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Sapele For A Neck?


Nekul
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I have been given 5 pieces of sapele, most are just over 1metre in length, 100mm wide and 23mm thick. I have done some searches on the net and found that lots of acoustic guitars have used this wood in their necks but I havent seen many electrics or basses use it. Is it a decent neck wood or should I just use it in laminated necks?

Luke

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I would add at least one laminate to the neck to guarantee yourself more strength although I suspect that it would make a good neck material, as I've been told it's properties are similar to mahogany. Anyone care to confirm this?

In general, laminating your neck is a good idea anyway as it makes for better stability in the long run. All depends if you're hiding or showing the back of the neck in a natural or solid colour :-)

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I would like to keep this bass/guitar (whatever I end up using the timber for) as natural as possible. I am just starting to get the concept that using nice timber then hiding it under layers of plastic paint is really a waste. Dont get me wrong, I have my share of painted guitars but to actually see what the timber looks like, incorporate it into the overall aesthetic if the instrument not only creates a beautiful instrument but also allows people to see just how much work you put into building something.

So to respond to your comment, I would like to show the timber off.

Luke

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It is a great wood for necks. It is a bit stiffer and denser than most Mahogany. It has a nice copper flash to it when well quartered pieces are natural (clear) finished. It has got to be one of the best values(stiffness/weight/look/stability) in instrument wood on the market today :D .

Peace,Rich

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Great, thanks for the info. Seems to me like I scored big time with the free timber. Now all I need to do is get some freebies for the body.

What do people think about using Lacewood for the body with a sapele neck, tone-wise I mean? I also had the offer of some free purple heart but it wasnt quite long enough for using in a neck. I might try to get some larger pieces.

I am also a member of the local wood turners club and have had the offer of some burls large enough to cover guitar tops in one piece. I was inspired (like many others no doubt) by the Major Tom top and though I might give the CA glue technique a try. At least if the timber is free all I can possibly waste is my time, right?

Luke

:D

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remember; if your lazy enough to make a one piece neck;

make sure its flatsawn, not quarter sawn;

quartered wont help the warping if theyre is only one piece going one way!

What?!

Unless low end fuzz would care to expand on that comment I'm going to suggest you ignore it. Quartered or flatsawn woods are no more or less likely to resist warping, and litterly millions of instruments exist with 1 piece necks made from both quartered and flatsawn timber.

Whilst I'm not convinced that conventional arguements for always using quartered woods for necks are accurate, I've *never* encountered a builder who actively encourages use of flatsawn mahogany over quartersawn.

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gladly;

when using a quartersawn piece, no matter how quartered it is ; once you start carving it into a radius it changes the direction of grain; meaning it will most likely spur off to one side more than the other;

where if your using flatsawn(perfectly flatsawn; i dont even like 1 piece necks btw) after any curve (radius) carved into the wood the grain will continue to be straight through out; that s because your carving 'into' the rings instead of through the side of them;

granted if your like necks to look like a bow (the grain not the profile) go for it, you'll get a few years out of it before it twists;

plus the look of tight grain close to the fb and wide on the back is beutiful and way more stable;

thats why i like multi-lam because as long as its 'somewhat' quartered as soon as start carving the grain finds it way to be straight (i try to have any grain direction pointing towards or away from the centre in a bookmatched form to further detour the pull to one side) which in a sense is putting it into a flatsawn type 'pattern(?)'

***DISCLAIMER***

i know i'll get responses from people that have owned guitars with crazy grain necks that havent moved or needed adjusting since the day they bought them, but the necks i see that need to be fixed or are total write-offs are ALWAYS a bad cut and the warp follows the poorly selected grain;

i know some of you seem to like soft(hard)wood as opose to the rock(heavy) so i bet it sounds like nit-picking and being difficult but i almost cry when i see a handmade built with a neck that looks like a van gogh.

bring on the crucifixion

:D

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This certainly seems like a hot topic for debate. I am going to laminate this neck, not to avoid laziness or because of the structural integrity but I really want to try something new this time. If I keep making the same old thing then why bother, right?

Luke

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That....didn't make sense to me at all. You seem to be throwing straight grain (which I select for, always) into the mix, in addition to whether or not it's quartered. ie, is there any runout in the piece in any direction. Quartered wood is more stable; it's more prone to splitting, perhaps, and with mahogany it doesn't matter overmuch, but quartered wood is more dimensionally stable. I only need to look at my stash of boards in the rough to see that; the ones with slight warp, and/or cup are all flatsawn. We're not debating not using 'crazy grain' wood, the question is whether basic orientation one way or another matters hugely.

I know some builders (Siminoff, mandolins) prefer/reccomend flatsawn maple of quartered, and I've seen testing that would indicate that flatsawn wood may be a little stronger (depends on the species, though). I'll use a perfectly flatsawn neck blank without qualms, but I'd rather use a perfectly quartersawn neck blank, because in my experience they're nicer to cut/carve/plane, and they're less likely to cup.

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gladly;

when using a quartersawn piece, no matter how quartered it is ; once you start carving it into a radius it changes the direction of grain; meaning it will most likely spur off to one side more than the other;

where if your using flatsawn(perfectly flatsawn; i dont even like 1 piece necks btw) after any curve (radius) carved into the wood the grain will continue to be straight through out; that s because your carving 'into' the rings instead of through the side of them;

How does carving change the direction of grain? I honestly can't see how that's possible.

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It isn't. The explaination makes no sense at all. It's particularly baffling in light of this comment:

personnally i avoid anything in my neck that isn't quartered and straight grained;

So which is it - do you avoid flatsawn, or recommend it?!

I don't want to have a go at you, but this isn't the first time you've posted info which flys in the face of accepted practice, and without any disclaimer that states it's simply your preference, or any compelling reasoning to explain why you think you know better than 100 years of guitar makers before you.

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It isn't. The explaination makes no sense at all. It's particularly baffling in light of this comment:

Glad to hear I'm not going completely looney!

Just for curiousity's sake - can anyone offer a decent explanation on the differences between flatsawn and quartersawn, why (if at all) one is stronger than the other, or whether both can withstand the tensions involved in various types of instrument construction?

I'm presuming that the main force causing warping in a neck (assuming it's straight, flat and true at string-up) is string tension (correct me if I'm wrong though). Would there be a greater distorting force therefore in bass necks than guitars due to the heavier gauge of string? Is flatsawn vs. quarter sawn more of an issue in bass construction?

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Stricktly speaking, string tension will cause bowing of the neck, not warping. Warping is the wood moving where it wants to move in response to tempature, humidity and internal stresses, where as bowing is simply the wood bending from being under tension.

In my experience, if wood wants to warp, it's going to do it regardless of your best efforts to stops it. That's why you don't use wood what is warped for necks, or you machine it flat so that being flat is it's passive state,assuming you can machine it flat without introducing excessive runout.

I haven't conducted any tests of the relative strengths of quartered and flatsawn wood, but I've built necks from both with equal success. Conventionsal wisdom in the guitar building world is that quartered wood is more stable and stiffer than flatsawn*, but this is debatable, and some builders have claimed the opposite. Quartersawn wood is more dimensionally stable, which means the glueline to your fretboard is more likely to remain seamless on a quartered neck. On the flipside, it's more prone to splitting - splits propagate along the joints between the annular rings more easily than they do across them. This is largely irrelevant on a neck, since it isn't wide enough to get stressed much accross it's width.

All that really matters in terms of necks, is that your wood is naturally flat (or can be milled flat without introducing runout or getting to thin), has fairly straight grain, and is free from knots. Quartersawn looks nice as a neck, since you get nice ray flecks on the back of the neck, but flatsawn is just as good, and as I've said before, I wouldn't hesitate to use it if it's what you have to hand, or if you have another good reason to use it (ie: appearance).

*IMO, there's a good chance this is market driven, based on tradition and exclusivity. Traditionally high end guitars have used quartersawn neck woods, and quartered wood is more wasteful to harvest, and thus has a certain cache.

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of course its all "my opinion" and ive gotten that way through "my experience"

if i knew everything better than 100 other builders i wouldnt ask questions; but i write with confidence;

not to sound like a know it all;

and you cherry picked my quotes; multi-lam i always use quarter sawn pieces; and they are organised in a way that replicates being flatsawn; when you look at the bottom grain all together they will all be making a "U" or a "W", that is not only cosmetic but strength;

but your right; if wood wants to warp it will warp; so why would you use a piece more prone to warping?

the status-quo for fender and washburn is not my idea of a real neck worth the time it takes to carve.

but since its unamynous that im crazy, i'll kepp my 2 cents in the bank;

goo times

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of course its all "my opinion" and ive gotten that way through "my experience"

if i knew everything better than 100 other builders i wouldnt ask questions; but i write with confidence;

not to sound like a know it all;

and you cherry picked my quotes; multi-lam i always use quarter sawn pieces; and they are organised in a way that replicates being flatsawn; when you look at the bottom grain all together they will all be making a "U" or a "W", that is not only cosmetic but strength;

but your right; if wood wants to warp it will warp; so why would you use a piece more prone to warping?

the status-quo for fender and washburn is not my idea of a real neck worth the time it takes to carve.

but since its unamynous that im crazy, i'll kepp my 2 cents in the bank;

goo times

Ok, I think there is a bit of confusion here. You describe the laminated grain as a U or a W. So you are saying when you laminate you use close to flatsawn laminates turned on edge to effectively make them quartersawn in relation to the fretboard. That is the "normal" method I believe just about all of us use. I think this is just a mis-understood responce.

Peace,Rich

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Partially, because that doesn't address the whole 'use flatsawn wood for 1 piece necks' line. I think I understand what LEF is saying, but it's simply incorrect. Just because all the warped necks you've seen have certain grain orientation doesn't mean that grain orientation is bad - could be coincidence. If quartersawn 1 piece necks were half so prone to warping as you claim, nobody would be using them - as it is, they're the industry standard in high end guitars!

Melvyn Hiscock addresses the practice of 'ripping and flipping' in his second edition, and says that in his experience it does nothing to limit the risk of warping, but does make it much harder to plane and carve your neck because you're always working against the grain of at least 1 of your laminates! My experience leads me to agree,

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Setch, Fair enough, I read the responces again. I do not agree with what LEF said, but thought the last comments describing orientaion may be a clue that the previous responce was possibly confused (in description).

IMO; The risk of warpage or twisting will be decreased by using well seasoned wood that is predominatly flat or quartersawn (minimizing the effect of differing shrinkage ratios from radial to tangial). In terms of strength I believe orientaion may play a slight role, but the type of wood would be a variable (woods with interlocked grain should have very similar charictoristics either way). There are end grain glue joint issues (@ scarf joint) that may be a factor in the best choice (depending on design). I do prefer to laminate (and believe it can improve stability a bit- due to most wood not being perfectly quarter or flat sawn). I believe perfectly straight grain is best but is exceedingly rare. Type of wood is a factor in what degree of imperfection in a given aspect is acceptable. So I would not say there are no absolutes when speaking in general terms (all woods). I would say it is generally best to look for well seasoned, as homogeneous in terms of flat or quartersawn as possible, and relatively straight grain.

Peace,Rich

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