It's pretty simple and straightword. Take off the coverplate, and remove the cone assembly, then you can see how the neck is attached. The necks are not glued on, there is a dowel stick. Basically you recarve the heel contact and raise the dowel stick attachment. You normally don't have to remove the dowel stick from the neck either.
I have seen some old wood body Dobro that didn't have a dowel stick but instead a neck block with a dovetail neck joint.
Jim, I understand the basics as you've described them.. although i've heard varying opinions about recarving the heel on these guitars.
Greg, yea I do have 2 years repair experience after graduating from roberto-venn.. which isn't much experience in the long run, i know.. i consider myself an ambitious rookie. And there is an excellent and reputable repairman in town here who allows me to knock at his door in times of need. No I haven't started yet. The patient is a mid 30's duolian that belongs to a friend, who isn't in a rush.
I own a newer National myself and upon getting it (3 years ago), perhaps against better judgement, I opened it up took out the cone and excitedly examined the insides just to see what goes on in there. Looks straightforward and simple enough... yet not everything always is once you really start taking things apart and trying to fit it all back together.
I was wondering if anyone knows of a reputable and detailed description of the process, either in book or on the web. I didn't find much by doing a quick google search or scanning frets.com.
Let's get going! When you take off the coverplate, make note of any odd screws so you can put them back in the same holes. Also mark the cone and the well with a line so you can get it back in the same orientation. The screw through the tailpiece, or sometimes a screw just below that, goes into the end of the dowel stick. Also there are small screws hidden by fingerboard dots that thread into wood blocks inside the body. Drill out the dots and remove the screws. The short dowels wedged between the dowel stick and the back are held in place by nails through the stick. When you tilt the neck back, you will need to replace those with longer ones. There will be some shims in there too to make sure everything is tight. When the neck goes back, the stick comes forward, so note if the dowel stick has enough clearance under the well. If not you'll have to relieve it.
How's it going so far?
Thanks for chiming in.. 2nd, 3rd, and 4th opinions are great!
Paul- good idea! the teachers always did stress that we could check in post graduation. I think i'll be callin' Kris soon.
Greg- thanks for the info! everything you described so far more or less matches how i envision the process in my head.. where I start to get fuzzy is the heel carving/non-carving.. i've reset necks on a couple dozen guitars, mostly kay and harmonys and all standard dovetail, so I understand the idea/process of carving a little off the heel to change the angle. I heard somewhere to NOT carve the heels on these old metal body guitars. It seems that when you adjust the dowel stick, that would leave a slight gap near the fingerboard side of the heel, if you didn't carve a little off the back. Is there a good reason not to carve the heel?
I won't be starting this for a couple weeks likely, so by then I should have a wealth of info about it all. I'll post progress.
You should remove material at the bottom of the heel, like any other reset. Where the tailpiece screw goes into the end of the dowel stick, there is (usually) a wood shim. You will need to make this thinner or shorten the dowel stick to snug the heel up to the body.
I think it was Bob Brozman who said you should never remove material from the heel in his book on Nationals. He claims that it would ruin the intonation. However we all know that with any neck reset the material removed from the heel should only be at the bottom of the heel not the top, creating greater neck angle.