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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:11 am 
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I introduced myself over in the discussion forum and mentioned that my 2207 needs some help. I got it sight unseen on the internet from a shop in New York. It looked fine in the pictures but when I received I saw that it had some unprofessional repairs done to it. Unfortunately I didn't do anything about it at the time and I basically put it in a case and left it alone until just recently.

It appeared that at some point that the top started to pull away at the neck heal and someone literally bolted it back down with not so subtle screws. It also looked like someone reconstructed the heal with some kind of wood putty or something. It wasn't until I pulled the neck off a week ago that I learned the real story. To me it seems that sometime in the past the heal had started to collapse toward the bridge. Maybe someone put heavy strings on and caused the damage?

The screws in the top of the body I think were to help stop the heal and sides from caving any further. Then when someone put the neck back on, they had to shim it (no joke, more than 5 mm of shim material was under there) and then put some wood putty on the sides of the neck to "hide" the shimming. :toopid:

The guitar played fine and I don't think any more damage was happening. But it would be really nice to not have to have the screws down through the top of the body (unfortunately I don't have a picture with the screws in, but you can see the holes). The bridge pickup is currently nonfunctional but I hope that is a bad pot or switch. And I'm missing the screw that holds the tremolo arm on.

I've attached pics below. My question is can the integrity of the heal be fixed so it doesn't collapse any more and is it even worth doing? Can it be made to look good again?

Neck heal, you can see it has "collapsed". You can also see the two screw holes on either side used to stop it from collapsing further. One would be mostly covered by the pick guard (don't have). The other is painfully obvious.
Image

The side of the body near the neck heal is being pushed toward the bridge. This is happening on both sides.
Image

Image

Other angles of the neck heal. You can see some of the shim material.
Image

Image


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:46 pm 
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I bet the neck was wobbly too - I'd fill and redrill the holes in the neck and re-mount it with threaded steel inserts like these:
Possibly adding a fifth one in the center. That should go a long way to help with shimming anyway....

http://www.ebay.com/itm/THREADED-STEEL- ... 2c67120a16

If the heel block is solid, that's about the only fix I can think of at the moment. I'm sure from here on out you should use xl strings. Before remounting the neck make sure you've loosened the truss rod and that the neck is straight. You can do that with a few clamps and a steel 2 foot capenters level or a piece of tubular steel. (It should be easy to do with the neck removed) Once the neck is straight, snug up the truss rod (don't over tighten).

Image

Before rebolting you should check and see if you'll need to shim - hopefully not. If you do need to shim I like to use sandpaper some people prefer plastic, wood, even paper - I guess that depends on how much of a shim you need. Really. if the heel block is solid and the neck is straight, you should need no shims or a very minimal amount. If you find you need a ton of shimming, I'd add a piece of over thickness veneer or lauan and then trim it down with a chisel or router to the right depth.

I hope this helps. Hollow bodies without a center block can be pretty hard to deal with but again, if your heel block is solid, a good neck connection should hold up to reasonable string tension with just a little bit of "normal" movement.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:34 pm 
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Thanks for the tips Jead.

I'm concerned that the heal block will not be solid if I don't replace the "fix" of the "support" screws down through the top of the body into the block that a previous owner put in to stabilize it. I removed them several weeks ago and put the guitar on a hanger and nothing seems to have happened. But that clearly isn't the right way to fix it. After I took the neck off and saw how it looked like it was collapsing down toward the bridge is when I decided I needed some advice.

As far as I could tell the neck was stable, not wobbly at all. But again, without those support screws I'm worried it will continue to collapse. And there is the issue of can I fix the aesthetics of the side walls that collapsed with the heal to at least make it look not so bad?

Any advice on if I was to shore up the heal block? With the amount that it was shimmed I'd rather not have to shim it that much again, I think rebuilding the block would help. In fact, now that I really think about it, the way the damage looks its as if they did put on too heavy a gauge of strings and it just pulled the whole neck down toward the bridge. Thankfully there is no damage to the back of the guitar and the finish. Just on the sides of the block.

