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Martin Truss Rod and dovetail Issues.
Author
Post
Stuart

Total Topics: 38
Total Posts: 76
Now that the body of the guitar is almost finished, I’m starting to think about the neck. I was reading the Martin Documentation (what there is of it) and I noticed a number of things that didn’t make sense and were not covered in any detail either by the Martin manual or by the Kit forum articles on construction steps.

Here are a number of questions that I have:


1. The dovetail joint is very delicate and precise. Once you get a dry fit that seems perfect, won’t the addition of glue on that joint ruin the fit and make it sit too high? What is the best way to glue it and in what order?

2. When I adjust the dovetail to fit correctly to the body, I can’t see a way to insert the truss rod into the body and put the neck into the dovetail at the same time. Is the plan to install the dovetail fit and then slide in the truss rod and glue it and then glue on the fingerboard? What is the best glue for the truss rod? Epoxy or Titebond?

3. When I look at the diagram in the Martin documentation, the rod is glued into the routed channel in the neck and then it goes through the neck block. At the end of the rod is a washer but this washer seems to be free floating and not connected to any part of the body. If this is the case, how does the truss rod work if it doesn’t pull against anything?

4. Right now when I insert the truss rod into body, it hits the very top (or bottom as it may be) of the top plate. The threaded part goes barely into the top bar. Do I need to chisel a bit of the top plate away to fit the rod farther so that the threaded part goes all the way through the top bar?



Sep 15, 06 | 9:43 am
KTHOM

Total Topics: 19
Total Posts: 244
Have you read the instructions over at the KGB site. It appears that Bill has done a pretty good job of pictorially explaining thes process of fitting the DT joint. I believe if you use the little bit of glue, smeared equally on the mating surfaces it won't effect the joint height.

Toggle on over and check it out. One other thing is...have you tried downloading the Stew-Mac assembly docs, available for free on their site. more information may help, especially seeing as how most folks agree from what I've read here that the Martin Docs are...ahhh... pretty pathetic.

Keep us posted.

Sep 15, 06 | 1:30 pm
Stuart

Total Topics: 38
Total Posts: 76
Yes! i did look at the KGB site. It has a bunch of general information about "dovetail" joints BUT it appears to be specific to a bolt on neck. It does not address the issues that I have regarding the Martin joint and truss rod. Any help will be VERY MUCH APPREACIATED as I am a bit afraid to move forward at this point for fear that down the line, I will find out that if I had just waited a few hours for a knowledgeable answer, disaster might have been averted. Help!

Sep 15, 06 | 3:59 pm
Stuart

Total Topics: 38
Total Posts: 76
This relates to one of my questions. I found this on the web.
http://www.angelfire.com/il3/jkumorek/Page22.html

The links shows another builder's blog and he opens up a slot in the top to fit the truss rod. Is this the standard procedure? I don't see it documented anywhere. Also, what about the washer on the truss rod? Is it used for anything or does it just sit between the trus rod and the nut?

Sep 16, 06 | 6:28 am
jhowell

Total Topics: 37
Total Posts: 676
Stuart--

With my 0-16, I had to open a slot in the top for the truss rod. In fact, the truss rod extended through the 'popsicle' brace under the top. Bear in mind that I'm building a 12 fretter. The dovetail joint means that the neck must come down onto the body and anything protruding beyond the mortice will need a slot.

I believe that the washer is there to give the nut something to bear against when tightening -- more and harder surface than the aluminum channel. I decided to epoxy the washer (carefully) to the end of the channel so that if it turns out that I don't need much tension on the truss rod to set neck relief there won't be any rattles or buzzing.

I'm not sure that I've seen any of the above written down and I'm enough of a newbie at this not to really know with authority that the above is correct. I've been lurking around 'luthier' forums for close to two years trying to put together some knowlege regarding repairing guitars and I suspect that at least the washer thing came from that.

--Jim


Sep 16, 06 | 6:59 am
ejko

Total Topics: 25
Total Posts: 113
Stuart,

My experience in building an OM is the same as jhowell describes.

Ed

Sep 16, 06 | 4:00 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Stuart --
"I feel your pain ..." the Martin kit offers us all a chance to practice our coping skills.

First, I believe you looked at the wrong page on KitGuitarBuilder.com -- the dovetail joint is covered in the Martin Kit Instructions, since my Stewmac dread was a bolt on. Here is the page with the dovetail fitting explained.

I've re-ordered your questions as I understand them to put them in the order they should be addressed:

4. Right now when I insert the truss rod into body, it hits the very top (or bottom as it may be) of the top plate. The threaded part goes barely into the top bar. Do I need to chisel a bit of the top plate away to fit the rod farther so that the threaded part goes all the way through the top bar?
>>Until you get the dovetail joint fitted correctly, you should not do anything at all with the truss rod or its fit into the body/top. Eventually you will want to open up a slot for the truss rod to clear (see below).

