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MAYDAY! I broke my neck

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by JimmyTheSaint, Jun 3, 2005.


  1. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint

    Mar 15, 2005
    California
    This question regards a guitar not a bass, but this is a general luthier-oriented question. I have a Line 6 Variax 500 guitar for which a well known company makes replacement necks. One month ago, I placed an order for a neck specifying all my desired options in a lengthy telephone call, running the price to over $500. I'm no luthier or woodworker and have never taken apart a guitar. I'm confident, though, that assembly/disassembly is well within my capabilities, so I asked them if the new neck could be installed by a person of mechanical ability who has no real experience constructing guitars. They said yes, they encourage it, and you just have to drill the holes and bolt on the new neck. I made it clear to them that if there was any doubt, I could just take it to a local guitar shop to install it, but they said it's not an excessively challenging task.

    I received the new neck today. I took off the stock neck no problem and marked on my 1/8" drill bit how deep the holes in the stock neck are and put masking tape on the bit to mark the spot. I lined up the new neck in the guitar's heel and used an awl to make holes where the new neck needed to be drilled. I observed that the unbolted new neck fit with approximately the same snugness as the unbolted stock neck, but I noticed that the new neck's fingerboard falls about 1/32" short of the stock pickguard, but the stock neck meets the pickguard flush. That seems sloppy to me, but maybe my expectations are wrong.

    I drilled the four holes making sure to fall short of the masking tape so that I wouldn't drill all the way through the neck and into the fingerboard. I screwed in all four bolts most of the way, then went to tighten them so that they'd lie flush with their bushing-thing just as they did with the stock neck. Everything went normally, but the fourth bolt reached a point where it resisted screwing in, so I used a little more force with the socket wrench at which time the 17th fret wire dislodged a little and a crack appeared in the fingerboard at the 18th fret.

    After recovering my wits, I compared the thickness of the two necks, and the stock neck's heel is 2/64-3/64" thicker. That explains why the stock neck bolts pierced the custom neck's fingerboard, and though I was "lucky" it only happened at one of the four bolts, this $500 custom neck is ruined in its first hour of life.

    Is this my fault or theirs? If I had had any reason to believe the custom neck was a bit thinner in the heel than stock, I could easily have measured it and purchased appropriate neck bolts, but the company markets this as specifically a replacement for Line 6 Variax 500, so I naturally assumed it was designed to be attached with the Variax 500's stock neck bolts. If they do call it their fault, and they offer to replace for free the fretboard only, but on the same drilled neck, would that be "as good as new" or might I have done some sort of permanent damage tainting any future neck/fingerboard made from this same wood?
     
  2. Take it from one who is having neck problems of their own, this is absolutely the manufacturers fault. I only have to point to Warmoth as a company to which this would never happen and they make more direct replacement parts than anybody I know.

    Demand satisfaction with the evidence of the shallower neck. Do NOT be satisfied with anything less than complete compensation by one means or another. Play fair but demand satisfaction.
     
  3. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint

    Mar 15, 2005
    California
    *sigh*--it was Warmoth. I carefully went over their web site's info again, and I don't see anything hinting to expect a variation from a stock neck's dimensions, so maybe they'll step up as you say.

    I should mention that the neck arrived in a sturdy enough box, but with no padding in the box. It was lying in a cardboard groove at the nut where it could rattle around freely, and the other end was in a cardboard slot meant to hold that end in place, but the cardboard was so thin there it was ripped through. So the entire neck was loose in the box with inches of space all around it, allowing it to shuffle around freely during shipping. It was careless of Warmoth to depend on luck for the neck to arrive undamaged.
     

  4. ohh boy... :scowl:
     
  5. So, give us a status report on the uh...status!
     
  6. bwbass

    bwbass

    May 6, 2002
    WA
    This is being handled by our sales office, but here's my insight on this issue:

    On the Variax 500 we used for a sample, the body has a contoured heel and is supplied with two long screws and two short screws, with the short screws installed over the thin part of the heel. Though it's true that our neck thickness of 1" is about .040" smaller than the Variax sample neck, the difference in Variax screw lengths is much larger - over 1/4".
    It's not luck that exactly one screw would bottom out on the 17th fret tang, it's what would happen any time the wrong length screw was used in the thinnest part of the body heel. That's why two different screw lengths are supplied by Variax.
     
  7. Brian, so as I've read it, (and what a diplomatic way of stating it) the damage occured when the wrong length of stock Variax screw was selected for that particular hole over the shorter, properly sized screw.

    Correct?
     
  8. bwbass

    bwbass

    May 6, 2002
    WA
    Well, I wasn't there when the screw was put in, but this would definitely cause the damage described. The shorter screw would not have come close to the fingerboard of either neck.