high neck relief in an old Regal Parlor guitar

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Jake Horner
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:17 am

high neck relief in an old Regal Parlor guitar

Post by Jake Horner »

Hiya,

I picked up a 1930's Regal parlor guitar on Craigslist for $25 and have been slowly restoring it. I've cleaned it, repaired cracks on the top and back, reglued the braces, and reglued the top and back to the sides so far.

The last hindrance to finishing it up is 1/16"+ neck relief. Because of the high relief a straightedge laid on the frets intersects the bridge at a point much too low to be serviceable.

In my previous life (up until I sustained a TBI) I was an archtop builder who didn't do many repairs. I can think of a few ways to sort this out, but I'm not sure about the best way to proceed.

1. Pull the frets and plane the fingerboard straight. I'd be removing material from the first 5 frets or so, and about 1/16" at the nut. This would improve the bridge height and string break angle.
2. Pull the frets and the fingerboard, plane the neck straight, and reglue the fingerboard. Install a truss rod or some carbon fiber since the FB is off?
3. Pull the frets and the fingerboard, remove the neck, clamp the neck straight and bake it in a low oven for a few hours. then reinstall everything. And a truss rod or carbon fiber?

My concern about 1 and 2 is that I'd be removing material, thus making the neck less strong to resist string pull.

I realize this was a cheap guitar to begin with so I don't want to go overboard. But I'd also like to make it playable again. I'm using this guitar as a way of making my way back to building after 20 years and two traumatic brain injuries. FYI the scale length is about 610mm.


Thanks in advance,

Jake

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Barry Daniels
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Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:58 am
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: high neck relief in an old Regal Parlor guitar

Post by Barry Daniels »

To make the guitar reliable for future playability you should install a modern truss rod which obviously requires removal of the fretboard, and probably a new fret job. Depending on the rigidity of the existing neck, you might even want to install a couple of small carbon fiber bars too. Is this too much work for a cheap guitar? I don't think so.
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Chris Reed
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Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:26 pm

Re: high neck relief in an old Regal Parlor guitar

Post by Chris Reed »

Wouldn't the traditional answer be a compression re-fret (installing frets with a wider tang at strategic intervals to reduce the bow and thus the relief)?

Not something I've done myself, but I've read about the technique, and it seems that if you go slowly, checking regularly, it should be manageable if you already have the skills for a normal re-fret. The worst case is that you have to remove the fretboard and install a truss rod, then pull the wider frets, fill the slots with veneer, re-cut and re-fret, so its not irreversible. If it works, it's least invasive.

Future stability should be OK, as the neck has taken nearly 90 years to get to its current state!

Maybe someone who's done compression fretting could chip in to tell us how tricky it is in reality.

Alan Carruth
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Joined: Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:11 pm

Re: high neck relief in an old Regal Parlor guitar

Post by Alan Carruth »

Would a compression re-fret be able to correct that much bow? I doubt it.

My understanding on cooking necks to straighten them has been that they soon go back to being bowed. If you don't eliminate the underlying problem you don't get a permanent solution. The underlying problems are lack of stiffness and cold creep, and the best solution for those so far has been an adjustable truss rod.

Freeman Keller
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Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:34 am

Re: high neck relief in an old Regal Parlor guitar

Post by Freeman Keller »

Other than the excessive relief, how is the neck angle? Are you going to need to take the neck off and reset it? If so I would be inclined to remove the neck, then remove the fretboard and level the top of the neck (and add reinforcement if you feel necessary), then put the f/b back on, refret and set the angle. I know its a lot of work but its probably worth the effort

Jake Horner
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:17 am

Re: high neck relief in an old Regal Parlor guitar

Post by Jake Horner »

Thanks for the replies!

I had already decided against a compression refret. Given that the neck likely does not have a truss rod, a compression refret that looks good now might lead to a back bow in a few years. Also, I'm uncertain that the neck angle is correct even if the fretboard is straight.

I've decided to remove the frets and fingerboard, straighten the neck, and install a truss rod. That way i can evaluate the neck angle and correct it if necessary.

Jake

Alain Lambert
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Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:18 pm
Location: Trois-Rivieres, Quebec

Re: high neck relief in an old Regal Parlor guitar

Post by Alain Lambert »

If you straighten the neck by planning the surface ( up to 1/16 or more), you will end up with a narrower neck, You have to consider that and possibly add a layer between the neck and fretboard.

Brian Evans
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Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:26 am
Location: Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia

Re: high neck relief in an old Regal Parlor guitar

Post by Brian Evans »

I have a 1930's Regal made Dobro with a similar (identical) neck problem so I hope you post your solution. I'm currently ignoring it by playing it lap style with a riser nut, but in the back of my mind is this nagging feeling that I'm going to repair it sooner or later... I won't be removing frets on mine since they are essentially virgin - the original owner also played it lap style.

Brian

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