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An upgrade to adjustable truss rod
A 1974 D-28's New Neck
© Frank Ford, 2/22/00; Photos by FF, 2000

It was the second time this peghead had been broken; this time the break was particularly nasty

A 26-year old Martin is also likely to be in need of neck resetting and new frets, too, so the decision was made to install a new neck. With heat and steam, the old neck came out very neatly. Being a Martin warranty repairman, I was able to order a new, finished neck from the factory.

Here's the heel of the new neck. Notice that it has the modern adjustable truss rod. The owner decided that if a new neck was the logical choice, then why not also include the adjustable truss rod. Made sense to me. I measured the length, width and position of the truss rod.

And transferred the measurements to the guitar's top.

With my little Dremel router setup, I cut the opening, just guiding the tool freehand to the pencil lines.

You can't see it, but I routed the channel just a little short of the necessary depth to clear the rod. The idea was to cut through the flat brace so I could get easy access to the inside for measuring and positioning the mahogany reinforcement block I was to install.

I used my bridge router mill to make the channel in the block to clear the flat brace. I could have done it by hand, but this little machine was handy on the bench.

Here's the mahogany block, ready to glue in place.

Once the block was glued in, I routed the truss rod clearance channel to depth.

And drilled a truss rod nut access hole through the front brace.

I reamed out the drilled hole big enough to remove the truss rod nut later, if needed.

A dab of white grease on the truss rod threads will make adjustment all that much easier and sensitive in the future.

A new Martin neck comes from the factory with a bit of extra "meat" on the dovetail, so I spent some time trimming it to fit, keeping the side-to-side "string line" correct, and adjusting the angle for optimum bridge height.

It's pretty much the same job as resetting a neck, and the new neck fits beautifully.

From the soundhole, this D-28 looks as though it was originally fitted with an adjustable truss rod. All in all, it's expensive to order and install a new factory neck, but the result is a guitar that looks and plays as new. And, it has the bonus of the new adjustable truss rod. Yes, there are those "vintage hounds" who may not appreciate the upgrade, but let's not forget that Martin made 5,077 D-28s in 1974, and they're hardly likely to become hot collectors' items. . .

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