Now that we have the neck off, and I’ve let it dry for at least a week, we can proceed to the reset.
This guitar will have a fret job as well so all the frets were pulled.The first step in the reset is to determine how much of the heel needs to be removed. As I stated in the previous post the current neck angle left the straight edge about 1/8″ above the top or about 1/4″ too shallow. Since the heel is about 4″ and the distance from the nut to the saddle is about 25 1/2″ it takes a fraction of amount taken off at the heel to make the 1/4″ needed to correct the angle. My usual formula (not scientific by any standard) is to take about an 1/8th of the amount off the heel. So in this case, I would take off a 1/32″ from the heel or an 1/8th of the 1/4″. Some people use a file to do this but I prefer a very sharp chisel. I cut to the line on a bevel, then back cut on a slight angle so that shoulders of the neck “bite” into the body. I may repeat this several times, until I get the angle right. Make sure you take the same amount of material off both sides of the heel to maintain the correct trajectory to the bridge.
This gets me into the ball park, but I use another method to get the final fit. For this step I use 100 or 120 grit self adhesive sandpaper with the backing left on. I put the neck on the body and put the sandpaper between them, slick side toward body.This does the final fitting. I’ve run across several bodies that are not completely flat, so this works very well for this. Make sure when you are doing this, you do not pull the sandpaper up because you will take too much off the heel. Again, care should be taken to ensure both sides are even. When you are satisfied with the fit you must now adjust the dovetail geometry.
I you have taken more than an 1/8″ off the heel you will first need to take off material off the back of the dovetail to clear the back of the head block. Once this is done you can now make the shim for the re-fit.In taking wood from the bottom of the heel you will have a lose fit because the dovetail is now smaller at the bottom. The top should be relatively tight because no material should have been removed (in fact, if wood is taken away form the top of the dovetail, it will effect the intonation because the neck will be closer to the bridge). I make two wedges, one for each side of the dovetail. Using .032″ thick veneer 5/8″ wide and almost the length of the dovetail I taper the thickness from the full .032″ to nothing. A trick for getting this done is to use a piece of double stick tape on one side of the shim so that I can secure it to my fingers while sanding. Carbon paper or lamp black used in between the neck and head block is a good way to test the fit. I do this until I”m satisfied with the joint. I have to say that the original dovetail was a very fine fit, a testament to Mr. Podnuavac’s work.
I then glue the neck back on using the same type of glue as the original. In this case hide glue was used. NEVER use epoxy, polyurathane or any other glue that can’t be reversed!!! I touch up any finish issues, such as chipped lacquer around the body or neck.
The 15th fret will have to be replaced, making sure it is in line with the others and doesn’t cause any buzzing (in this case a re-fret was needed). Finally a new saddle will have to be constructed.
Even if you never do this on your own guitar it will give you some understanding of why this kind of repair costs so much money.