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Telecaster Neck


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Hey Guys,

I just have a few questions for you. Hopefully someone can help me out.

AS you may remember, I am working on my first "Built from Scratch" guitar. Well, I am working on the neck now. Here is what I have done so far:

The neck is a made from a piece of Mahogany, 1" thick I believe.

I traced an outline of another neck onto the board and bandsawed it out.

I marked the nut and the end and also drew a centerline.

Then I routed the truss rod slott. Next time, I will rout the slot before cutting out the neck! I got it routed, though it was a little sloppy. The Hot Rod Truss rod fit snugly into the hole though. Then I drilled the access hole at the top near the nut. Kind of like the guy who made that tutorial on the strat. I fixed the truss rod into the hole with some silecone bath tub stuff like they say to in the directions. Then I put some tape over it.

Sound good so far?

Then, I bought a pre-slotted ebony fingerboard from Stew Mac. I glued it with titebond and clamped it down. Here I ran into a bit of a problem. The board slid everywhere when I tried to glue it. I think I got it straight, but I am not sure. How do I tell?

What I mean is, the frets should be perfectly perpendicular to the body of the guitar... and I am not exactly sure that they are. Is there a way of measuring this?

OK... So it looked straight enough, so I routed around the fingerboard once it was dry. It looks really nice. I will post some pics if you want.

So here are my problems now:

How do I make the sides of the neck perfectly straight? They are a bit wavy. I have been sanding, but I dont want to sand too far and make the neck too thin.

Also, how do I make sure it is in the neck slot perfectly straight? I was thinking of drawing a centerline down the neck and then one down the body. Line them up and look up the neck to see if the line is straight? How does that sound?

I think that is it for now. I hope I was clear.

Please help if you can.



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Hey John!


Yer on a level a bit past my area of expertise and...I don't have the right tools anyway.

Just dropping by to say Congrats! (so far) and: I Wanna Learn. So I've subscribed to this thead. See ya around the neighborhood.


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Jeez Rick, you are always the first person to reply. I really hope I get some hits this time...

P.S - I thought i would need a lot of tools to get started too, but it turns out that you really don't need that much. If you want, I can give you a list of the bare essentials that I bought!


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Methinks you were maybe the 1st person I met @PG...(I'm also working on a Tele-Copy).....

I'll get with you later & someplace else re: tools, Thanx!

I've become unemployed since joining & gotta go check on a Job-Poss & vote.

Catch ya later, dude!

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The work you are doing is valuable experience.

You have already figured out that it is better to route the truss rod channel when the neck blank is square rather than after bandsawing it to its rough taper.

When gluing a fretboard to a neck, its helpful to insert some small pins into the neck and align the fretboard on the pins before gluing. Once you have the glue spread, you can then fit the fretboard back onto the pins so when you clamp it down it doesn't move.

I agree with Devon that you can line up the centerline of the neck to the centerline of the body. That works if you have routed the neck pocket on the centerline. I suggest you always use the centerline of the body as a reference for neck pocket, pickup routes, etc.

Once you have that fitted, you can see if the fret slots are perpendicular to the line where your bridge will be i.e. the distance from the bridge to the nut should be the same on either side of the neck (i.e. both e strings). You could also measure the distance from the bridge line to the 12th fret for example and see if the two distances are the same. It may be possible to adjust for slight imperfections by adjusting the intonation, but I'm not sure how much leeway you have.

You say you routed the fretboard flush after gluing it on the neck but it came out wavy. Did you use a neck template to guide the router of route by hand? If a template, you shouldn't have a wavy result. If not, you are lucky waves are the only problem. I once again agree with Devon that a long flat sanding block is useful.

I suggest buying Melvyn Hiscock's excellent book on guitar making. All these questions are addressed there.

Good luck.

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One tip I can give you, is that if your gonna make your own templates, take your time and do them right. It's alot easier to sand and work with a 1/4" piece of plywood versus 1" piece of hardwood. That being said, the only option is like what others have suggested and use a long straight object with sandpaper to get the wavy parts out (hint: a good smaller carpenters level is ideal). The only problem is that if you had the measurements of the neck just like you wanted it, then your gonna lose some width of the neck in the process. This might not be such a big deal, but if your looking for accuracy then the method you used isn't the best way. And yes, you should have routed the slot for the truss rod first, but I think just about everyone has made that mistake at least once before.. lol So it's all about learning from mistakes and moving on. As far as gluing the fretboard down you should have found your centerline of your fingerboard and mark it on the ends and down the back, then have a center line on your neck wood at the nut area and heel so that you can make sure everything is aligned. Always double, triple, quadruple check things before letting it dry overnight. If the fingerboard was preradiused then you should have used some radius blocks to hold it down perfectly tight while it glued like the picture below.


If you was using a preradiused one, then that was problably your problem with shifting. Another thing is the way you clamped it, you can never use to many clamps, and the fretboard shouldn't shift if you tighten each one a little at a time and move to the next one. This method has worked for me, but it's nothing written in stone. This is just a way I like to build a Bolt on type of neck.. ala Fender. Sometimes it's way better to cut your fingerboard to shape and route out the neck wood to match it flush. Hope this helps..

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