No Truss Rod, What Now? Fixing a Vintage Airline With A Bowed Neck

I love them, you love them, we all love the old vintage, USA-made Silvertones, Kays, Harmonys, and Airlines! These guitars just have vibe! But certain models were built with large necks and no truss rods. So when you find one and the neck is bowed from years of string tension, then what? 

One option is to refret the instrument with larger frets and compress the neck straight. This was a trick Martin used to use to fix severely bowed necks. Another option is to heat press the neck. By clamping the neck in place and using heat to let the wood create a memory, heat pressing can be one option for straightening a stubborn neck. 

The problem is, it doesn't always work, especially on less expensive, budget instruments. It's also, in my opinion, hard on a guitar to apply heat to a neck, plus you run the risk of loosening frets, inlays, and sometimes the neck joint itself.

This Airline came in the shop with a majorly bowed neck and was unplayable. The customer picked it up on a deal with the hope that it could be saved. A heat press was the best option in my opinion, and I made no guarantees that it would be a success. Luckily, this time, it worked out great! After multiple slow heating sessions and then some fret work, this arch top turned out to be a winner! Jackpot!

What is your favorite vibe-y vintage guitar?

1 comment

  • Hank

    Amazing Dave . Simply amazing. The tone, the playability. You rock

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