Truss cranker

There it was in the alley just behind my house, my very first trash guitar.

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I’ve heard so many tales of finding perfectly serviceable instruments found in the garbage. I finally found one leaning against a dumpster behind my house. An Epiphone Jr with neck issues. The rest of the guitar, including the electronics, is in great shape. The finish on the body looks nice. And it’s Special.

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The truss rod had been cranked as far as it would go and then some. A fissure had opened between the neck and fretboard due to the considerable amount of tension. And since these guitars are finished in thick polyurethane, this lead to little chunks of finish breaking away and leaving an uneven sharp mess along the split on the bass side.

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The split runs roughly from the first to the fifth frets on both sides. Above you’ll see the trebel side is a bit smoother and I’m using a #11 exacto blade to gently remove debris from the opening and gently open it further. Once this is done I keep the split open just slightly with a spatula and carefully work glue into the opening via a syringe. The preparation and application of the glue really is the tricky part. The glue requires just the right amount of thinning and needs to be applied in such a way that it sits between the wood surfaces and does just run into the truss rod channel.

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Then it’s a matter of clamping along the break, looking for uniform glue squeeze out. I’m not looking to clamp the fretboard down as far as I possibly can. I want to clamp it so it returns to where it was originally.


After a night of clamping, the fretboard is secure. Some careful inspection with straight-edges and fret rockers assured me that the plane of the frets is nice and flat. These photos are actually from several days later after I filled the gaps a fantastic epoxy wood filler, let the filler dry, and sanded everything back. You'll have to take me word for it, but both surfaced you see here are perfectly smooth. Even those little spots that look problematic. So now I’ve gotten though the structural repair, and we’ll see if I get around to the cosmetic stuff. After all, this is a dumpster guitar that’s worth about $65 tops. Maybe these tan blotches make it all the more Special.