Gibson neck reset… with a twist

A request for a Gibson neck reset is something we hear all the time, and we’re very well practiced with this particular job. Acoustic guitars need a neck reset every several decades, as the guitar is constantly collapsing on itself and occasionally needs to be realigned to correct the instrument’s geometry. But this particular request for a neck reset was for a rather different reason…

Our friend Patrick recently came to us with an odd request. He had an old 1948 Gibson J-50 that sounded fantastic, but there was one problem: he didn’t like the feel of the neck.

So he had an idea…

Somehow, somewhere he was able to get his hands on a 1938 Gibson L-00 neck that had been broken away from it’s body but was still glued to it’s heel block. Back in the ’30s Gibson necks had much more of a V shape that he really liked, so he asked if we could somehow attach the L-00 neck to the J-50 body.

Our answer: why not?

Here’s how it all went down.

Here’s his J-50 and the L-00 neck:

First, I heated both fretboards and melted the hide glue underneath to release them from their respective mating surfaces.

Then, by carefully drilling two holes through each fretboard into their dovetail joints and inserting heating rods, I melted the glue holding the neck joints together and was able to get both necks apart from their heel blocks.

The guitars are from different Gibson eras and the dovetail joints are shaped differently, so for this to work I had to re-build the L-00 dovetail to fit into the J-50 heel block.

I then patiently set the correct angle and centerline of the neck heel, made a perfect fit for the dovetail joint and glued the two strangers together. I always set acoustic guitar necks under string tension to get the most accurate results possible.

We love the look of the visible footprint of the old neck.

Once the neck was glued on I put the guitar on one of our custom built neck jigs and trued the fretboard surface plane and radius to prepare it for brand new stainless steel frets.

Our super awesome Taylor Fretbuck makes acoustic fret installation a breeze! This is one our favorite tools in the shop: we got the very last one from Taylor, thanks to my sister Megan, who works at Taylor and tracked this one down for us.

And after a new bone nut and saddle we have successfully achieved a 1938 L-00/1948 J-50 Frankenstein. IT’S ALIVE!!!

As you can see, this was a very atypical Gibson neck reset. It sounds fantastic, plays beautifully, intonates perfectly, and best of all – Patrick loves it! Thanks for the challenge, Patrick! Enjoy!

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