Townes Van Zandt’s 1935 Martin 0-17 Refret and Neck Reset
This 1935 Martin 0-17 had been brought to us with an interesting back story. It belonged to singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt before ownership had transferred to his wife. She then gifted it to the current owners who brought it in to us.
It was in need of several repairs. One of which was a neck reset, partly evidenced here by the heel of the neck pulling away from the body. It should be noted that the heel cap had been replaced at some point with a piece of ebony but, this doesn't effect anything.
At some point in the past, a neck reset had been performed on this guitar. Whomever went through that process decided to saw the tongue extension off to get to the neck joint. There isn't anything we can really do about this so we will have to approach the repair the same way they did. When we reinstall the tongue extension, we will try to obscure this cut as much as possible.
At the base of the nut slot, you can see a small crack that has formed and will need to be addressed before we install the new nut.
Some time could be saved on this repair where the bridge had already separated form the body. As always, we will use the existing bridge as a template for the new one which we will be making out of rosewood to match the fretboard.
As shown inprevious posts, we drill two small holes in an existing fret slot to get steam into the neck joint but, since the tongue extension had been cut off in the past, we will remove it to get to the joint instead.
After the reset has been completed, we clean off any residue from the tongue extension and guitar body to glue to pieces back together. We also had to create a tapered shim for the tongue extension which you can just see underneath the extension here.
Once everything is back in place, we can move on to refretting the guitar. Here you can see some evidence of where the fretboard saw the most use by the spots not yet touched by the sanding block. More importantly, you can see how the the left of the fretboard isn't really showing much evidence of sanding at all. This is because there is a twist in the neck that we are sanding out during the refretting process.
An interesting thing we noticed on this guitar came from the aforementioned tongue extension. Here, we are measuring the width of the second to last fret.
But, when the last fret is measured, it is wider than the fret before it! This would normally be a larger issue but, where this is an area that is hardly ever played on an acoustic guitar like this, we will be leaving it alone.
After the refret has been completed, we feed super glue into the crack that was forming in the neck.
The neck is then clamped into a neck rest and a small scissor jack is used to put pressure on the back of the headstock to ensure the crack is as tight as can be when the glue sets.
Now that all of the work is finished, you can see how despite the tongue extension being separate from the rest of the neck, we have been able to reattach it with no adverse effects on the installation of new frets or playability. We have done what we could to obscure the cut tongue extension and you can hardly tell there is a shim under it either.