how would you build this neck?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Dimitree, Oct 15, 2019.

  1. Dimitree

    Dimitree TDPRI Member

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    I think the next guitar I'm going to build will be a mahogany '76 explorer replica.
    I noticed that all the vintage explorer have a 3 piece headstock construction,
    like this:

    [​IMG]

    do you think I should build it like that, or maybe use a more classic scarf joint construction?
    I don't mind about vintage correctness, just wondering about which method is preferable and why.
    the headstock angle will be 14 degrees, like the original, and the wood will be mahogany.
    I have a big mahogany blank (760x100x75 mm). Do you think I could get two necks from this piece?
     
  2. LowCaster

    LowCaster Tele-Holic

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    A scarf joint is supposed to be stronger than a one piece headstock/neck. It is a good way to save some wood too, and that would be my primary reason to use it.

    You know there are two ways of doing a scarf joint? One is a diagonal cut into the neck, the other has the glue line into the headstock and parallel to the neck. The former is widely used, but I really don’t like the look of it. I’d use the later if possible ( and none if it doesn’t help saving wood).

    Notice that there is a piece of wood with the grain running parallel to the tuner side of the headstock. That is probably to prevent the wood from splitting there. Mahogany can split, so I’d do that.
     
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  3. darkforce

    darkforce Tele-Meister

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    AFAIK Gibson does not use a scarf joint on their necks, so a very thick blank would have been needed on these long headstocks. Since a proper scarf joint is stronger anyway, because of fiber orientation, I would do that. This way you don't need as thick a blank and don't need to add another piece of wood like above. However, dpending on the width of your blank, you might need to add a wing like the top piece of wood anyway.
     
  4. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Silver Supporter

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    If I were building the neck, I'd build it like Gibson does as a one piece LP neck with two wings on the side of the main section out of 12/4 mahogany. It would be similar to this Gibson one, which is a maple bolt on from the hair metal era. Owning Gibson guitars since 1974-5, I've never broken one and have only broken a one piece neck guitar by my own stupidity. That was a Vee neck I made and it was balancing on my bandsaw table surface and fell off.



    I don't think I've ever actually owned a Gibson Explorer but I have an Epi one in mothballs here. I did make a lot of pointy Jackson style necks for people with a scarf joint. That's what they wanted because that's the way Jackson , Charvel, Kramer, BC Rich, and everyone one else did it. Personally I'm not a fan of the look, and get that it's stronger, but still.....it would be one piece to avoid the glue line and the look of the joint. I've repaired a couple commercially made and failed splice joints over the years where it separated too...so they ain't perfect either.

    gibneck.jpg


    gibneck 2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Don't trust anything Gibson does with their necks and headstocks. You'll put a lot of work into the neck and be disappointed when it breaks.

    Gibson LPs famously use 17deg headstocks while Epiphone headstocks are 9-14deg and I think PRS uses 9 degrees. The higher the headstock angle the more twist you induce in the neck as the strings pivot the headstock around the nut. A higher angle makes more downward string load on the nut and thus higher friction at the nut which most players are trying to avoid -- see all the threads about tuning issues and adding mystical nut lube to the slots.

    This first style gives you a stronger neck. Do this one. The joint is trapped by the fretboard when that is glued on.


    [​IMG]


    This is the difference between the method above and the alternative where the extra piece is set off the back.
    The first method traps the headstock with the fretboard so you get a lot more glue surface. The second just hangs off the back. Strings exert 125lbs of pull, bending that thin glue section around the nut -- do you trust it?
    [​IMG]

    Edit: If you cut the slice poorly so the wood doesn't match well or poor glue coverage of the two pieces before you stick them together or don't clamp well then the joint can come apart. You also have that extra twist moment due to the headstock angle.

    Of course, your strongest neck possible is build it flat like a Telecaster.

    [​IMG]

    .
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019
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  6. Crafty Fox

    Crafty Fox Tele-Afflicted

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    I laminate my angled necks. Usually 5 piece.
    This is my current archtop build:
    IMG_7082.jpg IMG_7502.jpg
     
  7. spartan warrior

    spartan warrior Tele-Meister

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    Taking up on the points made by jvin248.

    I've built necks using both methods of scarf joint and whilst both clearly work, I prefer the second type, with the joint part way along the head.

    My reasoning behind this choice is as follows:

    1) With the scarf joint under the fretboard (Method 1) and using typical neck dimensions of 43 mm nut width and 23 mm neck thickness at first fret (17 mm of neck wood + 6 mm of fretboard) and a head back-angle of 12 degrees (Somewhere akin to Epiphone & PRS), the cross sectional gluing area is approximately 2,760 mm² (4.28 square inches). This will vary slightly dependant upon the exact neck profile used, but will be give-or-take a small amount. There will also be a reduction caused bu the truss rod channel cutting through the gluing area.

    2) With the scarf joint on the head (Method 2) again using a back angle of 12 degrees with a head width of 75 mm and a head thickness of 14 mm, the cross sectional gluing area is approximately 5,000 mm² (7.75 square inches) 1.8 times more gluing area than Method 1.

    3) With Method 2 and a 3 + 3 machine head layout, there are usually only 4 of the strings pulling on the glued on piece (A, D ,G & B) The two E string machine heads are usually placed in the area of the glue joint. Whilst the two holes to accommodate the E string machine heads "steal" approximately 160 mm² (0.25 square inches) of gluing area, this still leaves 4,840 mm (7.5 square inches).

    4) Method 2 also offers a shorter 'moment arm' for the string forces to try to lever apart the glued joint.

