Aluminum Necks? Aluminum Guitars? What are your thoughts?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by MelvinsMeatPuppets92, Feb 10, 2020.

  1. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Member

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    I had an aluminum-neck Kramer back in the 80s.

    Pluses:
    Absolutely straight, permanently. No truss rod, no warping or twisting issues, ever. Rigidity has a downside, however - see below.
    Nice low fast action - yes, they love heavy strings and the action can be set low enough to still play easily with heavies
    Very bright tone, plenty of highs - you can always roll 'em off if you want, but nothing can bring back what's been bled off mechanically

    Neutral:
    This one had a resin fretboard. Smooth and maintenance-free, but it felt plasticy. I missed the friction and texture of wood

    Negative:
    Thermal expansion/contraction. At gigs, I could only use the guitar for the first song or two. After that the aluminum swelled and the guitar went hopelessly sharp. When our singer would use it for a couple tunes in the middle of the set, our stage tech had to take it offstage and retune it. Admittedly the venues usually were cool before the show, and the lights were hot. For home use this might not be a problem. Also, modern lights seem cooler than a rack of old school incandescent par64s - those things could give you a sunburn.

    Another issue that mattered to me personally - the downside of rigidity as mentioned above - was stiffness. I like a lively guitar, one that you can feel singing in your hand, one that comes alive. And much liveliness of feel resides in the neck. Aluminum is rather lifeless in terms of feel. Yes, it vibrates, but it doesn't have the elastic feel of a nice lively piece of wood. Also, it's pretty heavy.

    One other negative , and this one relates only to that particular design, not to aluminum necks in general: this model, The Duke, was headless with tuners at the bottom of the body. The ball-end string anchor at the neck end was attached with a single big hex screw in the center and if you bumped anything it could pivot. The strings on one side went flat and the strings on the other side went sharp. I believe later versions used twin screws to eliminate this problem, but on mine it was a pain in the ass onstage more than once.
     
    Gig Young and hotslaw like this.
  2. Surfreak

    Surfreak Member

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    Thinking just a little outside the box, have you thought of the newer incarnation of Gittler guitars? They are made of titanium rather than aluminum.

    https://gittlerinstruments.com/
     
  3. MelvinsMeatPuppets92

    MelvinsMeatPuppets92 Member

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    thanks for informing me this is really cool
     
  4. MelvinsMeatPuppets92

    MelvinsMeatPuppets92 Member

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    yes thats what I have heard, I have the opposite problem, long skinny fingers and medium palms.
     
  5. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Member

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    I always loved the look of the Gittler guitar. Unfortunately, they're still way expensive. Pretty amazing instrument though.
     
  6. rhumbob

    rhumbob Supporting Member

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    Bass player perspective:
    Played a couple of Travis Beans in the 80's. Maybe for an hour total. Heavy as all get out and felt like playing a pipe. Cold in the hands. Kramer was a little warmer, but just did nothing for me. Seemed sterile. Those were pretty popular at the time. I love new technology and really wanted to like it but it was a no go.

    Afterwards I owned an alembic that had a graphite neck. Seemed to have the advantages (rigidity, resonance) without the downsides of weight and coldness. Played that bass for over 30 years.
     
  7. MelvinsMeatPuppets92

    MelvinsMeatPuppets92 Member

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    yes I have heard of the graphite necks because of Flea of RHCP. Thanks for the bass player prospective.
     
  8. MelvinsMeatPuppets92

    MelvinsMeatPuppets92 Member

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    yeah I have heard of those but never looked into them. They are definitely not for me but they do sell so people like them. Kinda reminds me of Johnny Winter's Lazer headless thing.
     
  9. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Member

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    He used to play on the street in NYC. I would love to have bought a Gittler back in the 70s when I first saw one.
    There's one hanging in the Museum Of Modern Art.
     
  10. MelvinsMeatPuppets92

    MelvinsMeatPuppets92 Member

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    really. Thats sick, I love Johnny Winter. But yeah of course there is a Glitter in the MOMA
     

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