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Guitar necks, frets and settings


johnuk
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I have a lot of questions I'd like to ask about necks and rather than clog the board up with loads of posts, I thought I'd ask them in one go. I'll number them so it's easier for you to give any answers.

1.) When you make your guitar necks, do you buy the timber in the size of the neck or do you buy it larger then work it down? I am concerned here about warping if I buy it close to the final size.

2.) I did a bit of quality testing with a joint I glued for a body by hitting it on the floor. While it was difficult to brake, it did eventually go with not a huge amount of effort. If I build a neck thru in which the neck is the same thickness as the body, and not in a pocket, isn't the extra leverage of the neck a great risk?

3.) Has anyone seen any fretless guitars using a wooden fret board? I just saw a video of Ned Evett playing Slacker Jazz. http://www.nedevett.com/ Then I thought, hey... why not just miss out all the trouble of putting frets in? I really love the way in the video he is able to produce such smooth and extended slides without audioble intersections. He is using a glass fret board... with no markers... playing live... with 6 strings... B) I like the dance he does to time the slides mid solo! :D

Since I've only been playing roughly two years I thought it might actually be a bit easier if I wanted to try fretless guitars now, rather than in another ten years when I'll be more used to having the frets there. I'm having sexually exciting dreams about being able slide and drop out chords perfectly in tune. :D

I am asking about the neck because I've had a huge amount of trouble with setting the neck using the design I chose earlier, with such a wide pocket in the body. Having to take tens and tens of passes with the router has proven far too inaccurate and I'm not willing to accept the degree of error it has produced. I would like to just glue the neck between the two body sections but I'm very worried about it braking.

29.) Is this usually over come by putting a thick, 1/4", front and a back on the body?

Thanks for any help with all this! And thanks to those of you who answers my questions about the intonation tool.

John

I'm getting a Peterson Strobe!!!! YAY!

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what type of glue did you use,how tight was the joint,what type of wood dids you glue ,and did the glue break or the wood around the glue?and did you wait the full cure time.all these things affect the glue joint.2 pieces of alder or maple(which glue very well)in a snug joint and fully cured(wait days,not hours)should be much stronger than you suggest.

also fullyt clean the wood and let dry before glueing

i would use titebond in a snug joint

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1: I buy approximately size of the neck, depending on the blank size available. Warping shouldn't be an issue if you buy properly seasoned quartered stock. Don't skimp on your neck wood, it's a false economy.

2: If you can break your body joint, you did it wrong. When glueing with titebond, the glue joint should be stronger than the wood, and a joint between 2 surfaces 16" x 2 " (approx area of centre joint in a guitar body) *should not* separate. There is absolutely no structural need to reinforce the centre seams of guitar bodies, or the joint of wings to a neck through.

3: You could use a wooden board. I'd opt for ebony, and use flatwound strings to avoid chewing it up. Round wounds are too abrasive for fretless applications.

What exactly is the problem you're having with neck set at the moment?

29: See 2.

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Thanks,

The wood was African Mahogany, Sapele. The sides being glued where machine planed flat by the wood supplier for me. I glued them using Evostick branded wood glue, Tight Bond is trickier to find in the UK. The surfaces where both lightly sanded with a few hundreds grit paper before hand to take off any keying, which I know is important with PVA based glues. I clamped them with sash clamps for a few days during drying. I broke the joint a few weeks later, so it should have easily been fully cured by them. The joint was 1" thick by about 6" long (It was a piece off the end of the body's blank after I'd glued it).

It didn't snap the minute I put pressure on it, I had to raise it a foot or two off the floor and swing it with the join parallel to the floor.

I was worried about warping because I had a piece of 2" thick Mahogany, 6" wide, I decided to use for the neck. I took it to have it planed down to size and on returning I could see it had a twist thru it's length, bowed back slightly and was also ever so slightly concaved along it's length. While the bow I could have fixed with the truss rod, I did not fancy hand planing out the twist or concave.

