How to do neck resets: the useful guide for guitarists

No matter how thick the neck is, if you own an acoustic guitar long enough, it will probably need to have its neck reset numerous times throughout its lifetime.

A neck reset is one of the most difficult and intricate tasks one must handle as a guitarist. If not done correctly, it may have some terrible repercussions. Therefore, we took our time to fully comprehend it so that you could conduct the neck reset flawlessly.

To prevent you from making the same mistakes we did, we will try to provide essential advice and guidance regarding the guitar neck reset in this article.

What leads to the necessity of a neck reset on an acoustic guitar?

In this discussion, acoustic guitars will predominate. Although it is occasionally necessary, resetting the neck of an electric guitar is not common. On the other side, acoustics is more common.

Wood settles and string tension over time can put a lot of strain on your acoustic. Tops may belly somewhat, shoulders may sink little, sound holes may enlarge significantly, and sides and neck joint may sag slightly. Years might cause it to become out of shape.

The activity gradually starts to creep higher over time, which is one noticeable impact. Naturally, we take care of that by lowering the saddle to make playing the guitar more bearable.

Seasons change, time passes, we play the guitar, and one day we realize that the action is once more too high to be comfortable. It’s alright.

As we continue, we shave a little more of the guitar saddle, but before we know it, the cat is in the cradle and the guitar saddle is too low to shave anymore. The activity has once again been too intense and we have no more room to move in the saddle.

We’ve reached the point where a neck reset might be an option.

The purpose of a guitar neck reset

A reset can be used to repair a guitar and the part when its neck joins its body and restore its natural playing tone. At the same time, it’s an absurdly simple and brilliant idea, and I have the utmost respect for those that put in the effort to figure it out and share it with the rest of us. 

To change the angle at which the neck joins the body of the instrument, a guitar neck reset is performed. To do this, the neck is taken out, and the angle is changed such that it tilts back somewhat.

A neck reset will improve the guitar’s playability while also saving the instrument. The neck reset must be carried out properly to do that.

The neck is first loosened, then you must elongate the fingerboard. To change the angle at which the neck connects to the body, the neck is removed. Then, by removing a wedge such that it tilts backward when reattached, we remove some wood from the heel.

The secret is to swivel the neck at the place where it connects the body so that it is more parallel to the plane of the strings, which reduces motion.

Does every guitar need a neck reset?

The majority of acoustic guitars will require a neck reset one or two times. The need for a neck reset on an electric guitar is uncommon, though.

An acoustic guitar neck reset will almost certainly be necessary sooner or later on any acoustic guitar that has been set up to be extremely playable and maintained that way for a long period due to the stress that pulls on the neck.

Since there is less string tension in electric guitars than in acoustic guitars, it’s less likely that the neck will be dragged forward or that the angle at which it meets the body will change, preventing the need for a neck reset.

Does a neck reset lower a guitar’s value?

A well-done neck reset increases a guitar’s worth rather than decreasing it. A guitar loses value if the neck needs to be reset, however, if the neck reset is done properly, it recovers back the value that was previously lost.

After an acoustic guitar neck resetting, guitars’ tones can be altered, but there have also been instances where tones have been lost.

However, customers don’t really care if a guitar’s neck has been adjusted or not. And if the reset was carried out properly, it has no impact on its value.

The right neck angle is essential for the guitar’s tone and playing comfort. Therefore, the neck reset must be carried out correctly to preserve the instrument’s worth.

How do you know if you need a neck reset?

If the action of your guitar is still too high for comfort yet the saddle of your guitar cannot be lowered without significantly affecting break-angle, it is a good starting indicator.

You can also run a test with geometry involved in it that is a little more specific. There’s an imaginary line drawn along the frets’ straight edge, which we’ll refer to as the “fret plane”. This imaginary line will strike the bridge exactly at its top edge in a well-set guitar.

Check where the end of a top edge touches the bridge by laying it along the frets. It could be worthwhile speaking with a reputable expert if the contact point is far lower than the bridge top.

In the absence of a long enough straight edge, you can sight along the neck starting at the headstock. If the fret-plane line touches the bridge below the top, you should be able to tell.

Will a neck reset be necessary for all acoustics?

No, most likely not. But you may need to think about a neck reset if your steel string guitar is long enough, but not all of them do.

There isn’t a current time estimate for this. It varies. Either fifty or five years could be given to you. Some guitars may need a neck reset more than once as they age, depending on how old they are.

And what about brand-new guitars?

These incidents do occur while being rather uncommon. When it happens, you should probably contact the manufacturer, distributor, or store first. A sixty-year-old guitar’s neck reset won’t be covered by the warranty, but if you have a brand-new instrument with an underset neck, that’s a different story.

Even if you feel you can play right now, keep in mind that the guitar will eventually be subjected to the same stresses and already has a disadvantage. Its lifetime is reduced, and it will take less time before it will unquestionably need a neck reset.

Neck resets are typically quite time-consuming and expensive. You’ll probably want to resolve the issue as a warranty repair if you can.

How do Martin guitars neck reset?

Depending on how the guitar is built, neck resets can range in difficulty from being somewhat simple to pretty tough. However, whether the neck of the same guitar is bolted on or glued on, the fundamental procedures for resetting the neck are the same.

Sometimes it could be more complicated than we’ve thought, for example, for a Martin neck reset. In this case, you can use the detailed instruction below!

  1. A specialized iron that fits over the frets and heats the fingerboard extension is always used as the first step in the process. The glue joint weakens in just a few minutes, allowing us to begin prying up the fingerboard with a little palette knife.
  2. The fingerboard starts to give as we go around the corner of the fingerboard extension. We begin moving in the direction of the neck as soon as the end is loose. We’ll change to a longer palette knife soon.
  3. The 15th fret is then removed using fret pullers that have been carefully ground. It gives us access to the dovetail joint that the fingerboard had been covering up.
  4. The little Teflon wedge will then be visibly implanted into the fingerboard. To prevent the softened glue from re-tacking while it is still warm, we use it to slightly elevate the board.
  5. We start by drilling a hole straight through the fret slot and into the space between the dovetail’s mortise and tenon. Afterward, we start introducing steam into the dovetail joint.
  6. We gradually apply pressure while continuing to administer steam at regular intervals. As the neck is forced out of the heel block, the space will widen.
  7. The neck is slowly coaxed to release entirely. Now is the time to tidy up the mess while the old glue is still rubbery and flexible.
  8. Here is where we start removing the old glue.
  9. It’s time to begin re-angling the neck at that point. Before we begin, we double-check the neck angle.
  10. The dovetail may then be adjusted, and you can put this instrument back together.
  11. We layer very thin articulating paper — the same material your dentist uses — on top of the shims. The goal is to precisely match the mortise’s angle by re-cutting the dovetail tenon.
  12. The shims cause the neck to sit proud of the body as it is put into the dovetail.
  13. The body-to-neck distance continues to close as the tenon assumes the form of the mortise as we continue this process.
  14. Only the surfaces that will come into touch with raw wood should receive a thin application of glue.
  15. We examine the centerline fit of the neck after clamping the fingerboard extension. The dovetail region is then clamped with a few cam clamps.
  16. The board is first planned and prepared for frets. Then you insert all the frets.

It is sufficient to mention that a neck reset is a fairly difficult task. It requires a deep understanding of the guitar’s “geometry”, as we like to say. To do it successfully, you also need a ton of experience and expertise.

Make sure your luthier is capable of the job before agreeing to a neck reset by conducting a thorough background check on them.


How often should you reset your neck?

If done correctly, good-quality acoustic guitars typically only need a neck reset once every several decades.
Most likely, a guitar will only have one or two neck resets throughout its lifetime.
Acoustic guitars often require a neck reset once every 20 to 30 years because the neck is constantly under 200 or more pounds of tension. The angle at which the neck connects the body is changed when it is slowly dragged forward.
There are a variety of reasons why some guitars may require neck resets more frequently than others. For instance, using heavy strings on your acoustic guitar may cause the neck to move forward more quickly due to increased string tension.
Long-term full-tuned, high-action guitars may require neck resets more frequently than guitars whose strings are left slack when not in use.

How much time does a neck reset last?

A properly performed neck reset should endure for several decades, if not even longer. Therefore, if done correctly, most acoustic guitars only require a neck adjustment once throughout their lifetime.
Some lightly built guitars with heavier strings require a neck reset after around ten years. Some pricey guitars are among them, sometimes even earlier.
It’s crucial to reset your neck in the greatest way possible so that the instrument sounds and feels the same as it did before the reset.
If the neck is not properly adjusted, the same guitar will probably need a neck reset right away or at some point shortly, which is not only expensive but also bad for the value of your guitar.

How long does it take for a neck to reset?

Depending on the style of the guitar and how it is made, resetting the neck might take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 days. On a neck that is bolted on, a neck reset is simple to complete; however, glued necks require more effort.
A guitar with a bolt-on neck makes it simpler to do a neck reset since the neck can be swiftly adjusted and then removed and replaced.
Glued-on necks take significantly longer to remove and reinstall since they need so much more work. Additionally, because these necks require the best possible adhesion to the neck, it is crucial to let the glue a few days to dry before using the instrument.

How much does it cost to get a neck reset?

Typically, the neck reset cost will be anywhere from $200 to $600. Of course, any bargain in this price range will be based on the state of the guitar repair.
You should probably look for a better offer if you are receiving a deal that is better than this one!
The easiest method to get an accurate estimate of the price of the neck reset is to shop around and visit several local music stores in your neighborhood. Otherwise, it is exceedingly challenging to calculate the precise cost.
Every acoustic guitar and many electric guitars will require a neck reset at some point in their lives. Although it is an expensive and invasive repair, done properly, it may give an old worn-out guitar new life.
Resets are frequently suggested by repair firms far too hastily as if they were the panacea for all issues. There might be ways to prevent having to reset the neck on a cheap instrument. If your luthier suggests a neck set on a pricey well set guitar but you can’t afford it our suggestion will always be to wait and save money till you can.
Don’t allow a master luthier to convince you to cut deep string ramps, slip the heel, re-taper the fingerboard, or shave down the bridge to save money on a neck set. When a neck reset is the only option, all you will be adding are more expensive repairs in the future.

How to prevent resetting the neck on your guitar?

Lessening the pressure or tension on a guitar’s neck to keep it from being dragged forward and making sure the neck is placed correctly are the greatest ways to avoid the need for a neck reset.
Long-term tension from the guitar strings on the neck is thought to be the primary cause of guitar neck angling issues that result in extremely high action and can only be corrected by a neck reset.
You should never leave your acoustic guitar highly tuned with high activity for a lengthy period to avoid a guitar reset. If you won’t be using your instrument for a while, one alternative is to loosen the strings.
Additionally, using lighter strings helps ease neck strain and improve playing comfort for the guitar.


The majority of acoustic guitar players will probably need to reset their guitar neck at some point or point throughout the lifetime of their guitar, even though several precautions may be taken to avoid this from happening.

Because a proper neck angle is crucial for your guitar’s playability and tone, you should always check to see if your instrument needs a neck reset. It costs money to reset a guitar neck, but doing so is essential if you want to produce high-quality tones.

Therefore, it is quite likely that your guitar requires a neck reset as soon as possible if your action is excessively high and unpleasant.

Read also: How to make guitar strings easier to press. Detailed guide

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James/ author of the article

If you got to my page, it means that you are fond of music and are trying to record songs on your own. In my blog, you will find out exactly which options for sound equipment will be appropriate, depending on the specific case.

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