Planning neck+ fret board height

SpHowe3319

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I'm mentally wrapping my head around the Tele build process, and attempting to get my math skills in order well in advance. My key question, followed by my current roadblock, is...how do you know how thick the neck and fretboard should be for a Telecaster with a Modern C profile? I understand it partly has to do with the bridge.

While I save up for a copy of Making Your Electric Guitar by Melvyn Hiscock (which I hope will help my pitiful math skills), I have been using this Tele build series by Tchiks as a pseudo-101 course. It's what got me into the hobby in the first place, and how I formed some of my building comprehension. This forum has been very informative, and just as helpful.

At 1:43 in the linked video, the builder states he is marking the neck pocket 16mm down from the top of the body. This is to ensure the fretboard sits 9mm above the body because the neck and fretboard are 25mm combined.

This is where I get bogged down, because my measurements differ from his when I follow his instructions. This is likely something I did wrong.

The builder used a Modern C neck. Based on a set of Fender Neck Profiles I found, the Modern C is .870", or 22.09mm at the 12th fret. The builder's cut list stated the fretboard was 6.35mm prior to radiusing. This would put the 12th fret's thickness at 28.44mm, leaving the heel far too thick for a pocket that is 16mm deep.

If it were a matter of 1-2mm, I would think the neck pocket could be deepened, or the heel could be planed to meet the specs. I'm feeling more confused about neck building now...wondering how to wrap my head around this. If anyone has a detailed neck build, or example they can share - it might go a long way to helping my tired brain.

Thanks all,
Showe
 

Freeman Keller

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Calling Marty....

Most good sets of plans will have at least a couple of cross sections of the neck taken at several places. The heel is thicker and is a standard fender specification, the neck stick itself is thinner and tapers to the head (in both height and width).

You can also find cross section of many neck on the internet and lutherie supply houses sell templates. However you can buy a really inexpensive little curve duplicating device from Grizzly or many other sources and simply copy a neck that you like.
IMG_1486-1.jpg


IMG_1488-1.jpg


I loved the neck on this old Goldtop and have shamelessly used it on most of my guitars.

Also the typical fretboard is 1/4 thick at the center, thinner as it slopes to the sides.

This sort of shows how a fender style neck flares into the heel.

IMG_4707.JPG
 

Freeman Keller

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This might help you understand guitar geometry. Your goal is to have the set such that you have good playing action and the ability to adjust the action slightly in the future. Most of the time if you shoot to have the fret plane just touching the tops of the saddles at their lowest adjustment you be perfect. However there are many ways to get there

 

AAT65

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I believe that the neck carve (profile) and the fretboard radius should have no effect on neck pocket depth or the height of the centre of the fretboard.

As per the video you referenced, neck blank + fretboard = 25mm thick, so a 16mm neck pocket puts the fretboard centre line 9mm above the body.

The neck heel should be the same depth regardless of how much wood is taken off the back of the neck blank (to make a thicker or thinner neck) or the sides of the fretboard (to make a flatter or more curved fretboard radius). (Well, some wood will inevitably come off the middle, but more at the sides!)
 

gb Custom Shop

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For most fender style necks, the total thickness is 1". That is usually compromised of a 0.75" neck blank, and 0.25" fretboard.
Most tele bridges are 3/8" thick (thickness of baseplate and saddle combined). That means the neck pocket depth should be 5/8" deep. (For simple math: 3/8" - 1" = -5/8")

The particular neck carve/profile is mostly irrespective of those measurements. As long as your total neck thickness is 1" to begin with, you can get any neck profile you want out of that.

Edit: I'll add this, in case it may be a point of confusion for you - the thickness of the neck at the heel end (i.e. where the neck sits in the neck pocket), that is always your total neck thickness; that part doesn't get touched in the carving process.
 
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guitarbuilder

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I put some fairly concise build threads in your other thread you started. Before Youtube was the goto for instrument building threads, there were forums...:). Find a neck you like the feel of, if that is possible. Then take some basic measurements of the thickness and width at the nut end and some other fret down the road. ( It doesn't need to be fret 12) Decide on a nut width and how wide you want the fingerboard at the last fret and some other fret near the end of the neck. Fender necks are 2-3/16+/- tolerance and Gibsons are a bit wider. I make mine 2.25"on a set neck.

Once you have those numbers you can use CAD or graph paper and a good machinist scale to layout the angles and curves. It's really pretty simple. I would recommend the widest tool you can get to help eliminate hills and valleys in the neck carve as they will need to be sanded out. Too much sanding results in a thinner neck than you may have hoped for.

