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more... DIYHow-TosGuitar & Bass ModsBaritoneMarch 2012

How to Convert Your Axe to a Baritone

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How to Convert Your Axe to a Baritone

STEP 1

1. When removing the original neck, guide the screwdriver shaft to prevent it from slipping out of the screw and gouging your guitar. 2. Compare the baritone neck with the original by aligning both necks at the 12th fret (the octave). Here, you can see that the 24-fret baritone neck extends both lower and higher than the stock Tele neck. 3. Warmoth baritone necks are licensed by Fender, so they sport iconic Fender headstock shapes and the heel is sized and drilled to Fender specs. To ensure a snug fit, we’ll remove the red sticker before installing the neck. 4. Before mounting the new neck, remove any debris, stickers, or tape from the neck pocket. This ensures a tight, secure fit for optimal sustain.

Disassembly
Disassembling a guitar can be fun, but before you begin, be sure you have the correct tools for the job—and always save all the parts you remove. (An empty pickup box is handy for collecting screws and parts.) Here’s the process:

  1. Remove the strings.
  2. Unscrew (counterclockwise) the neck bolts, remove the original neck, and compare it to the replacement (Photos 1-3).
  3. Inspect the neck pocket and clean out any debris (Photo 4).

STEP 2

5. Use a nylon- or rubber-tipped hammer to gently tap the tuner bushings into place. 6. Check that all the bushings sit flat against the headstock. 7. Use a metal ruler to align the tuner housings. 8. With a sharp-tipped tool (I’m using a soldering iron tip), mark the proper spot for a pilot hole for each tuner mounting screw. 9. To prevent the drill bit from splitting the headstock wood, countersink the pilot holes with a small Phillips screwdriver. 10. Check the countersink: You should see a small cone at the lip of each pilot hole. 11. Before drilling, check screw length against the headstock depth. 12. Measure bit width against the screw shaft and mark the bit to indicate maximum drilling depth.


13. Drill slowly and carefully into the tunerscrew pilot holes. I’ve used a red Sharpie to mark maximum drilling depth. 14. When installing the tuner screws, be sure your screwdriver is the correct size so its tip doesn’t butcher the screw heads or slip off and hit the headstock.

Neck Prep
At this point, the new neck has no tuning keys, string nut, or string trees, so we’ll add these components next.

  1. Install the tuning keys. First, use a hammer with a soft nylon or rubber head to tap the tuner bushings into their holes (Photos 5 and 6). Turn the neck over and lay the tuners into their holes. With a metal ruler as a guide, carefully align the tuners in a straight line (Photo 7). Still holding the tuners in alignment against the ruler, use a sharp-tipped tool to mark a spot for the pilot hole for each tuner mounting screw (Photo 8).
    Countersink the tuner-screw pilot holes using a small Phillips screwdriver to create a cone at the lip of each screw hole (Photos 9 and 10).
    Tuner mounting screws vary in length from one brand to another. Before you drill any holes, always check the screw depth against the headstock (Photo 11). If the screws are too long, you risk drilling through the headstock face or splitting the wood with the screw tip.
    Insert a screw into a tuner, then measure the screw’s length and width against your drill bit. Match the bit width to the screw’s main shaft—not its cutting threads—and mark the bit depth with a Sharpie or piece of masking tape (Photo 12).
    With the neck resting on a padded, stable surface, drill the tuner screw holes into the back of the headstock. Work slowly and methodically (Photo 13).
    Finally, attach the tuning machines, starting with the 6th or 1st and working sequentially along the headstock (Photo 14).
  2. Temporarily install a pre-slotted string nut. This acts as a guide for aligning the neck. In our project, the temporary nut will be replaced by the finished bone nut later in the assembly process. (If you’ve ordered a neck with a pre-installed, pre-slotted nut, you’re already set and can skip to Step 3.)

Tip: If you don’t already have a used pre-slotted nut, synthetic pre-slotted and shaped nuts are available from such retailers as Guitar Center and Musician’s Friend. Stewart-MacDonald sells bone nuts that are cut, sized, and slotted for Fenders, and starting with one of these and then modifying it for baritone strings can be a real time-saver.

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