Cutting a neck narrower - brute force?

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Cutting a neck narrower - brute force?

Postby Beate Ritzert » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:50 pm

My cheapest bass has a very wide neck - Precision Style, which i simply do not like. Today i gave it a Bronco Bridge with somewhat narrower string spacing, and i want do reduce the width of the neck accordingly. About 3 mm at maximum; the nut width will not be changed.

I see two options:

a) remove the frets, make the neck narrower with a plane, chisels, rasp, belt sander,.... repair the chipped out pieces of the fingerboard. reinsert the frets, shorten them, and level them. I have done this before, and know what to expect. No router, no router plane because the would surely damage the open slots in the fretboards.

But i am notoriously lazy. So i think about variant

b) do everything with sanding tools.

i.e., leave the frets on, initally use the belt sander (grain 80), and of course take care the belt will run obliquely downward so the frets would be dragged into their slots. Less working steps, and the fret slots would remain filled.

In both cases the initial cuts would be done in an angle of 45 degrees; the final shape will achived later.

Possible or too dangerous? Or will the frets (nickel silver) be to strong for the sanding belt?
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Re: Cutting a neck narrower - brute force?

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:41 pm

I'm lazy too.
I'd use a sander, a spindle sander if you have one, or chuck one up in a drill press. I think a belt sander would give you less control, but it would probably work. I routinely use my oscillating spindle sander to shape the neck, and smooth off the fret ends after they're tapped in and cut with a nipper. It should be no trouble to go in a little farther to narrow the neck.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it
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Re: Cutting a neck narrower - brute force?

Postby Barry Daniels » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:04 pm

Be cautious of the sander as it will heat up the frets something fierce. If the frets are held in with glue they won't stay in too long.
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Re: Cutting a neck narrower - brute force?

Postby Beate Ritzert » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:16 pm

Thanks.

I am pretty sure the frets are not glued. It is a cheap chinese bass - remember my converted 6 string? That one has a little sister.
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Re: Cutting a neck narrower - brute force?

Postby John Clifford » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:02 pm

I don't see why the belt sander wouldn't work, except for the heat issue. You might wear out a belt or two. What are you going to do about the neck pocket, assuming it's a Fender style bolt-on?
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Re: Cutting a neck narrower - brute force?

Postby Beate Ritzert » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:10 pm

I'm going to leave it at its width, just thin starting from the fretboard and reach the full width at the body contact line. And find a smooth transition on the sides.
I am definitely not going to cut into the body (what i did when i converted an SG kit into a tenor guitar).
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Re: Cutting a neck narrower - brute force?

Postby Brian Evans » Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:56 am

I'd use an angle grinder with a 60 grit flap sanding disc to rough, and a coarse bastard file to finish, then normal techniques to reshape the neck. You can easily arrange to have the flap disc push the frets in towards the neck, and with an angle grinder you can keep it moving so the frets don't heat up too much.
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Re: Cutting a neck narrower - brute force?

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:53 am

I have often used a belt sander to "rough file" newly installed frets flush with the fingerboard. It's quick! just be sure to use light pressure so the sharp fret ends don't cut into the belt.
Also, I usually clamp the belt sander upside down in a vise and bring the neck to the belt.
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Re: Cutting a neck narrower - brute force?

Postby Beate Ritzert » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:28 pm

It worked like a charm, and it was quick - raw sanding took me just about 10 minutes. Thanks for encouraging me.
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Re: Cutting a neck narrower - brute force?

Postby Beate Ritzert » Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:39 pm

Here the (intermediate) result - i decided to make a new pickguard:


Image

Image

Image

still open: a mounting ring for the J-pickup.
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Re: Cutting a neck narrower - brute force?

Postby Barry Daniels » Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:32 pm

I would make some filler strips to place in the neck mortise. It will give a bit of support and prevent dirt and junk from building up in there.
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Re: Cutting a neck narrower - brute force?

Postby Beate Ritzert » Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:44 pm

It can hardly be seen in the picture: the lower part of the neck heel has been left in its original with. So there is no loss in support.

But You're right, i should also re-fill the visible gaps especially the upper on the left/upper side. I think it'll be easier when i add some wood to the heel in the places where i sanded too much downward.

In this region i would probably need to find a better way to cut the upper part of the heel narrower. (I'll do that a 2nd time on another bass). Maybe with a chisel between the frets?
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