    A downside of Method 2 is that the glue joint line is visible from the front of the head face, so it is really only suitable if the head front is painted or a veneer is used on the face.


    I accept that the above assumptions take no account of any contribution that the fretboard will add to the joint in Method 1 but, if you imagine a situation where that the scarf joint had failed, I wouldn't expect the fretboard to do much more than loosely hold the neck & head together, until the strings could be removed and the joint re-glued.

    Some years ago I did perform a very rough and ready test to compare the relative strengths of the two methods using off-cuts of maple glued with Titebond. Despite it being very 'rough and ready' and there being no absolute measure of the force applied to cause the joints to fail (I was using bricks & other heavy objects as my 'load) and the test only being conducted with a sample of one; the difference in the loads required to cause failure was very marked.

    Having said all the above, I cannot deny that Method 1 does work, as evidenced by the thousands of guitars that are out there which use that method of construction, it is just that I believe Method 2 provides is a more solid, less highly loaded glue joint.

    This purely my opinion and I respect the right of people to disagree with what I've said.
     
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  8. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

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    I admittedly have done little reading or research into headstock/neck attachment, but often hear references to various methods. The illustrations you've provided have explained more about it than anything else I've see up to now. Thanks! ;)
     
  9. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Tele-Afflicted

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    When I built my explorer, I did a regular scarf joint and it worked just fine. Then again, it was laminated from 5 pieces of contrasting wood, so grain splittage was not a concern. I've also done the laminations like on the archtop above, but for such a wide and wonky headstock, doing the ears or some other such arrangement makes sense so as not to waste a bunch of wood.
     
  10. Dimitree

    Dimitree TDPRI Member

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    thank you for the suggestion!
    so the general consesuns seems to be to ditch the original method of construction and use scarf joint..
    now since my mahogany blank is pretty big, should I build the neck with using the blank as quartersawn (and only get 1 neck from the blank) or as flatsawn (and get 2 necks)?
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    What are the dimensions of your board? The usual mahogany board that I use for necks is 3 by 7/8 by 35 or so, I can get any electric or acoustic neck out of that but might have to add wings if the head is particularly large, As far as flat vs quarter sawn, there was an article in AL a while back comparing stiffness and strength of flat vs quarter sawn brace wood (spruce) - it was almost the same. I don't know if that is true of mahogany but I would guess that it is. I can look for the article if you would like.
     
  12. Dimitree

    Dimitree TDPRI Member

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    The blank size is 760x100x75 mm (in inches, 30” x 3.9” x 2.9”)
    If there is much of a difference, I’d prefer to get two necks from the blank then..
     
  13. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    Just playing with this on paper I think I can get four necks out of this. (I'm going to work in inches because that is where my head is, I have an inch scale in front of me and a set of ES335 plans dimensioned in inches). If I saw the board three times across the 3.9 inch direction I get four boards 30 long by 2.9 by 0.975 minus the saw kerf. Lets say the saw kerf is 0.100 - that puts me at 7/8 thick, which is the neck blanks I buy from LMII. The 2.9 is wide enough for any neck but not quite wide enough for many heads which are often around 3 inches - I would have to add wings.

    I'm look at a set of plans where the total length including the head and tenon is 26-1/2 inches. The neck to the long point of the scarf is 20-1/2, the head to its long point is 8-1/2, so those could be cut out of one stick. The head gets thinned from 7/8 to 9/16, but typically I would thin it to 1/2 because I put a 1/16 veneer on it. That gives me a piece of scrap 3/8 thick minus the kerf. I can use that for the bottom of the heel and it comes out just a hair under 1 inch.

    I can do that four times with the four sticks. If the the heel turned out to be too thin I would sacrifice one stick to make thicker heel blocks (which I would have to do for an archtop or acoustic) - therefore its best to plan on just three. This also would be using my band saw for all the resawing - the blade kerf is pretty thin on it.

    Your neck will obviously be different. It will have a much longer head to fit the six on a side tuners and the protrusion at the end. You will have a longer scale length, but your tenon is much shorter (mine extends into the pickup cavity). All I can say is to carefully lay out a side view of your neck, draw a line indicating the joint and measure the long and short points of your cut. Remember that you will be thinning the head to 9/16 (and think about which side of the piece you want to thin). You may have to use one stick to make the head(s) if it won't fit - in that case you will end up with three necks.

    I looked thru my photos to see if I had any that shows what I am talking about. Here is the basic layup of a scarf joined neck - this happens to be an acoustic and the head is not thinned (its a slothead). The pieces are laying on the plans to show how they fit together. The little bit below the joint is a volute, ignore it.

    IMG_0943.JPG

    Here is a scarf jointd ES335 neck. The straightedge will give you some idea of scale but DO NOT SCALE IT - the end of the tenon has not been cut off and you have no reference

    IMG_2463.JPG

    And here are two more pictures, again, a acoustic, the first showing the little jig I made to cut the 16 degree scarf

    IMG_1829.JPG


    And the glue up. I show this because it was a ridiculously long head like yours - it is a twelve string

    IMG_1834.JPG

    Hope all of this helps

    Edit to add - You can see in my pictures that I put the head on the end of the neck stick (method 1). I have tried both and both work well, but my feeling is that since you will thin the head down you end up with more gluing surface with 1. The fretboard is laminated over the joint which helps strengthen it. I also use truss rods with the smallest possible adjuster so the cavity is small.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
  14. Clintstone

    Clintstone Tele-Meister

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    This is one I am working on right now, even though both pieces were cut from the same maple board, you can really see the color difference on the scarf joint.
    20191017_213700.jpg
     
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