A little bit about the Dan Erlewine/Stewart-MacDonald Neck Jig



Dan’s very early Neck Jig

Dan at the neck jig.

About 1973 Dan Erlewine (check him out!) changed the future of guitar fretwork by inventing the “Neck Jig”  The idea being when you take the strings off of a guitar to level the frets or do a refret, without tension the neck and frets change alignment.  The Neck Jig gave us a simple way to keep the frets in the same alignment with the string off by holding the neck in position.  We could then work on the frets or fingerboard with much less guess work.  The more flimsy a neck is, the more it changes with and with out tension, the more of an advantage we get.  I apprenticed under Dan and Charlie Longstreth (who is a great repairman at McKenzie River Music in Eugene) back in 1978-1979 in Ann Arbor Music.  One of the first things they had me do (after sweeping up) was to build a Neck Jig.  We used it on every fretmill and refret.  Back then it was made from 4×4’s and 1″ plywood.  I remember grinding the heads off of screws so they would hold plexiglass neck rests. I do not have a photo of my original but Dan was nice enough to share with me a few early photos.  I have since upgraded to the new format with a few personal touches.  Stewart-MacDonald Guitar Shop Supply has done such an amazing job of manufacturing an out of the box solution, I upgraded and passed my old one on.  They also carry every tool a guitar repair shop would ever need.  To date myself, in the late 70’s you had to order nut files from the  Grobet company in Sweden.  That was one of my jobs as an apprentice. Ahh, the good old days! We do most of our re-frets using the neck jig followed by a final mill on the Plek Machine.

Thank you Dan for the photos!!!

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2 Responses to A little bit about the Dan Erlewine/Stewart-MacDonald Neck Jig

  1. Jorge Weerts says:

    I have an Epiphone Casino Elitist guitar with 10 inches neck radius and the bridge is 14 inches, Does this is normal? When I try to set the action on the E 6th string at 2mm and E 1st string at 1.6 mm a have buzz mainly on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings. I changed the nut and adjusted the action on the first fret to 0.8mm (The 1st fret height is 1 mm) and I get the same result, so I think the problem is coming from the bridge radius. Du you know bridges compatibles with the Epiphone one with a radius of 10 inches? Does a rbidge with 12 inches cubature will fix the problem?
    Thank you in advance for the information
    Best regards
    Best regards

    • admin says:

      I do not know if that is your problem, does not sound like it. Also those bridges can be filed to correct the radius.
      You did not say what area on the neck it is buzzing, that would be good to know.
      With something like this you may want to show it to a qualified repair person.
      I assume you tried the truss rod ??
      Let me know If I can help

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