I am now beginning to wonder if perhaps the person who machine planed it for me actually forced these into the wood because his plane seemed of a remarkably poor quality. It looked more like it was used for roughing out things that didn't require much accuracy. He told me it 'follows the lines in the wood already there', which is now making me wonder if he was perhaps trying to explain himself out of the equation.

I am seriously unhappy with the current join because the number of router passes I had to take has left it very uneven, and I don't want to risk joining it just to have it snap off in my hand at a later date. The surface area of the join is far to big to have tried with a router really and I think I'm going to have to count it as my first mistake and write off the timber as practice wood. Which really pisses me off but... it's an experience! B)

Of coarse, I would really enjoy hearing any stories any of you have about times you've made incredibly dumb mistake similar to my own! :D

The place I initially bought the timber from has stocked hardwoods for literally as long as I can remember, the last 15 years easily, so I think their plane may be a lot more accurate than the on in the place I took it to afterwards.

So to that end, I am wondering if I should buy some new timber and use a smaller pocket to set the neck in, or if I should simply bind the neck to the two body halves as is done with most other neck thru's I've seen.

All the best,

John

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Guest AlexVDL
I just saw a video of Ned Evett playing Slacker Jazz. http://www.nedevett.com/ Then I thought, hey... why not just miss out all the trouble of putting frets in?

Well after listening and watching that video I know why people invented frets... :D damn the whole band sounds out of tune when he plays chords... the solos are ok though, but when he grabs his chords... oh man B)

I couldn't watch the whole video, I just had to stop. If there's one thing I can't stand is when people play out of tune :D

I like the fretless idea though, but he needs to work on his playing I think :D

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The slidings sound way cool though... this way you don't need a tremolo!  :D

Hmmm you got my interest now... damn, maybe I'll build a fretless neck and practise playing on it  B)

I think he's been playing for something like 12 years using a fretless neck. He was the support act for Satriani when he played in Manchester here in the UK last year if I remember rightly. Keeping chords in tune I could imagine would be quite tricky. Like I said, not only are there no frets, there are also no fret markers, so he's trying to play using his ear alone to judge the notes. I thought it was quite impressive since most people consider violinists to be the best stringed instrument players for their intonation skill, and Ned is playing on 2 extra strings with a neck at least twice as long, and is also attempting to play chords. Besides, I kind of like the way it sounds slightly out of tune sometimes. It has a really weird winding sound similar to the way Eastern music uses quater tones. The solo half way thru definitly wins points for the weird sound of it, purely since it's somewhat unique and not just a tapping run.

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The longer the neck the easier it is to play fretless  B)

On a violin half a centimetre is about one note difference, as on a contrabass you hardly hear the difference  :D

Having a longer neck also makes it easier to make a positioning error in moving your hands. Plus he has the neck at waist level where he can't see his finger on it too clearly. I just thought it was funkier than watching Vai tap some scale for 3 minutes. :D

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1)it's obviously a good idea to buy bigger if you're going to plane the wood yourself..... of if the wood place does, it, tell them what you want out if it(size) and tell them you want some safety room incase it warps or something like that, they'll usualy tell you exactly what you need to know.

2) i've don similar tests on the corner of one of my bench's every part of the wood except the glue joint craced...... and it took some good pounding too, maybe you should try a different glue if you're a bit paranoid about the one you're using?

3) that guitar video was pretty cool, i agree with alex though, after the bass solo i think he kinda lost his ear for what key they were playing in, but everything up to that was amazing!!

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When I'm looking for neck blanks I have a minimum size in mind that leaves a little extra, but not much. Then I just see what is available that looks attractive and reasonably stable in the types of wood I want. I also try to buy wood in advance of needing it. I enjoy looking through stacks of wood even if I don't end up buying anything. And often I find a deal on a greta chunk of wood and buy it w/o a set use. It sits, often for months. That helps it be more stable by the time I use it.

As to the gluing/breakage, you are joining a much smaller area in a 1 x 6 scrap test piece, so I'd doubt you would have problems when you go to something like 2 x 15 or bigger. And it really sounds like the guy who planed your neck doesn't have equipment up to it for this level of precision.

