Green Hornet in trouble; guitar neck a casualty when you leave instrument tuned!


Last time, I talked about how the bridge, the top get affected when you leave your instrument tuned to pitch, standing in a corner (or lying in its case) for months.

I was so taken up by Luc’s shattered bridge that it slipped me that besides the bridge and the top of the guitar, the neck of the guitar too is under a great deal of stress, and one of the many casualties of string tension.

As if to remind me, this guitar landed up on my counter, hours after last Sunday’s post went public.

And it was not just the joint near the heel of the neck opening up. As a result of that joint opening, even the fretboard joint to the neck was cracking open on every side.

The heel itself was showing the strain that it was under with the paint cracking at the joint. As a cumulative result of all that the action on the instrument – as you can see – was sky high!

This was actually a new instrument that had been bought and forgotten about.

This is another cheap clone of the Indian-ised Hofner. To know more, read this:

New strings and some TLC for this Hobner!

So, ‘The Green Hornet’ had a zero fret

and a very interesting bridge and saddle(s)

individual saddles for each string. The advantage: more accurate intonation. The disadvantage: God help you if you lose one of those plastic thingys!

And usually, such bridges are made of rosewood or ebony, and not stuck to the top but held down only by string tension, which also helps in the transfer of sound. However, this one was plastic with hollowed out ‘feet’.

How much sound was being transferred, you can well imagine.

In the last photograph, notice the tape? That was me trying to mark where the bridge would go, once I had managed to secure the instrument structurally.

Naturally, standing unloved in some corner, the fretwires were tarnished and depicted in what classic luthiery terms is referred to as ‘fret-sprout’. The fretboard wood on a dehydrated guitar shrinks, leaving the fretwires ‘sprouting’ out of it.

As can be imagined, it hurts the fingers playing an instrument with fret-sporut, and can, in fact, be a dangerous proposition.

Even the tuning machines were dry (without oil) and rough to turn.

With the bridge already off, I decided to take the pickguard off too, so that when I would lay the guitar upside down (to work on the neck), the instrument would lie straight.

Now, I was ready to operate upon the patient. A generous amount of good quality wood glue shot into the opening seemed to do the trick, for as I closed the opening, glue squeezed out of every crack.

And when I clamped it, there was more squeeze-out!

Once the guitar was clamped and the squeeze-out cleaned, there was little else to do except wait. But since I had the tuning machines exposed, I decided to put a drop of oil into them each and work it in.

I know you can’t see the oil but believe me it is there!

Still under clamps, I used painter’s tape to cover the repair area, except the seam line and a thin margin on either side. Then I proceeded to sand the exposed area with #1500 and #2000 sandpaper to remove any lip that may have developed during the glueing process.

And while the tape was still on, I did a touch-up job as well.

After the clamps came off, I was happy to note that the joint was near perfect and except if you saw it from very close, was nearly invisible. However, you must understand that this was a budget job and not meant to be invisible.

I opened up the truss rod cover

expecting the need to adjust the relief in the neck but I was pleasantly surprised to find that without the strings, the neck was very straight. That is what you wish to see.

Thereafter, I proceeded to work on the fret-sprout. This double-angled file was among the first few tools I made many years ago.

The 90 degree file cuts the fretwires very close to the fretboard, while the 45 degree file puts a nice little bevel on the ends. I erred and used just the edge to put the bevel on the fretwires: usually it works. However, this time, after going up and down the neck a couple of times, I could still feel the fret-ends.

And that forced me to bring out my little three-cornered file to (ad)dress just the fret-ends.

Instead of just polishing frets, I decided to give them a little crown

and that is the ‘star dust’ I collected

And then I wondered: if I had done so much, might as well clean up the fretboard before I proceeded to oil it.

Body buffed out, new strings, and the Green Hornet had been saved to sing another day!

Here are some ‘after’ photographs of the repair I undertook



Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me:

2 thoughts to “Green Hornet in trouble; guitar neck a casualty when you leave instrument tuned!”

  1. The guitar, especially the fretboard, is gleaming in the post-repair photos. Does fret crowning make the frets shine?

    1. Always and every time, Anurag!
      Think of the frets as a cooking utensil. When the maid scrubs it,
      she is actually taking not just the grease and grime off, she is also
      taking a bit of the top surface of the utensil off. That is what makes it ‘clean’.
      Likewise the frets. By crowning them, the top layer is knocked off bringing new
      material to the top.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *