No-truss rod neck construction

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by epizootics, Sep 24, 2019.

  1. epizootics

    epizootics Tele-Meister

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    Hey y'all,

    After reading about the infamous truss-less necks for a long time, I decided to try it for myself. If worse comes to worse, I'll have wasted a bit time and some nice wood, but I will have gained the authority to talk about this neck in particular. :)

    I picked the hardest/stiffest timber I had lying around in my shop, namely a piece of service tree (aka. mountain ash/sorb/etc.) and a nice bit of chechen (aka. Caribbean rosewood, even though it is not a true rosewood from the Dalbergia family) for the fretboard. They are both perfectly quartersawn and very hard indeed. That particular species of sorb is the hardest native wood we have in Europe. It looks a bit like maple, but has a pinkish tinge to it and is a good deal tougher. It was used to make plane soles and wood screws for vises back in the days.

    [​IMG]

    Now, I'm trying to be logical and clever about this build. That wood is dry and has been acclimating to my workshop for a couple of years. Any movement should come from internal stress rather than from interactions with the environment.

    I am thinking of minimizing that effect by hogging out as much wood as I can before I glue the fretboard on while keeping enough of a flat surface in the middle on the bottom side to be able to clamp those two pieces of wood together. Since most of the wood that will be removed comes for the profiling, I was thinking using a block plane, then a chamfer bit to get closer to the final profile before I plane both faces straight, like so:


    neck details.png


    Do you guys see any good reason not to do that? I know building necks is an art I haven't fully wrapped my head around...My biggest concern here is ending up with an unwanted bow once the neck is fretted. I expect some kind of a back bow once the frets are in, but I'd rather try and anticipate any unwanted surprise. I also want to minimize the amount of fretwire I'll have to shave off when I go into leveling.

    By the way, this will be a 24" scale neck with 21 frets. I figured the shorter the neck, the less I'll have to worry about it bending one way or another. This is a mockup of the final thing:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    I have made several necks "without truss rods" as such but I always insert a 10mm x 10mm carbon fibre square rod with an 8mm round hole it's full length which I fit with some 8mm dowel under pressure from a length of cotton string inserted with the dowel.

    These are fitted into a 10mm wide and deep trench which makes a perfect fit for the rods so there can be zero movement or air pockets around it.

    There is no "truss rod " adjustment on these necks but I have never had a problem and some of the guitars I built are a few years old now and still very playable with no obvious problems.

    I also believe that this method produces much more sustain from the guitar than a truss rod cavity with voids in it.

    Also my necks are all glue attached using a well fitting triple mortice and tenon method I devised several years ago, which I think also adds some extra response and sustain.

    I'll watch this with great interest.

    DC
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
  3. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    I have thought about "reproducing" one of the early truss-less necks, but with a carved in back bow. It would be very hard to carve that and the right radius, though.
     
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  4. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    As an added bonus of the CF rod method............there is no neck dive!

    DC
     
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  5. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Wow, I can't imagine doing that now that they have such easy-peasy double-action trussrods at Stewmac! :D

    Every FB I've made has introduced back-bow into the FB, sometimes even to the point of needing to force a bit of front-bow in with the T-R after stringing the guitar up...

    Of course you can counteract it by grinding the tangs of the frets a bit, and then gluing them in instead of relying on tightness of fit, but it seems like you'd need a fair bit of trial and error...

    Cheering you on--from a safe distance! :)
     
  6. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I think you are on the money with the quartersawn wood and material reduction before you level the fretboard. It's a 50-50 roll of the dice I guess.
     
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  7. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

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    3rd or 4th the carbon fiber reinforcement. It should make sure the neck ain't bending in any direction.
     
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  8. epizootics

    epizootics Tele-Meister

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    Cheers guys! I totally agree with the functionality of carbon fiber reinforcement, but the whole point here is not to use anything of the sort. Not for simplicity's sake (I don't think I ever had to think that much about how to build a neck and be that precise on my surfacing work, bearing in mind I do most of my planing by hand) but more out of curiosity as to what it would sound/feel like and how it would hold up in time.