Basically you try some different tools over time and figure out which one works best for you. The Farrier's rasp is my widest cutting tool, but my belt sander hard block is wider than that. Sanding across the grain leaves scratches, so sand with the grain direction. At one time I used a shoe shining motion, but prefer to not do that any more, scores of necks later.
 
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SpHowe3319

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This might help you understand guitar geometry. Your goal is to have the set such that you have good playing action and the ability to adjust the action slightly in the future. Most of the time if you shoot to have the fret plane just touching the tops of the saddles at their lowest adjustment you be perfect. However there are many ways to get there

Thank you! you’ve been a great help, and an excellent testimony to the quality of support in this forum. I’ve got a holiday coming up and a long list of threads to read thanks to everyone’s contributions :)
 

Freeman Keller

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I've mentioned this before but if you haven't downloaded the TDowns tele plans (first thread on this forum) do so. They are free, very accurate and complete. Take a thumb drive to Kinkos or an engineering firm and get three or four prints. Compare a couple of measurements on the print to what it actually measures to ensure that the plotting scale was correct, and you've got a good starting point for your build.

There is a traditional neck, there are other drawings that are probably better. I do my own neck so I've never really looked for anything.

Notice one thing that is kind of interesting on the TDowns drawing - the neck pocket is wider in the back that at the front. That is because the neck is tapered and thus the heel is also. A tele neck should always be dropped in from the top, not slid in from the end.

Anyway, if you already have these good, but they should help you understand how these critters go together.
 

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SpHowe3319

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TI've mentioned this before but if you haven't downloaded the TDowns tele plans (first thread on this forum) do so. They are free, very accurate and complete. Take a thumb drive to Kinkos or an engineering firm and get three or four prints. Compare a couple of measurements on the print to what it actually measures to ensure that the plotting scale was correct, and you've got a good starting point for your build.

There is a traditional neck, there are other drawings that are probably better. I do my own neck so I've never really looked for anything.

Notice one thing that is kind of interesting on the TDowns drawing - the neck pocket is wider in the back that at the front. That is because the neck is tapered and thus the heel is also. A tele neck should always be dropped in from the top, not slid in from the end.

Anyway, if you already have these good, but they should help you understand how these critters go together.
When I follow the link in the TDowns thread, it takes me to a website that doesn't look correct:
1661273166516.png

The "www6" address seems fishy?

Prior to joining this forum, I downloaded and printed several templates from Electric Herald. I used an app called Inkspace to print the templates at full-scale and verified the scale was accurate with a set of calipers. Local printing places like Staples wanted an arm and a leg to print them in full, with no guarantee for scale.

From EH, I used the Custom & Deluxe Bodies and Nut Width files to create my master set of templates. The working set are peaking out underneath, and will be routed down to final size once I buy my router (soon!)

Neck and Body tempaltes.jpg


If I build my own fretboard from scratch, I'm planning to print another copy of the Nut Width template, adhere it to the center lines, and cut my frets in. I think your attachment would work as well, Freeman. It's also one of the files listed on the Electric Herald Tele page.

As for the pickups...I'm building a basic tele, not a '72 Deluxe. I think the easiest thing to do is build another MDF template with cavities for the neck pocket, neck pickup, bridge pick up, and electronics channels. I can just pop it onto the centre line and go to work.
 

Freeman Keller

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Since it is in the public domain, here is my copy of the TDowns drawing. I made separate templates for each of the cavities, that way I can mix and match if I want (my last tele clone got P90's). I also use the same template for both my neck heel and the body cavity - that ensures that the neck fits the cavity.

Having separate templates lets you fit the neck to the body before routing for bridge and pickups which follow the geometry of the neck.

There are several sources of fret slotting layouts - StewMac has a very convenient one.


Pickups are very much a personal item - they are the first thing changed whenever someone decides to "mod" their guitar. They also define the tone, which again is very personal. I won't be any help other than to say that each of my electric guitars has pickups that fit the genre of that guitar and they are very different.
 

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MickoConCarne

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To make things easy (for me) when I started - As a related, but definitely tangential thought .... a few years ago I went totally metric because I hated all of the fractions. That simple thing made a big difference for me. Now most of my tools, rulers, plans and templates are metric and don't need to do math anymore :cool:
 

SpHowe3319

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I also use the same template for both my neck heel and the body cavity - that ensures that the neck fits the cavity.

Having separate templates lets you fit the neck to the body before routing for bridge and pickups which follow the geometry of the neck.
I apologize for my continued lack of comprehension - you've been very patient on my threads. I'm struggling to understand what you mean.

It sounds like you have a template you use to route the neck pocket and pick up cavities (as you say body cavity) at the same time, guaranteeing the neck sits inline with the pick ups? Ona side note, I recall one of your build threads showed a routing template that had a Tele and LP neck pocket on either end.

