The next step in the conversion of the 1935 Gibson Roy Smeck Stage DeLuxe is removing the fingerboard. We are converting the guitar for a customer who owns several nice 30s and 40s Gibson guitars. Working with the customer we have decided to keep the neck profile period correct. The shape will remain a V just like the Spanish style guitars from 1935. An often overlooked aspect to converting a Hawaiian guitar to Spanish is the size of the neck. We have seen many conversions where the neck was left at original heft and thus not very comfortable to play. The width of this neck is just over two inches at the nut. To make this not only a a great sounding but great playing guitar we will re-profile the neck and fingerboard. Once we are done the width at the nut will be 1 13/16" tapering to 2 3/8" at the fingerboard end.
In addition to changing the neck shape we want to make sure that this neck will be stable for years to come. To add rigidity and strength we are adding a 1/2" square 6061-T6 aluminum tube. We prefer aluminum tubing for its neutral affect on the sound of the guitar. The mass of the aluminum tubing is almost identical to the wood it replaces. By removing the fingerboard we can add the channel for the aluminum tube as well as profile the fingerboard and use it for a guide when re-carving the neck.
After allowing damp towels to sit on the fingerboard overnight Tom uses his heat press to slowly and evenly warm the fingerboard. Our ample selection of spatulas and pallet knives comes in handy here in finding the perfect tool to get an initial purchase on the fingerboard end. After minutes of careful work the fingerboard begins to loosen. Once a tool can be worked under the board a large spatula is used to persuade the piece loose.
Using the old red iron the heat can be controlled and limited to just where it needs to go. Eventually leverage and heat win out and the fingerboard comes loose from the neck.
This picture was taken after the glue has been cleaned up, notice how nice and clean it came off. Reversibility is one of the many advantages of hide glue construction.
To keep the fingerboard straight while off the neck Tom made a clamping caul fit to the radius.
The fingerboard will remain clamped while it dries out and awaits profiling.