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Body Blank Grain Orientation...


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A question for all you fine folks out there. I understand that for the greatest strength, the grain and the glue joint on a body blank should run parallel with the neck and strings. In my ignorance, I obtained a body blank that is not wide enough to accomodate my template in this way. However, it will accommodate it either at an angle or even perpendicular to the pull of the neck and strings. Does anyone see any major issues?

That said, I came across an interview with James Byrd of Byrd Guitars who states that he runs the grain on his flying vee guitars parallel to the angle of the lower vee. Thus, he runs the grain at an angle to the neck and string tension. He claims there are sonic reasons for this (I won't go into details - see his interview at http://www.dinosaurrockguitar.com/interviews/Byrd.shtml). His guitars are also two piece bodies and sell for over $2600 so I'm guessing they hold up ok.

This photo illustrates the angle of the grain to the neck and strings:

SAvintblonmpl.jpg

Based on this example, it would seem that its feasible for me to do the same and that I don't have to worry about the thing flying apart on me if I do a Pete Townshendesque windmill on it. :D

Thoughts?

P.S. Sorry for the originally oversized image...

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i can't thing of a reason in the world, sonic or otherwise, that orienting the grain at an off angle would have any negative effects. someone with a negative experience with it may tell you different and i don't think i'd put the grain perpendicular to the neck but a slight angle shouldn't be a problem.

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Outside of the asthetic reasons, if you're building a set-necked guitar you want the grain orientation to align for stability reasons. When gluing wood, you want to always avoid cross-grain glue ups. Wood expands and contracts across (perpendicular to) the grain. By aligning the grain, the neck and the body will for the most part expand and contract together. If you orient the grain of the body at a 90 degree angle, you run the risk that the neck joint could eventually fail as the two pieces of wood move in different directions.

If you're doing a bolt-on neck, the risk is lower as the wood has more ability to slip around in the pocket.

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You're not talking about a 90 degree angle though, right? It's just a slight angle?

I think Byrd's idea is that by placing the grain at a slight diagonal, it makes it longer across the body.

But he's the guy with the fancy headstock I've been looking for, thanks! I wonder how much of that is true?

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Terry - did you see the picture in the original post?

The grain is running at maybe 10-12 degrees off parallel to the neck - if that kind of angle really compromised a glue joint there'd be a whole lot of scarfed headstocks dropping off around the place!

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You're not talking about a 90 degree angle though, right? It's just a slight angle?

I think Byrd's idea is that by placing the grain at a slight diagonal, it makes it longer across the body.

But he's the guy with the fancy headstock I've been looking for, thanks! I wonder how much of that is true?

I'm thinking a slight angle so it looks like I should be fine. The only difference I can think of between what I would be doing and what Byrd does is that I would also have my glue joint at an angle.

Its an "interesting" idea he has regarding the longer grain length and improved tone. Too bad we don't have an engineer around. :D

The headstock design I like. I also wonder how much of what he claims is true. At least the part about string length affecting tension makes sense.

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Terry - did you see the picture in the original post?

The grain is running at maybe 10-12 degrees off parallel to the neck - if that kind of angle really compromised a glue joint there'd be a whole lot of scarfed headstocks dropping off around the place!

Thanks for pointing that out Setch. That helps my nerves quite a bit. :D

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Robert, thanks for asking this question. I learned something from it. :D

I'm glad we both learned something. And even cooler - down the road, if and when I complete this project, I can pretend that I meant to do it this way. :D

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Terry - did you see the picture in the original post?

The grain is running at maybe 10-12 degrees off parallel to the neck - if that kind of angle really compromised a glue joint there'd be a whole lot of scarfed headstocks dropping off around the place!

I agree that the difference in grain orientation in the picture isn't enough to cause issues. In the original post Robert mentions the possibility of going as far as orienting the grain completely perpendicular. This extreme type of cross grain glue-up was what that to which I was referring.

And gluing up cross grain doesn't mean that you will have a problem. It just means that the wood expansion could be sufficient to cause problems. I doubt the neck would completely let go, but the wood in that area could crack. If the instrument is never subject to extreme changes in humidity, it may be fine. I'd rather not risk it, however.

Tjensen, go to an auction and find an old table-top with a breadboard edge glued cross-grained on the end. Odds are that the stress of expansion and contraction over the years has caused either the joint to fail, or the wood to crack to relieve the tension.

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I agree that the difference in grain orientation in the picture isn't enough to cause issues. In the original post Robert mentions the possibility of going as far as orienting the grain completely perpendicular. This extreme type of cross grain glue-up was what that to which I was referring.

And gluing up cross grain doesn't mean that you will have a problem. It just means that the wood expansion could be sufficient to cause problems. I doubt the neck would completely let go, but the wood in that area could crack. If the instrument is never subject to extreme changes in humidity, it may be fine. I'd rather not risk it, however.

I appreciate the comments and have a better understanding of the concerns. I wouldn't go perpendicular - I mentioned it to illustrate what was possible with the existing template and body blank. Now that I have a better understanding based on all the great feedback I will look to keep the angling to a minimum. Thanks!

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:D I am reading through this topic and am not sure what to make of bits and pieces of it.

I know why I have angled the body halves on angled bodies (ala- V or Explorer). Finding wood wide and long enough is both difficult and wasteful. I also dig the look of the angled grain. As far as any sonic reason- :D . As far as the expanion and contraction being an issue. Well dried and stabalized wood sealed properly should not move enough to cause failure. If wood is not stable and is not sealed well. Then is subjected to extream changes in humidity/moisture over time. Most likely it will not fair well.

Peace,Rich

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Tjensen, go to an auction and find an old table-top with a breadboard edge glued cross-grained on the end. Odds are that the stress of expansion and contraction over the years has caused either the joint to fail, or the wood to crack to relieve the tension.

I think you have to be dealing with pretty long bits of wood for the small differential in expansion to become a problem. Otherwise we'd be encountering problems with gluing quartered necks into flatsawn bodies, not to mention glueing braces across the grain of acoustic soundboards.

I also think the problem is *virtually* removed by dealing with woods which are properly dired and seasoned, and that the extra precautions taken by furnture makers reflect the fact they use woods which are less thoroughly seasoned, and therefore more likely to continue driying and moving after being worked into a piece of furniture.

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Tjensen, go to an auction and find an old table-top with a breadboard edge glued cross-grained on the end. Odds are that the stress of expansion and contraction over the years has caused either the joint to fail, or the wood to crack to relieve the tension.

I think you have to be dealing with pretty long bits of wood for the small differential in expansion to become a problem. Otherwise we'd be encountering problems with gluing quartered necks into flatsawn bodies, not to mention glueing braces across the grain of acoustic soundboards.

I also think the problem is *virtually* removed by dealing with woods which are properly dired and seasoned, and that the extra precautions taken by furnture makers reflect the fact they use woods which are less thoroughly seasoned, and therefore more likely to continue driying and moving after being worked into a piece of furniture.

Size has a lot to do with it, yeah, and really, don't bring acoustics into this. So, so much on those things is 'wrong' and 'against all the rules' in the eyes of cabinet makers, and yet it's tried and tested and true in acosutic guitars (which are built for entirely different purposes, natch). If the cross-grained bits of wood can move without snapping (acoustic guitars), you're pretty much safe.

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