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Neck material - how much does it matter?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by calfzilla, Sep 15, 2016.

  1. calfzilla

    calfzilla TDPRI Member

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    May have to replace the neck on my guitar... Or the tech I had to use for a setup just isn't 100% up to snuff. But it raised a question in my head...

    I was looking at Warmoth and was wondering... How much do the different woods actually affect the tone and playability? Will a maple neck be faster or slower than a koa, or will the finish mostly dictate that? Is the difference between a bright and a warm fretboard wood really that big, or would it be one tick on your amp EQ?
     
  2. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    This question will probably start an argument. I've made necks out of Red Oak(bright toned to me, but hard to work), Poplar(darker toned, easy to work with). I've had guitars with Mahogany necks and Maple necks. I prefer the Maple, it gives a brighter tone in my opinion.
     
  3. calfzilla

    calfzilla TDPRI Member

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    You can barely ask people for string recommendations without an argument getting started these days!:lol:
     
    BorderRadio and jackinjax like this.
  4. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Some folks are of the opinion that the neck is one of the main contributors to tone on a bolt on style guitar.
    I don't know, I like both maple and maple/rosewood necks, I've never owned a guitar with an ebony fretboard, have played a few , ebony kinda feels like maple to me.

    I think if a guitar is set up well, the type of wood doesn't matter in regard to playability .
    When it's all said and done I think it's just a crapshoot as to whether one type of wood will sound better, and better is a different thing to everyone, some like thin necks, fat necks, vintage radius, flat radius, different neck shape / profiles.

    Warmoth does make some nice necks, as does USACG, and others .
     
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    .

    I've only found a correlation with humidity and wood type on tuning stability. Maple seems to move the least, rosewood fretboards the most.

    Feel and speed of playing comes down to finish on the back of the neck and that's usually the same unless type and gloss/satin is specified.


    .
     
  6. Tibius Reynolds

    Tibius Reynolds TDPRI Member

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    Neck material doesn't matter except for looks. (Which still matters). Neck profile, width, and radius is important for playability.
     
  7. sammy axe

    sammy axe Tele-Meister

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    I think it matters a good deal.... its an EQ but you can't adjust your amp to compensate. There is also a response factor. THe wood won;t effect the speed but if the finish is grabby that might slow you down.
     
  8. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    If tone woods matter at all, I would think that the neck would contribute more than the body, within reasonable limits, on a solidbody. I have no idea how much effect it has, but from my limited tonal experience I would choose mahogany, which also has the advantage of lighter weight.
     
  9. Frozensoda

    Frozensoda Tele-Meister

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    I prefer maple for the stability factor.
    I had a set neck mahogany guitar and it the truss rod was always going out of wack, needing to be adjusted.
    My telecasters almost never need adjustment.
     
  10. callasabra

    callasabra Tele-Afflicted

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    I have guitars with a variety of necks and fretboards. But every piece of wood is different even with in species. My maple neck and maple fretboard resonates the most, which I like. But I prefer the feel of a rosewood fretboard.

    I think you can make a neck out of any stable wood, will you like the result is subjective. I want to do a 3 piece oak/poplar/oak neck just to see how it turns out.
     
  11. Thin69

    Thin69 Friend of Leo's

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    I've replaced a neck with a virtually identical neck and I could hear a difference. So I believe that individual pieces of wood vary (density?) so I also believe that different wood types will yield different results but not always discernable.

    I personally like all maple necks as the tons I have played through the years have all been stable. Wish I could say the same for my luck on Gibson set necks.
     
  12. Delta63

    Delta63 Tele-Holic

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    I've found my maple necks to be more airy/brighter sounding.
     
  13. Beachbum

    Beachbum Friend of Leo's

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    I've got a Warmoth ebony/mahogany on my American Standard Tele that replaced the original maple neck. My experience has been that there is absolutely zero tonal difference between the two with the sole benefit of the maple being that since it's completely sealed in poly it's a bit more resistant to changes in humidity.
     
  14. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

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    you will get all kinds of opinions on this topic. Might be more useful to you to go to a couple of local guitar shops and see if you can hear any difference - play every tele in the store using the same amp, same everything possible - and even that won't necessarily answer your question, but you will have more information.

    but how about reconsidering the need for replacing the neck? What's problem? There are many tele-set-up experts here who might be able to help fix the problem without replacing the neck...just saying that spending money doesn't have to be the only solution.
     
  15. kinkstah

    kinkstah Tele-Afflicted

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    My thoughts exactly. Strings are in contact with the nut or frets. I fail to see (or hear, for that matter) how fretboard material (not neck material, which is -in most cases on Fenders- still maple) would significantly affects the vibration/sound. I prefer maple fretboard for looks only. YMMV
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2016
  16. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Do you like your neck now? If you don't, why? Do you think it needs more this or that? What went wrong with your neck that a tech can't fix?
    I'm not gonna touch the debate aspect, kinda pointless. If you don't think it matters, then you probably wouldn't be asking a forum anyways, and if you think it does matter, personal experience is almost the only way to reliably get the final answer :)

    I will say the finish matters if you're looking for feel and speed (go satin for best of both). The fretboard, radius, and fret size matter just as much: find out what you prefer or if you have any preference at all.
     
  17. cboutilier

    cboutilier Tele-Afflicted

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    I certainly noticed a much brighter tone when I swapped my rosewood cap for a maple neck.
     
  18. lammie200

    lammie200 Friend of Leo's

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    There are probably very subtle differences due to woods, but I prefer quartersawn maple for its stability.
     
  19. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    I'm not saying you are wrong (in fact I think that you might be right), but this kind of thing is subject to confirmation bias - you change something and think it is different just because you changed it. I'm a retired scientist and I believe in the null hypothesis - you assume that two things are the same until it is demonstrated that they are probably* different. In this case it would involve replicated trials with different necks, and some kind of unbiased sound test. It would be really interesting to see some good data in this, but I don't know of any.

    * by statistical analysis, which assigns probabilities.
     
  20. cboutilier

    cboutilier Tele-Afflicted

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    I thought about doing such a study in my undergrad.
     
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