Oahu Guitar Restoration #3: Removing the Fretboard and Neck

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Blog entry by Lemongrasspicker posted 03-06-2017 04:45 PM 1444 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Removing the Back Part 3 of Oahu Guitar Restoration series Part 4: Crack Repairs and Top Reinforcement »

Video is here if you prefer not to read

Part 3 of this series is a simple prospect of removing the fret/fingerboard (they’re different names for the same thing) as well as the neck.

The traditional joint for a guitar neck to be attached is a dovetail, this one was no exception however it was extremely poor in it’s execution (not surprising considering the number of these they made and the budget they were made on). Here’s a photo as a representation of the way this is normally done along with another method. It’s really no different than a dovetail for any sort of joinery.

If you don’t know much about guitars (that’s ok!) there is a myth that for some reason the science of woodworking doesn’t apply to the world of instruments (which is horse feathers btw). There are countless folks on the internet who will debate endlessly about the validity or invalidity of a bolt on vs. dovetailed neck. In the end it doesn’t matter at all if you don’t play your instrument.

Many makers (most nowadays) use a bolt on neck design with some variations between themselves to make it easier for their guitars to be serviced. And in all honesty a bolt on neck allows the instrument a very long lifespan (possibly indefinitely) provided it is properly cared for by it’s owner. For this guitar later on when I reattach the neck I will simply improve the dovetail joint rather than convert it to a bolt on.

This step is simply using heat and water (steam) to soften/break up the glue joints that hold the guitar together. Once the glue is broken up it makes the removal much easier/cleaner and the repair can progress. For this instrument it was easy since the original maker did such a poor job of cutting the dovetail (see the video and you can see just how far off they were) and thus there was not much holding the neck on save for the design of the dovetail itself.


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