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Gibson Hummingbird 1990- bowed neck problem


rossnuk

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Well my last post was thinking about buying it - I did - and when it arrived it had 10s on it so I took it to my guitar luthier friend who set it up for 12s.

 

The luthier that did it is awesome - really knows his stuff on guitars.

 

When I went round to collect it he said there was an underlying problem, which, although isn't an issue at the moment , may (will) be in ten to fifteen years time.

 

The neck is bowed in the way (concaved) very slightly. He says this has happened due to someone not knowing what they are doing and tampering with the truss rod. If you look along the neck sideways in the light you can see what he means, it is subtle though.

 

To fix this problem - the guitar neck will have to be put on a straight edge and clamped for at least 3 days to get the neck back straight again.

 

He says this will be fine as the guitar is only 20 years old and the wood has not dried out yet.

 

He is only charging £50 to do this which seems fine as he says that if this isnt done sometime out of the next 2 years, at some point the neck will have to be reset which is an expensive job.

 

Let me know your thoughts on doing this as this hummingbird is awesome and I want it to be perfect.

 

Ross

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All I can say at this point is "huh?" Concaved? As in the nut and the body end of the fretboard are higher than the center? This is "neck relief" and most like their guitar setup with some relief to minimize/eliminate fret rattle on a low-action setup.

 

The guitar is only 20 years old and has not dried out? Hmmm. Whether or not the wood in an instrument has "dried out" depends on where it lives much moreso than how old it might be. (And, as a side note, if your guitar does "dry out", you'll have more trouble than a "concaved neck" on your hands.) A neck reset is generally not the correct prescription for a guitar neck gone rogue. Think about it. If the neck is bad in some way, why would you spend the money to reset a bad neck? Reset the guitar with a new neck, maybe.

 

Surely I misunderstand your post. Please clarify.......

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"Concaved? As in the nut and the body end of the fretboard are higher than the center? This is "neck relief" and most like their guitar setup with some relief to minimize/eliminate fret rattle on a low-action setup."

 

Hey man - yes this is what i mean - it is "u" shaped. He says he will have to clamp it on a staright edge for a few days to hopefully get it straight again..

 

The guitar plays perfect right now - he says that in years to come if the neck doesnt get starightened it will need a neck reset.

 

What do you think?

Ross

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I think you need a new luthier.

 

String tension pulls the neck one way; truss rod tension pulls it the other. The t-rod adjustment is to balance these forces to the liking of the user with his/her chosen string gauge. As I said earlier, most folks like a bit of "bow" in the neck. This little bit of "relief" allows the strings to swing in vibration without rattling against the frets. Action height, fret size, playing style, string choice........all these things play on relief adjustments. There is no one answer to this one. But I can tell you that a badly bowed neck cannot be fixed by a neck reset. You need a new luthier.

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"But I can tell you that a badly bowed neck cannot be fixed by a neck reset. You need a new luthier."

 

You have misread - he is going to put the neck on a straight edge and clamp it to move the nexk back to being straight. A neck reset will not fix this, but in years to come it will need a reset to actually still play the guitar properly.

 

Ross

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How much relief is in the setup now? Does it play to your liking? If so, play it to death and don't worry about a neck reset, or putting the neck on a straight edge (whatever that is). All steel string guitars are subject to pretty much the same stresses, given the same string gauge and construction. There are hundreds of examples of 50+ year old guitars that have perfect necks. Unless the neck wood is just a bad cut of wood there is no reason to expect that in another 10-20 years it will bow up so badly it can't be played. A neck reset is sometimes required on older instruments due to shifting of the neck block inside the body, but not due to a bowed neck. In these cases, the geometry between the neck block and, primarily, the sides changes.........imagine the whole neck "pivoting" on it's point of attachement to the body. This requires a neck reset. A bowed neck does not. I still think you need a new luthier.

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the guitar plays perfect , no buzzes or anything - the luthier claims that in 10- 15 years time there may be problems due to it being over-bowed. He is not a money grbber and has built many guitars, i trust his judgement.

 

Not sure what to do.

 

Ross

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hey - i just checked the relief by putting a capo on ist fret and freting low e string at 14th fret and checking gap at the 6th fret - it is a very small gap which seems to indicate a slight bow on the neck. If that's the case it should be fine, right.

 

I have j45 as well that i checked this with and there was no gap at the 6th which would indicate that its neck is dead staright.

 

Should I still try to get the hummingbirds neck dead straight do you think?

 

Ross

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mmm it would appear so - the luthier that set the hummingbird up says that someone before me has tightened the truss rod too much? hence - it is over bowed slightly,

 

not sure - its such a great guitar, i dont want problems arising later down the line.

 

ross

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mmm it would appear so - the luthier that set the hummingbird up says that someone before me has tightened the truss rod too much? hence - it is over bowed slightly' date=' ...[/quote']

 

Actually, tightening the nut on the truss rod too much results in too little relief, not too much. Sounds like maybe the problem is that overtightening the truss rod nut stripped the threads on the rod. So the rod doesn't work any more. So there's excess of neck relief. So he's proposing to straighten the neck in the same way that you straighten a neck that doesn't have a truss rod. This is a reasonable alternative to replacing the truss rod, which is comparatively expensive. Classically, those are the only two alternatives.

 

But, there are now other alternatives, such as repairing the truss rod with StewMac's truss rod rescue kit. Buying the kit to do this one repair wouldn't be cost effective, but you might want to try to find a luthier who sees enough stripped truss rods that he already has one.

 

Of course, if the rod is actually broken, that's a different story.

 

-- Bob R

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the luthier said the rod isnt broken - he was going to straighten out the neck by loosening the truss rod completely - as i have previously said - he claims that there isnt a problem with the guitar right now but there could be if it is left like it is 15 years down the line.

 

thats that basically - interesting, still in a dilemma

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So is your luthier telling you that someone overtightened the truss rod nut? And that- he thinks- there is no way to get relief back into the neck?

Because it sounds like you have a back-bow or flat neck-- and he's loosened the nut without getting any results.

 

If that's the case, I'd loosen the nut and play it as is, as long as the action is OK for you and you're not buzzing all over the place. Otherwise, it sounds like what he's suggesting is putting the guitar in a heat clamp for about 30 minutes or so, and slightly bending some relief into the neck.

 

I had this done to an old guitar with a completely flat (straight) neck. Loosening the truss rod nut did nothing; so a couple sessions with the heat clamp fixed it up.

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"So is your luthier telling you that someone overtightened the truss rod nut? And that- he thinks- there is no way to get relief back into the neck?

Because it sounds like you have a back-bow or flat neck-- and he's loosened the nut without getting any results"

 

I believe you could be right with this, yes - he went into details that I cant remember off the top of my head - he is an outstanding luthier - he has built and made many guitars - i trust he knows his stuff.

 

He claims that the only way around it is to loosen the truss rod completely and clamp the neck and leave it for about 3 days so that it comes straight again - he doesnt have a heat clamp, but i think you mean the same process.

 

If I go down this route will there be any risks? he says there wont be as the guitar is not old enough and the wood will easily move.

 

Ross

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If I go down this route will there be any risks? he says there wont be as the guitar is not old enough and the wood will easily move.

 

Sounds like he's doing it without heat. From what I understand, this is a standard fix- shouldn't be any problems.

 

However, I would still advocate for keeping the truss nut rod loosened, and just playing the guitar. (If it's playable) There's a chance that the string tension will correct the situation if it's not off by much.

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ok lets gewt to the bottom of this - i checked with the luthier - truss rod still works but cant bend the neck back to being straight.

 

Right now the guitar plays perfect - there is minimum relief at the 6th fret when checking it with capo at ist fret and freting g string at 14th fret so that seems fine.

When looking along the neck binding the curve on the neck is minimal.

 

There is a shim underneath the saddle to keep the action right and fret buzz away.

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