FRETS.COM Thumbnail Article
Please click on the small images to see the large views.

Neck reset, and a broken neck block
1946 Epiphone Triumph
© Frank Ford, 3/17/00; Photos by FF, 3/10/00

This guitar is a "high miler." It has been in professional use most of its life, and has endured quite a lot. Refinished blond a few years ago, it's still doing its job about as well as the day it rolled off the line at Epiphone's New York factory in 1946.

The cantilevered support section under the fingerboard is neatly scarfed back to the eleventh fret, making it as strong and solid as if it were a one piece neck overhanging the body.

Unfortunately, the neck joint became loose after the guitar suffered a blow when the case was dropped. You can't really see it but the neck would pull forward under tension.

So not knowing what I'd find inside, I figured I had to reset the neck. I removed the heel cap and drilled a 1/16" hole diagonally into the dovetail cavity.

I inserted my steam needle. You can see the Krups expresso maker in the background. It makes the neatest steam generator, quick and easy to set up.

And, brother, did the steam roll out! The upper end of the dovetail pocket was virtually open to the atmosphere under the cantilevered section, so the steam escaped readily. With such an easy escape route, it took quite a lot of steam to loosen the old hide glue of the dovetail joint.

And, here's the problem. A cracked neck block. No wonder the neck pulled forward under tension.

The dovetail is a regular tapered one, and well fitted. Notice the truss rod sticking out at the end of the fingerboard. This is a unique style rod. Instead of being mounted deep in the neck, and compressing the neck to pull it backward, it s mounted right under the fingerboard, and actually pushes to expand the front side of the neck to achieve a reverse curve. Did Epiphone devise this one because Gibson held the patent on compression rods?

I glued the broken neck block and a loose section of the top simultaneously, using hide glue for rigidity and heat resistance. used a couple of power drive screws and a plywood plate to clamp the broken neck block. I could have clamped over the entire body if I had glued up the loose top beforehand.

In the neck attachment area, the sides are far from flat. Although the neck fit well, I wanted to reset it a little. Arch top guitars hardly ever really need neck resetting, but it doesn't hurt to take advantage of the situation of having the neck out to realign it to the body, and achieve an ideal bridge height.

After preliminary fitting with a chisel, I pulled sandpaper through the joint to true up the fit to the curved surface.

After a few strokes, I got a nice clean fit.

A couple of simple cauls and a single bar clamp and some more hot hide glue finished up the repair. Just a quick restringing and setup would put this guitar back on the road.

I just tossed this photo in here to show the bottom of the original bridge. Gibson had a habit of penciling in the serial number, and, as you can see, Epiphone stamped it neatly. Notice that it's a stained maple bridge. After all, the Triumph was far from "top of the line."

Here it is, new neck angle, rebuilt joint, and ready to go back on the road with the jazz band.

Back to Index Page