Gretsch Anniversary Neck Reset

A great Gretsch Anniversary.  This guitar is around fifty years old, and is really showing it.

The neck on this Gretsch Anniversary has moved to the point where it is no longer possible to play, because the action is too high, but there is no break angle over the bridge, which has been filed down so it is incredibly low.

Removing the neck from a guitar is fairly major surgery, but is sometimes the only way that you can return the guitar to a playable condition.

Firstly I remove the pickups, so I can have a look inside the guitar at the neck joint.  It’s hard to know what’s going on in there, but it’s important to have a look at any part of it that you can see, just to make sure that nothing unexpected has happened to the guitar.  I wasn’t expecting those junction boxes on the pickup wires, but that’s pretty irrelevant to this repair.  I’ll remove all the electronics, so they don’t get in the way or get damaged while removing the neck.

The neck has clearly been removed before.  It’s a mess.  And the heel has been repainted a light green, which not only doesn’t match, but is flaking off.

Gretsch necks are often bolted on, then the bolt is covered in Polyfilla and painted.  The heel had been repainted after its last reset.  I had to dig the Polyfilla out so that I could remove the screw.

I checked the fingerboard, as I wanted to see if there had been any evidence of the neck having been steamed off on a previous occasion.  This little hole beneath the 14th fret was along the lines of what I was looking for – except it was beneath the wrong fret!

This was more like it.  I removed the 15th fret and drilled two holes down into the dovetail joint.  One for steam to go in; one for it to come out.

I used this string to check to see if the holes had gone into the pocket of the joint.

Next I used a little espresso machine to pump steam into the neck joint.  The heat and water loosened the glue and allowed me to take the neck off.

This neck just fell right out.  It was relying on its bolt to hold it in place.  The heelcap just fell off, too. I guess it wasn’t glued on too well after the last reset.

Once I’d set the new angle in the neck, I glued it back in and screwed the bolt back in.  Although it pains me to do it, I have to put polyfilla back in the void.  It’s what I expected in there, and it’s what the next repairman would expect to be there, too.

Next I glued the heelcap back on, and blended the paint over the screw hole.  The neck was like a rainbow, so it was hard to know which part of the neck with which to blend the colour, but it looks authentic.  It’s important not to make it look brand new, or it will look daft against the scuffed up scruffiness of the rest of the guitar.

As you can see, the new break angle is much more satisfactory.

It’s all back together and playing like a dream.

Tags: