Easy! Threaded inserts for bolt-on necks
Here's the deal, last year, I bought a new Epiphone Collegiate Les Paul, all decorated up in Oklahoma State University guise, logo, strap, gig bag, etc. Great looking little guitar, single humbucker, nothing fancy in the hardware department, but a conversation piece, at a minimum. Even though this thing had been inspected twice, with all the stickers & everything, the neck looked like it had been pulled out a bit from the body. Further inspection revealed a plywood body, & a neck that apparently was crafted out of wet toilet paper, or paper mache' at a minimum. I took it apart, cleaned things up a bit, & reinstalled the neck (albeit one of the neck screw holes was pretty much stripped), worked what little adjustability I had with the bridge & intonation, & figured I'd done about all I could. I never played it much, due to tuning instability, & had relegated it to decorative wall hanging status. :cry: Well, a few days ago, I bought a new $30 OSU strap for it, so I reckoned that I'd better make this thing playable, since by now I had a whopping $130 into it. (I'd gotten the guitar off the internet for $99. How Epiphone's retail on this thing was $499 is beyond me???)
As all good DIYers do, I searched the internet for options regarding neck attachments, & got a great hit from a post on this site. Since that post was a few years old, I'll put up the process here again.
I went to Lowe's, & purchased 6 (2 bags of 2) inside/outside threaded brass inserts, 8-32, and 5 (1 bag) of oval head phillips stainless steel machine screws 8-32 x 1 1/2". After the appropriate disassembly, I carefully drilled out the screw holes in the neck, being sure not to drill too deep, risking a perforated finger board (also make sure you don't make the new holes TOO much bigger, just enough to start the inserts. I measured the original depth of the holes, & marked the drill bits to make sure I didn't go too deep. After cleaning out the newly bored holes, I lubed the inserts with a bit of handy candle wax (my wife had a pretty soft candle right there in the kitchen) inserted the inserts, (& true to the original poster, broke off the slotted end of the soft brass insert) His recommendation was to thread 2 of the inserts onto a machine screw, & use the screw to seat the insert. It worked much better. I would advise using a shorter machine screw, so you can snug it down better. I had to keep backing off, snugging down the top one, & move it in some more. After the first one, I got much better at it. Making sure the inserts were slightly below the surface of the neck, I started the machine screws through the body (didn't have to enlarge those holes at all) positioned the neck back in the body & tightened them down equally. You can get quite a bit more torque on them than with the wood screws alone. I strung'er back up with my new favorite hardtail strings, Hybrid Slinkys, tuned up, stretched 'em out a bit & ran her through her paces. I also quickly checked my setup & action, which worked out a lot better, since the neck was really where it was supposed to be.
WOW! What a difference! Even with new strings, tuning settled out quickly, and stayed there. I'm one string bendin' gorilla, so you can bet if it stays in tune with me swinging from the strings, it's working. As noted in other sources, overall tone improved, due to a MUCH more secure neck to body joint. Like I said, you can torque it down much better than with the original wood screws. While the machine screws are basically the same size as the wood screws, the inserts effectively give you the diameter & holding power of a lag bolt. I wrung this thing out for about an hour & a half, & am extremely pleased with the results. The total cost of the inserts/machine screws was just over $5. That's right, 5 bucks. I've seen this mod advertised at up to $100 bucks. Heck, at that rate, I could do ALL my guitars (at least the 17 bolt ons) for less than $100 bucks!
I would highly recommend this mod for anyone having an issue with a wimpy neck joint.
Shut up & play!
That was my post. Glad to hear it worked for you.
I've done it on three of my guitars so far, and will probably do a couple more. I use one of the guitars for a travel guitar, removing the neck for carry-on in a poster tube when flying. The body gets checked. I also put locking Grover tuners on this guitar (a Saga Tele kit). That makes it easy to de-string and re-string fairly quickly.
-=tension & release=-
Excellent, thanks for the details!
I was planning on buying one of the cheap Squier strats and using it as a travel guitar with the neck detached, as gnease said. This will help since I doubt the cheap wood will handle too many unboltings and reboltings...
Very creative Gnease! Sounds like it works well.
"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --
I wonder if you could modify that setup slightly so that you can hold the neck in any tightened position, along the lines of the babicz neck. If so you could adjust on the fly for slide, heavy strumming, or solo work. Cool idea though....where is my Collings.
I think that might require a two-piece guide mechanism (e.g. metal mini dovetail+slot or T-channel+slot) and a way of captivating the screws -- all possible with a 'modest' CNC milling machine.
-=tension & release=-
It's really amazing how easily the tabs on the inserts tear off, but your tip on using the machine screw really worked (I just had to see for myself, though).