Ibanez AE405TV -- Neck Reset or . . . ?

If you have a string instrument of any kind that needs fixing, a mistake you made in building a new instrument that you need to "disappear," or a question about the ethics of altering an older instrument, ask here. Please note that it will be much easier for us to help you decide on the best repair method if you post some pictures of the problem.

Ibanez AE405TV -- Neck Reset or . . . ?

Postby Michael McBroom » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:21 pm

I have an Ibanez AE405TV, made in 1984, that I bought several years ago, really just as a template for a steel-string acoustic build. But now I'm getting the urge to actually try to do something with it. It's not a particularly valuable guitar, but it is reasonably well made. And it's not a bad playing or sounding guitar. But it appears to need a neck reset. I think. It would be way uneconomic for me to have somebody else do the repair, considering the guitar's value and relative importance to me, so if it gets a reset, I'll be the one doing it.

I'm attaching a photo of the guitar and a couple more showing areas that appear to be under considerable stress.

Image

In the following photo, there are two areas I'd like you to look at: the reflection line that runs between the sound hole and the inside of the cutaway and on the other side of the sound hole, the reflections in the top surface that appear to show some warpage.

Image

In the following photo, I'm trying to show that same area where the distortion is somewhat evident by the top reflection line in the above photo. When strung up, there is a noticeable and rather severe warpage of the soundboard right there.

Image

My apologies for the blurriness of the photos. I had to shoot without flash because the flash was washing out these reflections and the lighting was dim enough to result in camera shake.

In the third photo above, I'd also like you to note the size of the neck heel reinforcement block showing. There is one of equal thickness that the heel itself is fastened to. I build classicals, I've built only one steel string so far, but it is my experience that steel strings typically do not use such a huge block underneath the fingerboard. This is more reminiscent of classicals, in fact. So, if we just look at the size of this support block, it would seem to me that it would be less likely that the neck would be in need of a reset, yet the stress on the soundboard seems to indicate otherwise. Also, there is essentially no bowing or bulging of the soundboard below the bridge when the strings are tuned to pitch -- in this case, phosphor bronze lights. It is almost totally flat.

When the strings are tuned to pitch, the neck is perfectly straight, but you can see a noticeable angle of the neck with respect to the guitar body. The bridge saddle has no more adjustment left and there is almost no string breakover angle left anymore.

I have tried grabbing the neck with the strings removed and pushing it forward to see if I could feel any give, and I couldn't. It is very rigid. Perhaps if I would have left the strings on, I would have heard it detune somewhat, but I didn't think to do this.

So, it seems to be in need of a neck reset to me. Even though there is no apparent soundboard deflection south of the bridge, it would appear that the guitar is still attempting to fold up on itself north of the bridge.

I guess what bothers me the most about doing a neck reset -- other than the fact that I've never done one before and I feel like I'm in uncharted waters -- is that it seems to be treating the symptoms and is not offering a cure. But then what would a cure be? Removing the top and adding more bracing to it? I think I'd rather do the neck reset, thankyouverymuch.

So now for some questions: does anybody here happen to know what sort of neck joining method Ibanez used with ths style guitar? I kinda doubt its dovetail, but I suppose I could be wrong. The body is only about 2-3/4" deep at the heel and the heel itself is only about 2-1/2". Also, I've been doing some searching on various DIY contraptions for generating and injecting steam into the joint and have come up with a couple of worthwhile ideas that ought to work. But it seems that there are no substitutes for the StewMac jig that actually removes the neck. Sound about right?

Any insights you'd care to offer will be welcome.
Best,
Michael
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Re: Ibanez AE405TV -- Neck Reset or . . . ?

Postby Jeffrey L. Suits » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:46 pm

This guitar will be a screaming, raving bitch to reset; you have both AMJ & AMG to contend with, NTM that it's a full cutaway.

I wouldn't even try to steam it off, I'd loosen the fingerboard tongue--which may give you some idea of the AMG's tenacity, or lack of it--saw through the heel, and convert to bolt-on.
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Re: Ibanez AE405TV -- Neck Reset or . . . ?

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:22 pm

OMG and WTF! Please explain you TLA's :lol:
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Re: Ibanez AE405TV -- Neck Reset or . . . ?

Postby Jeffrey L. Suits » Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:05 pm

Chuck Tweedy wrote:OMG and WTF! Please explain you TLA's :lol:



Asian Mystery Joint, Asian Mystery Glue.

Not to mention...
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Re: Ibanez AE405TV -- Neck Reset or . . . ?

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:30 pm

Where's Deb when we need her!?!?!?!

:-)
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Re: Ibanez AE405TV -- Neck Reset or . . . ?

Postby Michael Lewis » Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:00 am

The structure of the body, especially the top, is deforming. Rather than doing a neck set try to reinforce the body so the neck block can't rotate so much. A rod wedged between the neck block and tail block could do the job of pushing the top of the neck block forward to it's original position. GOOD LUCK!!!!

Maybe hang it on the wall.
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Re: Ibanez AE405TV -- Neck Reset or . . . ?

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:10 pm

It is a good looking guitar. Would really make a nice wall-hanging. :-)
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Re: Ibanez AE405TV -- Neck Reset or . . . ?

Postby Michael McBroom » Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:27 am

Well, thanks for the advice, guys. Actually, after giving the guitar a closer examination and giving it some more thought, I've come up with an idea very close to Jeffrey's -- about cutting off the neck and converting it to a bolt-on. And for pretty much the same reasons, although I was unaware of those clever acronyms until just now.

What I've done for the interim, though, is to find out if it is playable at all. This guitar has been sitting in its case, unstrung, for the past eight years, largely forgotten. Until I got this wild idea about cobbling together something I could use as a jazz instrument. This guitar sorta fits that build. It's a thinline of sorts -- 70mm depth at the heel and 80mm at the base. So, I reattached the piezo pickup and strung it up with electric lights -- 10s through 42s. With this weight of strings, the neck's problems aren't so bad. The action at the 12th fret is not uncomfortable with 10s. And surprisingly, even with these light electric strings, the guitar has a decent volume and a nice, sweet sound. And the piezo pickup delivers this same sweet sound through my amplifier. So, I think that, rather than worry overly about resetting the neck anytime soon, I'm just gonna play it until I can't play it anymore. And maybe then I'll hang it on the wall. Hopefully that won't be for quite some time, though.
Best,
Michael
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