinion
Leave it till someone say's something...If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
Have you tried to increase the humidity? It might make the top swell up a little and raise the action just enough. I have a Martin D35 that had a weak top and in the summer when humidity levels rose the belly would increase and raise the action. It might not work on your guitar but what do you have to lose?

I'm not so sure about using med gauge strings on Martins w/o adjustable truss rods plus they're too damn hard to play.I have a '55 D-28 and would never put it under that kind of stress!
I have a 1936 D 28 martin that has had medium strings for the last 15 years since I have restored it from a box and the string height has not changed.

Robro Ron


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