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 Post subject: Strat neck with a hump
PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:09 pm 
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Mahogany
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Hey guys, a friend has asked me to look at his Strat neck which he had previously been told had a knot in the maple which was causing some issues. The issue I can see is that if you adjust the rod so it’s straight on the treble side, there’s a notable hump around the 8th fret that gets gradually worse toward the bass side to the point where if you centre a notched straight edge on the hump there’s about 1/16” clearance at each end of the straight edge.

Looking at the fretboard it’s clear that they tried to address this issue in the factory by planing down the board which is notably thinner around the middle of the neck than at either end.

The only thing that makes me query the maple is that it has some brown markings that happen to be in the area of the issue, but I think these are from a growth ring being bisected. I just don’t think looking at the wood that there’s a knot or any other significant imperfection in the maple. But this is where I need your advice - do you see anything in the photos to make you suspicious of the maple?

My guy tells me that given this is a Highway 1 neck it was rushed together, the wood wasn’t as seasoned as it needed to be, it’s shifted after glueing the board and they’ve bodged it with adjustments to the board.

If this is the case I’m thinking the most logical course of action would be to remove the board, level the maple, replace the board or maybe just remove frets and level the board as well and just live with a thinner board?

Any advice gratefully received.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:51 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Hey Bosco: I think that your gut speaks truth. Unseasoned wood and poor glue-up may indeed be the culprit.

The operations that you suggest would likely fix it but would not be done in the commercial world. Necks are cheap these days and even Fender is in the game selling genuine, flaws and all... Fender necks for very competitive prices.

For a Luthier to do a refret alone you are in our market over $400. Remove a board, plane things, do finish touch up or refinish and you're into a charge exceeding the price of two new necks.

Before anyone else suggests heat treating we are all tooled up to do this and have done many over the years. We recently stopped offering the service because we don't think in our experience it lasts over time.

Lastly the fret plane on this one sucks too in that the bass side should have more relief than the treble side. And you're right the board is planed already way too thin clearly making this a defect from the get go.

I'd replace the neck for less than half the professional going rates of fixing this one and you have the ability to be selective with the new one as well. There will still be lots of work to do fitting the neck, getting the angle right, cutting nut slots, intonation, setting relief and action, all the set-up stuff.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:36 am 
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Mahogany
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Thanks, Hesh. I really really appreciate it. I’ve built several guitars but as you can probably guess I’m not a pro like yourself. I take great pleasure in building up my skills though and am really pleased that you feel my diagnosis of the cause of the issue is on point. The previous suggestion of a defect in the wood and the markings on the back were red herrings of sorts so I’m pleased I managed to see past them. Another win was the fact that despite the truss rod nut being mashed from incorrect Allan key use in the past, resulting in my 1/8 slipping around and not turning it at all, I was able to take inspiration from StewMac’s Gripper truss rod wrench, and file in a gentle taper to a cheap 5/32 Allen key which worked a treat at gripping that sucker.

With nothing to lose I just decided to get the board straight in the middle with a very slight under bow on the treble side and a slightly more pronounced over bow on the bass, and levelled the frets in that position. Up to 12 took very little work, but there were some big inconsistencies above this point. I put a ramp on these frets anyway which killed two birds with one stone - customer wants to be able to do 3 semi bends without choking, and there were some low frets that I only reached after levelling in the slight fall away. I could of course have reached these low frets by taking all the frets down but it would have been a lot more work. Unless I decided to do some nice “Fender during the 90s” flat top frets!

The owner is reluctant to embark in the proposed surgery for much the same reasons as you outline. I could do it cheaper because of mate’s rates but he already over paid for this guitar so is unwilling to invest further in it.

Despite all its issues and being a parts caster made up of a 2007 Highway 1 neck and 1995 American Standard body (which he found out after purchasing it), the thing rings like a bell!

As you say though - Fender knew about the issue with the neck as evidenced by the planing on the board, yet still saw fit to ship it. It seems that what you’re really paying for as you go up the range is care factor, unfortunately.

Anyway, Thanks again, Hesh.

PS, another amusing thing on this guitar from the factory - it’s a 3 Tone burst but they only bothered with the outer two bands in the area where the pickguard sits!


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:50 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Hesh wrote:
Before anyone else suggests heat treating we are all tooled up to do this and have done many over the years. We recently stopped offering the service because we don't think in our experience it lasts over time.


My experience here is the same. The wood does what is in it's nature and you cannot make it forget that..... It will go back to the way it was in short order after heat straightening.

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These users thanked the author B. Howard for the post: Bosco Birdswood (Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:46 am)
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2019 8:46 am 
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Contributing Member
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PS, another amusing thing on this guitar from the factory - it’s a 3 Tone burst but they only bothered with the outer two bands in the area where the pickguard sits!


That is vintage spec for Fender. Many of the old Fenders I've worked on were like that. Ever seen a photo of Jaco Pastorius' old Jazz bass? He took the pickguard off, and it's quite obvious there was less paint in that spot.

Good job on the neck, hope you learned some stuff and buttressed your skills.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:04 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
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Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
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You are very welcome Bosco.


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