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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

'Veneer' Fretboard Construction

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by kafka, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. kafka

    kafka Tele-Holic

    Oct 18, 2013
    So, I've looked around, and I haven't been able to find this. Is a Fender 'veneer' fretboard a true veneer, i.e. a flat piece of wood that has been pressed and bound to a curved piece of wood, or is it a piece of wood that has been shaped to fit the curve of the neck?

    Also, I'm a little undecided as to whether using a true veneer would add stiffness to the neck, in comparison to a shaped fretboard of the same radius. I can kind of see it either way, but don't have any empirical science to back it up.

    Knowledge? Opinions? Thanks.

  2. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Aug 21, 2005
    I'm pretty sure that the term veneer just became a manner of differentiating between that and the slab board since AFAIK Fender didn't even make that distinction until they got into reproductions of older models.

    Everything I've read seems to state that the non-slab version was radiused top and bottom. I think a true veneer would leave too much open grain at the surface to keep frets seated well (at least before people started to use glue to seat frets) and some of those boards are most likely too thick to actually flex them mice and even across the maple base.
    Bluebird and jimash like this.

  3. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Holic

    Feb 9, 2014
    NE US
    In the Telecaster book by A.R. Duchossior says from the early "slab boards" that were milled flat on the neck the factory opted for a thinner pre-contoured board that by mid '63 finally looked more like a veneer. He goes on to say the change was to strike the best balance of the maple and rosewood when glued together.

    I think the thicker rosewood boards are more prone to warping or twisting. I have a '80's MIJ '62 reissue that has a slab board and it has a slight twist. I have an '88 Am Std Tele with a slab board that is still straight. Of course grain and type of maple will have an effect too.

  4. Count

    Count Friend of Leo's

    The definition of veneer is timber that is less than 3mm (1/8") thick.

  5. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    In which case I agree it was a prolific mis-use of the term to describe fretboards that are nearly 1/4" thick. In any event, to answer the OP's question, what collectors call "veneer" fingerboards (whether or not it's an accurate term) were milled with a radius, they were not pressed into a curve from a flat shape.

  6. Count

    Count Friend of Leo's

    A more accurate term is "slab" but even that is not precise. To answer the second part of the OPs query; if a 1/4" slab could be pressed into the required curve, it is possible but difficult, it's stiffening effect should be no diferent to a machined slab. My query has always been why did Fender bother to shape the underside anyway instead of keeping the bottom flat and just milling the top profile as they did later. I would have tough that production costs and simple convenience would have dictated the latter right from teh start.

  7. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

    May 10, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
    First thing that came to my mind about using veneer fretboard was the analogy of a bald tyre: how soon before the inevitable blow out occurs (wink,wink)?

  8. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Holic

    Feb 9, 2014
    NE US
    At the time the board radius was 7-1/4 inches. I don't think they could make the slab thin enough to mill it straight on the bottom without the fret slots breaking through the bottom at the edges. I think I read somewhere the repair department is who requested the change due to warping and twisting necks. I think a lot of necks were flatsawn and those were more prone to problems. I agree the cost to do this is more. To me it means they felt they had to.

  9. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 21, 2012
    A Veneer/ roud laminated board watever you want to call it
    seems like something that was done to save money 1 fingerboard blank could be split into multiple blanks
    i have experimented in the past with maple top & rosewood top
    simple process score the frets just deep enough for a guide
    put the board on a towel on a flat surface place a clothes iron straight onto the board on full steam leave it on there for a couple of mins
    then put the board on a radius block and put a line of small clamps down the center of the radius clamp it down leave to cool down
    Radius the 1# thick blank down about 3mm to the same radius of the block that the board is clamped to then glue it on
    here is one i did using a rosewood acoustic side for the fingerboard
    don't know what method they used back in the day but steaming would be quicker and a lot less hassle than routing a radius into a thin board
    as for tone i could not tell the difference between a slab board and the laminated board it just seems cosmetic and cost effective
    1.jpg 2.jpg

  10. Count

    Count Friend of Leo's

    Steaming and cramping is the standard veneering method often using a vacuum press. A thin veneer would not impart much structural rigidity though whereas a slab would give some additional rigidity. It's worth noting that some of the Japanese guitar makers in the 70s used fully laminated necks where the whole neck was made from several strips of timber so that the grain of each was in an opposing direction to the next. Unlike a single piece where the grain is one direction only. The laminated neck prevented warping and twisting plus gave greater rigidity.

  11. Brett Faust

    Brett Faust Tele-Meister

    Dec 21, 2008
    Washington state
    Actually a maple lam is more rigid than a rosewood lam. Same applies for slab boards.
    The real reasons for the changes were greater rigidity than the slab rw necks as well as standard methods that had the same manufacturing process and lumber sizes no matter if rosewood or maple was used. The lam and slab boards both eliminated the skunk stripe used in earlier models.
    On a strange note, Fender went with the slab and skunk stripe on later rw .models

  12. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Separation of the Rosewood slab from the neck due to different expansion rates was also an issue due to the glues not being so good, and the truss rod bearing directly on the underside of the Rosewood. Why they went back to a rear-loaded rod/skunkstripe.

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