I have an FG-180 red label made in Japan.  The neck needs reset on it.  I have done some research and have read that there is a possibility that they used epoxy in the neck joint.  My repair skills are not up to working on the joint if this is the case (experienced woodworker but first work on a guitar other than refinishing one).  I don't want to ask a dumb question here, but, can I fabricate a new fretboard that would make the action more manageable rather than resetting the neck?  The guitar is not in good shape (scratches and scrapes, cracked bridge and bridge plate, a lot of use, etc..).  I am going to repair the bridge issues and clean it up the best I can.  It belonged to my dad and has some sentimental value but I do not intend on making it a collectors piece, just playable again.  Any thoughts on this I would appreciate.  Thank you.

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You should be able to reset the neck fairly easily on this type of guitar (polyvinyl or AR glue in neck joint). If it's similar to what I've encountered in the past:

- Laminate top with Spruce(not mahogany) for the middle ply
- Truss rod Adjustment at the headstock (acorn nut with slot for flat-head screwdrivers)
- Original Tuning keys with Higher ratio than typically seen on import guitars.
- Very Lightly Braced
- Red Label, Nippon Gakki etc. etc...

Should be fairly straightforward with a neck removal jig. A lot less work than making a new fretboard. Converting to a bolt-on would be even less work!

*Be careful when wiggling the neck for removal, the neck block is made of spruce.*

BTW FG-180s are wicked guitars!
Sometimes the mechanical fit of the dovetail in these is so tight, that the steam just locks up the joint. Consider a saw-off, conversion to bolt-on.

This guitar will be well worth the effort.
how exactly do you saw the neck off? I use a Japanese Ryoba saw, but I've never been really happy with it, there must be a better way. I've seen the surgical saw that Frank has, looks good, but if I could find one here in Germany it'd cost me a fortune, if I know the industry here. Any suggestions as to what to use instead?


I use a flushcutting Japanese pullsaw, from Japan Woodworker, with an extremely thin kerf. Blue masking tape is all I use on the shoulders, believe it or not. I tune the guitar up very high, to help open the joint, and when it's opening up closer to the top, I untune, and use a wedge to keep it open. As soon as the blade touches trussrod, I stop, obviously. I modified the blade, so I can get in closer with the tip, to pick out as much wood as I possibly can. There's usually a very slight breakaway, around the trussrod.

I'll flatten out any jaggedness from the sawing on the body, before I do any sandpaper flossing.

I got a used Fein multitool, used it a few times a la Frank's method, no longer do so. It turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, and I think Frank has gone back to handsawing, when he has to do one of these jobs. I found that the thin blades of the jewelers' slitting saws wandered around too much in the cut.

I find that I really like not having all that moisture injected into the neck block & neck heel, which takes a good while to dry out completely.

Let me know if I can be of any help, further. I'll take pictures, the next time I do one.

And, Chris--

You think this guitar sounds good, now? Wait'll you reset it, with a nice tight bone saddle--these old ply Yamahas are really eye ( and ear) openers.
I have an FG-180 with a reset neck and bone nut/saddle and I can testify to the excellent tone. Since this guitar was worked on by a local luthier a few years ago, I have graduated from luthier school myself and am now faced with performing this procedure on my daughter's FG-180 red label. I keep reading about the saw-off and convert to bolt on technique but can't really find any details. Can someone point me to an article or some pics? I follow you on the heel sawing procedure above, but then what? How do you loosen the tongue? What all is involved in the conversion to bolt-on? Thanks for any help.

The tongue loosening is the hardest part, IMO. The extension's glued down with the same AMG, so it takes a long time to get it to let go, and simultaneously, you've been heating whatever holds the plies of the top together. Always a bitch of a job.

There are some photos here, though none of the actual sawing-off process: I no longer use the hotshot drilling jigs, and in fact would rather use one hangerbolt, centered.

Frank's seminal article on this is at, I'd post the exact url but it's not loading right now.
I think it's, "Impossible Neck Reset".

Let me know if I can be of any further help.
Thanks for the reply. I have searched for Frank's article to no avail. If anyone has the link, I'd appreciate seeing it. The old Yamahas are worth the trouble to get them playing correctly, IMO. They sound great.
I found the link in another forum article. Here it is:
Nice photo album Greg!

- Steve
Thanks for some good tips, and mentioning your experiences with the Fein multitool: I've been looking at those on and off for months now, but could never quite make up my mind to buy one: It looked like it could've been a good idea, but I wasn't sure, and spending €170 (which is what the "starter edition" costs here), hoping it was going to be a solution, was too risky for me. Bosch has something similar for about €40 less, but with only 180W instead of 250W, and then Bosch green made in Romania (!) Lots of plastic and sloppy tolerances, no thanks.
You've made up my mind for me, and I've banished the idea for good. Instead of that, I'm going to look around for a Japanese saw with a really thin kerf, that's the main problem with the Japanese saw I have now, the kerf is too wide, that's what always made me unhappy when trying to saw a neck off with it. 40 years spent buying tools, and I still haven't got everything I need :-)

Graham , if you want a European source without the airfreight and import duty costs, try this:

sounds pretty close.. Probably also worth having a look at some of the stock at Dick Fine Tools.



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