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Guitar Neck Reset

As a general rule, it is more often older guitars that come to need neck resets. The 180lb+ tension of the strings on the soundboard will often, over time, create a sinking around the soundhole of the guitar and a lift, or bellying behind the bridge. These movements serve to alter the geometry of the guitar, making the action too high to play. The remedy here is to separate the neck from the body, and re-angle the heel of the guitar to increase the rake of the neck vs. the body.

The neck-body join of any guitar is critical and as little as possible glue should be needed to accompany an exact fit. In any fretboard that is not bound with plastic, I will always create a wedge shim for the underside of the fretboard. This negates the ‘hump’ that is created by the new neck angle where the fretboard passes over the body.

Whilst I won’t recommend a guitar neck reset where it is not necessary, avoiding a neck reset through workarounds such as lowering the bridge or re-tapering the fretboard are absolutely not recommended. Far too many vintage Martin guitars have suffered this fate. The ultimate result is always that the guitar will need a neck reset in the end, combined with the financial cost of a new bridge and the mojo cost of losing the original bridge.

A neck reset, where needed, often suprises players, not only through the sudden new-found playability of the guitar, but the improved tone imparted by restoring the original geometry (and drive to the soundboard) of the guitar.

A new saddle is a fairly standard accompaniment to a guitar neck reset and I will always discount this to a favourable price in light of the outlay required for this work.

Whilst the process of a guitar neck reset is a straightforward one, the difference between a functional job and a professional one is large. Throughout my career as a luthier, I have had the opportunity to carry out neck resets on many vintage Martin and Gibson guitars.

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