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Necks, Angles And Scarf Joints?


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Ok so i have made many fender style straight headstock necks successfully, but now want to get into angled headstocks like gibson and acoustoc styles.

I have read much about scarf joints and it seems all are being mitered to about 15 degrees. Is this the definitive angle is there a reason other angles arent used? Can I use say a 40 degree angle? What about a one piece neck angled the way i want?

I've heard one piece angled necks arent as strong as scarf joint necks but it would seem to me that they would be stronger than a jointed neck. It seems to go against most normal woodworking suggestions that one piece is stronger than two joined pieces especially on an angle.

Just a bit confused.

Any insight and help and opinions are greatly appreciated.

thanks in advance!

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If the peice is thick enough you can get an angle you of it with out having to scalf it, which is what I did as I dont really like the look of scalfs.

The reason 15 is used it to exert a certain amount of tension over the nut, thats why strats have string trees, because the string angle doesnt provide enough tension, and so strings will pup out of their nut slots during playing. 40 degrees would be extreme and probably cause to much tension and there for wearing of the nut, and string breakages.

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The head would probably break off if it was angled at 40 deg. When you glue the scarf joint, you are gluing endgrain (the head) to the neck.

If the head construction were different, the angle might not matter. I've seen many paintings of lutes (1600's?) with heads angled back very sharply. But it probably wasn't the same kind of joint we usually do on guitars.

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Ok so i have made many fender style straight headstock necks successfully, but now want to get into angled headstocks like gibson and acoustoc styles.

I have read much about scarf joints and it seems all are being mitered to about 15 degrees. Is this the definitive angle is there a reason other angles arent used? Can I use say a 40 degree angle? What about a one piece neck angled the way i want?

I've heard one piece angled necks arent as strong as scarf joint necks but it would seem to me that they would be stronger than a jointed neck. It seems to go against most normal woodworking suggestions that one piece is stronger than two joined pieces especially on an angle.

The reason the scarf joint is stronger is because if you carve it from one piece instead, the headstock is cut across the grain, and being thin, it can break at any weak point in the grain. On the other hand, if you scarf it, the grain runs along the headstock, like most normal pieces of wood that you use, and the joint itself is very strong. Modern glues are very hard to break.

As for the actual angle, 15 degress is common, but I read that Gibson have used 13 degrees. It isn't that critical apparently.

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I've had discussions on other forums about this in the past and I doubt there is any scientific proof that a scarf is stronger than using a solid join and with a slight volute I'd be willing to bet there is no measurable difference. I've never used scarf joint and have always cut my necks from solid pieces and I've never had a neck break or be weak at the nut. I do leave the area a little larger or leave a volute.

This process is as subjective as anything else in building. Neal Moser always makes his necks out of at least two boards joined the length of the neck because he feels having that joint prevents the grain from doing anything funky in the way of making the neck unstable. To me that's a better arguement for neck stability than aaying a neck is less stable if you don't use a scarf joint.

The only reason I would ever say a scarf is better is because it should help you save the amount of wood that is wasted and it will allow you to use thinner boards t make the neck. I use 3x3 neck blanks to make my necks which is not always cost affective.

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