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Kay C-1...reglueing the neck into block

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by fiddlebick, Feb 7, 2006.

  1. fiddlebick


    Jan 22, 2006
    OK, here's what I have. I am finally starting to work on the Kay I bought at a flea market last spring. I have the tuners looking pretty good. The neck was VERY LOOSE and barely hanging in there, so I worked it loose today and I am thinking I can just glue it back into the dovetail??? I know how important the neckset is, and I will enlist the help of a local guitar builder friend of mine who is experienced with neck resets...on guitars anyway.... Can someone tell me what the height from the end of the fingerboard to the top plate should be?

    THe next problem is the finish on this old (57) Kay is extrememly cracked and crazed. It wants to flake off and is very brittle, and appears to be the original finish. I would never consider a refinish, but I am curious as to why this is happening. I know it sat in a metal storage shed for many years. Could the heat have done this? I have looked at a lot of old kays and never seen this before.

    Lastly the old endpin is rusted and useless. I bought a good used endpin from an old violin trader, but I will need a reamer to install it and man are they expensive! Should I attempt to find an OEM pin for an old Kay?

    The overall condition of the old gal is pretty rough, edges show lots of wear and the rosewood fingerboard has some deep grooves. There is no way I am putting a lot of money into this bass, as the cost would easily outpace the value.
    Any and all help and advice is greatly appreciated.
  2. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    If you plan to put a bow to this bass, or to play it with low metal strings, the original neck set won't do at all. Consider splicing in a piece at the button to extend the neck out from the body about 5/8" or so. Then you will need to shim the dovetail to take up the space you have created. Make sure it's straight!
  3. fiddlebick


    Jan 22, 2006
    I won't be using a bow at all. I am a fiddler first and foremost, but I will learn enough to play the bass in a bluegrass jam session hopefully. It will come in handy for impromptu jam sessions at my home.
  4. idahohay


    Nov 22, 2002
    Priest River, ID
    Unless your neck is a perfect fit and is both centered and at the right angle when it has this snug fit, (that's with all the old glue carefull removed)there is no need to proceed without even further reducing its value, and also the playability. I would say you are probably right that heat could have caused the finish to fail along with other extremes in exposure to humidity and lack of over a period of time.
    Sounds like its time to replace the fingerboard as well. Sorry I can't help you with a solid number for the fingerboard height above the plate, the only C1 I have at present is not a good example. The main reason I posted was to say if for some reason you decide to replace the original end pin with an original, I have at least three that I haven't thrown away that are "as good as new" (which most will agree- isn't very good)
  5. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    The problem with the finish is called "finish-checking" or "cold-checking." All Kays (and all Engels to follow) were finished in nitro lacquer which, if not cared for properly, can check. By that I mean that over time, if the bass is subjected to repeated cycles of rapid temperature changes, the finish eventually forms cracks, since it wants to expand and contract at a different rate than the wood. Most finish types will do this given enough time - this is not rare.
  6. fiddlebick


    Jan 22, 2006
    I visited my guitar luthier buddy this morning and he determined I would need a shim in the neck dovetail to make a good fit before reglueing. He set me up with a maple veneer shim and some advice on clamping and glueing. I have yet to clean the joint of old glue, but I will do so before i start.

    Thanks for the offer of an OEM endpin, Hayes. I will problably take the bass to a luthier in the next town who can ream the endpin hole for me, I agree the aftermarket endpins look much better than the original design. If I change my mind I will holler at you.