1970s Fender F-35 acoustic - have a dovetail?

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John Scime
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Location: Mississippi Mills, Ontario

1970s Fender F-35 acoustic - have a dovetail?

Post by John Scime »

Back in the 1980s, I owned several Fender acoustics - F35/75/85 - when these were considered decent guitars. While they looked kinda purdy, I got rid of them all by the mid 1990s and moved on to actual good guitars!

All but one, that is - the cheap F-35, all-plywood box. I loaned this guitar to a dear friend 20 yrs ago and it has served well as a 'cabin guitar' that is tough enough to over winter in Northern Quebec with temperatures as low as -40 celsius (which is also -40F, btw). But it's needed work for many years to be more playable. In it's current state we don't play it much because the action is killer! That needs to change.

I'm heading up there next week and want to do a neck reset and refret. While the guitar has some sentimental value for both of us, the real value is we don't need to haul a guitar when we get together! I would love to just do a quick 'Kung foo' neck reset - not even removed the tongue, just use a 2" wood screw and a strap button - but figure this isnt possible due to the truss rod. So I'm thinking of doing a proper reset using my foam cutter heat sticks and my neck-removal jig.

BUT ... if I'm going to haul all my tools up there [500km], transport them to the cabin by boat, haul them up the hill path, etc., I wanna know that I can get this done! So ...

Anyone happen to know if these 1970s fender acoustics have a proper dovetail joint? Or did they employee funky dowl joinery like other MIJ acoustics of this era? Any thoughts on the glues used would also be welcomed, as are thoughts about how successful a Kung foo reset would be with the dovetail. Everything is on the table, here.

Or maybe we'll just fish and play slide ...

Js

MANY THANKS!
John Scime
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Re: 1970s Fender F-35 acoustic - have a dovetail?

Post by John Scime »

...as are thoughts about how successful a Kung foo reset would be with the *TRUSS ROD.
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Barry Daniels
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Re: 1970s Fender F-35 acoustic - have a dovetail?

Post by Barry Daniels »

What is a kung foo reset?
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John Scime
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Re: 1970s Fender F-35 acoustic - have a dovetail?

Post by John Scime »

Sorry - a Kung foo reset is when you use a very thin-kerfed , flexible Japanese saw to saw between the body and the neck heel up to the fretboard- basically you cut the heel off flush to the body, removing the dovetail, leaving the FB - theN you reset the angle and convert the neck to bolt-on.

Lots of opinions on this procedure, and truth be told, I'm not looking for more! It's not something you should do on any but the cheapest, crappiest guitars made. But it has it's place, and even the late great Mr Ford mentions it in his site.

In other words, a cheap and dirty approach for guitars not worth the cost of a traditional reset. Ted Woodford explains it better than I can here:
https://youtu.be/GRhB9OOluWE?si=fRDi3p1dNvTnE_Lz

Thanks. John
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Barry Daniels
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Re: 1970s Fender F-35 acoustic - have a dovetail?

Post by Barry Daniels »

Oh, I’ve done a few of those on Yamahas. Most all Asian guitars do not use reversible glues on the neck joints so conversion to a bolt on is the proper approach in my book. We know that bolt on necks are very acceptable on even high end guitars so there is no downside and future adjustments to neck angle will be easy.

The Yamaha truss rod extends into the dovetail so you cannot cut the neck off completely. I have come up with a technique where I cut up to the truss rod and then turn the saw to a 45 degree angle so that I can complete the cut on the outside neck joint up to the fretboard on both sides. This leaves a V-shaped wedge of uncut neck material that can be snapped or broken by placing the guitar, face down, on a hard surface with two blocks of wood on the top along either side of the fretboard extension. Take a block of wood and set it on the heel cap and give it a sharp rap with a hammer. (Of course, the fretboard extension should have already been separated from the top.) I have done this a total of 3 times and it has worked very well. The wood that breaks is mostly end grain so it breaks easily. There are a couple of pieces of the dovetail that will be left on the neck and I cut them off and glue them back into place on the body so you can have a nice clean butt joint to work with.
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John Scime
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Re: 1970s Fender F-35 acoustic - have a dovetail?

Post by John Scime »

Thanks, Barry. This is EXACTLY the kind of experience and detailed knowledge I was looking for. I will replicate your approach 100%.

Totally agree regarding bolt-ons. While I respect the approach is not for everyone, I have owned a 1986 Marc Beneteau GC with Florintine cutaway for 30 years and it is an amazing guitar. Marc replaced the original M and T bolt-on for me in 1999 using his updated butt joint 2-bolt system. When I reset the neck about 5 yrs ago, the job took about an hour or two. Total. The guitar was out of commission for about 24hrs...
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Barry Daniels
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Re: 1970s Fender F-35 acoustic - have a dovetail?

Post by Barry Daniels »

You are most welcome, John. I hope the approach I use on Yamahas will transfer well to your Fender. Please post some progress pictures and feel free to ask for help if you run into issues.
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Barry Daniels
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Re: 1970s Fender F-35 acoustic - have a dovetail?

Post by Barry Daniels »

Here is a photo of a Yamaha FG-18- after removal and a bit of cleanup.
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Barry Daniels
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Re: 1970s Fender F-35 acoustic - have a dovetail?

Post by Barry Daniels »

And the body.
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Carl Dickinson
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Re: 1970s Fender F-35 acoustic - have a dovetail?

Post by Carl Dickinson »

I've used an oscillating tool for the finish up cuts at the top of the neck heel to do this. Protect the guitar sides with tape or thin aluminum flashing.
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