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Question about Threaded Neck Inserts

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I am building a Stratocaster from parts. It's got the contoured neck heel like the Deluxe models. I'd like to use threaded neck inserts because I want them. I can't really justify it any more than I'd like to have the mechanical connection between the screw and the insert even though I've read a lot of reasonable arguments that this doesn't improve the tone and wooden screw holes don't strip that easily. Still since I'm building this guitar I'd like to have them put on (by a respected luthier - unfortunately I'm too busy and I don't have a drill press to work with at the moment). My question is to spend about $6 and get the brass inserts or $15 and get the stainless steel inserts. I read that the brass inserts may be too soft for maple and that could be an issue. I'd like to hear from people who have done this technique and see what they have to say about that. I've read a lot of conjecture, but it's one of those things where it's probably more valuable to hear from people with experience. Of course feel free to offer advice as you see fit whether you've installed these before or not - I'm all ears.



Note: If you know where to find the complete setup for less please let me know - I've sourced these parts separately a few years back and spent at least as much as the set with the brass inserts, so I'm not too interested in getting separate parts and having spares.

Regarding the neck plate - I thought about using ferrules and get rid of the plate, however there are already holes drilled in the body that match up with the plate I have and they are too close to the edge of the body to be used if I go with the ferrules. I'd have to plug the holes and have new holes drilled for the ferrules and the screws.

If it's too much work and I end up keeping the plate and I use those machine screws, then the body and the plate itself will have to be countersunk for the screws to fit flush with the plate. Either way some work is going to have to be done. Any suggestions on that? I'm kind of leaning toward keeping the neckplate and countersinking the body / neck plate to make the screws flush with the neck plate = that is where they'd typically be.

That aside, what do you think of the guitar so far? That's a carvin neck and a swamp ash body. It's pretty light and with pickups and the bridge attached, I think it should feel about the perfect weight. I'm pretty pumped up so far. I'd like to sand down the neck so that it matches the contour of the body where they meet, but besides that it's pretty much ready to be connected with the screws.

One more thing - any suggestions for the pickguard color? I just had the gray pearloid sitting around - it looks interesting. I have cream colored pickups - HSS. What do you think?



Thanks for your advice. Have a great day.


Edited by dalandser
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You're right that there are arguments both sides of the fence. Wood screws do leave a degree of play in the neck positioning since it is normal that the holes in the heel are left slightly oversize. Threaded inserts tend to be used in combination with ferrules which give a very solid and precise locating method. It takes a bit more work to get them 100% in comparison to throwing wood screws in. I like to tension my bolts up more than one would (or can) with wood screws to provide maximum stability. That's just me.

Tonewise, who knows? The people that sell neck inserts and bolts at high prices seem to "know".

Historically the whole wood screw/neck plate thing is a cheapy Fender innovation to reduce part costs and increase throughput. People seem to maintain that out of a combination of misguided tradition and the cheapness of it all. Other than ease and economy of implementation, wood screws are pretty awful.

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Thank you for the response... I guess I'd like to know if anyone has been able to successfully install brass inserts in a maple neck - I imagine that it's fine, but who knows? I had installed some in a couple project guitars a few years ago, but I did a pretty poor job (just learning as I go) so I'm not sure what should be expected. Anyway, not too big a deal. I do like the idea of being able to take my guitar apart and putting it in a backpack when I go home to visit my parents on the east coast. That would be pretty nice and the machine screw connection seems to be a nice way to just have a guitar be like an easy thing to take apart and put back together without pointy wood screws.

I might just go for the stainless steel ones just to be on the safe side - I am hoping that this guitar last me the rest of my life if I end up keeping it - it's got everything I want on it. By the way, I got the body from Ron Lasich at Hot Mod Guitars and he routed out the body so that I can pull up on the whammy bar so I'm really looking forward to playing this guitar - it's kind of like a mix between a Fender Deluxe Strat and a Music Man Petrucci guitar. Thanks again. Have a great day.


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The problem I found is that not all inserts are made equally. Most of them are designed for insertion into low-density low-retention materials such as chipboard, MDF, composites, plastics, etc. rather than resilient materials like hardwoods. Maple is a particularly difficult one to get inserts into, however there are a couple of strategies.

Firstly you need the correct threading type. Coarse wide flat threads are specifically for low-density materials to increase insert retention from forces trying to withdraw them. These won't cut a thread in hardwoods and are likely to cause splitting down the grain. Generally I have had more success with screw-in inserts intended for use in thermoset plastics. The thread is shallower/finer, requiring less displacement of material on the way in. Pre-drilling the hole to an exact size cleanly (so it is also of the correct shape) makes all the difference.

You've given me an idea for an article to write. Thanks! Converting a bolt-on guitar from wood screws to threaded inserts.....

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It won't be anything additional to information that is already out there on the web purely because it is an established procedure. Still, providing a demonstration from start to finish on an actual donor instrument (my go-to Ibanez....yikes) including disaster mitigation and can-happens is probably a good thing to write up.

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  • 2 months later...

I hope I am not too late, but I had no problems installing cheap brass inserts I got from Ace into a maple/purpleheart strat neck I just built. I did it by hand with a screwdriver and some nuts. It is a pretty simple process. First, tighten the nuts above the brass insert to keep it from moving, screw it in, then to get the screw out just loosen the nut and unscrew. Just keep a steady hand, predrill the hole, and practice on some scrap first.

below is a pic of what it should look like when you go to screw it in.


Edited by slmguitars
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