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1987 J 30 Neck Reset

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I have an '87 J-30 SORS that needs the neck reset. The guitar has the paddle neck joint. I have done about 25 Neck resets on various guitars and I'm going to be doing the work this fall/winter. Does anyone have any real world experience with this neck joint? I'm in the information gathering stage right now so anything helps.

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  • 3 months later...

I decided to document this somewhat as I couldn't find much information about this paddle neck joint design. Hopefully someone finds it useful.

First my disclaimer: I am not a luthier.I have taken my guitars to professionals for many years. All too often I picked them up (months later usually) only to find that they had not done what they said they would, charged more than they said they would (that steak was a little harder to cook than we thought it would be..forget the menu price) and I wasn't happy with the outcome. I am not saying that it is any different than any other professional, just that I am not standing in that line. So do your own research, draw your own conclusions, and take what I say with a grain of salt.

As you can see by the first picture, I elected to remove the entire fretboard. On lesser guitars with difficult or unknown neck joints I have removed the 12th fret and made a cut to remove only the lower portion. That would have seemed like cheating on this guitar. I don't know if the holes in the neck block and the paddle mortise are original but they were there from the time I got the guitar. It steamed off just as any dovetail once exposed. However, whoever assembled the joint previously did not trust the dovetail to do the work and there was a lot of glue (A.R.) between the sides of the body and face of the heel. I just warmed palette knives (in water heated on my hot plate) and worked them slowly into the joint. The paddle actually loosened pretty quickly with steam.

Now my dilemma is whether to assemble it as I found it (as you see the paddle is not a very tight fit) or modify so the next guy doesn't have to remove all or part of the fretboard. There are good arguments either way. Originality is not one of them. I don't think it's a good design and has more cons than pros. Right now I have time to decide as the parts will be drying for several days.

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I would modify it for sure.



Would you care to elaborate? The problems, as I see them; it doesn't have a traditional heel block, therefore the mortise for the dovetail tenon would be short, the paddle would no longer be structural but just a shim or filler block more or less. Still haven't decided but I would like your thoughts.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I finally got back to this reset and have been meaning to update this thread. In the end I left the paddle pretty much as found. I did put a relief notch on the bottom (of the paddle so that the paddle would sit flush in the space that it was intended. There was the temptation to modify or do away with it entirely but I left it because you don't have a complete dovetail joint if it were to be eliminated. Also there should be something under the fretboard extension IMO so it might as well be the paddle. There is plenty of info on the interweb about neck resetting so I don't feel the need to go into too much detail on that. I reshaped the dovetail, shimmed it for a nice snug fit and glued it back. Then glued the fretboard the next day after checking to make sure the angle was correct.



As a side note this guitar is equipped with the SORS pickup system. Prior attempts to lower the action, by previous owners had left the saddle end damaged and I've been unable to source another. Therefore, I will be removing and patching the holes left by the control knobs and saddle transducer.




When re-cutting the angle of the neck heel I have tried many different methods. One of the more common is putting the neck back in the guitar and pulling sandpaper through the joint or "flossing". I have never found that to be a very accurate, easy and certainly not expedient. I made these steel plates that I use now;


So I do the math, make the necessary small cut on the bottom of the heel, and use this as a sanding block to blend the notch to 0 degrees at the bottom of the fretboard.

More later.

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