Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

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Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Michael Baresi » Thu Dec 03, 2015 10:34 am

I need to reset the neck on an old Stromber-Voisinet that has a faux pearl fretboard. Someone has driven two nails into the heel in an attempt to fix the action. :roll:
Usually when releasing the extension I will place a couple of cabinet scrapers along side the extension to protect the top and one on top of the extension. Then I place a clothes iron on the extension to heat it up.
I'm concerned that this might heat up the faux pearl and release it causing a mess I'd rather not deal with.
Has anyone done one of these fretboards? Any suggestions on how I might proceed?
thanks
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Dec 03, 2015 10:46 am

Heat will destroy the plastic so you either have to remove the plastic first or come up with another approach.
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Stephen Neal Saqui » Thu Dec 03, 2015 10:59 am

I had one of those with the same problem. The fingerboard is celluloid and heat is dangerous. I chose to heat-bend the neck with a heat lamp, applying the heat to the back of the neck. It did work some, though not as well as a reset, by any means, and I was not satisfied and sold it as it was. Looking back I think I'd try to remove the entire fingerboard with moisture and low heat. My neck was bowed as well as having an angle change to the body.

Go slow! Keep the heat down.
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Michael Baresi » Thu Dec 03, 2015 11:25 am

Barry Daniels wrote:Heat will destroy the plastic so you either have to remove the plastic first or come up with another approach.

Yes I was afraid of that.
I wonder if I can get my steam needle under the extension somehow?
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Michael Lewis » Fri Dec 04, 2015 4:12 am

Trying to get your steam needle under the fingerboard is quite likely to blush the finish. If it is lacquer it can be fixed, but if it is a varnish finish if you blush it you are . . . . well, just say it becomes a bigger mess.

You need to separate the fingerboard before applying steam to the dovetail. Careful work with a putty knife is most likely the answer but each job can respond so differently from the next. Most likely you are dealing with hide glue, so there are two ways I know of approaching this. Heat and moisture with a hot putty knife where you have a pot of boiling water and at least a couple putty knives and keep changing them to get heat and moisture under the board, which is risky to the finish; and then there is alcohol, which also can be risky to the finish. Alcohol is how violin and bass fingerboards are removed, as it sucks any moisture from the hide glue and breaks down the bond. A blade is slipped under a corner, a drop of alcohol, wiggle the blade, add another drop and wiggle, etc. always following the seam. Repeat as needed.

It really helps if there is some gap already that you can exploit, otherwise you have to make the gap. Be careful, gentle, and firm.
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Michael Baresi » Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:51 am

Michael thanks for the good information.
There is a gap that I can exploit so I think I will try the hot knives first and be patient as I work.
I didn't know about the alcohol method. That will be my second line of attack if the hot knives don't work.
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Michael Lewis » Sat Dec 05, 2015 4:19 am

Hot wet knives is one approach, and not to be combined with the alcohol method. The glue must be totally dry for the alcohol method to work.
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Paul Waters » Sat Dec 05, 2015 6:41 am

Where heat is an Issue you should look into the alcohol method Michael has described. I have had success in the past on some hide glue seams that have a starting gap by gently inserting cotton wool into the seam and wicking alcohol onto it to keep it damp. you can then gently ease it further into the seam over a period of time with a blunt edged putty knife. Takes some time but works cleanly and avoids getting a mess on the existing finish. As with all jobs of this nature time and feel are your best tools. Replace the cotton wool periodically to remove residue and begin over with clean cotton. Cotton wool is a good way of introducing water or alcohol to tricky places where you need to preserve the finish or keep it dry.
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Jason Rodgers » Sat Dec 05, 2015 12:54 pm

Paul Waters wrote:Cotton wool is a good way of introducing water or alcohol to tricky places where you need to preserve the finish or keep it dry.

