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Guitar Making and Repair/Neck issue on a Rickenbacker 381v69 12 string


Hi Paul,

I recently purchased a Rickenbacker 381 12 string.  When I went to check it out and play it, it would not tune with a tuner I brought along.  I checked the octaves on the strings and found it needed to be intonated.  I took it to a local "guitar tech" to have it intonated and he immediately looked down the neck and told me there was a bow in the neck and it needed to be adjusted before intonating it.  He loosened the strings, removed the Rickenbacker plate, covering the two truss rods, and attempted to adjust both truss rods.  He couldn't budge either.  He tried turning the nuts in the opposite direction, and had a little success, but when he tried to tighten them again, he couldn't straighten the neck.  
I contacted Rickenbacker directly regarding this problem and a very nice rep told me they do not do any repairs, unless it's warranty work.  He suggested "steaming" the neck, as a corrective measure.
So, I'm not sure what remedies are available... I definitely want to keep the guitar, but if I can't get this issue resolved, no matter how cool it is, it will be returned...
So, here are my questions for you, Paul.  
I see on your website that you provide a list of charges for different repairs you perform.  Could you provide an estimate as to your repair solution(s)?
First, is this something that can be fixed?  
Second, how long would it take for you to complete such a repair?
I'd also like to compare the cost of repairing the neck as opposed to installing a new neck.  I understand the 660 neck is wider and that would certainly be of interest to me as the original neck is thin and I have big hands.  Are there complications with fitting a new neck onto the 381?  What would the estimated cost be for a replacement neck?
I greatly appreciate your input.  Thank you.


Cost is tough to estimate unless I've spent some time fiddling with this to see the extent of the issue. It could be anything from remove and arc and lubricate the truss rods to steam the neck to remove the fretboard and straighten or replace it and the neck, to replacing the rods with new ones, to any combination of these possibilities.

Anywhere from about $350.00 to a couple of thousand to put it right.

If you want to send it to me, let me know and I'll forward you the shipping address and instructions.



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paul wilczynski


Anything concerning building, tuning, theory of construction. Specialist in finishing (40 years' experience); extensive knowledge of Rickenbacker instruments of all vintages. Rickenbacker factory connection on personal level; ONLY licensed Rickenbacker luthier in the world.


Extensive. I build and restore electric and acoustic guitars (steel string and nylon classicals). I build all of Rickenbacker's acoustic instruments in my own shops in San Francisco and Healdsburg, CA. I write two online columns with a total of over 15,000 posts since January, 2005. Google my name or my screen name, "jingle_jangle".

American Guild of Luthiers.

Mostly automotive and hobby (in the past).

Manage the University Department workshops(Industrial Design) in SF, also have taught and written design and fabrication classes for almost a decade. Have produced online classes, written curricula, syllabi, etc. Run an online forum for my students (500 in number).

Awards and Honors
Awards won for product, vehicle, and preschool toy design in the past.

Past/Present Clients
Rickenbacker International Corporation, Waterstone Guitars LLC, many Fortune 500 companies before I worked in guitars (I ran a design studio for 22 years). I have hundreds of individual--private party--customers.

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