Jump to content

Graphite Neck Laminates; Tell Me Your Experiences.


Recommended Posts

I'm planning another build, but right now I'm focusing on the neck. I'd really like to use graphite laminates like LMII sells, but first I'd like to know what kind of tonal characteristics it has. Would you say it's more like mahogany or maple? Right now I'm thinking it's more like mahogany since tonality of wood is a function of density and resonance, and while graphite is very strong, it is not very dense. So I figure it's closer to mahogany, which would be good as I'm planning on using a flamed maple neck. This would balance out the tone and prevent it from being too bright for my taste.

And please, only post an answer if you know from experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 53
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

In my opinion, the characteristics of wood that affect tone has nothing to do with density, but rather stiffness. For instance, a wood that is less stiff will absorb more energy. A stiffer wood will absorb less energy and, to an extent, resonate more. Of course, if it is too stiff, it won't resonate at all. In fact, a very stiff wood with a low density would actually tend to resonate MORE since there is less mass and therefor it takes less energy to cause the wood to vibrate. I would say that it would give a more maple like tone. However, I'm not sure how much effect it will actually have on the tone overall.

All this comes from my physics background, btw. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Voodoo, huh? It seems the general consensus is there is no voodoo in guitar making, but I could understand how you wouldn't notice a difference since there's so little used.

I wasn't talking about graphite or carbon rods sitting in channels in the neck though(I don't know if you realized that or not). I mean a laminated neck consisting of some wood, and some graphite laminates.

Has anyone ever played a guitar with an all graphite neck? I think the Modulus(sp?) Flea has an all graphite neck. Steinbergs have all graphite necks too. Anyone payed either of those? If so, how'd it sound? and what was the body made from(on the Flea)?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

good luck getting a strong glue joint

(I'll take a note of the doubt)

I have plenty of time to think about execution. I won't be able to get anything done during fall semester(school). Maybe I'll have to use epoxy or something of the like rather than tite bond. I'll buy a few extra pieces of graphite to experitment with. I have this concept that I might try on the bass, it's definitely a monumental task, but it would look amazing. I was thinking of building a neck through bass, and have the outermost laminates curve out towards the outside of the body, interstecting the wings. It would require some serious steaming and bending and and even more precision when it comes to cutting the wings, but it'd look quite unique.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a Bass with a Modulus neck. Never seen the insides of the neck, but I think it is wood. The outside is wrapped in graphite, and I believe the fretboard is somekind of graphite. It is never effected by humidity, and tuff as nails. It has great sustain and no dead spots. I think it is no brighter than my Maple necks (in terms of punch), but notes seem to ring longer and fuller. I find it responds better with heavy strings than my other necks. Thats all just my perseption. Every guy I know that has played it has given it two thumbs way up. It is a very well balanced and responsive neck. Oh yeah. The body is solid flamed hard Maple with a couple of Walnut stringer (about 1" each). Also; neck is bolt on w/no truss rod, just a screw at the body to adjust neck angle.

Peace, Rich

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm building a guitar with mahogany-graphite-laminated neck pretty much the way you describes it thegarehanman. Its three pieces of mahogany and two thin (.020) sheet stock of graphite between. My main objective for using graphite is strength. I had those pieces of mahogany lying around, with great tap tone, but I doubt their structural strength. The graphite is going all the way trough the neck blank and thus can be seen from the back of the neck when I’m finished. I’m not using the bar-type graphite rods.

For the joint I did like this:

I used a polyurethane glue, brand name DADA LIM PU2116 (probably not a useful information for a lot of you guys, I live in Europe). This glue reacts to moist for it’s curing, much like super glue. It also foams up when curing. This means that if you have a very small imperfection in the glue joint (not that you should have any) the glue expands to take care of this. I prepared the surfaces just like I would if I wasn’t to use the graphite. Then I rubbed the surfaces with a slightly moist rag before gluing everything up. This inserted enough moist to get a good cure in the glue. I haven’t got the guitar far enough to test it under the stress of the strings, but the neck blank is rock solid, the sound is solid (no rattle from poor joints) and the joints look super tight.

Note that you have to look elsewhere for such loch graphite pieces that your project requires. The ones sold by LMII is almost to short for a bolt on guitar. Mine is going to be a set-neck.

Peter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I just did some looking around. Maybe graphite isn't the way to go for a neck thru. From the looks of it, I'd end up paying upwards of $300USD just for the graphite. :D Carbon Fiber looks a bit more promissing cost wise. And carbon fiber should be just as strong, if not stronger than graphite. I found this site, if any one is interested:

http://www.graphitestore.com/index.asp

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks very intresting. And they ship world wide :D

Tell us how it works

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wes is right on the money here. By voodoo I take it to mean that there is a certain amount of hype and conjecture convening the use of carbon fiber and all of it (however popular) is simply not true. You will not notice a difference in tone but what it does for the tone is certainly audible but it will not make a crap sound great. Use it with good woods and you will get good results.

In my experience graphite is tonally transparent but it will defintely stiffen the neck. I think that the benefits are just what Primal is saying. Consider how the added stiffness will affect the woods you use in conjunction with the other woods used in your design. All of this may or may not work for you as it really depends on what you like.

The use of graphite laminates (instead of bars or rods inlayed into the neck) seems like a good case of overkill. I even think that the rectangular pieces are too stiff for my tastes (I use round, hollow tubes). But as usual the best thing you can do is build some guitars using it and see what it does. And don't forget to report back when you are done.

***edit***

I just saw this graphite topped guitar from William Cumpiano (author of the book 'Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology').

I also recently met Charles Fox and saw a new graphtie topped acoustic he had built. A very cool guitar and very modern design.

**another edit**

For a good strong glue joint with carbon fiber the answer is simple: West System Epoxy.

~David

Edited by Myka Guitars
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Myka. I wasn't trying to use graphite or carbon fiber as an excuse to use crap wood. I only use good woods; I'd feel guilty if I didn't. I was just worried that it might make the bass sound super bright, especially with a maple neck. I know is may be overkill, but it will still serve its purpose and it's not something that everyone does. I hope to get into business building guitars after college and I want to have some features that most people do not have or use. My philosophy with necks is: build them with a truss rod, but build them so stiff and straight that you'll never need the truss rod.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was speaking to anyone who would read this thread so don't take the crap woods part personally. It was in answer to the voodoo aspect anyway (as if adding something like carbon fiber would magically make a guitar sound great, etc). Also overkill was in reference to graphite laminates not reinforcements. I use carbon fiber tubes in all of my necks so I don't think this is overkill at all. It depends on how you do it and that all depend on your specific goals.

As for doing something different there are a ton of builders using carbon fiber for everything from brace reinforcement to neck reinforcment. It would be hard to do something new here. Not saying that you can't but the small time builders are light years ahead of the big manufacturers in this regard (and always will be) and their work is hardly published.

If your plan is to build a guitar that doesn't need a truss rod then why put one in? Steve Klein has build several rosewood neck electrics without truss rods. I also made an electric myself that used a bundle of carbon fiber tubes in place of an adjustable truss rod. 3 years later the neck is still perfect (for this player). The only thing about this guitar was that there was so much carbon fiber that the strings dominated the tone, not the neck wood. The result was a steely guitar with bright, shrill highs. It was essentially an experiment that my client wanted to try (and fund). It was good experience but I would use less of the material if I did it again.

Here is a pic of the neck and carbon fiber.

Here is another with an illustration.

What are your design ideas so far?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I realize the carbon fiber neck laminate is nothing new. I have some other things up my sleeves. Have you seen my "neck through semi hollow in progress" post? I also have this idea to have the neck laminates(on a neck through) spread out when they enter the body blank.

like this:

laminate.JPG

For the electronics, I want to use Bartolini Music Man 5 string pickups with either a Bartolini 4.6 or 4.7 preamp. The wings will be hollow, probably alder. It's to have a carved top. I'm going to carve it so the strings disappear into the body before they meet the bridge. The bridge will have a removable cap on top of it(which blends into the body) for access. I'm undecided on hardware so far, and I've been contemplating using a long scale and leaving it fetless. It's going to be a building block for a custom bass I'm going to make for a friend. He plays bass for a guy, Jason Green. He's not quite sure what he wants in a bass; he plays a warwick right now. When it comes time to build him a bass, we'll need to figure out his favorite dimensions and what not. That's a whole nother topic though.

EDIT: by the way, I am toying with the idea of using a piezo bridge on this bass. If I went that route, I'd probably go with the 4.6 preamp to avoid too much(I realize that's relative) clutter.

Edited by thegarehanman
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I sure have seen your post. That's a great looking guitar. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

That's a cool idea running the carbon into the body. A friend of mine is building a semi-hollow where the carbon fiber comes stright into the body, not fanned out like you have. I have yet to see a guitar like this complete and playable. I would be most interested in hearing your thoughts when you get yours finished.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, to do that fanned pattern well, you'd have to use templates. There's no way around it. You'd have to have a jig set up for getting the bends perfect, and you'd have to have templates for cutting the wings. In this case, each wing would actually consist of 3 pieces. I don't think I'd make a semi-hollow if I went that route though. I was thinking that fanned design might yield some interesting resonance though. You know your stuff Myka, what effect do you think a fanned design like that would have on tone and resonance?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my experience adding carbon fiber to a neck has done two major things. One it has increased stiffness (which usually increases resonance). Second is that it eliminated dead spots on the neck. This is due to it's high velocity of sound. I think if you were to connect the body and neck via a continuous carbon fiber tube, rod, or bar you would have almost immediate transmission of vibrational energy along the length of the guitar. If you put at least one of the carbon fans along the side of each bridge post/screw you would have an extremely powerful instrument. I think the attack would be almost instantaneous and the note clarity would be superior since the wood filter effect would be diminished. Considering my semi-experiment along these lines (the guitar with a bundle of carbon for a truss od) the brilliance of such an instrument would be amazing. I would use either 3 thicker or 5 thinner peices. Too much and you might get too bright and tinny instead of an added articulation and brilliance. The resonance would be incredible and the acoustic volume should also be greater. At least that's the way I imagine it all. :D

Edited by Myka Guitars
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In other posts I've mentioned that I have worked with carbon fiber, kevlar and fiberglass in composites plastics.

Carbon fiber is nothing more than graphite threads woven into a fabric. Carbon fibger/graphite rods are usually made by shredding carbon fibers, mixing them with epoxy, and forming them to the desired shape. I've even seen steel rods in carbon fiber sleeves infused with epoxy for use in the RC plane modelling hobby.

Carbon fabric comes in two types of fabrics: unidirectional and bidirectional. This indicates where the strength is along the surface of the cloth. Unidirectional cloths only have strength along one axis, while bidrectional cloth has it across both axis of the weave. However, if you plan on laminating actual carbon fiber cloth, you might be defeating your intended purpose by doing it perpendicular to the headstock like most traditonal laminates. Since the strength of the carbon fiber cloth is along the surface of the cloth, you will be reinforcing any play in the neck towards the body, but not providiny much additional support as it would pertain to backbow or neck relief. Carbon rods are different because they provide reinforcement along both surfaces of the square rod because they are essentially made up of unwoven fibers.

For guitar necks, 2" 5oz 3k plain weave carbon fiber tape should be suitable. It runs $64.95 for 10yds at http://www.fiberglast.com, who I have bought from in the past. They also have a very helpful forum with lots of pros and hobbyists, but most seem to be centered around model rocektry, boating, and racing.

And West Systems Epoxy will work great for laminating wood and carbon fiber. It's designed for use in boat building, and it works great. However, for the carbon reinforcement to be effective, you need to have very little resin content in the fabric, and I highly suggest using a vacuum bagging setup instead of clamping.

Remember the Alamo, and God Bless Texas...

Edited by GodBlessTexas
Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, the laminates I'm looking at have already been glued up. At least the layers of (unidirectional) cf have been glued together. I don't have a vacuum bag to glue anything together, but I wouldn't have any problem setting up a hydraulic press to get a super tight bond with minimal adhesive. I think as long as the direction of the fibers are running parallel to the length of the neck, it should retain its strength.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, the laminates I'm looking at have already been glued up. At least the layers of (unidirectional) cf have been glued together. I don't have a vacuum bag to glue anything together, but I wouldn't have any problem setting up a hydraulic press to get a super tight bond with minimal adhesive. I think as long as the direction of the fibers are running parallel to the length of the neck, it should retain its strength.

It's already glued up? What shape? Im a little confused as to how you could make a neck with the CF already laminated. Unless of course it is in the shape of a neck to begin with....

Check out www.fiberlay.com for all the materials you would need if you want to do a "ground-up" build. Graphite cloth is expensive, but it shouldn't cost you $300 for the amount of material you would need for a neck.

If you have experience using CF, you could make a pretty slick looking neck. Might need a type-R sticker on it though. :D

Don't worry about the glue joint, a good epoxy will work wonders. Tight bond will not be an option.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I say laminated, I mean the cloth has been laminated to a certain thickness and has already been hardened with resin in a vacuum. You buy it in a sheet, and cut it to your requirements. I would simply use epoxy to glue the sheet inbetween wooden laminates in a way much like I would if I were using all wood laminates. I may opt for a hydraulic press though, to ensure a really tight bond with minimal epoxy. I like invisible glue lines, so the glue joint matters to me. None of this fill the gap with epoxy cr@p.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PROBLEM: Bond failure.

POSSIBLE CAUSES & SOLUTIONS:

Insufficient cure.

See above.

Resin starved joint: epoxy has wicked into porous surfaces leaving a void at the joint.

Wet out bonding surfaces and apply thickened epoxy. Re-wet very porous surfaces and end grain. See Two-Step Bonding in the User Manual.

Contaminated bonding surface.

Clean and sand the surface following the procedure in the User Manual. Sand wood surfaces after planing or joining.  See Surface Preparation in the User Manual.

Bonding area too small for the load on the joint.

Increase bonding area by adding fillets, bonded fasteners or scarf joints.  See Bonding Principles in the User Manual.

Too much clamping pressure squeezed epoxy out of the joint.

Use just enough clamping pressure to squeeze a small amount of epoxy from the joint. See Clamping note in the User Manual.

i went through the instructions,and they very carefully do not mention what the minimum gap should be...before using i would email them and ask specifically...but the quote above is from the trouble shooting page...as you can see,they clearly say to not clamp enough to squeeze out more than a small amount of epoxy...in other words,you must have an unbroken layer of epoxy between the surfaces for proper adhesion...

we use epoxies at my work all the time,and they all say the same thing...you must have a gap to fill with the epoxy...

BUT i wonder if you could dye the epoxy black with alcohol based dye...then it might look good

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...