Making a New Neck Jig

The sun slowly emerges from the dark cave of winter, like a grumpy bear. Which means it’s a good time to get in the garden. And make stuff out of wood.

For a long time, I’ve been using the workbench as the platten for my neck levelling set-up. It’s a nice and easy solution, especially if you have limited space. If you’ve a bench dog system, you can use the holes to mount your hardware and strap the guitar directly to the bench. However, there are some drawbacks: 1. The bench is out of commission until you’ve finished with the guitar; 2. The guitar is stuck on its back–you can’t check it in the playing position; 3. You’ve got to assemble and reassemble everything.

Weirdly, the thing that convinced me to build a new jig wasn’t a levelling job at all; it was a steam-bending/neck reset job.

Like most repairers, I don’t really trust in the claims of some about ‘instant’, ‘free’ neck resets. Steam bending is hit and miss, and that is not generally an option in a professional scenario. However, sometimes–as in the case of this old Norlin-era Epiphone jumbo–there is no other way to attempt a cost-effective repair.

You can find links to read/watch other folks’ takes on the non-surgical neck reset by searching ‘free neck reset’. My way also combines some elements of traditional neck-resetting.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I needed somewhere to keep the guitar neck under tension for a few weeks until both wood and glue had (hopefully) set into a newer, happier position. So I made a new, beefy support jig: an all-purpose neck resetting/levelling/fretting device.

The jig itself is a steroidal take on the first version of the Erlewine neck jig. You can find plans online, but it’s a simple build, and easily tailored to the space you have available. The key, for me, was to make it as adjustable as possible as I’m going to use it for everything from Fender Strats to acoustic basses.

I managed the old way for about 10 years. Hopefully, I’ll get another 10 out of this new jig. And then, just maybe, I might finally bite the bullet and get the fancy aluminium StewMac version. Although, the price will always give me nightmares.