Opinions on a neck jig for dressing frets

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by deoreo, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. deoreo

    deoreo Member

    Messages:
    303
    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Expert techs and luthiers, what's your opinion on using a neck jig to simulate string tension, while doing a fret dress?

    I'm on fret dress #2 (and love this kind of work!) For leveling I have used a 24" straight edge, a 24" leveling bar, 3" to 1" fret rockers, and have had great success so far.

    I've found a great set of plans for a jig, and will build one, but I would like to know how practical it is in the "real world."
     
  2. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,065
    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    Dan Erlewine, the most popular long-time user of that jig, is all about the "real world" of making guitars play the best he can. He's a regular guy, good/great guitar player, and didn't come up with his version of a "tension jig" to make money for StewMac. He was using such a device before he was ever working for them.
    A neck-jig is not that complicated, and you need a place for a guitar to sit while working on it anyway, so what's so "out there", if there's a few support rods and cheap indicators mounted onto where you work on a neck while fretting ?
    Another great thing about Dan : I've never seen any indication that he felt "ripped off" when someone copied his jig (for their own use). Actually it seems he got the idea from Don Teeter who had a more simplified neck-jig device long long ago.
     
  3. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

    Messages:
    1,875
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Yea Don Teeter had the first neck jig I can remember, must have been 30 years ago at least. I've been using one that long I think and I couldn't get along without it.
     
  4. deoreo

    deoreo Member

    Messages:
    303
    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Oh, don't get me wrong, I think the concept, and use of a neck jig is an excellent idea! :BEER

    I am more interested in how people use it, that is, for every guitar - fret dress, re-fret, etc... or on a case by case basis?

    Say, for a minor fret level if the neck will straighten up easily, do you just level the frets, and only use the jig for "problem" necks, or do they all get the "rack" :D

    I hope I didn't offend anyone by saying I was going to build one. I have respect for Dan Erlewine, he has a great knowledge base built up, and I have both StewMac and home made tools.
    I've been doing basic set-ups for myself, friends, and some local players and they have been very happy, now I'm wading a little deeper into the pool doing fret and nut work, and hopefully later, re-frets.
     
  5. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,065
    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    I built a copy of the big work-bench version Stew-Mac had in the late 80's. I think I built mine in the fall of 1988, and been using it ever since. Well, almost. Only weeks ago, I built a portable version on 3"x3" hollow aluminum beam I found just here in the neighborhood on the curb.
    So, I finally did that experiment I've been wanting to do : How similar is the neck in the playing position and the vertical "plek" position. Pretty darn similar, but not exactly the same. Close enough *if* you have sense enough not to claim the vertical position is part of a tighter tolerance set-up.
     
  6. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    33,555
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    trying to do a fret level without one is like trying to draw a perfectly straight line freehand. sure, a master can do it, but it's a hell of a lot easier with a ruler!

    i actually rigged up one on my bench with a row of cheap hi-hat clutches mounted underneath, and a bunch of spool clamps with the sliding part removed that slide into the clutches to serve as neck supports.

    3 padded pieces bolt onto the bench to support the body, which is held down with a nylon-web band clamp that threads through slots in the bench.

    i adjust a guitar neck to be as straight as possible (in playing position, of course), and de-string it, at which point it goes into backbow.

    i bolt it onto the bench, and use a master support threaded rod with a padded top to push the neck at the headstock end up by means of turning a wingnut threaded onto the rod until the neck is the same contour as it was with strings on it.

    i then slide up the other support rods (spool clamps slid into the hi-hat clutches) until the wooden tops contact the neck, lock them with the hi-hat clutch, and proceed to level with one of those 24" steel precision-ground bars from stew-mac.

    it's kind of a spindly jerry-rig system, but it's given me great results for years, letting me quickly get fret tops that are as level and straight as a plekked guitar. i call it my "acoustic plek machine", and it consists of about $75 of parts.
     
  7. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

    Messages:
    8,678
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Location:
    The Twilight Zone
  8. deoreo

    deoreo Member

    Messages:
    303
    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Plek - That actually brings up a good point, it would be interesting to hear how luthiers with one, use it along with traditional techniques. I can't imagine that every guitar they work on gets scanned by the PLEK machine.

    However, given the opportunity, would they use it to scan each guitar for a baseline?
     
  9. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

    Messages:
    11,808
    Joined:
    May 19, 2003
    There are only a handful of Plek's in all North America. I think you'll find that once a shop drops $100K+ on a Plek, they're not going to waste time doing anymore fret dresses the old way. They want to get that Plek paid off.
     

Share This Page