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First Time Neck Building Tips

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Trow, Sep 3, 2020.

  1. Trow

    Trow Tele-Holic

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    Hey guys! I’m getting ready to start working on my first neck and want any advice possible! Ideally I’d like to do a one piece maple neck with a two piece truss rod, but I would love tips. What mistakes did you make on your first neck? Anything you wish you knew? What truss rod do you recommend?
     
  2. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I installed a hotrod into a one piece neck using a dovetail skunk stripe. Some guys here have used a hotrod with yellow glue and others have used epoxy and claim they stay put. My first ten necks were flawed mainly because the slots were too wide for the fret tangs, even though I was using the proper saw kerf. It had something to do with the hammering pressure, slot width, and fret wire radius. They'd stay down with glue but really you shouldn't need glue to anchor the fret itself, the barbs should hold it. If I knew then what I know now, I would buy the long metal radius beam and make a fret press as my first purchases. I'd also make an accurate fret slotting miter box.


    The stewmac hot rod installs in one rectangular slot with minimal effort. The others require fiddling with other bit sizes or chisels to get the anchors in.

    https://www.stewmac.com/luthier-too...MI59aVrdvM6wIVL__jBx3SOgjTEAQYBCABEgKYWPD_BwE

    People will say the low profile rods are better. They only save you about 1/32" of wood which is really nothing in a normal neck.

    My tip is this. Read lots of build threads. A common mistake that people make is using a template bit on tight curved areas and experience tear out. This can be eliminated by just cutting outside the line and sanding up to the line. Yeah...it's more woodworking effort and less industrial in nature, but repairing grain blow out and having to live flawed work with isn't worth it to me. I've had plenty of tear out and it sucks.

    The other tips:

    Create your truss rod rout early before you start shaping the rectangular wood you are using for the neck.

    The transitions between neck shaft the flat surfaces of the heel and peghead look more professional if they are crafted with care and have distinct edges as opposed to just running together by oversanding or too much material removal. Take your time there.


    A wide material removal device will yield less low spots that need to be sanded out. I have used many different tools, including a spokeshave, sureform, files and rasps, but find a Farrier's rasp the best one for initial shaping.


    There are 3 common methods to shape a neck. Attacking the wood with no plan, faceting using layout lines, and the curved template method. Faceting provides a mathematical and visual approach and works well when you are just starting out.


    Let the wood acclimate to the surrounding conditions. When you remove a lot of material, the wood can move. Start your neck oversize and sneak up to the final dimensions giving yourself material to remove if that occurs.


    These threads may be useful.

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/lets-make-a-neck.755300/

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/lets-make-a-neck-volume-2.1007965/
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
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  3. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

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    1st neck Dual action truss rod is the way to go just route a straight slot no need for any angle drilling jigs or curved routing jig
    As guitarbuilder says get as close as possible to the line before putting it on a router table or the end grain will throw it across the room
    good luck with it
     
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  4. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    .

    Remove wood slower from the blank over several days as you get closer to the final dimensions. Residual stresses in the wood will move it around.

    If you want to hog wood fast at the beginning ... get a Harbor Freight angle grinder and the carbide chunk wheel they have (it might be "10" grit), together you might spend $25.

    .
     
  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Edit to remove my post. I haven't done it so it makes no sense to talk about how I might do it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
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  6. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    I did not have too much trouble with it (one piece plus skunk strip, stew-mac double acting rod, heel adjustment.)

    It was almost 30 years ago, I don't remember my sequence unfortunately nor have any build pics. My only decent tool was a Porter Cable router so I must've used that.

    I would imagine I followed Melvyn Hisvock's advice. The headstock was as Tele as I was able to make it, flat headstock. I'll shoot some relevant photos later. It's a set neck.
     
  7. Trow

    Trow Tele-Holic

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    Hmm... I hadn’t realized that it’s not typical for one piece necks to have a head stock adjustment... maybe I’ll have to change plans to a faux one piece. It’s probably easier in the long run too.
     
  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    No, it common for them to have a head stock adjuster but they have a different kind of truss rod. The normal Fender neck has a curved compression rod anchored at the heel and with the adjuster at an angle at the head. Hiscock has a very good description of building a jig to drill the hole in the head.

    Double acting rods work on a different principal. They lay in a flat channel and when tightened the push down under the nut and at the heel and up in the center of the neck under the "fretboard".

    I have only built two piece necks and so I was speculating on how I might do what you wanted - it actually should be possible to route the channel from the back and then drill into it from the head to access the adjuster. I removed my previous post.

    Here is a two piece neck and double acting rod - all you need to do is make the route from the back

    IMG_4654.JPG

    And here is a quick little drilling jig that would let you do the head stock adjuster

    IMG_4648.JPG
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
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  9. Stefanovich

    Stefanovich Tele-Holic

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  10. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    Not sure I agree, @Freeman Keller . Your thought process about how you WOULD do it - given your usual careful approach and your wide experience - is probably more helpful than, say, my one-shot process (assuming I could even determine what it was at this point.) Maybe I did it right? Maybe I got lucky with a flawed process?
     
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  11. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'll throw this in the mix. Photobucket ruined the thread, but you can see I used a hotrod in a one piece neck by routing first with a straight bit, and then a small dovetail bit. The dovetail skunk stripe got made by trial and error until it slide in. I was concerned that a regular skunk stripe would be pushed out by the pressure of the anchors at the ends. The dovetail takes care of that concern.


    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/install-a-hotrod-in-a-one-piece-neck-r-d-saga.352376/#post-4465019
     
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  12. Trow

    Trow Tele-Holic

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    That makes sense. I just read through your thread where you posted those pictures and saved them for later. It helped a ton.
    What truss rod do you recommend?
     
  13. Trow

    Trow Tele-Holic

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  14. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    The hot rod one was installed with the nut at the heel. The anchorless rod was harder as that has to be 3 degrees at the peghead end and dead center without tearing up wood. That hole is best done before you make the transition to the peghead. I'd suggests a drill jig and a brad point bit for accuracy there.
     
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  15. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I use the LMII rod, it is slightly deeper than the StewMac but that hasn't ever been a problem. They come is several standard lengths and will do customs. I've looked at the BitterRoot rods and they look pretty nice too - I really don't think you can go wrong with any of them.

    I'll just add that I don't like maple fretboards so there is no reason to do a one piece neck. I always felt that was one of Leo's big cost cutting moves. I just refretted a maple neck and had to deal with the finish - I will not do that again (not that I can't, I just don't want the hassle). By doing two piece necks the route is easy (do it on a router table while the sides are square) and the rod just drops in.
     
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  16. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    The majority of what I build are one piece with the nut at the headstock. I find that I don't need a lot of truss rod adjustments on most of my builds so it doesn't bother me to unscrew the neck when I do. The main issue with a double action rod in a one piece is the neck thickness at the nut/first fret area. My first one or two I went too skinny and the truss rod channel wasn't quite deep enough. The skunk stripe popped out when I adjusted the rod and I could see how thin the stripe was. Lesson learned. I generally use the rod from bezdez on ebay which are similar to the others mentioned. I rout a 13/16" channel with a 1/4" bit and make the neck thickness at the nut end no less than .87 or. .86. Before final sanding I flood the skunk stripe with CA and haven't had an issue since.

    A maple capped neck would work as well and save you the trouble of a skunk stripe. You would have to figure out an access hole on the headstock end. There are a few threads here that show the headstock adjustment access just by running the router bit a little past the nut area.
     
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