Can a twisted neck be fixed?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by samdjr74, Jul 20, 2006.

  1. samdjr74

    samdjr74 Supporting Member

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    Hi All,

    Just wondering if any of you out there had a Les Paul or other set neck guitar with a twistd neck and was able to fix it?

    Thanks,
    Sam
     
  2. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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  3. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    How badly twisted is it and in which direction? Is it due to the wood itself twisting or the reaction to the truss-rod tension?

    Gibsons often suffer from truss-rod twist BTW - it produces a twist where the headstock is rotated counterclockwise relative to the body, when looking down the neck from the head end. You can often tell if it's this by slackening the truss-rod entirely and leaving the guitar to settle down for a few days - if the twist goes away, it's this. You can often help it by lubing the truss-rod adjuster before retightening it, since the twisting force is caused by unreleased friction between the nut and the D-plate, not the compression force itself.

    If the twist is really in the wood itself, it may be possible to heat-treat the neck, but personally I've never seen this work successfully in the long term. The only real remedy is to remove the fingerboard, plane the neck straight, and replace the fingerboard. Huge job, but better than junking the guitar if the twist is making it unplayable.
     
  4. Shnook

    Shnook Supporting Member

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    If I'm not mistaken, the latest issue of Vintage Guitar has a piece on how to fix a twisted LP neck.
     
  5. samdjr74

    samdjr74 Supporting Member

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    I'll check vintage guitar out, I only noticed an article on installing brass inserts into a neck.

    If you look down the neck from the peg head the bass side is higher then the treble side so it's a counter clockwise twist. I haven't purchased this guitar, just wondering if it's worth it and fixable

    Thanks,
    Sam
     
  6. Mr.Hanky

    Mr.Hanky Member

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    Happened recently to a friend of mine with his R8, Gibson threw it in the woodchipper and gave him a new one.
     
  7. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    How bad is it?

    A slight counter-clockwise twist is actually a good thing (on a right-handed guitar) because it lets you set the neck almost dead straight on the treble side - for nice low action and easy bending - and still keep a bit more relief on the bass side - for rattle-free heavy strumming.

    It's also more likely to be a truss-rod twist than a wood fault if it's CCW. If it's not that bad, I'd think twice before condemning it just because it 'has a twist'. See how well you can set it up first.
     
  8. MartinPiana

    MartinPiana Supporting Member

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    Related question: How about a 1960 Strat slabboard neck? Slight twist above the 12th fret, causes some buzzing even with medium-high action (when fretted) and frets out easier than even your typical vintage radius neck. My setup guy said he could straighten it would with heat, but I sure don't want to screw up this neck. For better or worse, it's worth more twisted than a brand new straight one. And it does have that magic tone as long as you avoid the trouble spots.
     
  9. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    I wouldn't buy. Twisted wood is most often best relegated to the fireplace hearth. Easiest would be to reneck. And this is a major overhaul, to say the least!
     
  10. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    Refretting can help. My old Yamaha semi-hollowbody had a twisted neck, twisted towards the low E side, mostly noticeable at the first few frets. Removed the frets, loosened the truss rod and let it be for some time and it went back to being straight. The twist hasn't come back.
     
  11. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I would think about having it refretted and the fingerboard planed straight in the process. A refret should not significantly devalue the neck (except in the minds of collectors) since it will be necessary eventually anyway, even if it isn't already. With a slab board you don't have to worry much about thinning the board either. If you do, get the best expert you can find to do it, regardless of cost.
     
  12. tonedaddy

    tonedaddy Member

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    How do you know that it was refretting that helped?
    Could the fix have been simply the loosening of the truss rod and giving it time to un-twist, as John Phillips posted:
    The refret job could have been irrelevant, right?
    Not trying to argue the point, just trying to make sure I understand the solutions being offered.
     
  13. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    Could have been irrelevant ... that's a hard one to answer.

    Sounds like in this case, the repairperson thought it needed a little planing too. It's always a good idea to try the least invasive way first - in this case, that's loosening the truss rod and letting it 'settle for a few days." For all we know, that's what this repair person did, and made the decision to refret after seeing the results.

    Certainly it's always worth trying the least invasive way first.

    Dana O.
     
  14. tonedaddy

    tonedaddy Member

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    That was my point, and why I was trying to clarify the post.

    If I had a neck twisting problem, my first inclination would not be to expect a refret job to straighten it.
    :)
     
  15. Karmateria

    Karmateria Member

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    Twisting of necks is can be caused by not waiting long enough before the wood was de-stressed over time. Usually this is worse in a single piece neck as on LP reissues or Fenders. A fretboard planing set my twisted LP right, unfortunately I lost the edge of the first inlay (too thin) and it had to be replaced. Played fine after that.
    Karma
     
  16. ddeand

    ddeand Silver Supporting Member

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    I once had an Epi Dot that I got for a song because it had a twisted neck that made it unplayable. After doing quite a bit of research, I decided to straighten the neck. It was an interesting procedure, and my workshop looked like mad scientist's lab (levers, weights, and clamps everywhere), but I was able to straighten the neck and make the guitar playable. After three years, it's still holding strong. The key was to go slowly with a controlled amout of heat on the neck.

    As far as buying a more expensive instrument to do the fix - I don't know if I'd risk it. I think I got lucky on this one.

    Dean
     
  17. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    It could have been that just loosening the truss rod helped, but the guitar desperately needed a refret anyway. The twist didn't really cause any problems so it wasn't that relevant to me, just an extra plus that I got rid of that too. I do feel that the refret might've helped - with the frets removed the neck is free to move where it wants to go. Since I didn't have time to work on the guitar it was in my basement for weeks without frets. The neck doesn't seem to be the most stable one to begin with since it has a tendency to bow up (too much relief), after refretting it needed help to get it straight - clamped it into a backbow and then tightened the truss rod.
     
  18. samdjr74

    samdjr74 Supporting Member

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    Supposedly this guitar was playing fine even with a twisted neck. I'm not sure if I want to take the chance on it.

    I guess I'll just continue my search for a beater LP
     
  19. larry1096

    larry1096 Member

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    You can control neck stiffness and relief with refretting sometimes, by matching the fret tangs to the slots.

    I'd imagine that you could crimp one side of the frets to expand their width, and that might help move ''half' the neck. Could be a way to reduce the twist...?


    Larry
     
  20. tonedaddy

    tonedaddy Member

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    Interesting. I hadn't thought of modifying either one side of the frets (or I suppose one side of the slots?) as a means to differentiate the effect of new frets on relief. I had only figured the effect of new frets to be fairly evenly distributed across both sides (the width) of the fretboard (and thus, the neck).

    I hope some other folks chime in that may have done this, as I'd like to learn more about their results.
     

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