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Thanks Derek & Danno,

I'm going to take a guess now, you were using Tite Bond Derek? :D

Now I'm going to have to spend five weeks finding somewhere that sells this stuff locally! B)

Danno, I think you may also have a point!

How many of you guys building guitar necks have had to plane twists or bows out of your timber before? I always pictured making the neck as being more founded in cutting the profile and shaving it down to shape rather than hand planing out 1mm worth fo twist, curve or bow.

I still think instrument building seems to belong in the realms of accuracy used in metal working! If only I could find a light weight metal that that doesn't expand or contract with heat changes and is also tonally beautiful... hmmmm... :D

John

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...I'm going to take a guess now, you were using Tite Bond Derek? :D

.....If only I could find a light weight metal that that doesn't expand or contract with heat changes and is also tonally beautiful... hmmmm... B)..

yup, titebond original

Have you considered planning you blank, cutting it in 3, flip the middle peice, and laminate it back together??

..necks have been made entirely out of aluminium in the past don't know about now... the all carbon necks are the thing today i think in terms of alternate construction material

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That's a cool idea Derek, and I thought about it earlier. But really it's going to be far so much work that it probably outweighs the cost of just buying a new piece, since I haven't done too much work on it so far. I can always use this wood to test my hand out at things before doing them on the next piece.

I've heard of a few guitar companies making parts from aluminium. Fender made some Tele and Strat models with cast hollow bodies and them had them anodised, I think in some fairly compex patterns like flags, but I might be wrong.

They had problems with them because the necks would expand too much as they warmed up and pull the guitar slightly out of tune. That's something I'd like to check up on though, I'm sure there must be some way to over come it; other than just detuning your guitar slightly to start with. I would love to make a guitar from metal because I'm so much better with it than I am with wood!!! :D

I found a type of aluminium which is blown into a foam. I thought it would be an interesting material to fill the cavity inside the body of a guitar with as it's about the only form of metal which recreates the cellular nature of wood in some way.

A solid chunk of magnesium the same size as a guitar body is somewhere between 400 - 700 pounds, but it's also incredibly light. A shell would cost much less I would assume.

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A solid chunk of magnesium the same size as a guitar body is somewhere between 400 - 700 pounds, but it's also incredibly light. A shell would cost much less I would assume.

You'd probably not want magnesium for a guitar body. Even though you're not *supposed* to spill water on a guitar, it can happen, and magnesium+water isn't exactly nice (well, ok, nice as in "nice fireworks" but not "nice skin", if you get my point). But I guess magnesium is better than for example francium, which would be pretty much suicide.

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He he he he. That would be quite nasty. I think Francium is actually radioactive as well! So the guitar would probably glow in the dark too.

Believe it or not, which I bet many of you won't, you can actually weld things like magnesium castings. They have such a big mass and high thermal conductivity that the heat is spread out all over them very easily, before it can cause it to ignite. Group 1 metals burn in water beautifully, Magnesium's extra electron means you need to use steam to make it react, again, thermal conductivity and mass come into play.

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your telling me! one time i got caught in a loop between 2 welding machines at the top of a 40 foot ladder welding a window wall.i reached back to flip my hood down with the stinger in my hand and it had a missing insulator.my partner struck an arc on the other side and that stinger sucked over so hardonto my neck all i could do was yell...and i had to keep yelling until my partner decided to stop his arc to see what was up.it burned a hole in my neck about the size of a quarter and went through all the layers of skin.needless to say i came straight down and replaced the insulator before i finished my weld

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B)

I used to weld gates and railings together for this guy I ended up working with after my work experience at school. We were MIG welding it so we had the amps up fairly high and I recall a number of times watching gates I could barely lift, jump off the supports as I started to weld. We would connect the earths to metal stands and then rest the gate lying down on them. I also found out very quickly they would tack weld themselves onto the supports. Soon after I opted to loosen them with a hammer before trying to pick them up.

When I left that place I had a sun tan to die for and a burn in my leg that's taken the last year to heal over.

Welding... such fun! :D

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