    My feeling is that the back bow induced by hammering the frets in will be greater than the pull exerted by the strings. Sanding a bit of a relief in the middle of the fretboard might be an option here. I have a short radiusing block that should do the trick.

    Starting the neck slimming process now...I'll keep you guys & gals posted!
     
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  9. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

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    You takes your chances... :)
     
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  10. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Good luck with your experiment! Hope it works for you! Bear in mind though, that wood is an organic material and does change in accordance with heat and moisture and other variables, and the fret board, if it becomes different to what it was set up to be initially could render the guitar unplayable. Hope it goes well for you.

    DC
     
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  11. Jack Clayton

    Jack Clayton Tele-Meister

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    To clear it up for the idiot of the thread, what's the advantage of a neck with no truss rod?
     
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  12. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    It's probably worth mentioning.............there's about 120lbs of tension on a tuned guitar. Might have to store it un-tuned?

    DC
     
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  13. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    HEY! :mad:

    Oh wait, I get it. Carry on...
     
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  14. epizootics

    epizootics Tele-Meister

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    Honestly? I have no idea. I can definitely point out the disadvantages of not having one - lack of adjustability, more prone to twisting/bowing/etc., BUT some swear by it for its 'sustain', 'organic quality of the sound', 'resonance', etc.

    I am a pickup maker, so I have a pretty clear idea of what pickups do (and don't do) to the sound of a guitar. However, all I have to work from when it comes to building guitars is 'good parts + a carefully crafted instrument with no major geometrical flaws = a good sounding instrument that is pleasant to play'.

    I guess I'm just really curious, not looking for the ultimate sound Graal or for a definite answer to the debate, but I'm willing to try this one myth out for myself. There have been endless discussions about that matter on this board (as well as many other places on the internet), and I like those areas of the crafts where no one seems to agree. They are usually fun to explore.

    Here's the neck now:

    [​IMG]

    Took me all but 20 minutes - making room for my block plane at the extremities of the profile with my Japanese saw & a chisel, taking big chunks out in the middle, then cleaning that up on the router table. The good thing is that this will save me some time when I carve the actual profile at the end...

    Minutes after this, I checked the front of the neck and there it is: a bit of a concave bow, about 1/64" deep but there nevertheless. I'll let it to rest for a while to see how much further it wants to move. I am tempted to keep it as is and glue the fretboard on if it doesn't bow any more than that. From what I've experienced with my fretsaw and fretwire so far, string tension usually loses the fight against the back bow created by the fret tangs.
     
  15. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Keep the concave.In the first days of tanged frets this was done with a scraper intentionally as no necks had truss rods.It took experience and judgement to know how much as adding the frets was counted on to level the board ;)
     
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  16. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Friend of Leo's

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    Framus did it with spruce,sliced and glued..

    upload_2019-9-24_11-9-44.jpeg
     
  17. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    This is an ambitious project. Subscribing. Good luck to you!
     
  18. Stefanovich

    Stefanovich Tele-Holic

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    I am curious to see how this turns out. My best guitar is my 1943 Martin D-18 and it has no truss rod, but a piece of ebony that serves as a neck reinforcement. The neck is quite thin, but I have never had an issue in 25 years of owning the guitar. For me, the main advantage of no truss rod is reduced weight. I love featherweight acoustic guitars.

    Framus did it with spruce,sliced and glued..

    I had one of those! Terrible acoustic sound, but it was structurally sound!
     
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  19. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I have a musikraft neck w/o a trussrod made of flatsawn maple. It's a big neck to be sure.

    I haven't had any issues with it yet.

    When I called them to order it, they were super helpful, and didn't seem concerned in the least. I initially thought I should use quartersawn wood, and the guy on the phone said he thought flat sawn wood would be fine as well, so I went with it, as I generally seem to prefer it.

    I just strung the guitar up and it just works.

    I like it.

    You might want to give them a call in regards to backbow etc, they might be willing to share some info.

    It seems that you could get some backbow via the fret tangs?
     
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  20. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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