Neck reset Question

midnightright

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Hi,
I've got a D-25 from the early 90's. I've got it from a nationally reputable guitar shop, that has, among it's specialties - vintage guitars. It needed some work upon arrival due to some damage incurred during shipping. This took a very, very long time (of which, was spent with a professional luthier). When I got it back fairly recently - I brought it into my local shop for a setup (as it had sat for some time without strings on it). The saddle went from - let's hypothetically say it had 75% of it's full factory height (or thereabouts), to something more like 25%. The truss rod was apparently "loosened." The action is fine - any higher, and it might not be, especially given that the frets have been quite filed / leveled worked, dressed down to a point where it is beginning to require something of a 'gorilla grip,' to fret play in the cowboy chord positions. I know a photo would help, and I'll see if I can get that taken care of in the near future (I did have a shot of what it looked like when I first got it back, but that one is deceiving, since the saddle would not go all the way down into the slot - perhaps the wood had begin to close/shrink some over time?) . that said, when sending a photo of that (which now had the saddle height even higher then when first receiving the guitar from the store), the other pro luthier wrote back to me - that that was not much higher than where it should normally be (however with the caveat that there are a number of other factors to consider when measuring action, and that it would need to be done either in person, or by someone who knows what they're doing - which is what brought me to my setup mentioned here in the beginning). If it would help to have a neck reset and full fret replacement. What does that generally run these days? I know this can vary from place to place... but are we talking for me to figure, "no less than a grand?"
 

Cougar

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What does that generally run these days? I know this can vary from place to place... but are we talking for me to figure, "no less than a grand?"
I haven't had it done, and I haven't researched it, but just from off-hand discussions I've heard, I'd guess less than a grand. Plus, it may only need a partial refret.
 

chazmo

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I'm a little confused about your story, midnight. Did someone alter your guitar and make it play worse? I.e., is the guitar with shaved saddle now not playable? Did the first luthier/shop mess up your guitar?

In any case, the price of a reset varies across the country. If you want this done right, give user fixit a call http://www.jacobscustomguitars.com/about/ and he will set you straight (pun intended).

I will say that it's doubtful you'll get your money back with a D-25 if your objective is to sell. If you objective is to keep and play, then definitely proceed.
 

HeyMikey

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Could also take over a grand. Need to have a luthier look at it in person.
 

fronobulax

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I'll vote for under a grand but one some "resets" include work that other's don't. I seem to remember fixing cosmetic issues at the joint being something that isn't always included in an estimate. I would not expect to ever get your money back either on a D-25.
 

midnightright

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Thanks guys! Trying to keep it as detail free, for respect I have to all those that did their part to do their best (despite some possible / potential / questionable "business ethics!"). . . Guitar arrived damaged. Took to local shop. Estimate written, shop I bought it from approved and subtracted funds for repair. Unhappy with it. Sent elsewhere (out of town - bigger more experienced "one man shop"). Had problems with it. Sat for a really long time. Now back, in need of set up. Took to different local shop for that. Currently have saddle that is lower than in the pictures on the advertised site when purchased. Obviously a whole lot lower than when I got it back more recently, as I'd said, the saddle probably sat out of the bridge slot for a really, really long time (years). However, that photograph, when sent to the luthier I trust (albeit in a different state), was the one that garnered the response of it almost being at proper height -- which I took to mean (it shouldn't go a whole lot lower). I'll check, there's a chance I may be able to show you an example of all three "states," or heights, that being the pictured ad at time of purchase. When returned a handful of months ago. And how it is now. When it wouldn't go all the way down, I'd estimate it went in close to if there had been a 90's Guild branded undersaddle pickup in it (because I had one of those once). And all of this going off roughly owning close to 10 in total 90's used Guilds of varying models. It plays fine today. I have not had it myself in the wintertime (which is why I was reluctant to tighten the truss rod) - in particular when they said that it needed to be just loosened up slightly. It did not have a backbow in the neck, but may have been too straight. Also wondering if I tighten the truss rod, it will bring about buzzing in the first postion, if not now, tomorrow when the air dries and the heaters kick on (soon!). :D Upshot is it sounds amazing! :)
 

Guildedagain

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The only neck resets I've done so far is letting the guitar rest hydrated in the case while unstrung with whatever boat cables were on it under somebody's bed for 20 years, then after about three days, I put a set of nothing heavier than 11-52 and even sometimes Silk & Bronze Folk strings, as original spec-ed on some of these vintage guitars, and I've got a guitar that can be played just fine. And you gotta have faith that it will be fine ;]
 

midnightright

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Alternatively, given the problems he'd had in the repair, I checked with another very notable repair shop that also builds guitars. Their estimate to fix - just this one thing (not the reset or refret), was ~$500-1500. :D yikes! better off buying a new, but then. . . ? ;)
 

midnightright

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I guess the most important/relevant thing is how it looks now, so here are some shots—(provided I can figure out how to do so!). . .

