Hey all…

I've been enjoying hearing everyone's opinions of and methods of bridge shaving and wanted to collect some current thoughts on slipping the block.

I went a year or so without doing any and have now done 3 within the last month and was very pleased with the results. 

I guess I'm just surprised I don't hear more about this method since it can be so effective at correcting neck angle. 

Are people still doing them or has this method been abandoned for some reason? 

I'm finding that I can make decent money per hour charging between $150 to $200 dollars to slip the block and do a full set-up. 

I'm not offering this as an option on high value instruments. Usually old Simon & Patricks, Yamaha's, etc…


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This post and the post on HHG has me thinking, why would any manufacturer use epoxy on their neck joints and fret boards? Do they not think their instruments could ever be collectible? By making them unserviceable they pretty much insure they will never be collectible. I'm sure they use epoxy to speed up production and make strong bonds, but I find it very short sighted. Once the ravages of time have rendered the instrument unplayable, it goes in the trash, that would not attract repeat customers in my view? Just a rant I guess.

Back when slipping the neck block was an accepted practice, back in the 60's and 70's, injecting steam was a fanciful idea. Most basic shops didn't have steam pumps handy, and without one, exactly what were your options? This innovation has elevated the art! Thanks to those who thought outside the box. Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm going by what I've read. My point being, it's easy to look back and frown on this method now, but at the time, it was their best option.

Russell Kingery

I agree it's a no-no on the neck block, but plenty of builders do use epoxy on fingerboards.  It releases fingerboards fine with heat.

Thanks Glen, I did not know that. I thought epoxy was permanent. I wonder how long heating pads have been around? I see them at LMI for sale, but I don't know how far back they go? Hot knives and such are as old as time. But I doubt they would move a dovetail neck joint? I've got some paper LMI and Stew Mac catalogs that go back 30 years or so? And it is amazing all the new things available to luthiers in the most recent catalogs that were not available back just in the 1980's. I can only imagine that many of the tools used in the 60's and 70's were hand made.

Back in the 70s and 80s we used pressure cookers with a bicycle pump hose and a basketball needle to take a neck off. Cappuccino makers weren't so easy to get back then. We did make more tools and I think we were better for it. We used hand tools a lot more, I was taught to radius fingerboards with a Stanley #4 and to play a guitar to find the high frets. 

I have no issue with planing a bridge, often it solves the problem for the life of the guitar. I would far rather see a novice plane a bridge than do a neck reset. Even on a vintage instrument. A vintage bridge can be replicated well enough to not be evident. A mediocre neck reset would be difficult to hide.

Thanks John, I wish this site had a, "Like", button. I'm new to the scene, and have only been learning for the past 5 or 6 years, but feel that it is very important to know how things got to be the way they are, and how things were done before all this modern gear was available. So I find everything said by my, "elders" to be valuable.

I make my own tools when I can, not just to save money, but the satisfaction and understanding I get from it. I have made a few precision straight edges, sanding beams, fret beveling file block, and looking at that plexiglass bridge routing jig of Hesh's, I'm sure I could make one of those with a detailed drawing. The pressure cooker is a brilliant idea! I'm thinking of one of those new Shark steamers? I don't suppose it needs a lot of pressure to work? And makes tons of steam. Used in conjunction with one of LMI's heating blankets should work like a charm? But, as you said, all of this is of no use unless the user knows what he is doing.

Something I've done here a few times this past year, I've purchased old dirt cheap guitars just to take apart and put back together. They are not worthy of the money invested, but the education is priceless. If I trash it, I've lost a few hundred worst case, but so far I've only made money. I wish it were possible for me to apprentice, but reality gets in the way. So thank you John for the benefit of your experience! See, if there was a "Like" button I wouldn't have written any of this!

Russ K.

In the 70s I did dozens of these.  It was the standard way to do a reset in the area I worked in (Berkeley).  I think it is still appropriate for some instruments.  But it is not taught anywhere so far as I know, and those of us who are familiar with the job are getting old. 

I am actually reluctant to say much more about it here.  In the world of internet one-upsmanship it has become popular to sneer at this method as if it were something akin to bloodletting and leeches (oh, wait on the leeches!). 

I wrote a long reply but then deleted.  I think it's fine to slip the block - but I'm going to start converting everything non-collectable to a bolted neck connection.  I'll post photos the next one that comes along. 


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