I'm wondering why someone would want to route the neck and pick up cavities on separate templates, risking misalignment?

Again, I apologize for the lack of understanding. I'm heavily biased towards visual learning with hands-on demonstration. Reading is a challenege at times
 

SpHowe3319

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To make things easy (for me) when I started - As a related, but definitely tangential thought .... a few years ago I went totally metric because I hated all of the fractions. That simple thing made a big difference for me. Now most of my tools, rulers, plans and templates are metric and don't need to do math anymore :cool:
Born and raised in Canada here! I love metric, but there is the need to translate when plans or guides are laid out in imperial, haha!
 

guitarbuilder

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The tdown plans are at post 585 here. It is the lastest revision. Others on the net are older versions which don't have the correct bridge pickup angle dimensions. I'll be honest you can do a whole lot without having a template for each step of the way. I use a template for the shape and pickup locations, but on a tele, as an example, the only rout that is exposed is the neck cavity. The others are covered up by the pickup, pickguard, and bridge/control plate.



 

SpHowe3319

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The tdown plans are at post 585 here. It is the lastest revision. Others on the net are older versions which don't have the correct bridge pickup angle dimensions. I'll be honest you can do a whole lot without having a template for each step of the way. I use a template for the shape and pickup locations, but on a tele, as an example, the only rout that is exposed is the neck cavity. The others are covered up by the pickup, pickguard, and bridge/control plate.




Thanks!
 

Freeman Keller

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I apologize for my continued lack of comprehension - you've been very patient on my threads. I'm struggling to understand what you mean.

It sounds like you have a template you use to route the neck pocket and pick up cavities (as you say body cavity) at the same time, guaranteeing the neck sits inline with the pick ups? Ona side note, I recall one of your build threads showed a routing template that had a Tele and LP neck pocket on either end.

I'm wondering why someone would want to route the neck and pick up cavities on separate templates, risking misalignment?

Again, I apologize for the lack of understanding. I'm heavily biased towards visual learning with hands-on demonstration. Reading is a challenege at times

I do them separately for a couple of reasons. First I cut out and shape the overall shape of the body. Square the end where then neck pocket will be - everything references from that point. I will call that the neck to body joint and for most guitars it will be at a fret location, altho the fret numbers varies from guitar to guitar (Fenders are usually at the 16th fret, most acoustics are at 12 or 14, shredder guitars with access to the upper fretboard might be at 18 or 19 or so).

I build the neck and body at the same time. Here is the neck - we have already talked about the way the neck stick flairs into the heel

IMG_4672.JPG


Here is the neck heel in my template. It fits nice and snug. The pencil note on the template reminds me of its thickness which I can use when I measure the depth of the cavity while it is in place.

IMG_4700.JPG



I draw a center line and line my neck template up as best I can on the body. You can see that the neck is sitting in the template on top of the guitar

IMG_4685.JPG




I screw the template into places that will be routed out in the future, two spots in pickup cavities. Drill out most of the waste with a Forstner bit. Route out the cavity. That is my small laminate trimmer which I told you in another post is plenty big for making guitars.

IMG_4686.JPG


Work my way down slowly to the required depth

IMG_4687.JPG


Now the neck can go into the pocket and measurements taken from the actual neck - the uncompensated scale is measured from the nut

IMG_4688.JPG


And I can establish the actual center line from the sides of the neck (different guitar)

IMG_6842.JPG


The individual cavities can now be accurately located and routed

IMG_4691.JPG


The actual centerline of the guitar may not end up where you think it is - by doing it in stages the bridge will always be on the necks center where it should be. This also gives me the option of different pickups and even different shapes for the body.

Hope this helps
 

SpHowe3319

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That made a lot of sense, thank you for tailoring those pictures to my question. I recognize them from one of your build threads. I was udner the impression the centre line could not deviate. Nice to know there's some flexibility.

Here's a question...

I have my neck template prepared. To ensure a snug neck-body joint, can I trace the heel of the template onto a piece of MDF, route the waste, and use that for my neck-body routing template? I'm trying to develop my abstract geometry thought-process.
 

peterg

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That made a lot of sense, thank you for tailoring those pictures to my question. I recognize them from one of your build threads. I was udner the impression the centre line could not deviate. Nice to know there's some flexibility.

Here's a question...

I have my neck template prepared. To ensure a snug neck-body joint, can I trace the heel of the template onto a piece of MDF, route the waste, and use that for my neck-body routing template? I'm trying to develop my abstract geometry thought-process.
Check this out:
 




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