HELP! Really bad neck warp

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by musicelectronix, Feb 16, 2009.


  1. musicelectronix

    musicelectronix

    Jul 8, 2007
    Hüstın, TX
    Lead Designer, Zeibek Boutique Pedals
    Ok, I recently purchased a Jackson C5A bass after playing another 5 string jackson and loving the neck. It arrived today with several issues. After a PayPal dispute, I settled for half of the price thinking it may be possible to fix it. I am looking this as a project and planning to have fun while repairing the bass; most importantly to learn a bit more about the instrument I play.

    Getting another neck is not an option as it has a rather unique heel dimensions. That being said, I don't know every neck out there.

    1- The neck has a really bad bow, meaning it is warped inwards. Before you say: yes, the truss rod works fine and it is not about it. Even with it is fully turned clockwise and without any tension, there is around a 5mm distance at 12th fret. Really unplayable.

    2- The fretboard is literally coming off near the headstock. My best guess is the nut came off at some point and the owner didn't care. So the pressure peeled off the fretboard. For the reference, the nut grove is deep and fingerboard starts just where the nut is located. Sorry for not putting this any more clear.

    3 - Nut is loose, not a real issue.

    Here are some pictures:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    I also inted to take pictures as the repair progresses and turn this into a pictorial guide for this kind of repairs.
     
  2. funkmangriff

    funkmangriff

    Dec 29, 2007
    well i hope its fun while repairing it!!! i really do!!!!


    according to the photos THE NUT IS NONEXISTENT!


    i suggest a lot of super-glue and a clamp until your fingerboard sticks to the neck.

    unfortunately if your truss rod is that bad, then the previous owners weren't that good at adjusting it and unfortunately ''''''adjusted'''''' it beyond repair. (Ive seen AND had basses that are in that case, unfortunately due to my amateur truss rod adjustments!!!! at least i am honest!)

    i do hope that someone has a solution for u coz its a damn shame for a bass to go to waste. And if no-one does, i hope u find it in your heart to just buy a new neck for it (it may save you a lot of hassle)
     
  3. musicelectronix

    musicelectronix

    Jul 8, 2007
    Hüstın, TX
    Lead Designer, Zeibek Boutique Pedals
    Ha! Yes, I took the nut out (it fell really) before taking the pictures. But I put it right under the strings, you can partially see it.

    I believe this is a far serious issue than stripped truss rod. The neck itself is warped. I am hoping it can be fixed. I heard some stuff about sanding or heat treatment, but couldn't find a good resource for either of them. I will hold off glueing the fretboard as it may need to be completely removed to straigten the neck itself.
     
  4. musicelectronix

    musicelectronix

    Jul 8, 2007
    Hüstın, TX
    Lead Designer, Zeibek Boutique Pedals
    Ok, can anyone care to describe how can I heat the neck and set it straight? I mean do you have any experience with that? It seems rather extreme..
     
  5. The fingerboard provides a significant amount of stiffness to the neck. If it's attached. So you'll need to, IMO, remove it completely, clean/finish the mating surfaces, and glue it up again. Best to let a Luthier do it. Easy to eff up.
     
  6. musicelectronix

    musicelectronix

    Jul 8, 2007
    Hüstın, TX
    Lead Designer, Zeibek Boutique Pedals
    Interesting.. So the neck may "seem" to be wrapped, but it may be very well related to the condition of the fretboard?
     
  7. Georynn

    Georynn

    Dec 4, 2007
    Memphis,Tn
    Sure, I'll take a crack at it...

    I've had a similar problem with a neck someone gave me.

    First order of business is the fret board. from the pictures it looks like the maple of the neck has moved, but the fretboard is staying pretty true. if you felt comfortable doing it perhaps i would completely remove it, and re attach it after straightening the neck. i would use a butcher knife and some heat... look here and see if this doesn't help...

    For the neck straightening, there are a few ways to approach it.
    1) reshape
    try this tutorial... http://www.projectguitar.com/tut/warped.htm

    2) Heat Bend
    To do this you 'd need to remove the finish, keep the wood damp, then heat the wood while clamping the neck to something that would straighten or reverse the bow in the neck (without the truss rod installed, BTW)...

