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Scarfing A Really Heavy, Dense Headstock Onto Lighter Neck Woods?

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I'm making this Tele here and I've got a pao ferro fretboard on the way. The neck is a laminate of cherry (domestic stuff). I'm going to be scarf jointing a separate headstock piece onto the neck.

In the shop, there's this gorgeous long board of Jatoba that the owner tells me I can cut a bit off of to use for a headstock. I think fine, it's a hardwood and it's beautiful and free, win win. So I trace out my headstock design and cut off a tad and put the board back (trying not to hurt myself, it was two feet wide, ten feet long and 3/4" thick).

I go back and pick up the piece I cut off. HOLY CRAP. It's about four inches wide and maybe ten inches long, and it weighs about as much as a small car. This has got to be some of the heaviest, densest, and hardest wood I've ever touched.

So what I'm wondering is if there are any pros OR cons, or if it just doesn't matter, to have a headstock that is made from a WAY heavier and denser wood than either your neck or your fretboard.

Increased sustain? Decreased sustain? Stronger fundamental notes? Weaker?

Obviously being neck heavy would be a concern, but once it's cut down I'm sure it wouldn't be THAT much difference from the weight of maple.

I know cherry is plenty strong enough for a neck and the fact that I'm laminating it and using a two way truss rod should mean no problems, but I was just curious since they seem to be so different. It kinda feels like putting a solid ebony headstock on the end of a mahogany neck, just odd.

Any thoughts?

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Yeah, once you cut it down I doubt you'll notice any much of a difference. Aside from shaping, you'll also be drilling out holes for the tuners and that'll drop some weight from it as well. I'm just finishing a 3 piece neck of jatoba and hard maple, jatoba being the center stripe, pretty wide center stripe. I also used it as apart of the the 3 ply laminate I made for the cavity cover. I wanted to make it sturdy, so I add a layer of jatoba as the center layer. Personally I wouldn't ever want to use that stuff for anything other than a thin strip or layer because it is so dang heavy and dense, but small bits shouldn't make too drastic of weight difference. Sound, no idea. Probably is some effect, but I doubt I'd hear it so I try not to worry about it. Anyhow, best of luck to you. J

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The only place I see any problem is when shaping the neck just because of the difference in density. It'll be like a poplar neck with a rock maple head. Probably not that drastic of a difference, but one will sand, plane, crave, and scrape much easier and faster than the other. Just something to be aware of and to plan for in the build. And long as you know the issue is there, you can work around it.

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I used Jatoba for my floors, and a fingerboard on a multiscale (the 2-1/4" wide boards are just wide enough for most fingerboards). It's heavier than lead, the splinters suck and it dulls tools rapidly, but if you have a chunk with some nice colouring and grain, it's a beautiful wood that polishes up to a mirror shine.

Edited by DC Ross
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