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Fixing bad back curve in a neck

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Trevorus, Mar 4, 2008.


  1. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I have a neck on an instrument of mine that has a back bow starting at about the third fret. It is making the first and second frets nearly unplayable. It also has a tilt back headstock. I am wondering if you guys have any idea for correcting this problem.
     
  2. buy a new neck :)
     
  3. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I didn't ask how to put a new neck on, I want to fix this one if possible... :spit:

    :smug: Anyways, the neck is painted and matched to the instrument, and it would be a bit hard to replace.
     
  4. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    Start with the obvious. Too much tension on the truss rod? High frets? Low grooves in the nut?
     
  5. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Been there, budman. It's definitely a curve. If I can charge my camera batteries, I can give a good pic of it.
     
  6. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    I did this once with an old Ric guitar... worked like a charm:

    Place the neck on a table. If it has a straight (Fender-style) headstock, just place a small piece of cloth under the headstock and heel... if it has an angled headstock, let the headstock hang off the end of the table, and place a small block under the neck as close to the nut as you can (once again, pad the heel end, as above). The goal is to have the neck relatively level (barring the curve).

    Loosen the truss rod nut until there is no tension on it. Take a hand clamp (one of the quick clamps should work, this won't require TONS of tension), pad the top of the neck, and gently apply pressure with the clamp at the apex of the curve. The idea is to gently to straighten the neck in small degrees. Don't try to straighten it all at once, move it 1/16" or so, and then let it sit for a couple of days. Continue to do this over the course of a week or so, until the neck is perfectly straight, or possible has a small amount of relief in it.

    Once this is done, release tension on the clamp, and let the neck equalize. Check it with a straight-edge to ensure that it is not warping back to it's original back-bow.
     
  7. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    I'd be tempted to release all the tension on the rod and tighten the strings up a little bit and let it sit overnight to see what happens. Don't go crazy, but give it some extra string pull. If the neck is already screwed up and unplayable I don't think it'll hurt.
     
  8. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I wanted to update this thread... I fixed the problem. Turns out the fingerboard was fighting the neck itself around the 2nd/3rd fret. I ended up breaking the fingerboard loose, reshaping a bit, and then regluing. It's working great now!
     

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