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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:57 pm 
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First name: Chris
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OK, fellers - I have a 30's National steel guitar in the shop needing a neck reset (and a few other things). The action was half an inch high at the 14th fret, and the strings were hitting the "piepan" cover. Upon closer inspection, the neck itself had quite a lot of relief in it, and that will have to be addressed. If you know anything about the neck mounting in these - it is similar to a banjo, but without the adjustability. I pulled the stick out of the neck joint, and there are at least 3 different glues in this thing - probably the original hide glue, an amber crystalline. Then there is a dark brown glue - possibly hide. Finally, there is white glue. Someone has made repair attempts on this thing before... and in 39 years this will be a first for me. I've never done a neck reset on a resonator guitar. Some pix to follow....

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:27 pm 
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PhotoBucket to the rescue AGAIN - keep getting a stupid error message.

The stick partially inserted -
http://s588.photobucket.com/user/studem ... ort=3&o=10

The stick has been mangled in the past -
http://s588.photobucket.com/user/studem ... ort=3&o=14

You can see how poorly the curve was carved into the heel to fit the body -
http://s588.photobucket.com/user/studem ... ort=3&o=16

Here you can see the truss rod tube inside the neck -
http://s588.photobucket.com/user/studem ... ort=3&o=17

My question - How can I measure to set my new angle when I reglue the stick into the neck? There is NO adjustment of the stick once it is inside the steel body. Multiple screws and soundposts hold it absolutely rigid.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:51 pm 
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Is the problem in the neck or in the stick? If you pull the stick out of the guitar and just hold the neck on the body and shoot the string path with a decent straight edge - does it look like the string action is right or out of whack?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:37 pm 
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Hi, Chris.
Sorry, I should have read your whole post before giving you all of the advice below, which apparently you won't need. Okay, Once you have the neck and dowel re glued, you actually do have some adjustment. The dowel stick is held in place with screws that go through the rim of the reso well and with two pieces of dowel each with a corresponding "doughnut" of plywood that go from the underside of the dowel, to the back, and also through the end by means of the tailpiece screw. Now, say you've set your neck angle too shallow you can actually plane a little off the surface of the dowel stick where it hits the reso well, so when it's screwed in place again you will have more back set in the neck. Of course that means you also have to replace the dowels on the back side with pieces longer by the same amount that you took off the top side of the dowel. That said, essentially you want to set your neck in relation to the elevation of the biscuit bridge that sits on top of the resonator cone. And you also have to take into account how much clearance you have between the bridge/saddle and the reso cover. The best way to set the neck angle is to do it with the reso cover removed, so it doesn't get in the way of your straight edge. And essentially when you set the action for whatever you want (be it for regular finger style or a little higher for slide) you just have to make certain that you have enough clearance between the strings and the cover plate--that would mean your "saddle height should be between 3/8"-1/2" high. Now, I'm going on memory here. Haven't done a single cone for about 25 years. More into tricones now, but the dimensions should still be close to the same. But, as I said, yes, you do have some adjustment, it's just a bit of a pain to do so.

've done three neck resets on vintage Nationals that I owned over the years, a 1933 Duolian, a '36 style O (which I converted from a squareneck to a roundneck, and a 1930 roundneck tricone. Of course, the "dowel stick" was securely attached to the neck in all three cases. In that yours isn't, presents a little more of a challenge.

FROM HERE ON DOWN WAS WHAT I WROTE BEFORE I READ THAT YOU ONLY NEEDED NECK ANGLE ADVICE. Although you don't need the following, I just didn't have the heart to delete it.

First, regarding one problem that you apparently have, too much relief in the fretboard. Several people I know like to plane the relief out of the board and refret. If you're more concerned with the instrument's long term playability than keeping it completely vintage, you might consider what I did. I removed the fretboard, pulled out the reinforcement tube, routed a clean channel in the neck, filled it in with new wood, then installed an adjustable rod with the adjustment nut hidden in the heel. From what I see in your series of photos, your fingerboard is bound (is it a Triolian or a Style O?). Removing the board might mean you have to replace the binding, but like I said, if you value playability over remaining truly vintage, that would be no problem.

As far as reattaching the neck to the dowel, I imagine you've already got an idea for that. If not, I would clean off the old adhesive(s) from both the male and female mating surfaces, and if necessary use a shim to fill any gap that may develop through the cleaning up process, then use your glue of choice to re join them. One way to guarantee a good alignment would be to create a jig that would hold the neck in place on the guitar--at the correct angle--with the the dowel stick in place inside the guitar, held in place with the tailpiece screw and the two small dowel & "doughnut" pads that span the gap between the dowel and the guitar back (I hope this is somewhat clear). Then once you have it all line up dry, pull the neck off, apply the glue, then slide it back in place using the jig to keep it aligned.

I've recently built a pair of wooden-bodied tricones and circumnavigated the dowel problem by simply making them with bolt-on necks. Of course that doesn't help you.

I'm assuming that you're okay with figuring out the neck set angle, relative to the resonator/biscuit saddle. If not, shoot me a PM and we can discuss that.

Good luck. I looks like both a frustrating and rewarding project.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:49 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Chris: There's a really nice discussion about resonator bridge height over on the ORIGINAL RESONATOR FORUM here on the OLF entitled BRIDGE HEIGHT. You might want to check that out.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:10 pm 
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Thank you for the longer discussion - makes MUCH more sense than what I read yesterday. I didn't want to be rude about it.... Anyway - still working on it. This thing needs a complete refret and a bunch more stuff. If it didn't belong to a client I've had over 30 years, I wouldn't have even touched it. But the guy believes in me, so I'll give it a shot. More later! I have other work, so this isn't a project with a deadline.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:34 pm 
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Made a minor breakthrough in understanding.... clamped the neck stick into the body, and then slipped the neck into position. LOTS of relief on that neck joint, eh? But I now see where I need to put some shims on the stick. More enlightenment soon, I hope.

More pix....
http://s588.photobucket.com/user/studem ... sort=3&o=0

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:08 am 
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Great timing on this, as we're doing a thirties Duolian as well. My shop manager, Elliott, and I were discussing these very same issues just earlier today. We've replaced the fingerboard, inlaid the ivoroid dots, fretted it up to the 14th, and sprayed tinted lacquer on the new fretboard edges. We've also replaced the saddle on the original biscuit, which had gotten so low, there was almost no break angle left. Were now starting to determine how tall the bridge (or is it saddle?) needs to be to achieve a healthy 4 degree break angle over the cone. From there, we'll determine how much needs to come off the heel. Then it's a matter of shoring up the stick with slightly taller risers and re-shimming the top and tail.

The lingering question we're left with though, is why do metal-bodied guitars need neck resets? The neck of ours was tight to the body.

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