C19145BB-123B-47B5-A742-4BDA7E2CB902.jpeg
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A7750537-D763-4CB4-8E9B-B31DE31109D8.jpeg
17A8DFEC-963A-446C-B649-128B27427CB0.jpeg
AB68BF4B-5AE8-4105-8AC0-44C812EE6233.jpeg
446B644E-0AD2-4824-8819-319ED69B2D09.jpeg
 

midnightright

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It looks like I’ve managed to post pics to the wrong thread. My apologies! If a mod or someone can move it/them over to the “neck reset,” thread... that would be much appreciated! Thanks— & sorry.
 

Br1ck

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If the guitar plays and sounds good now, it may not change for years. You could have the bridge ramped for a better break angle. The fret issue is another matter. New frets will add height to the plane of the top of the frets, and may need nut and saddle work. That would be to raise the nut slots to clear the frets. Simple as a shim, then a new saddle. So you might add saddle height.

I had the works done to my D 35 a while back in an expensive urban area, but I needed a new bridge which added about $150 to the job, which cost me $1100. So say $850 to $950 as a guess. Check out what Bryan Kimsey charges on his web site. That would be on the high side due to reputation, I would think.

If the frets are so low you can't level and crown them, you need new frets at the minimum. If I liked the guitar I'd go all in, but that is just me, not fiscally driven.
 

davismanLV

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So without going back and rereading the whole story, how does it play now? The saddle is lower obviously but not so low that it's really at neck reset territory right now. Do the straight edge (24" at least) test and slide it down the fretboard and see how it lines up at the bridge. As Br1ck says you might ramp the strings, unless you're going to get the neck reset. It might hang like this for a good long time, so if it plays and sounds okay, why fuss??
 

GardMan

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Midnight...
The saddle does look pretty low... but it may be playable like that for years before needing its neck reset. Before I did ANYTHING, I would check the setup again... particularly the "relief" (bend) in the neck and the nut slots. When I set up my Guilds, I always make my adjustments in a particular order:

1. First, adjust the truss rod to give the correct relief;
2. The, adjust the nut slots to give the desired string height at the first fret; and
3. The LAST thing to adjust is the saddle height to get the desired action at the 12th fret.

You mentioned that the truss rod was "loosened"... when and by by whom? Most acoustic players don't want a perfectly flat neck... they want a little forward bow (how much is a matter of personal "taste"). Relief is adjusted by the truss rod. Tightening the rod counteracts the string tension and straightens the neck (or even forces a back bow, if tightened too much). Loosening the truss rod allows he strings to pull the neck into a forward bow, which has the side effect of increasing the string height at the 12th fret (the "action").

It's possible that the the truss rod was loosened TOO MUCH... providing too much relief. Relief is measured by putting a capo on the first fret, fretting the 14th fret, and then measuring the height of the E and e strings off the 7th fret. The typical relief spec for an acoustic guitar is 0.006 to 0.012" (0.012" is the diameter of a light gauge e string)... if it is significantly more than that, the truss can be tightened (a little at a time) to achieve the desired relief.... which would then allow a bit taller saddle.

Next, regarding needing a "gorilla grip" playing cowboy chords... In my experience, the ease of play in the first few frets (1-5) is more dependent on nut slot height than it is on action at the 12th fret. Does your guitar play more easily with a capo on the first fret? If it does, it would suggest that your nut slots are too high, and need adjustment. This is a little trickier to do w/o the proper tools (nut files), but it is fairly easy to check... put a capo between the 2nd and 3rd frets... there should then just be a TINY (REALLY TINY) gap between the bottom of the strings and the first fret.

The gap can be hard to see... but you can test for it by ear: with the capo between 2&3, pluck a string between frets 1 and 2. Then, fret between the first fret and the nut and pluck again. If you hear a change in pitch, there was a gap. If the pitch doesn't change, then the string was already touching the 1st fret. How close the strings are to the first fret (how small is the gap) is player dependent... I adjust the bass string slots to give a definite gap... low (about 0.002" by my feeler gauge!), but not so low that I get any back buzzing (buzzing between the fretted note and the nut). OTOH, I like my treble b and e strings to be just kissing the top of the first fret when capoed between 2&3.

