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Opinions on neck construction

 
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for my new builds, I typically:
use a bolt-on neck from a manufacturer
60%
 60%  [ 12 ]
use a neck-through from a manufacturer
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
construct my own neck/bolt-on
10%
 10%  [ 2 ]
construct my own neck/neck-through
10%
 10%  [ 2 ]
use an old milk carton with a broom handle/twine
20%
 20%  [ 4 ]
Total Votes : 20

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bones3010



Joined: 03 Jul 2006
Posts: 257
Location: Cobalt, CT

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:33 am    Post subject: Opinions on neck construction Reply with quote

So, for all you experienced ground-up builders out there: In your experience, is constructing a neck from scratch as scary as it seems? How many necks did it take to get one that you were truly proud of and played like a dream?

I'm in the process of designing a new build, and as much as I'd like a neck-through, I'm thinking my first project should maybe be a bolt-on with a pre-fab neck.

Am I wrong in thinking neck construction is too complicated for the beginner? ...I'd hate to take all the time to build and beautify a guitar only to have it play like a sears model found at a tag-sale! Shocked
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RolandR



Joined: 03 Sep 2003
Posts: 8908
Location: Coastal Calif.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bones3010,

Can we make the assumption you had the experience of buying the body and neck, electronic components and hardware and refinishing and assembling a guitar?

Personally (this is my suggestion) I would work my way up getting the experience and confident before making a guitar from scratch both body and neck. Your first step for your first project sounds like the right amount of learning curve as you work your way up as it gets progressively harder.

I haven't build a neck yet but when I do, I already made the assumption my first neck won't be perfect but the proceeding necks after will get better. -- well that's if I get into it because at work one newly employee who has a band is turning me on to recording gear and I'm a guitarist / musician before I'm a luthier Wink but that's another story --

Someone on this bulletin board built a neck from scratch, well rather purchase the already slotted fingerboard, truss rod, wood neck material and carved out the neck put it together and claims it was easier than he expected.

So bottom line, work yourself up gather the experience. Don't built a guitar where its a one shot deal hit or miss.
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rjhalsey



Joined: 15 Sep 2005
Posts: 13935
Location: Central Ohio

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am not at stage where I have the ability to make my own necks yet. I usually have them made by Jim at http://hometown.aol.com/jcsmusical/index.html

He does a great job on exotic wood necks. I need to learn how to route for a single action vintage truss rods like the ones he does.
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bones3010



Joined: 03 Jul 2006
Posts: 257
Location: Cobalt, CT

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

well, I feel better! I'm glad I'm not the only one put-off by the daunting task of full neck construction... Confused How about installing a pre-fab neck through? How tough would that be? I know the angle/degree would be a little more involved than a bolt-on, but it doesn't seem like it would be too out-of-this-world.

For that matter, are there any commercial manufacturers out there like warmoth that make pre-fab neck-through necks? (sorry, don't know the formal name for these things!)

As for my own experience building, I've done complete builds using pre-made components, and I've done refinishing with good success (thanks to this group!!! Razz ) So I'm pretty confident I can at least pull off a body with good results, based on my own skills/experience building. ...Sounds like the neck may be off-limits for awhile longer though!

-Rob
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Mr. Clevername



Joined: 08 Dec 2006
Posts: 2449
Location: San Francisco, CA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 10:17 am    Post subject: Roll yer own? Reply with quote

I had a couple of necks made for me quite a while ago as a side job by an experienced luthier with a day job. I remember he used pre-slotted fretboards from Stew-Mac, but he had the maple in his basement. I think with that and a template, a router, a rasp and a whole lotta sandpaper it's within the realm of possibility for someone with a little experience.

The necks are really, really nice. I finally had one of them Plek'ed recently.
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---



Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Posts: 1508

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From all of my reading, just about everyone that has made their own neck tells me that it isn't nearly as hard as it seems, and that it is actually a very fun and rewarding process. Besides, neck blanks aren't that expensive anyway, so if you mess up, you don't have to worry about losing a lot of money. And a lot of places sell pre-slotted/-radiused fretboards if you don't want to mess with that stuff. I definitely plan to make my own neck on my first build, even if I screw it up royally.

