Neck repair in NYC

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burpgun
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Neck repair in NYC

Post by burpgun » Fri Aug 14, 2020 10:45 am

Hi. Sorry this isn’t about an offset, but I’ve got a maple neck 1975 Precision bass. The neck has issues and I’ve been told by a luthier it is slightly twisted. It’s got high action on the two low strings and normal low action on the remaining high strings. It’s playable but not ideal. I understand heat treating the neck could fix it. I’ve had good success with the guy in Texas who seems to specialize in this repair—he saved an Ovation Magnum neck for me—but I really don’t want to put anything in the mail right now. Anyone know of someone doing heat repairs in the NYC area?

Alternatively I’ve always wondered if this could be addressed with some fret work but I haven’t found someone to weigh in. Last time I had a guitar in the local shop the Jazzmaster came back with chipped off paint. Repair man said he didn’t do it and Fender had a well known issue with paint adherence problems. Suffice it to say I ain’t going back there for anything.

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Re: Neck repair in NYC

Post by øøøøøøø » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:24 pm

If you can get to Orangeburg, NY then you should absolutely go see Alex Glasser at Iron Horse Instruments.

It's just a short drive outside the city (less than an hour from my home in Brooklyn, closer from Manhattan) if you have access to a car.

Might even be worth getting a Zipcar for the day, or Car2Go

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Re: Neck repair in NYC

Post by burpgun » Fri Aug 14, 2020 4:30 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:24 pm
If you can get to Orangeburg, NY then you should absolutely go see Alex Glasser at Iron Horse Instruments.

It's just a short drive outside the city (less than an hour from my home in Brooklyn, closer from Manhattan) if you have access to a car.

Might even be worth getting a Zipcar for the day, or Car2Go
I’m in Brooklyn and have wheels so I’ll take a look at this option!

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Re: Neck repair in NYC

Post by mgeek » Sat Aug 15, 2020 7:36 am

definitely worth shopping round til you find someone who's versed in this specific thing.

Loads of luthiers seem to think the only way to do a permanent repair is planing it back, which is 100% contrary to my personal experience, and in my opinion overkill that ruins the original feel of the neck. Heat and force is very effective

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Re: Neck repair in NYC

Post by OffYourFace » Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:44 am

I had a '72 Tele neck with a similar issue years ago. Is it a maple fretboard or rosewood? If maple, worst case scenario is sometimes the black dot markers will melt and need to be replaced. Whatever material they were using back then melts pretty easy.

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Re: Neck repair in NYC

Post by øøøøøøø » Sat Aug 15, 2020 11:36 am

My experience with heat repair on warped necks is that they will tend to find their way back to their original warp eventually.

It will work great for awhile... sometimes even years. But it always (for me anyway) seems to find its way back to what it had determined to be its equilibrium.

Eventually, you may find yourself giving up and just planing the board flat and doing a refret. Then it will be very stable, because it has already found out where it "wants to live" and you're letting it live there.

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Re: Neck repair in NYC

Post by OffYourFace » Sat Aug 15, 2020 11:48 am

øøøøøøø wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 11:36 am

Eventually, you may find yourself giving up and just planing the board flat and doing a refret. Then it will be very stable, because it has already found out where it "wants to live" and you're letting it live there.
Yes I agree this is the most sensible method. I've done this with a few mid 70s strat necks. BUT, the feel always changes and you may not like it anymore. For example, I had a really nice 1975 maple strat neck that had a U shape that fit my hand perfectly. It had a slight twist and a slight ramp-up in the higher register. I would've left it alone but the frets were just gone. They were leveled too many times so there was not enough metal left to recrown them.

My guy re-planed the fretboard and did a perfect refret. Even though only a sliver of wood was planed off, the neck felt slimmer and the shoulders felt shallower. It just wasn't comfortable to me anymore. It's so interesting how our hands respond to the smallest of changes.

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Re: Neck repair in NYC

Post by burpgun » Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:21 pm

The neck in question here is maple, and it's got a nice yellowy-orangey tint to it with lots of wear. The headstock is really orange, more so than the fret board.

I've had the bass for nearly 30 years with no refrets, and I'd have to assume that the frets are original. I keep hoping I'll find someone who could make the tweaks just with fret work. Reason I say that: when I start to lower the action the only buzzing issue I have is on the 12th fret, on the E and A strings. I can get the D and G strings down low, and my reference for good action is the US Jaguar I also play, which has super low action.

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Re: Neck repair in NYC

Post by øøøøøøø » Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:30 pm

On a maple neck, very often some finish work will be required even if it's "just" frets. But sometimes not. You just have to see.

At the risk of stating the obvious: neck geometry changes a lot even with just a refret. Because the frets are almost always taller, and the "playing surface" is not the wood--it's the plane that forms a tangent line with the crown of all the frets.

So the playing surface generally moves further from the neck with a refret (of course), and closer with a leveling, all of which will change how it feels.

If I have a guitar that's not playing how I want anymore, I generally just resign myself to the fact that if it's to be made playable, it's going to feel different.

I fought that battle with a particular 1953 Epiphone whose feel I absolutely loved, except the frets had been leveled so many times they were too low to be really playable.

I even had the neck reset once and asked the luthier to keep those original frets because I loved the way the guitar felt so much.

Eventually, though, despite still thinking I loved how it felt, it just became too difficult to set up, and too difficult to play. So after all of that, I just said "fuck it" and had the whole thing re-fretted.

Now I actually play the thing more. Yeah, it took a little getting used to, and it was never exactly the same again, but it wasn't long before I preferred the new way it felt. I just had to let go of "what used to be."

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Re: Neck repair in NYC

Post by burpgun » Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:42 pm

As long as the action is low and there's no buzzing I'm pretty flexible on the feel issue. I just do solo recording stuff so I'm regularly jumping around between guitars and basses, and on the bass front it's long scales to shorties plus a VI. The only time "feel" has really kicked in for me is when I got my first Gibson: Something about the shorter scale length coupled with the very fat neck of my SG made upper frets not very fun to play. I guess what I'm saying is that with the Precision, I think I could roll with changes in how the bass felt if the action were more comfortable.

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Re: Neck repair in NYC

Post by øøøøøøø » Sat Aug 15, 2020 2:33 pm

I think it doesn't hurt to have someone (maybe multiple someones) take a look and get a few opinions.

Maybe a consensus builds, or maybe not, but at a minimum you'll probably get an idea of who really knows what they're talking about and who's just saying the thing you want to hear.

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