I just don't want to attempt to fix it and hack it up when having someone else with experience would do a fine job...


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 7:05 pm 
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I can't really tell from your pictures what is going on with the side walls. As for the heel block, if it's solid, you just need a good neck connection. If it's moving around you have a real challenge. It looks like it may be one piece of wood slotted into the body with the top attached afterwards. Can you see any gaps anywhere between the block and the top/back/sides??? If you do - I'd try to fill them with epoxy. That heel pocket is probably only set in with glue - I can't see where any mechanical fastener would secure it. It does look like the top has compressed down to the block right where the neck meets the body and if that's the case shimming under there may help.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 7:43 pm 
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if you can pry the top up at all from the block with the screws removed, then you will need to try and glue the top down better, or replace the screws...

unfortunately these hollowbodies had that issue of the neck pocket twisting like that due to string pressure... I have a bass version of the 2221, and I noticed the action had been getting a little higher, so I took the string tension off. if the actions was the correct height with the shim, you may even need to go the route of having a shim cut out of wood to cover the whole neck pocket to make the neck fit properly for playability...

not even sure if you can properly fix this without some major reconstruction... if you could find a way to mortise out the heel block to open up to the inside of the guitar, then cut a couple of blocks to fit the length of the body (and go around the bridge block) and tie it into the neck pocket...

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:08 am 
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Jead wrote:
I can't really tell from your pictures what is going on with the side walls. As for the heel block, if it's solid, you just need a good neck connection. If it's moving around you have a real challenge. It looks like it may be one piece of wood slotted into the body with the top attached afterwards. Can you see any gaps anywhere between the block and the top/back/sides??? If you do - I'd try to fill them with epoxy. That heel pocket is probably only set in with glue - I can't see where any mechanical fastener would secure it. It does look like the top has compressed down to the block right where the neck meets the body and if that's the case shimming under there may help.


Basically the side walls "collapsed" with the block and are no longer flush with the binding on the top. To me it looks like the block consists of an insert glued into the space between the sides of the block, and I think those glue joints had failed. The repair looks to consist of added glue to that block insert, and the screws down through the top of the guitar to help keep it from slipping further. Not sure this is going to be an easy fix.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:15 am 
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mcbrat wrote:
if you can pry the top up at all from the block with the screws removed, then you will need to try and glue the top down better, or replace the screws...


The repair seems to have included re-gluing the top in addition to putting the screws in. Which is probably good, but now it makes resetting those sided flush with the top of the guitar/binding difficult to do. I'd have to unseat the glue somehow.

mcbrat wrote:
not even sure if you can properly fix this without some major reconstruction... if you could find a way to mortise out the heel block to open up to the inside of the guitar, then cut a couple of blocks to fit the length of the body (and go around the bridge block) and tie it into the neck pocket...


I'm starting to get that impression. :(

Anyone ever use steam to unseat a glue joint? If I could remove the current heal block I might have a chance. Not sure how much having a luthier attempt to fix this would cost. Even though it is rare, I'm not sure the value of the guitar would be worth it...


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:11 am 
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Steam is hard to control - A halogen lamp or even a 100 watt incandescent has always worked for me.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:36 am 
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you almost need steam though, as it's more than just a reset of the heel blcok, because the back of the body has warped too as it was collapsing on the front.... but being that it's a hollowbody, easier to steam, but as Jead said, since it's hard to control, it could have disastrous effects...

a heat lamp might just work though, as long as you can loosen the glue joints, lever the neck pocket back to it's normal position, and put screws in to hold it while it dries. then I would rework/reshape the neck pocket and plug the current neck bolt holes, and redrill them after the neck pocket has been reworked...

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:31 pm 
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mcbrat wrote:
because the back of the body has warped too as it was collapsing on the front...


Well, I'm not so sure of that actually. I don't see any warp in the back of the heel where it meets the body like I would expect, not even finish cracking or anything. And by looking at the heel block itself you can see that it is 3 pieces (see the first pic). And it may be that the center piece came unglued from the pieces on either side of it (looks like more glue was added to stop that from happening further).

