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Single Piece Neck Vs Scarf Joint

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All my knowledge and research in woodworking lends me to believe that a single piece of wood used for the neck and angled headstock would be stronger than a scarf jointed neck and angled headstock. Yet most all guitar workings I read says the scarf joint is stronger.

Im not disputing either but just having a hard time understanding why a scarf joint would be stronger and more desirable in making angled headstocks than cutting the angle and neck from one solid piece of wood.

Any help or directions to articles and such to help me understand is greatly appreciated.

Thanks to all.


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This has been covered.

If you take a single hunk of wood and cut the neck and angled headstock, you are most likely going to get short grain. If the grain runs up the neck, then the angle and headstock will have short or diagonal grain, which is weaker. If you use straight grain for both the headstock and the neck, and glue them together (The glue joint it stronger then the wood in most cases) then the neck as a whole is stronger.

That being said, I just finished a one board neck for a gibson 335 type out of maple that was quarter sawn, and seems plenty strong. I'm not into thrash metal though, it's not going to see a lot of abuse.

Oh, I also put a veneer on the top of the headstock. That adds strength to at least the headstock.


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yeah, most gibsons have a 1 piece neck and are known for snapping off at the headstock transition where the grain suddenly becomes shorter because of the headstock angle. but having said that i get a lot of guitars to repair where the splice has snapped open

a splice is stronger when done well, unfortunately they are often associated with cheaper guitars where it is sometimes done badly.

personally i am more into laminated necks at the moment

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+1 all that.

Single piece is fine for headstocks that aren't angled, or the grain runout isn't huge (low angles) but this isn't saying anything that hasn't been said before. If there isn't a headplate on a non-scarfed angled neck, the grain appears on the face and back of the headstock in a less attractive manner to when it's parallel in my opinion. I wouldn't trust a non-scarfed angled headstock without some kind of reinforcement, such as a headplate (as mentioned) and/or a backstrap, perhaps a volute or with laminations.

You'll find lots of information online showing you how to repair Gibson headstocks. Specifically Gibson headstocks :D

Edited by Prostheta
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I'm not into thrash metal though, it's not going to see a lot of abuse.

I am..but I don't abuse my guitars...I have never dropped one either...

I do not do scarf joints.I dislike them...for no good reason,but there you have it.

I make my necks laminates of at least three pieces...my last one 9 pieces....I use volutes religously,and last one I used a bubinga faceplate and backstrap on the headstock...I like that look I think I will do itagain.

All of my necks are far stiffer than anything I ever bought...

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Scarfed heads are stonger, for the reasons given at length above. Gibson heads break when subject to mild knocks, harsh language etc, and that's a pretty compelling reason to avoid the design.

I love how they look, but I hate it when this happens:


Fortunately, with a bit of care and panning you can make a scarfed head look every bit as good as a single piece. Dont forget, 1 piece necks were concieved as a cost cutting measure, not because they offered any tonal or mechnanical advantages over the more traditional joined headstocks.

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I read once that Buddy Guy used to tour in an old bus and his Strat would ride the roof. Once, they had to stop suddenly and he saw how the guitar flew off the roof, out of its case and slid some feet in front of the bus. Of course, he ran out and expected to find pieces attached by a few strings at best. It survived perfectly and used it that same night...

Yeah I've seen that a few times and just read it again today in another book that had an interview with him. He said that when he picked it up one string was out of tune so he tuned the string and there was nothing wrong.

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