Hi all,


I am contemplating a neck reset on a 71 Gibson Heritage Custom acoustic.  I know the guitar is not hardly worth the effort.  It belongs to a friend, and I'd like to make it playable for him again.  Problem is, it has a 3 piece mahogany neck, and I'm afraid of delaminating it in the process of steaming the dovetail joint.  Does anybody have any tricks to keep that from happening?


Thanks in advance.


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I would not think you should have any problems it's not like you were going to take the fret board off.  Did you ever think of cutting the neck off and making it a bolt on neck??? Bill...........

I had thought of a bolt on, but not cutting it off.  Would you use a razor saw for that?  Starting at the heal cap?


Thanks, Kirt

Since I do lots of Yamahas, I've become very acquainted with the saw-off method of neck resets;  yes starting at the heel, flushcutting pullsaw.

Jeffrey, Thank you for the demonstration, I will definitely consider it.


Cheers, Kirt

I use a Multi purpose Oscillating tool for cutting the neck off. You just tape a piece of thin shim steel along side of the neck to protect the ended of the guitar from the saw works great.Bill.............

I avoid gibsons from this era. Smetimes the neck blocks are glued up and coming apart (check inside with a mirror to see if it is a two piece).

The tenon cheeks will delaminate if the glue joint is on the tapered part of the tenon.

Some gibsons from this era have a tenon that is the same width from top to bottom (like a mandolin), not tapered in width like a martin or slightly older gibson flat top. This is a challenge to adapt to if you are used to resetting a martin type dovetail.

I have reset at least two gibsons from this era where they over-set the neck when they cut the heel, then glued tapered shims to the neck heel to correct the angle. Of course, these shims don't stick to the end grain of the neck and don't really hold well to the sides of the guitar. This can be a real mess to clean up after. If you do encounter this, the chances are that you will know before you even take it apart. Those shims are inadequate tenon shoulders and the joint will probably be failing and the shims delaminating from the tenon.

Doing neck sets on these guitars is often a money loser and or an exercise in frustration. These potential curve-balls can be fun to trouble shoot and adapt to, but beware if this is a for-profit venture.

The only real way you'll know is to do it. In my experience, the vast majority of these necks come out with only a little trouble. Don't oversteam the joint. Ensure you've got good steam exit holes by which to regulate the volume of steam. I sometimes drill a small hole in the face of the neck block and use it to inject the steam, allowing the excess to vent through the holes I've drilled in the fret slot. 

Most Martins come apart in 5-10 minutes. These might take 5-30, but most take 15. I will steam for maybe 3 minutes at a time, with a break to work the neck around. Use your ears as well as visual cues. I use a neck separating tool for some of these, but I also like to wrestle with it mano a mano, as I think "feel" plays a great part in getting the neck out.

Be patient, use your head. And don't cut it off. You'll be much prouder of the repair if it's accomplished traditionally. I've nothing against bolt conversions, but only as a last resort.

Mark, you hit everything on the head with this one. I prefer the mano a mano method as well. The jig allows you to apply too much pressure, too easily and too soon. You really have to wait for a Gibson to give in, and patience is the key.

Thanks so much for the advice everybody.  I think I'll steam it off.  I still have to talk to the owner.  Do any of you blow cool air on the heal like Frank describes.  Seems like that would help some.  The heel is tapered down to the heal cap and I can see where the laminations feather out to nothing, so I can see where it would be a big problem if they start to separate.  When I get some time I'll post a couple pictures.




Kirt, see this page for tips:

See step 2 for one answer to your question. Then study all of Frank's links because he's got the kinks worked out ,and you don't have to reinvent the wheel when you make your tools and jigs. 

Thanks Frank Ford! Hope you are doing well!


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