But if that was the case I wouldn't expect it to have taken the sides that meet the heel with it and caused them to buckle underneath the top of the body.

Would a hair drier get hot enough to loosen the glue? Or should I try a dedicated heat gun? If I could get that center piece of the heel out, I could fashion a new piece to go in there properly fit and add a bit more support. Then it would just be loosening the top from the sides to reset them at the proper depth. I think I might ponder this a bit and try it...


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:13 pm 
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If you use a hair dryer or heat gun be very careful to keep it moving so you don't singe or bubble any finish. I would just use drop light - it heats slower and won't damage anything as long as you keep it a few inches away. Most likely the original glue was Hide Glue and it softens at pretty low temps - you can help it along a little by spraying or dripping a little water into any crevices you might see. A small putty knife would probably be good for that too. I would recommend buying some pre-mixed hide glue - Tite Bond makes some and you can get it on ebay - for re-assembly. Be extra careful with heat around the binding - that stuff likes to shrink. I removed a set neck with just a 100 watt bulb after only about 40 minutes of heat - gotta keep a close eye on it though.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 6:22 am 
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Jead wrote:
If you use a hair dryer or heat gun be very careful to keep it moving so you don't singe or bubble any finish. I would just use drop light - it heats slower and won't damage anything as long as you keep it a few inches away. Most likely the original glue was Hide Glue and it softens at pretty low temps - you can help it along a little by spraying or dripping a little water into any crevices you might see. A small putty knife would probably be good for that too. I would recommend buying some pre-mixed hide glue - Tite Bond makes some and you can get it on ebay - for re-assembly. Be extra careful with heat around the binding - that stuff likes to shrink. I removed a set neck with just a 100 watt bulb after only about 40 minutes of heat - gotta keep a close eye on it though.


I've got a halogen desk lamp that gets pretty dang hot that might work. It's flexible so I can put it right where I'd need it. I've also got a design in mind for a jig/clamping assembly to hold the guitar in place and be able to convince the heel to move back into place (and determine the correct placement) , if I can get the glue loose!

Biggest problem right now is once I get it back to alignment is to convince it to stay there. Not quite sure how I'm going to do that, I think there should be extra bracing added under the neck pickup to help keep it from happening again (I'll be putting on a pretty light gauge of strings from now on too). Plenty of room, just need to figure out to clamp any new pieces in there. Might be a couple weeks before I can make an attempt. I'll build out the jig and order the supplies I'll need. I'll keep ya'll posted here if you'd like!

Anyone know if the slimlines used poly or nitro clear coats? I'd like to touch up the finish where it's gone bad around the heel and re-clear those parts. I'm guessing it was nitro as the clear coat looks really thin...


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:28 am 
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A slightly damp rag can add a bit of steam with more control. You may be a able to use a block of wood as a caul when clamping the new joint to hold it in place. After that a proper glue joint should hold. I suspect this got dropped on it's head and that sprung the joints in the first place.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:01 pm 
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Workingman wrote:
A slightly damp rag can add a bit of steam with more control. You may be a able to use a block of wood as a caul when clamping the new joint to hold it in place. After that a proper glue joint should hold. I suspect this got dropped on it's head and that sprung the joints in the first place.

I've used a steam iron and a damp towel on fretboards to loosen them - the neck heel could be a little more tricky. If there is any kind of bracing on the top I'd keep away from the steam because you might possibly loosen them. I've never come a cross a nitro finish Electra but yours is a much older model than any I've had. Try a small dollop of lacquer or lacquer thinner in an unobtrusive scratch or ding area and see if it re-flows.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:27 am 
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Jead wrote:
Try a small dollop of lacquer or lacquer thinner in an unobtrusive scratch or ding area and see if it re-flows.


I'll give that a try. I can probably do it behind the neck plate, since when the plate is on you won't see it. It would be nice if it is nitro since there is a large area on the sides of the neck block where it meets the top and in between the neck pickup and fretboard that will need to be refinished. If I can re-flow the nitro I might be able to make it look almost undisturbed. If poly it will probably still look jacked up a bit.


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