Lastly... what is your 12 fret action set at? Like the other parameters I mention, action at the 12th is a matter of taste. Someone who has a light touch might like really low action (0.090" on the E, or lower). A heavy handed bluegrass player might like something higher (0.120" or more). I try to adjust my action to about 0.105" for the E and about 0.075" for the e.

A long post, and perhaps more than you want to deal with... but you might check the relief, nut action, and 12th fret action and report back. Then, we might be better able to assess your situation. Understanding how relief, nut slots, and action fit into your playing style could really help when you take a/your guitar to a tech for a setup... The straight edge test mentioned by Tom (davismanLV) also would help assess the need for a reset.

If, in the end, the situation does call for a neck rest in the near future, the cost of the reset and associated repairs (new saddle and setup; some techs won't do a rest w/o a refret) will likely be more than the "market" value of a D-25. Only you can decide its value to YOU...

Good luck!
 

midnightright

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This is how it was when I got it back recently, prior to the setup, which is what the previous set of photos shows. The information I was really looking for, was folks' experience with how progressively these things typically go, in terms of continuing to shift / move over time. It sounds like, while you never do know. . . it could be just perfectly fine for a time. Whereas I was maybe fearing the worst, and trying to prepare for the worst. Yes, it plays well now, it was just the concern about perhaps having run out of rope, in terms of further future adjustment to the action, should the neck angle continue to worsen. I've heard of some using two different saddles to accomodate the different seasons, but I have never tried it. Obviously, with my preference for this period (or decade) of Guilds, it is getting closer and closer, or more and more likely with each successive purchase for this to be a strong likelihood, or consideration. And it's been a while since I've had one from the early 90's (this is a '91). I think I had a '92 D-4 about 10 years ago, as one example or reference point...

Thank you for the detailed and exhaustive DIY GardMan! I will bookmark this (even if only by memory) and use as future reference. No, all of it is useful to me and very informative. Off the top of my head, with my bonehead skills, I "might," be able to perform half of those you've listed. Going completely off feel, and previous experiences with these era of used Guilds, I'd say this one's got the worst neck angle of the bunch. This is perhaps to be expected, if all other things were being relatively equal, given it's age, and so on, and so forth. As for the low frets. Yes, I know they were worked on both by the shop I'd bought it from, and the shop I initially brought it to. It may have also been previously, I don't know... but what I do know is that, while o.k. visually, in terms of crown or level & such, they are the lowest in terms of height - especially in the first position (frets 1-5). I don't know what the second position entails, but I play with a capo quite a bit, and in between about frets 7-12, it gets considerably easier to play - from a fretting hand comfort standpoint.

The shop I brought it to for the setup has a very experienced tech. He is a player who has worked in retail and played out for years prior. But to my knowledge he's been at this sort of thing since the 80's, and while I'd always considered and thought of him as an electric player - he told me he has 5 acoustics (so shows what I know!). . . While he does not do things like neck resets or major fretwork, I don't know if this is more because of his sales side of things as well or simultaneously in the store itself. He may do more adventurous work on his own instruments on his own time. I've heard of him acquiring some older guitars, that were in quite poor condition, but that was what made them more affordable to him. And he apparently had the confidence to work on whatever was necessary at the time to at least bring them back up to a point of reasonable and good playability--

thanks again everyone!

I will say, this is far and away the heaviest guild I have ever owned. Maybe that contributes to the sound/tone? And I tuned it down a full step to D, and interestingly, I'm not just talking about ease of play due to the slacked strings, but the action was a million times easier at or around the 12th fret. I had not noticed that before. . . In other words, it's usually not so noticeable on my other instruments of the past (DV-6's & D-4's, etc.).
 

wileypickett

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Old saddle versus new saddle -- that's a pretty significant change. Maybe the previous owner liked his action really high? (Bluegrass flatpickers typically do, especially on the bass strings.)

It sounds like you've got a reliable luthier, so ff the new set-up suits your playing style you're probably good to go.
 

GardMan

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Tuning down to D will reduce the string tension, and thus allow the neck to "relax," reduce the forward bow (relief) of the neck. Thus it WILL change the action at the 12th fret... so it is not your imagination. If it plays well for you now (and that's all that matters), it might stay that way for a very long time.
 
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