Great technique suggestion!
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Michael Baresi » Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:13 pm

I just wanted to thank everyone for the tips. Especially Michael since the hot knives technique really worked great. I have a couple of artists pallette knives that are very thin and great for that procedure. The extension came off very clean with no damage at all to the top or fretboard.
The toughest part was removing the nails and I cursed the stupidity of using nails on a guitar neck. See the pic and look for the nails.
thanks
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Thomas Wentzel » Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:20 pm

Hi All ... I've removed many of these catalog guitar necks over the years. With a birch body and dry hide glue, I find I can just work a smooth, rounded spatula under the extension w/o heat or any liquid. Works on spruce tops too, but you'll need to be a bit more careful.

Often the neck will come out dry, too, with a bit of wiggling. Did you use steam on this? Looks like it may have come out dry.

I once had a string of 8 necks in a row that popped out dry, including a 20s Martin! I always check that first, before I go to steam, especially on the old factory guitars.

Tom
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Michael Baresi » Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:25 pm

Thomas Wentzel wrote:
Often the neck will come out dry, too, with a bit of wiggling. Did you use steam on this? Looks like it may have come out dry.

Tom


Yes Tom it came out dry. I've done a couple like this too. The glue is dry and brittle. A little bit of wiggle and it pops right out.
I like it when I don't have to use steam.
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Thomas Wentzel » Tue Dec 08, 2015 3:35 pm

No steam makes life simpler, for sure.

One other note on these catalog guitars with the punky necks, they often have so much relief from string pull that, after a neck set, there's a lot of buzz. What I've done is, if it's a really nice guitar, like yours, I'll pull the board, heat press the neck flat, and install two carbon fiber rods. You can really get nice, low action and the guitars become very playable. It's a bit of work, but I enjoy that task more than gluing braces and neck sets in general (which can get stressful) ;-)

Tom
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Michael Baresi » Tue Dec 08, 2015 7:27 pm

It does sound like a lot of work. Lucky for me it looks like the relief is going to be acceptable on this one. Considering the faux pearl plastic fret board it would be a major job. I would have to take it all off so I could apply heat and remove the fretboard. Not sure this guitar is worth it. I'm trying to keep it as original as possible and the bridge has a brass saddle thats not compensated so the intonation probably won't be good anyway.
If it had a wood fretboard I might consider keeping it and installing a different bridge with a compensated saddle.
btw the frets have very little wear. They seem a little squared off. Just wondering if they might be bar frets?
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Thomas Wentzel » Thu Dec 10, 2015 4:24 pm

Michael, they're not bar frets, just really tall and thin 't' frets from the old days. Today we might call them banjo or mandolin frets. Many players don't like them, because they don't round off too well, and impede sliding the hand up the fretboard because of their height.

I don't think frets of that dimension are available anymore, I've looked around. If someone here has a source, let us know!


Tom
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Chris Vallillo » Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:39 pm

These can be very nice little guitars if you are able to completely restore them. Solid Mahogany bodies with decent construction. I own 2 of these and used one for a slide guitar for several years. I bet if they were perfectly set up they'd sound quite nice. Good Luck!
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Thomas Wentzel » Fri Feb 12, 2016 9:22 am

Chris ... yes, they are fun guitars with their own unique sound, especially piercing for slide. The bodies like this are actually all solid birch, not mahogany, like you mentioned. Maybe you meant birch? They're usually birch body with a softish basswood or poplar neck with a dyed fingerboard and bridge.
Hope this clarifies ... Tom
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Michael Baresi » Fri Feb 12, 2016 9:54 am

Hey Tom you are right about the poplar neck and dyed bridge (the fretboard is faux pearl) but Chris is right that the body is all solid mahogany. I know that many of these were birch as you said but this one is not.
I just love the sound of an all mahogany guitar which is why I bought this one.
FYI the neck reset went well (3/32) and it plays and sounds nice. I only wish it had a rosewood fretboard. the fake pearl just seems cheap to me.
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Michael Lewis » Sat Feb 13, 2016 4:36 am

Those celluloid fingerboards actually wear very well over the years. They are touchy when you do fret work though.
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Re: Re-setting Neck with Faux Pearl Fretboard

Postby Thomas Wentzel » Sat Feb 13, 2016 2:36 pm

Thanks, Michael, I see the mahogany now in your first picture. Tom
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