Les Paul fretboard removal guidance

Robert Parker

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I would like to remove the fretboard from my LP - hopefully to transplant it on to the new neck it needs. I tried the following process and got no real progress at all, so I could use some advice. It's a 93 Studio Lite with an ebony fretboard.

I laid a length of steel bar stock (1" x 1/8" thick) along the fretboard and set a clothing iron on it for about 20-30 minutes, checking it periodically. I tried to slide a thin putty knife in the seam, but I got zero movement. The neck was quite hot to the touch, so there was plenty of heat transfer, but there was just no release at all.

So what am I doing wrong? What other method should I try? I assumed that the board was glued on at the factory with hide something that could be heat-released. Might I have missed something?
 

fatdaddypreacher

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i've removed one glued with hide glue and one with tite bond doing basically what you did, but instead i used a lightly dampened....not wet...towel doubled over instead of metal. the tricky part was getting my knife started and being careful not to get ahead of the heat. took 20 or 30 minutes for each. i'd wait on others more experieced than me, but it worked fine for me.
 

lowatter

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I used a heat gun and 3" putty wall knife to remove a few fretboards in the past by heating the lower fret area and the knife blade with a medium temperature setting on the heat gun while keeping it moving and not scorching the area and heating the wall knife and slowly working the knife into the glue line and slowly working up the neck. I found it time consuming but relatively easy to do. BTW...why is the neck not repairable?
 
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cmjohnson

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Heat gun, putty knife, PATIENCE. Don't force it. The glue will release easily enough when it's warm enough. Prying will just damage the board.

A few years back I replaced a totally worn out fingerboard on a 1953 Gibson ES-295. It'd been refretted so many times that frets had literally fallen out of it while being played. As you might imagine, that guitar gets played A LOT. Hours a day, every day, for many years.

Just be really careful with the heat. If the inlay or binding is celluloid, it'll warp or burst into flame if you overheat it.
 

Robert Parker

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BTW...why is the neck not repairable?
There's another thread around here somewhere, but basically the headstock has had so many breaks and the grain orientation is too short in the transition area that a reattachment isn't really gonna hold again.

Thanks for the replies. I guess I need to try again and wait longer.
 

fatdaddypreacher

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fwiw, i think both hide and titebond start 'melting' or releasing at apx 140 degrees. not positive, but i thought i saw that somewhere.
 

pbekkerh

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Look at these pictures. A hopelessly broken head is reattached with reinforcements.

 

cmjohnson

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Splines through the neck repair area. That'll allow you to retain originality. Give it a try. With a break that bad, you literally have nothing to lose so use it as a way to learn a new trick.
 

the great waldo

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I think maple strips would have been safer and or some carbon fibre reinforcement. I've fixed hopeless shortgrain breaks with that soft far east mahogany with thin sheets of carbon fibre fitted in a slot cut with a thin dremel saw blade and they've held up fine ( mind you they don't look beautiful but good for a last resort repair with minimum cost)
Cheers
Andrew
 


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