Luthier Tip: Speed Up The Erlewine Neck Jig

Fair warning: There’s a slightly limited audience for this one but I know that there are a number of repairers and builders that pop by or get my mailings so this may be useful to them.

The Erlewine Neck Jig

If you work in—or have an interest in—the field of guitar repair, Dan Erlewine will need no introduction. Dan has been teaching players and repairers how to maintain and fix their instruments since the ‘80s (and working on them for twenty years before that).

Dan’s work in developing his neck jig has been massively useful to people like me. The Erlewine Neck Jig from Stew Mac lets a repairer simulate neck tension on a guitar neck. This makes for much more accurate fretwork, with less chance for weird necks to cause problems.

The neck jig is fantastic. I love it.

However, as soon as I began using it, one thing annoyed me.

The guitar body is held on a number of ‘levellers’—threaded posts with a swivel head. Depending on the guitar, four or more of these posts are placed in particular positions and at particular heights.

Swapping between different shaped guitars means moving the posts. That means unscrewing four, four-inch posts and re-screwing for height. That’s fine once, but after the fiftieth time, it gets old.

Levelling Post Mod

I grabbed a few pan-head philips bolts and cut off the heads (it’s important that the head be a smaller diameter than your threaded levelling post).

Then I just epoxied the bolt heads to the bottoms of the levelling posts.

Epoxying a bolt-head onto the threaded levelling post.

Adjusting guitar body height in the Erlewine Neck Jig

Now I can use a screwdriver bit in my cordless drill to quickly unscrew and re-screw the posts.


That’s it. Sorry that this hasn’t been for everybody but I reckon there are at least a few readers that will love this.

Dan’s New Jig

I have an older model of the neck jig. There’s a newer, snazzier one available at the moment that looks like it does away with the need to actually remove the levelling posts so they can be placed somewhere else. This will probably reduce the amount of screwing/re-screwing but they still need to be raised and lowered so I reckon this mod will help out even if you’ve got the newer model.

Incidentally, that newer jig looks even better than mine. I want one. Guitar repairers have to deal with Tool GAS as well. ;-)

Ramping Up: About Bass Ramps

Ebony bass ramp

Bass ramps might be new to many people. I was first asked to make one a few years ago but it's becoming a bit more common since then. A lot of bassists swear by them but what is a bass ramp?

Essentially, it's nothing more than a block of wood that's shaped to fit under the strings somewhere on the body (where depends on a couple of things—mainly any physical limitations of the bass and the location where the bassist plays most often) .

The top of the ramp is radiussed to match the radius of the fingerboard and the ramp's height allows some clearance for the strings. Not too much—the idea is to reduce the 'space' under the string so your fingers don't dig in so much. This provides a more consistent playing style and many people find it allows a faster right-hand technique. 

So, does it work? 

I reckon you need to try it yourself to find out for sure. I'm very far from the world's best bassist but, personally, I find I can play a bit more quickly and, when I do, I'm more accurate with my right-hand. Of course, your mileage may differ. 

The ramp in the photos sits between the pickups. It's made of ebony which is a pretty common material for a ramp but other woods are possible if that's your thing.

Ebony to be made into bass ramp

Bass ramp