    My Process:
    Build a caul that will hold the flat part of the neck up against a stable flat piece of workbench. you need something that will not bend when you apply tension by clamping the neck to it.
    I personally had a workbench that fit the bill, you may not...
    I took two pieces of 1/8th inch maple scrap, and placed them at either end of the neck, and clamped the neck to the work bench with the "shims" on either end, so there was a space in between the scraps. I then took a heating pad (set to high without the cover) and a large "C" clamp and took the caul i made(a cut piece of 4" PVC pipe just wide enough to "grasp" the neck and cut a piece of walnut flat on one side and the same shape as the outside radius of the pipe on the other) and used the c-clamp to gradually apply pressure to the center of the neck over about three or four days. every afternoon I'd slowly remove the pressure and see how much the wood had moved, and reapplied the pressure. on the fourth or fifth day (I don't remember), when I removed the clamps it stayed almost flat against the table (just a slight amount of back-bow).
    Then I lightly sanded it flat and reinstalled the truss rod, and re-attached the fret board, worked for quite a few years...


    3)Graphite rods...
    This would make the fix permanent... but would also be the hardest to pull off...

    Good luck, sounds like you got a bit of work ahead of you...
     
  8. musicelectronix

    musicelectronix

    Jul 8, 2007
    Hüstın, TX
    Lead Designer, Zeibek Boutique Pedals
    Great info! Thanks a lot. I examined the situation after I read your post. It looks to me that the nut pulled the fretboard out. While both of the woods seem straigt enough, I think they are just seperated. Please put "in my opinion" to the beginning of each sentence below :)

    This is a 5 string neck, meaning there will always be lots of stress. If I do take the heat approach, I suspect it won't be a permanent solution. I always think if you can bend something in one direction, there is nothing to stop it recover its previous warped state given the same conditions will continue to apply. Shaving the maple part of the neck (AKA way 1) will actually make the neck thinner, with an unwanted curve on the back side; right?

    So, I am thinking routing it for graphite or carbon fiber reinforcements. Then I will use your clamp approach (without the heat) to straighten the neck. Then I will route it (or have someone to route it, don't have a routing table) for the graphite rods. When the stabilizers are glued in their place while the neck is straight, I don't think it will warp again.

    Another way could be removing the truss rod and replacing it with a really rigid material. Neck dive won't be an issue with this guitar, as the body is really heavy.

    Am I off or am I getting somewhere?
     
  9. musicelectronix

    musicelectronix

    Jul 8, 2007
    Hüstın, TX
    Lead Designer, Zeibek Boutique Pedals
    Ok, I took the neck out and tried the understand the mechanics of the damage. Back of the neck is not uniform, so I couldn't tell if it is actually warped or the peeled off fingerboard makes it look like that.

    Then I put it on a flat surface (stainless stell workbench), fingerboard side facing the bench. There was an obvious gap (around 1/4"?) (8th 9th fret is the peak) at the middle. Truss rod was at maximum relief at this point. Then I adjusted the truss rod at maximum curve (fully clockwise) and noticed the fretboard didn't move much while the neck (maple portion) was pulled back. The gap between fretboard and the neck was greatly increased, almost triple at the widest.

    I put the fretboard side on the flat surface again. While the gap (between 8th fret and the surface) seemed to be decrased a little (almost non-noticable), it didn't seemed to do much. But I guess all the extra tension supplied by the truss rod was absorbed through the increasing gap between neck and the peeled of portion of the fretboard.

    --------------------

    This little experiment, while highly inconclusive, showed me the neck may actually be straight enough and if the fretboard is glued back in, the truss rod itself may keep the neck straight. I think I am gonna with that route first. What do you think? What are your best guesses?

    I will of course glue the fretboard back while I am straightening the neck on a flat surface with clamps, increasing the "pull" effect of the rosewood.

    So my second question is, if I put this together, would I be able to utilize the heat method without removing the fretboard? My third question: if there are any "stronger" truss rod replacements?
     
  10. Georynn

    Georynn

    Dec 4, 2007
    Memphis,Tn
    You might be able to heat bend it with the fingerboard on, but I have never had success that way(doesn't mean you wont...)

    As for the second part of that question, the truss rod isn't there to make the neck stiff, its there to allow adjustments to be made.

    Hope that helps...

    From the sounds of it, you may want to consider taking it to someone, these repairs are pretty heavy duty... a new neck could be your best bet.

