I recently acquired a 1961 Hofner Verithin (very-cheap, due to a number of dubious mods over the years, fitted with a factory Bigsby B6. The B6 has no tension roller bar, which means the strings exit the tailpiece fairly high off the surface of the guitar.
This could be a nice guitar if only the neck were angled sufficiently. As it is, even when there is zero break angle over the bridge, the action is still at least 1/16" too high at the 12th fret. One solution to this would of course be to remove the Bigsby, use a trapeze type tailpiece, and lower the saddle height.
However, I (and my son) would like to keep the Bigsby if possible, which means doing a neck reset. I assume the approach to steaming off the neck would have to be different than the one used for most other Hofner archtops, such as this nice example involving a Beatle bass, since the Verithin's neck tenon seems to be set quite far into the body (see the photo at the top of this page).
I know ES-335 type guitars are notoriously difficult to do a reset on (and rarely need one) - has anyone had any experience doing a neck reset on a Verithin? Any tips would be very much appreciated.
On reflection, I'm wondering if this guitar was originally fitted with the trapeze tailpiece, rather than the Bigsby (and aluminum Bigsby bridge) it now has. The Bigsby was actually mounted off-center and someone obviously made a couple attempts at drilling the mounting holes in the correct spot - I can't believe Hofner would have done this, and yet the Bigsby is clearly a 1959-61 type that was made specially for Hofner.
Interesting - I think that ad, plus the 2 photos I'm attaching, clinches it - I think my Verithin originally had the trapeze and at some point, someone did a clumsy retrofit with the Bigsby. These are both '61s of the same type as mine.
I just finished one of these.
Not sure of the model but this one has a really cool looking different vibrato, probably their own design, and no pup selector switch.
I think it had been apart before so some aspects may not apply, but I'd be happy to share my experience.
Disassembly took longer than one would expect from a non-dovetail joint. A lot of on again-off again with the steam and a bit of muscling. There was quite a bit of excess glue (aliphatic) in the gap between the end of the tenon and mortise, which makes me think there was previous work. It just wasn't as neat as other Hofners I've worked on.
The fret board extension was kind of recessed into the top, which is something I've not noticed before on these. It was difficult to remove and when it did finally come off, part of the top beneath the extension came with it, part stayed put, and part was missing! Another hint of previous work? I cleaned up the damage and laid in new wood.
I shimmed the bottom of the mortise to get my angle and adjusted the cheeks of the heel as needed. The tenon got paper-thin shims on either side to tighten things up. The fret board extension got a shim too. I paid extra attention in fitting the extension tight to the top as I think this area really adds strength to this rather shallow mortise and tenon joint.
Everything went back together with hot hide glue.
Really cool guitars but part of the problem may lie in their "Verithin" nature, seems like there is a bit of body distortion going on in the neck block area on the ones I've seen.
Hi Scott, thanks so much for sharing your experience. The method you used for setting the angle is about what I was thinking of doing too, so it's really good to have that confirmed.
I won't be able to get to this for another 2-3 weeks, but will definitely give it a try.