How to use heat & clamps to straighten guitar necks

Written by paul cartmell Google
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How to use heat & clamps to straighten guitar necks
Guitar necks can bow or form a hump as they age. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

As guitars age they can become damaged and affected by neglect such as storing in damp conditions. the majority of people simply destroy or get rid of an aging guitar at this point rather than try and repair it using a few simple tools. The aim of heating and clamping a guitar neck is to make the glue holding the fret board to the wooden neck soft and allow it to be reapplied to the guitar neck.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Guitar
  • Neck heater
  • Clamps
  • Car repair putty
  • Spatula
  • Foil
  • Protective gloves
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Plastic container
  • Cork pads

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    Straightening the neck

  1. 1

    Remove the strings from the guitar. Examine the neck carefully to determine where the neck is bowed and needs the fretboard reattaching to the wooden neck of the guitar. Mark the area where the neck is to be clamped with a pencil and cut enough pieces of foil to be placed on the neck as protection.

  2. 2

    Mix the car repair putty in a plastic container and allow to harden a little. Place the neck heater on a flat surface and line up the fretboard on the guitar neck in the centre of the neck heater. Place pieces of foil on the marked areas to be clamped and apply a layer of the car repair putty over the pieces of foil; place a cork pad over the putty.

  3. 3

    Place clamps over the cork pads on the rear of the guitar neck and attach to cork pads and the underside of the neck heater resting against the fretboard of the guitar. Add more clamps until the areas needing to be repaired are clamped. Tighten the clamps and turn on the heater and heat until it is warm, but the rear of the neck is still able to be touched; without burning the individual repairing the guitar.

  4. 4

    Check the temperature after seven minutes to make sure it is not too hot. Put on protective gloves and check the clamps on the underside are still positioned correctly. Turn off the neck heater after 15 to 20 minutes and allow to cool for 24 hours before removing the heater and restringing the guitar.

Tips and warnings

  • If a neck heater is not available heating blankets can be used instead.
  • Some guitars have a tightening rod in the neck that can be loosened or tightened when a bow or hump occur, but the fretboard is still attached.
  • Protective gloves should be worn when checking metal clamps when the heater is turned on.

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