Special Thanks to Dave Slusser for providing this article.

As a builder of both kit and semi-scratch built guitars, as well as a doing some repair work, one thing that had bothered me early on was how to remove a neck for adjustment or minor repair without wasting a good set of strings. I donít remember where I got this trick, or when, but it has saved me some money and aggravation over the years. A lot of you more experienced guys ( and girls ) may already know about this, but then this site is more for the "newbies" who need help and hopefully I can save someone a buck or two.

When you need to remove the guitar neck, this ONLY applies to guitars with bolt-on necks.

(Disclaimer ), I donít need email about how someone tried to follow my instructions and destroyed a Martin D-45, slacken each tuning machine by one turn. Now get yourself a capo, stop laughiní...if youíre a guitar player I know you have one!

Put the capo as close to the nut as you can get it on the fretboard side. ( top photo ) Donít be too concerned if itís not slammed up drum-head tight, just so itís close. I prefer a Jim Dunlop lever style capo. Thatís the one with the nylon strap that goes around the neck and the plastic paddle lever that fits into whichever slot on the back of the capo you want to use. This type lets you get the capo tight enough for what weíre doing. After that, loosen each string by 3 turns. That may need to be adjusted depending on what the ratio on you particular tuning machines is. The capo will keep the strings from unwinding off the tuning machines while letting you slacken them enough to remove the neck.

Now just turn the guitar over and remove the neck bolts, turn it back right-side and remove the neck.( bottom photo) So as you can see, this will allow you to remove and reinstall the neck as often as you need to make any repairs or adjustments without ruining a good set of strings. When you reinstall the neck, just reverse the order of things.  Drop the neck back into the pocket with any shims that came out, in their proper place, carefully turn the guitar back over and reinsert and tighten the bolts, flip the guitar back right-side up, tighten the tuning machines ( just enough to put some tension back in the strings about two turns ), remove the capo and tune to pitch.

A word of caution: when reinstalling the neck, be careful NOT to get the strings caught or tangled in the neck pocket or bridge saddles. Just take your time and everything will be fine. I hope this will help. I will be submitting a piece in the future, on what I found to be the best way to install strings. Good luck and happy building.

Dave Slusser

Summerhill Studios


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