D-28 Neck Reset

Here’s the story of a lovely 1969 Brazilian Rosewood Martin D-28.  Perhaps one of the last great garage finds of this era.  A local guitar dealer found this honey in the possession of the daughter of the original owner.  It was probably the most pristine guitar of its era that either of us had seen. Other than a deteriorated pick guard and the need of a neck reset, the guitar was in extremely good condition.

The first two pictures are actually of my own Indian Rosewood D-28 undergoing a neck reset, but I wanted to show the jig that my friend Steve Parks gave me to help remove the neck from the joint.  For both of these neck removals, I employed a new steamless process from Stewart McDonald that I was really impressed with.


Here’s the Brazilian Rosewood D-28 with the neck removed and in the process of shimming the dovetail.  I applied finish to the unfinished area under the original pick guard to fill in the gap and prevent future cracking.

Here’s the neck set back into the joint, so the shoulders of the heel can be dimensioned to bring the neck back to the proper angle.

A whole lot of careful goes into making the dovetail fit back together just right.

Steady as she goes, ’til they fit together just how I want them.  I’m using a form of carbon paper to test the fit.


Then on to glue and clamps:


From here, I applied a new pick guard, a new saddle, and a set up.

Back in the hands of Elliot Downs, owner of Wonder in Harrisonburg, VA and musical equipment trader extraordinaire.  Elliot had no problem placing this guitar with a new owner in a matter of days.  It was a sweet piece of work.  I love my job.  I was a little sad to see this one go.


2 thoughts on “D-28 Neck Reset”

  1. Have a J45 Acoustic dreadnought, 1980 acquired,been fretted once, just had new strings put on and minor adjustments, sounds incredible, was advised to reset neck, have read this can change the tone of guitar, what would you advise?

    1. If you are happy with how it plays, I would leave it. At certain point the action will get uncomfortably high with no option to adjust it lower. At that point a neck reset is needed. I know some folks who say acoustics sound best when they are right on the verge of needing a reset. But tone is in the ear of the beholder. Yes a neck set will change the tone and feel of a guitar. But if it is an awesome guitar before the reset and the rest is done well, it will be awesome after.

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