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Did my first non-trussrod neck adjustment

Posted: Sat Jun 29, 2019 10:09 am
by Mark Wybierala
A good client brought me in a yard sale purchased '60s Framus flat top student guitar. 22.5" scale, trapeze tail piece, no tuners, and missing the plastic adjustable bridge that is supposed to be on it. B+ cosmetic condition but even without using a straightedge, you could see the neck had way more relief than tolerable to ever yield a playable guitar. The neck was built with no trussrod.

My advice was to buy a battery powered wall clock and some dried flowers...

But my client had purchased a set of Grover StaTite open back tuners and a bridge that looked a lot like the original and wanted it strung up and tweeked as much as I could. I told him I would do my best but it would end up being a pig to play.

Any way... By the time I was able to get the guitar on my bench I ended up having a lull in the demands of clients. It was a cute little guitar. Framus guitars are German and typically quite a different animal compared to every other flat top guitar. They are well made using good materials and finished nicely regardless of their price point. I put a straightedge on the frets to view the neck angle to the bridge position. What I discovered is that most of the bend in the neck was under the first three frets. If I used the 3rd fret as a reference point to illustrate the neck angle to the bridge, it was nearly acceptable.

From a business perspective, I've done well with the client over the last few years and he's brought me some fascinating instruments never nickel and dimeing, shows me respect, listens, trusts and works with me. The plan was to stick with the original quote and have a little adventure on my own.

What I ended up doing was knocking off the wooden nut and carefully removing the zerofret and the 1st and 2nd fret. Even with these frets removed, the straightedge sat above the 3rd fret while resting on the fretboard at the zero fret position. I sharpened my microplanes and removed wood from the fretboard until the straightedge came down to the 3rd fret. Then I removed more wood using the microplane and a sanding block to get the distance between the straightedge and the fretboard to be the same as the height of the 3rd fret using nothing more than an eyeball estimation. I recut the fret slots and reinstalled the original frets and the wooden nut. The frets needed the help of a little CA. I spent about 30 minutes using a fret rocker and then recrowning.

After installing the new tuners I strung up the guitar with 12 - 54 strings. In my stash of hoarded junk I found a plastic bridge that was a lot more like the original should have been. The result was a string action that was respectable -- not perfect but acceptable. But the real surprise was the tone. This little guitar at its best was never going to sound like a good flattop acoustic. But what it has is a wonderful woody banjo sound that is truly delightful. Its not a cheap sound but rather has pleasing overtones with an intonation quality that just doesn't happen normally on these types of guitars.

All together I probably spent 3 1/2 hours on this instrument. There is no evidence of the work done. I'm sticking to my original quote. I would really like to own this instrument and I'm giddy to present the guitar to the client.

Re: Did my first non-trussrod neck adjustment

Posted: Sat Jun 29, 2019 11:02 am
by Barry Daniels
I love it when a job turns out better than expected.

Re: Did my first non-trussrod neck adjustment

Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:04 pm
by John Scime
Any chance you have a photo? I'd like to compare with one I have.

Question - If you had the original plastic bridge, would you have used it?


Re: Did my first non-trussrod neck adjustment

Posted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 2:23 pm
by Mark Wybierala
I should take more photos and I didn’t take any. This was certainly a student level Framus. It did not have the typical carved/hot pressed back that many Framus guitars have. Most certainly I would have used the original plastic bridge. The one I found may have actually been the same model bridge. It’s a trapeze style configuration. Lovely little guitar that is a joy to play and my client is very happy to have it.

Re: Did my first non-trussrod neck adjustment

Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:31 am
by John Scime
Here is a photo of the Framus made (I think), Beare 'The Grange' branded guitar I have. I'm pretty sure it is Birch 2-ply. The neck has a really nice profile, 24.5" scale, and an interesting german-style fretboard tongue: