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Headstock Question.


TimS
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New to the forum, and I have a question about making a headstock. I couldn't find anything with the search function, so no flames, please.

I'm currently planning out my first build. It's based on the JEM, but with a few changes. Anyway, here's my question.

My plan for the neck is to make a 5-piece mahogany/rock maple laminate; am I better off making the neck and headstock one piece, or should I make the headstock separate and join them with a scarf joint? It seems to me that one piece would be stronger, but the truss rod nut cavity might weaken that, making the scarf joint a better choice.

Thoughts?

Edited by TimS
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Just to laminate 3-5 pieces will add strength to the neck. By flip flopping grain orientation you create opposite counter acting forces in the neck that help stabilizing it.

Scarf joint is method to get away with smaller neck blank. Great for mass producing necks. Less scrap, lower production cost.

In my personal opinion, a nice unscarfed, 5 piece neck, with volute will be great and stable neck. Pick some nice contrasting laminates and you have an awesome neck.

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Just to laminate 3-5 pieces will add strength to the neck. By flip flopping grain orientation you create opposite counter acting forces in the neck that help stabilizing it.

Scarf joint is method to get away with smaller neck blank. Great for mass producing necks. Less scrap, lower production cost.

In my personal opinion, a nice unscarfed, 5 piece neck, with volute will be great and stable neck. Pick some nice contrasting laminates and you have an awesome neck.

Flipping the grain also makes it harder to plane and shape the neck, since you'll always end up working against the grain on some laminates. I'm not convinced that it benefits you much either, so I don't do it anymore.

There's little to choose between scarf joints and laminates interms of strength, but both are stronger than using 1 piece headstocks.

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I've seen one overly paranoid builder who did a laminated neck with some pieces scarfed, and some solid one piece... or you could alternate top scarf and bottom scarf which would offset the glue joints....

Personally, I think lam necks (at least 2 piece- pref 3 or more) with a top scarf is the way to go.... but there are many ways to do this.

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Laminations do not a stronger neck make, not unless you add a stronger wood into the mix. I can't see how a laminated all-mahogany neck would be stronger than a solid all-mahogany neck. Possibly a little more stable, yes, but if you're building with seasoned wood it's a bit moot.

I scarf, because I think it's better that way (short grain issue), I use CF reinforcements because I like what it does with the neck (even stiffness, I like the sound, still easily adjustable with a HotRod or similar), and I laminate if I want the aesthetic appeal, but not because I worry that a non-lam neck is too weak.

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Laminations do not a stronger neck make, not unless you add a stronger wood into the mix. I can't see how a laminated all-mahogany neck would be stronger than a solid all-mahogany neck. Possibly a little more stable, yes, but if you're building with seasoned wood it's a bit moot.

My neck blank is one piece mahogany; i'm going to cut it into thirds and sandwich a piece of rock maple between each piece of mahogany, mainly for stability's sake.

I scarf, because I think it's better that way (short grain issue), I use CF reinforcements because I like what it does with the neck (even stiffness, I like the sound, still easily adjustable with a HotRod or similar), and I laminate if I want the aesthetic appeal, but not because I worry that a non-lam neck is too weak.

This raises another question for me. I've seen the CF reinforcements on stew-mac's site, but I don't quite understand how they work. Do they run alongside the truss rod? In a separate cavity? Can someone post a pic of how they look installed?

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CF is stiffer per unit weight than the wood it removes. It is a little heavier, so keep that in mind, but still. StewMac has a nice info sheet explaining how you can use their CF rods in the neck (click the info tab on the product page, or browse their free info section). Short version: I install two 1/8" x 3/8" rods on end, polyurethane or epoxy'd in, parallel to the edges of the fingerboard to either side of the truss rod. Not too far out to avoid carving into them. Sample shot (acoustic neck, but principle's the same):

Neck_GAB1_01.jpg

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