Flatsawn vs. Quartersawn necks, what's your experience?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Yr Blues, Dec 22, 2009.


  1. Yr Blues

    Yr Blues Member

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    Flatsawn vs. Quartersawn necks, what's your experience?
     
  2. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    There's a treatment of the subject here you might want to read.
     
  3. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    Quartersawn looks cooler... and I don't think they use a trussrod in some instances?
     
  4. zSPECTREz

    zSPECTREz Member

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    split the difference and go with a rift cut...that's my favorite :)
     
  5. jazzrat

    jazzrat Member

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    I am really fussy about neck relief and playability. I've had slab cut necks that were good and some not so good. The quarter sawn necks I've had, without fail, were more stable and tended to have even relief...ie., same amount of bow on the bass side as on the treble side.
     
  6. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    I don't care what terms you use to describe them. If the grain lines are perpendicular to the fretplane, both the truss rod and the natural (relative humidity related) expansion and contraction of the maple perpendicular to the grain or annular lines just don't compliment each other; instead they basically overlap. So, when the maple chooses to expand and contract due to heat/moisture or cold/aridity, the wood will bow to the bass side, then the treble side of the fretboard.

    But the trussrod was designed to cope with this motion, assuming it would be fore and aft (as in a flatsawn neck). Consequently IF your neck decides it is gonna move on a neck with the grain lines perpendicular to the plane of the fretwork, there is virtually nothing the truss rod can do about it.

    So, if you opt out of a truss rod altogether, mebbe this is a good time to try something other than a flat sawn neck? Maybe, but I own a "quartersawn" (or is it riftsawn?) neck and there's just nothing special about the way it sounds. I was just curious; it wasn't as though I felt spurned when the thing failed to meet wild expectations. It just came up for sale on the USACG webspecials page with all the other attributes and goodies I was looking for. It isn't bad.

    I'll stick with flatsawn, thank you!

    What's more, I can take what Jazzrat says and just switch the terms 180 degrees - that's my experience. This is why these Eric Johnson Artist models are so inconsistent, from one to the next, IMO. I find that if the flatsawn neck is fat enough, it is solid and it isn't really going anywhere.

    My only holdback is, I'm on the Gulf Coast and as long as it does not flood here, it's a climate that is quite benign for necks. Maybe someone constantly shuttling with their guitars from Brownsville TX, to Fallon Nevada by air with the attendant brutal changes in humidity can say better.
     
  7. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    Has anyone ever seen the difference? Necks are too thin for it to be an issue for the the majority of the log. Check this out... [Note: Plainsawn = Flatsawn]

    [​IMG]

    For as narrow as a neck pieces are, it almost doesn't make any difference. You wouldn't be able to tell where the pieces came from.

    If you were making wide planks, such as you'd use to make furniture or in cabinetry, then it would make a difference.
     
  8. Kelly

    Kelly Member

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    The difference is generally easy to see. When we used quartersawn in the cabinet shop that I used to work at, it was mainly for asthetics-not strength.
     
  9. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    To my ears, Strats with quarter sawn necks tend to have a harder sound than flat sawn counterparts.
     
  10. Ahess86

    Ahess86 Member

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    My GENERAL (caps for emphasis!) experience is that quartersawn necks tend to have a bit more punch or snap, possibly even a quicker response. My experience is that flatsawn has been a bit softer of a sound. The differences, however, are minimal and vary as much or more from plank to plank than between cuts.

    Based on these generalities, if I were to be custom ordering an instrument and had the option, I would want quartersawn for something like a tele or strat that I wanted to sound really spanky.

    If I was not doing a custom order, I'd play the guitar and decide if it suits my taste or not.
     
  11. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    You imply that the string tension has no effect on the relief.
    I have limited quartersawn neck experience but have a neck that is more like '1/8' sawn and it will move in the normal way, but to a lesser degree, under string tension/truss rod adjustment.
    Is a perfectly 1/4 sawn neck non-responsive?
     
  12. TresGatos

    TresGatos Member

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    My experience has been that quartersawn necks fight the string pull and truss rod like a kingfish fighting for its life. As Boris said, truss rods work in harmony with flatsawn wood, not so with quartersawn.
    I hear no difference between the two when they are of identical dimensions, but fatter necks clearly sound different than slim or lightweight necks.

    I've built 3 teles with quartersawn necks, all fatties and all could have easily come with no truss rod since they so desparately want to stay straight. :)

    I find quartersawn and flamed make an interesting pattern.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    No doubt about that!
     
  14. Tidewater Custom Shop

    Tidewater Custom Shop Performance Enhancing Guitarworks Supporting Member

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    Based on appearance alone, gimme quartersawn any day! Add flame like the 3 cats neck above, and its a thing of beauty...
     
  15. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    The medullary rays can look fantastic, but the tiger stripe on the Tres Gatos guitar can occur just as impressively on a flat sawn neck. I find you gotta be real careful sanding and forming the headstock when the grain runs perpendicular to the fretwork. You get (I got) a choppy effect. Plus the uptake of the finish on the grain end side is very uneven. In short, IMO a flat sawn neck is much easier to finish beautifully smooth.

    I did not mean to imply that.

    I agree with you about the way necks with 45 degree grain orientation behave. By and large, they're pretty good, especially if nice and fat.

    In my experience, the quartersawn neck (meaning the neck with grain running perpendicular to the fretwork) does not bend fore and aft based upon changes in moisture levels but only based upon inputs from the truss rod and string tension. Instead, it may move from side to side when moisture levels change, or possibly twist. And there's not much a conventional truss rod can do, since it isn't designed to cope with this side to side effect. Meaning, the truss rod cannot fix the twist or side to side motion, which is what such a neck will be afflicted with, if anything.
     
  16. bismark

    bismark Member

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    Quartersawn supposedly tend to be more stable, hence less prone to bowing. Tonewise, I couldn't hear the difference at all.
     
  17. Dog Boy

    Dog Boy Member

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    I've owned plenty of both and all things being equal I'll take quarter sawn over flat.
     
  18. jetlag

    jetlag Member

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    My very limited experience is that quarter sawn has a faster response with more spank and flatsawn has a meatier tone to it.
     
  19. Demioblue

    Demioblue Member

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    I just want a neck that doesn't warp with time... Qtrsawn or Riftsawn seems to be the most stable. Tonewise, i don't hear any differences.
     
  20. ghoti

    ghoti Member

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    It's more important in basses. Quite a few bass builders won't even use flatsawn necks. Considering all I play nowadays is basses and 7-string guitars, I'd probably go with quartersawn if I have the option.

    I'm not sure I'll ever actually get something I can spec out like that though...
     

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