2. When I adjust the dovetail to fit correctly to the body, I can’t see a way to insert the truss rod into the body and put the neck into the dovetail at the same time. Is the plan to install the dovetail fit and then slide in the truss rod and glue it and then glue on the fingerboard? What is the best glue for the truss rod? Epoxy or Titebond?
>>If I understand your question, your joint is fitted at this point. You will want to create the neck/fretboard/truss rod assembly as a complete unit before installing (gluing) the neck joint. On the Martin Jumbo kit body, it was necessary to cut a slot (5/16 inch wide, length as necessary) into the top to allow the neck assembly with truss rod installed to mount to the body. It was also necessary to remove the truss rod bolt and put it back on through the soundhole. It worked. The neck with fretboard attached slides into place by a hair; it has to be done delicately. (GLUE: I've used epoxy on all of mine.)

1. The dovetail joint is very delicate and precise. Once you get a dry fit that seems perfect, won’t the addition of glue on that joint ruin the fit and make it sit too high? What is the best way to glue it and in what order?
>>at this point, you will have the joint fitted perfectly, the neck assembly completed, the slot cut, etc. The glue, if you do it right, will only add about a micron of thickness to the joint, if that much. It isn't something to worry about if properly glued.

3. When I look at the diagram in the Martin documentation, the rod is glued into the routed channel in the neck and then it goes through the neck block. At the end of the rod is a washer but this washer seems to be free floating and not connected to any part of the body. If this is the case, how does the truss rod work if it doesn’t pull against anything?
>>You're correct in part, but the system works. The washer is pushed against the end of the truss rod by the bolt when you need to remove relief from the neck. The truss rod is firmly glued in the channel, and the neck provides what the washer pushes against, causing the rod to hump toward the surface of the fretboard, bending the neck "backwards." When you are adjusting the neck in the other direction, the washer is a "stop," and merely holds the neck in a certain relieved position.

So:
1) Fit the neck joint.
2) Fit the truss rod to the body
3) Clamp or rubber band the fretboard to the neck, with truss rod installed, to be sure the assembly can be mounted to the body.
4) glue the truss rod
5) complete the fretboard and glue it to the neck.
... eventually, glue the neck joint when that step is reached.

Hope this helps some.
Bill

Sep 18, 06 | 6:20 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
Dovetail joints are not that difficult. Most people tend to overthink them. They are a simple wedge joint and though I agree I also had trouble once I learned the tricks they are still one of the best joints out there.
The ket is to allow about .010 force fit , also you have to work 3 planes
the parallel to the top , center of neck to body and the neck angle. Try useing chalk in the joint . then make a sanding cawl that will work the neck . You also want to keep the chalk to the outer 2/3s of the neck so the neck is pulled into the block. Also remove all sharp coners so that they won't hold the joint off.
Any question please feel free to emil me at tippie@epix.net
john hall

Sep 18, 06 | 5:57 pm
Stuart

Total Topics: 38
Total Posts: 76
Thanks for all the help. I finally fit the neck joint ( I hope!) and went to glue the truss rod assembly. I had thought that I had extra Epoxy but unfortunately, I was wrong. I looked back at the crappy Martin docs and it said use either Epoxy or White glue. Since it figured that yellow Titebond was a farily good intermediate betwen the two, I used that for gluing the truss rod. Was that a bad idea?

Sep 22, 06 | 11:07 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
The glue is pretty much to keep the rod from buzzing -- I think you will be fine. I have seen the Martin style rod (and others) used free floating so it can be removed from inside the guitar not sure why you would want to do that ??

Ken

www.kennethmichaelguitars.com

Sep 22, 06 | 11:13 am
Stuart

Total Topics: 38
Total Posts: 76
IMPORTANT FACTOID: I talked with a guy at Martin today and he told me that :

1. The truss rod (aluminum body only, not the thread, washer or screw on nut) should extend 1" beyond the neck dovetail. (It might have been nice to have that said ion the docs!). If you look at the image there, it looks to be about twice (or more)that distance.

2. He recommended that ALL dovetail joints be fitted with the truss rod and fingerboard ON. After I hung up the phone it occurred to me that it would be very hard to sand the dovetail joint with the fingerboard on so perhaps he meant that it needed to be clamped. But he did say that it made for a much better fit that wouldn't require to be tweaked again.

Sep 27, 06 | 8:48 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
There is a pre fit and then the actual fit. I do the pre fit with the neck in the raw. All I want at this point is to get the fit close , that is t0 about .015 of the top. Once the body has fnish this will change drastically and the actuall fitting will be done as .015 of finish on the body changes the cope of the neck to the body.
I don't know who you may have talked to at Martin but your answer will depend upon who you get. Danny Brown will soon be out of GMC as he is going back to building in the custom shop. Gail will be there and I am sure there will be a replacement.
Guitar building isn't an exact science as it is also an Art so you will often see contradictory info but that doesn't mean it is wrong , just different. We all tend to develop our own style and as it should be.
john hall
blues creek guitars

Oct 21, 06 | 4:29 pm



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