    Good luck
     
  11. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    With all due respect to the OP and the other posters in this thread:

    Work Flow

    All construction and repair has a natural flow. In some industries they talk of the Critical Path Method. What this means is that there is certain work that must happen first before other work can take place. For example, in building construction the foundation must be installed before the floor decking which precedes the walls. While it's true that the roof can be built separately and placed with a crane, it is not attached to the structure until the walls are in place.

    In repair work, sometimes one task must be completed before an assessment can be made as to whether or not there is more work to do. It is only then that decisions can be made as to what must be done and what might be the best method to rectify the problem. This is one of those times.

    The only thing that is certain about this repair is that the fingerboard must be reattached to the neck. The fingerboard is an integral part of the neck. The effect that the truss rod will have on the neck will be different when the fingerboard is glued down. So this is the first task that should be completed. Then assess the rest of the work. Beyond that, any other judgments are just gazing into a crystal ball.

    Some tips on regluing the fingerboard:

    1. There is glue residue in the gap between the fingerboard and the neck. In all probability, there is some on each surface. The residue must be removed if a permanent joint is to be achieved. Razor blade scrapers can be employed for most of the job. As you work back toward the area where the fingerboard and neck are still glued together there is not enough room for the scraper. A thin pallete knife can be heated and inserted in the crack. The glue will stick to the knife. This is repeated until the crack is clean. Some people will recommend using sandpaper. This is not a good idea. Unless you are very careful, it is very, very easy to round out the edges of both the fingerboard and the neck. The other problem is that the paper can tear and get stuck in the joint. If left in, it will cause a permanent hump (.010-.020") in the fingerboard.

    2. Clamp the fingerboard below the crack so that you don't open the gap further while performing the work. This is very frustrating and can cause more damage.

    3.. The factory used either polyvinyl resin (white, like Elmer's) or aliphatic resin (yellow, like Titebond) glue. Either will work well for this task. For this job, super glue is a disaster waiting to happen. You may find that you will need to reposition clamps and clean up squeeze out. When the super glue grabs, it's all over. If there is a gap between the board and the neck at F3, you get to undo the work and start over. Super glue squeeze out is a major pain to clean up because you can't use solvent for this job for fear of weakening the joint. So you'll have to grind the glue off and polish the neck. White glue has an open time of about seven minutes when fresh. Yellow glue, a little less, at five minutes. Both allow plenty of time to get the work done. Both are plenty strong enough to do the job. They both clean up with water and a rag.

    4. Clamping cauls are a must. The caul is shaped to the radius of the fingerboard. 0r you can use multiple cauls on the center and edges of the fingerboard. This is the only way to insure even pressure across the surface. The danger is that the edge of the fingerboard could left at a raised height when the glue sets. Even a few thousandths could result in the need for fret work. N.B. Stew Mac radius blocks can be cut up to use as cauls for this job. If you do, it is a good idea to laminate a steel plate to the back of the caul to increase the strength and flexibility. It is very bad day when the glue is applied and the caul splits under pressure.

    5. Do a dry run of the clamping procedure before applying the glue. Five minutes is plenty when you know the order of the work flow. If this is your first time to the party you'll be dancing a boogaloo at 220 bpm if anything unexpected happens. Practice first, glue later.

    6. When clamping, do not put too much pressure on the clamps and cauls. This will cause too much glue to squeeze out. The result is a starved glue joint. That may have been the cause of the current repair.

    7. Once this has set up over night, you can try adjusting the truss rod again and decide what to do next. It is likely that the truss rod will hold the neck at proper relief. If it doesn't, the neck can be clamped into a back bow and the truss rod nut tightened to hold the fingerboard into relief.

    8. Leave the geometry alone. Do not try to pull anything one way or another before applying the glue. The fingerboard and the mating surface of the neck are flat, or at least should have been when it left the factory. More importantly, there is no way to check it without removing the fingerboard. There is no reason to remove the fingerboard to perform this repair. If there are other problems with the fingerboard or the frets they will be addressed after the assessment is made.

    9. Yes, heat can be used. You should not be heating the neck to a temp that allows the glue to release. However, heat is a last resort. Always.
     
  12. musicelectronix

    musicelectronix

    Jul 8, 2007
    Hüstın, TX
    Lead Designer, Zeibek Boutique Pedals
    Thanks a million! That is exactly the kind of information I was looking for and It makes more sense than I could have ever imagined. I will follow this steps when I have time (in 3-4 days) and report back.

    Replacement neck is out of the question by the way. Check this out, did you ever see a neck joint like this?

    [​IMG]

    The only neck I know that "looks" somewhat close is the warmoth gecko neck. It "may" be modified to work with this body.

    I may take take the neck to a reputable luthier, but to me, it is the last resort and maybe not even then. This is one of the most underrated basses in history, used price is under $200. A luthier would charge me, I don't know, $100? $150? It doesn't make sense to pay that much instead of just getting another bass.
     
  13. musicelectronix

    musicelectronix

    Jul 8, 2007
    Hüstın, TX
    Lead Designer, Zeibek Boutique Pedals
    Ok, I had some free time today and this is my first attempt to fix this neck. As suggested by 202dy, there is only one appropriate way to do a repair or at least you shouldn't cut corners. Eventhough I was 99% sure that the neck had an inward bow, first I repaired the fretboard before doing something about it. So, here is a pictorial, which I am sure would help some of you guys.

    Disclaimer: I am not a luthier, nor a qualified repair person. I am just handy with stuff like this and followed instructions that were posted here and some other internet sources. Do not attemp to do any of this unless you realize I can not be responsible for any damages and unless you are sure you have the neccessary skills, tools and patience.
     
  14. musicelectronix

    musicelectronix

    Jul 8, 2007
    Hüstın, TX
    Lead Designer, Zeibek Boutique Pedals
    [​IMG]
    Here you can see the damage very clearly. This is a before shot.

    [​IMG]
    To clean the glue between seperated fretboard and neck, I heated this spatula that I got from Stewart-MacDonald. It is very flexible, but keeps its form nicely. Perfect for the job! As you can see, I just used basic household appliances :)

    [​IMG]

    Glue sticks on the hot spatula. Be careful not to heat it too much like I did. I accidentally burned the neck a little :) Also pay extra attention no to widen the crack. It only takes 10 min.s if you are very careful and slow :D

    [​IMG]
    As you can see, glue sticks nicely. Do not forget to clean it up before another round.


    [​IMG]

    Rest of the stuff I used. Two clamps, a water-soluble stronger-than-wood carpenter's glue (you don't need anything stronger than that. You don't need superglue, ultraglue, hyperglue, etc. Got it? :D It needs to be water-soluble, because you will need to clean it up) and two band clamps (What violin makers use to glue the fretboard to the neck. You don't want to use regular clamps here, because it is very important you apply even presure throughout the fretboard radius. Otherwise you need to "match" the radius before clamping it. VERY IMPORTANT)

    [​IMG]

    I put liberal amount of glue between two pieces and I forgot to take pictures while doing it. I basicly pour some on the spatula and work my way. I did seperate the pieces a little bit by thightening the truss rod. I am not sure if this was a good idea. In this picture, I used the band clamps AFTER taking any pressure from truss rod. One thing to mention, do not overtighten the bands or there won't be enough glue left inside to form a decent bond. I think the technical term was "starving the glue(?)"

    [​IMG]
    I also clamped the neck on a flat surface. I didn't bend the neck and didn't change its geometry. I just set it to a place where it is supposed to be. I left it like this overnight.

    [​IMG]

    Oh, before leaving it overnight, I cleaned up some excess glue with the spatula. What a nice little tool!

    [​IMG]
    Ok, I can call it a success! Too bad the picture demonstrate this was out of focus! :) But this one should be good enough.

    [​IMG]
    I glued the nut and it seemed very strong. But my problems didn't end here. More on this later...
     
  15. therex

    therex

    Jun 24, 2007
    lima
    dude could you post some drawings or pics of the heating method i really need this for a neck
     
  16. Joe Sailor

    Joe Sailor

    Mar 13, 2010
    Hi, new here, but am facing the same problem. I found the following website. I have not used them, but they look serious and the price on their site is $75 plus shipping. Cheaper than a new neck. They are in Denton, TX
    I bought a nice neck off ebay but it just didn't do the '78 jazz bass copy justice.
    http://www.warpedneck.com/index.html
    Think I'll try this next.
     
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