Disassembling an Ibanez USATK neck.

Today I started work on an old Ibanez USATK, made for them by Bunker Guitars back in 1995. Bunker Guitars uses an ingenius neck design, which utilizes a single steel bar instead of a truss rod. This supports all of the tension of the strings, allowing the wood in the neck to resonate without being overly compressed by the truss rod. For the most part, this works famously – except when people who don’t know what they’re doing get their grubby mitts on them.

Here’s the problem: the steel rod uses a threaded pin to pivot against, which is hidden in a small hole in the side of the neck:

Musicians are a curious lot, and somebody at some point started poking around in there, and stripped out the allen head on the pin. This particular neck wasn’t getting as straight as I would like, so I had to remove the steel rod, and to do this the pin needs to come out first. Turns out that there’s a very easy solution to this – I used a left-handed drill bit to remove the pin. The reverse-threaded bit bites into the pin, and backs it right out. Simple!

With the pin free, I was able to pull the steel rod right out:

Turns out the rod is dead straight (checked against my Starett straightedge), but the neck has a bit of a kink in it right at the heel. My plan to straighten this out is two-fold: I’m going to bend the rod slightly, to give it an edge against the pull of the strings, and I’m going to heat-press the neck in hopes of flattening out the offending twist. I’m going to have to invest in some specialty tooling for this job, so I can’t complete it today, and I’m not interested in rushing a job just to get it done. It’s got to be done right, or not at all. So for now, I await the UPS truck. Keep an eye on this blog for future developments!

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