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Neckthrough vs. Setneck ?

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I was looking at the CAD drawings on the guitarbuild.com site and they have drawings for a Gibson SG, but the drawings say they are for a neckthrough instead of a standard setneck.

I know this is a newbie question, but what is the difference ? I was under the impression that all Gibson guitars were "neckthrough", or at least glued on necks instead of bolt on.

Is the setneck a configuration where the neck is set with a dovetail joint at the heel to body intersection and the neckthrough where the neck is actually glued into a cavity routed the length of the body ?

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the difference between a neck thru and a set neck is that in a neckthru the neck extension itself goes past the bridge to the end of the body for the most part,

a set neck is quite different, usually it involes using a dovetail or tennon system and goes a lot less into the body then a neck thru maybe to around the first pickup depending on how you make it

very few gibson guitars are neck thru, the only ones that i think are, are the thunderbird bass and firebird guitar, they use mainly set necks which are glued in


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Thanks MzI. I was reading in the tutorial section westhemann's thread on building his neckthrough guitar. It looks to me like a neckthrough design also incorporates the neck into the body and the rest of the body is in two pieces on either side of the neck.

Do you have any opinion on which design is better tonally ? It seems to me that the set neck might be better tonally but the nechkthrough would have more structural stability.

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As you'll find out, there's no "better" way to build a guitar or bass anymore.

When Les Paul designed what he thought was the "best" way to build a guitar, he chose a neck-through design. He stretched piano wire across a railroad tie and figured out that one solid piece of wood would give better sustain and volume for each note.

When Leo Fender designed what he thought was the "best" way to build a guitar, he chose a bolt-on design. The idea was that the design was simpler to manufacture and the neck could be quickly changed if warped or otherwise damaged. This was important to the early Broadcaster/No-Caster models because they didn't have a trussrod.

When Ted McCarty designed (*ducks*) the Gibson "Les Paul" Model, he chose a set-neck design similar to what Gibson had used for years on their old archtops and hollow electrics. Les Paul is said to have not really liked the design because the pickups were weak and noisy (early single-coils), the arch-top was not as comfortable to play as a flat-top, and the set-neck design killed the sustain. The second-generation "Les Paul", better known as the SG, was supposed to have corrected those issues but they used a set-neck again. The problem in the SG was that it was designed to be a neck-through, so when they went with the set-neck the joint was too small, weak, and unstable. Les Paul became frustrated with Gibson and they with him, so he cut his endorsement deal and the new Les Paul SG became just the "SG" model.

In the end, it all depends on the kind of tone you want. Play a real neck-through BC Rich, a Strat, and a Les Paul, and you'll see what I mean. There's no "best" way to do it. It's all about personal preference in tone and ease of playing. Parker Guitars uses a neck-through design for what is probably the most versatile guitar made today, but still offers a bolt-on model.

Also, if you're going to be thrashing the guitar around, keep in mind that neck-through guitars are almost impossible to repair if you break the neck from the headstock down.

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Thanks to you too for the history lesson crafty ! :D I am a new member here, and haven't been a member very long at that, but it has yet to amaze me the wealth of knowledge and willingness to help fellow builders that I have found here. I have learned so much in the short time I have been coming here that I believe this hobby may become life long one !

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