Taylor Guitars NT Neck Reset
Taylor guitars has a well deserved reputation for modernizing the acoustic guitar. While many other brands have focused on essentially copying designs that have been around for over 100 years, Taylor is continuously questioning the state of the art and pushing the goal post further back. Taylor guitars is noteworthy for innovations such as custom designed body shapes, patented expression system electronics, UV cure finishes, non-traditional “V class” internal bracing, their work towards forestry conservation and sustainability etc. The Taylor NT neck is inarguably the hallmark of the brand and has been a standard feature of Taylor guitars since 2001.
What is the Taylor NT Neck?
Traditional acoustic guitar necks are joined to the body with glue, utilizing what is called a dovetail joint. The upper portion of the fingerboard is unsupported and glued directly to the top of the guitar. The Taylor NT guitar neck is built from a continuous piece of wood that supports the ebony fretboard all the way up to the 19th fret and sits securely in a custom-fit pocket that is inset with laser-cut spacers.
Unfortunately, Traditional guitar necks lose that support at the 14th fret, relying instead on a “floating,” unsupported, fingerboard extension that’s glued directly to the constantly-moving top. As a result, other guitar necks may bend, literally hinging at the 14th fret. But the Taylor guitar neck remains perfectly straight and stable.
Adjustability is another major advantage of the Taylor guitar neck. Altering the guitar neck angle of a traditional neck assembly can require invasive surgery to remove the neck and reshape the joint. However, since the neck angle of a Taylor NT neck is created by spacers and requires no glue, adjustment simply requires a nut driver, an Allen key, and a new set of spacers.
Resetting a Taylor Guitar Neck
The guitar pictured at left was brought into the shop with a very high string action. It measured nearly 5/32″ at the 12th fret. While its true that string action is to some degree a matter of preference, this is at least 1/32″ above the upper end of spec. The client and I agreed that it needed to be lowered.
After performing a free evaluation on the instrument, we determined that the guitars action could not be sufficiently lowered through a typical setup. A neck reset would be required in order to obtain optimal performance from the instrument.
As Long Islands top Taylor factory authorized service center, we work on Taylor’s on a daily basis. This job, though straight forward in its procedure, requires proprietary parts and information. It should only be attempted by a factory trained and certified technician.
Before proceeding with the neck reset, we took the crucial step of measuring to ensure the instruments humidity was stable. While this takes extra time, it is an essential step to produce a reliable result.
Removing the neck
Inside of the guitar, there are three bolts attaching the neck to the body. Two are located on the heel and are accessed by removing the label that conceals them. The third is located under the fingerboard extension and is just visible at the top of the photo at left. Removing the neck from the guitar is as simple as removing these bolts and can be done in moments.
Upon removing the neck from the guitar, the spacer shims become plainly visible on the body of the guitar. One is positioned to rest against the heel and the other under the fingerboard extension. These shims will be changed in order to alter the neck angle and therefore change the string action.
Adjusting the Shims to dial in the action
Using proprietary shims that Taylor guitars provides us, we swap out the originals to change the neck angle. Then we bolt the neck back in place and observe the change in neck angle. Having performed this procedure countless times over the years, we can usually nail the right angle on the first or second attempt.
Once the correct angle has been achieved, we simply adhere a new label to cover our tracks. (After taking this photo, I noticed that some residue from the original sticker was just visible along the bottom and left side edges of the new label. While this is inside the sound hole and not visible to the average person, I still elected to remove the label and clean it up. Unfortunately, I forgot to take another photo after doing so.)
As shown in the photo at left, the action is now at about 5/64″, or roughly half the distance it was when it arrived.
The factory fretwork was already well leveled and crowned, so there are no string buzz or intonation issues to worry about. This guitar is now ready for setup.
Fixing gaps along the neck pocket
Occasionally, Taylor guitars will present with a gap along the neck joint or fingerboard extension. While this may look like a crack, it is actually a predictable occurrence and nothing to be alarmed about. It is just unfilled space between the neck and the body joint.
While the tolerances used in their manufacture are quite close, Taylor does need to leave some room to allow for expansion of the wood. At the factory, these small voids are filled with a special putty to blend them in to match the top, neck, or binding wherever they occur. However, sometimes if the instrument has been stored in a dry environment, or has had the neck removed for reset, the putty may dry out and shrink.
The picture shows the before and after of this repair. On the left, some of the original putty is visible along the heel cap of the neck, but then there is just an open space before the binding. To repair it, we simply mix up some neck putty as per Taylors recommendation and wipe it into position. Once it dries, it mattes up and blends in quite nicely.
About Guitar Repair Long Island:
Guitar Repair Long Island is the area’s premier destination for fretted musical instrument care and maintenance. We fix all fretted instruments, including: guitars, basses, banjos, mandolins, and ukuleles. Conveniently located in Ronkonkoma NY, the shop is dedicated to providing quick, honest, and reliable service. Our vast experience in all aspects of instrument repair ensures that we can help with whatever your needs are. Contact us or book your appointment today