CMA
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Keith



Joined: 23 Dec 2003
Posts: 330
Location: Titletown (Green Bay, WI)

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you take your time and plan it out carefully, building a neck is not as scary as it seems. The first guitar I made was made completly from scratch and the neck was the most enjoyable and rewarding experience of the build. (Beats the snot out of finishing in my opinion!) If you are interested in doing it yourself, get a copy of Melvyn Hiscock's book and read through it. I used a rasp, a spokeshave, and sandpaper. The first couple I made I used pre-radiused and slotted fingerboards from StewMac but have since graduated to making my own. We will see how it works when I finsih up my present build in a few more days. One of the advantages of building your own neck is that you have it in hour hands during the construction process and you can feel how it fits in your hand as you shape it. That way you can get the perfect shape. Oh, and maple is one the cheapest woods available. You can get it pretty much anywhere and good, straight grained pieces are relatively easy to come by. My first neck was made from leftover maple that I originally used to make toy blocks for my daughter - flat sawn common maple. that neck is still straight as can be and plays great. I think the piece originally cost me less than $10 and I used over half of it to make blocks.

Just measure many times before cutting or drilling, take off a very small amount at a time, and have fun!
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bones3010



Joined: 03 Jul 2006
Posts: 257
Location: Cobalt, CT

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe I'll give one a try, and use it if it comes out satisfactorily... I'd likely get one of those precut/radiused boards for awhile!

I just ordered that book you mentioned yesterday (everyone seems to recommend it) and I'm looking forward to checking it out when it arrives!

Thanks for all the input!

-Rob
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RolandR



Joined: 03 Sep 2003
Posts: 8908
Location: Coastal Calif.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bones3010 wrote:
For that matter, are there any commercial manufacturers out there like warmoth that make pre-fab neck-through necks? (sorry, don't know the formal name for these things!)
...

-Rob
Carvin and SoultMate Guitars are the only two places I know that makes something like a through, or glue-on neck. Stewmac has a through neck and the spec is just like Carvin's so I would not be surprise Carvin supplies them.

I did build a through-neck guitar w/ Carvin neck. I wanted to get a feel and experience of aligning the pickups and getting the tremolo position in the right scale. It was not perfect but it was a success with the exception the tremolo could have been a 1/8" backed up. The saddles are all the way back to intonate.

This year I want to get a Soul Guitar neck for an Explorer project I put in the back burner.

Once I get this under my belt, then I'll tackle build my own through neck guitar.

Describe your definition pre-fab. I mean all I know is either unfinished necks then if you are building your own neck, the supplies like Stewmac provides you with a plank and pre-slotted scaled of your choice fingerboard.

So bones3010, I get the impression you DO have the patient and willing to go up the learning curve. A lot of short term members think of such a project as a one shot deal. Good Luck!
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Old Black



Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 1976
Location: Minneapolis

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my experience, necks are not to be feared. I do recommend getting pre-slotted fingerboards - that way you will have piece of mind that your fret spacings are correct. Most come pre-radiused, which is also nice.

One of the more critical aspects of neck construction involves getting the neck angle correct - too much and your bridge is sticking up in the air - too little and you are screwed. With bolt-ons, you can shim. With set and through necks, you can't.

A good draw knife/spoke shave and a rasp are the best tools you can use, along with a bandsaw to cut out the blank.
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mnbaseball91



Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 553
Location: First Place

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You won't get any better at it by not trying it! Go for it.
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Joeglow
Site Admin


Joined: 26 Aug 2003
Posts: 11054
Location: NY/NJ

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The fret calculator is great because it tells you what the spacing is. Here's a good one I use but there's another I have at work with a printable layout with the distances postioned on paper that works incredibly well. I'll post it tomorrow.
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Joeglow
Site Admin


Joined: 26 Aug 2003
Posts: 11054
Location: NY/NJ

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scroll down the page, you'll find a zip file with the program I was talking about. http://galileo.spaceports.com/~fishbake/ This guy has a lot of great info on his site. You'll be happy you dl this file if you plan to build a neck or at least make your own fretboard.
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AnthonyEMan7



Joined: 22 Apr 2005
Posts: 464

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To get the fret spacing right on my fingerboard. I drew the fret lines on AutoCAD and plotted it to 1:1 scale. I then laid the paper on the wood and carefully marked both sides.

Far more accurate than any measurement I could do.
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Houndog



Joined: 15 Jun 2005
Posts: 12116
Location: Walpole, MA.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Fretting_supplies/Saws_and_slots/Dual_Fret_Scale_Templates.html
http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Fretting_supplies/Saws_and_slots/Fret_Slotting_Miter_Box.html
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