Guitar Design - Angled Neck or No?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by THRobinson, Apr 4, 2019.

  1. THRobinson

    THRobinson Member

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    Almost the weather to start using the garage again so started designing my guitar build this year. First attempt as a body in 22yrs, and first attempt at a neck which for this build will be glued-in.

    I'm thinking of keeping the neck straight, no break-angle to keep it easier.

    But, before I make that decision... is there an advantage to having a break-angle? or is it mostly for guitars with Les Paul style bridges on them so the neck doesn't have to sit way up?

    Design idea will be a flat top, not arched like a Les Paul, but will use the same basic specs as a Les Paul (neck profile, fretboard radius, scale, etc). Bridge wise... I'm on the fence between a TOM/Tail or maybe something like those Schaller Hannes bridges.

    Probably will go solid bridge, no trem, since honestly very rare I use it. I have a Strat if I need one.

    Stick with straight?
     
  2. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    What do you like?
    I prefer angled to keep the strings well above the top for easier palm muting.
    Some folks prefer the wrist position obtained with lower strings and no arm contour, like many acoustics.
    YMMV. Pick a bridge after you decide on feel.
     
  3. THRobinson

    THRobinson Member

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    Ha... I like the looks of that Hannes bridge (though still scratching my head over the whole 4 degree angle reasoning) but prefer the feel of the Les Paul.

    That said, I'm no seasoned woodworker, so don't want to makes things too difficult.

    Basically, looking to copy a Springer Half-breed with a few changes. I don't think they have an angled neck... but most do have a TOM/Tail.
     
  4. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    It looks angled from here.
    The fretboard barely clears the body but the TOM is not recessed, the bridge pup is in a high pup mount and the neck pup is not.
     
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Member

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    .

    Straight neck to body and straight headstock to neck are the easiest and strongest. You can recess a TOM on the body to get it lower if you need to.

    If you have examples available to try out ... Strap on a Strat, Tele, LP, SG in that order and see where your picking hand hand naturally falls/rests to pick the strings. Then compare how the strap buttons, the bridge location, volume knob, and bridge style contributes to where you pick and the tones from that guitar. Strat gets picked between the middle-neck pickups, Tele on or behind the bridge pickup making Twang, LP palm muting on the TOM, SG playing to the left of yourself. Now pick in those locations but on different guitar models and hear how they give more similar tones.
    Which tone types are you chasing?

    Use a wrap 'lightning' type bridge rather than TOM and stop bar. Cut the neck pocket shallow enough to keep the pocket flat (easier routing with fewer mistakes) and get to the lowest bridge height.

    If you do try building a neck with an angled headstock, use a scarf joint like most import necks and used by PRS on their S2 MIA line now -- to get better strength.

    .
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
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  6. THRobinson

    THRobinson Member

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    Yup, yer right, looked at a few more pics and right where the pickgaurd hits the neck can see an angle. Though not as much as a Les Paul I don't think.
     
  7. THRobinson

    THRobinson Member

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    @jvin248 well, plan is to make a 1-piece neck from White Ash. No scarf joints or multi-layer laminates. Solid Ash neck with a rosewood fretboard or ebony. Ash body as well. Gonna be a heavy mutha when done, but I'm a big guy and I play sitting down so, weight isn't a concern for me.

    Not used often for necks, but strength wise it's stronger than most mahongany's used for necks, not as strong as maple though. Use to be used a bit for bass guitar necks though. Saw a post once about using Ash and someone made a good point too... it's used for making baseball bats that hit baseballs thrown at speeds of 90mph... it should be enough for a guitar neck. :D

    Not sure how the grain will be though. Plan to oil finish only, not clear so... we'll see how that goes.
     
  8. batsbrew

    batsbrew Member

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    every guitar i've chosen to buy,
    or build,
    has a tiltback headstock on it.

    i've played the countless standard strat designs that have the string trees, they always let me down with lack of tension, loose sitary sounds thru the nuts, and it seems everything you add to help (roller trees, LSR nuts, etc) just shows the weakness of the straight design.

    i guess if i didn't use a trem bar, it would be easier to deal with tuning issues,
    but my usacg neck has a tiltback, and it's wonderful.
     
  9. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    it's entirely about the choice of bridge and how far it needs to sit above the body.
     
  10. larry1096

    larry1096 Member

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    Those Springerguitar Halfbreeds (gorgeous, by the way) have more neck angle than it looks like at first sight-a sign of the cleanness of the design. Compare the height of the strings over the neck P-90 and then over the TOM, and you'll see there's a pretty fair angle there.

    Still looking 'flat' with that angled neck is what I'm referring to as the cleanness of the design-that's probably pretty hard to pull off.

    Larry
     
  11. THRobinson

    THRobinson Member

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    That's what I thought... TOM unless the body routed for it to sit lower, needs an angled neck. If the neck were angled and I used something like a strat trem or that Hannes bridge, I don't think the saddles would go up high enough.

    For my first build... I'll probably go for a bridge like the Hannes... maybe a cheaper similar version though. Again, haven't done woodwork in 22yrs... might make things easier. I have enough Walnut and Ash for about 5 guitar bodies so, it won't be the only one I make. :D
     
  12. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    Yup...

    It's a bit more critical on acoustics and archtops because you have to be concerned about the break angle of the strings over the bridge, and therefore you're concerned about the saddle height...and ultimately about the position and angle of the neck, which will end up looking like it's pointed off into space for archtops until you put the bridge in place. :)

    On electrics, with flat tops, you can generally just make everything flat, and arrange it so that the fingerboard is about even with the top of the body, more or less. YMMV and it pays to take some measurements and/or mock it up first, but with a normal neck, normal fingerboard and normal bridge, you're going to be somewhere in this neighborhood.

    It's really easy to draw it out. The rule of thumb is that when you lay a straight edge across the top of the frets, you want the top of whatever saddle you're using to be about 1/8" higher than the bottom of the straight edge. This will work for any guitar....electrics, acoustics, archtops....doesn't matter. If you can arrange this situation by whatever means you have available, including neck angle, you will end up with a guitar that can be setup to play well.

    I generally just draw it on a large piece of paper, and then measure the angle. You can do it in CAD too, which I've also done, but it's just as easy to draw it by hand.
     
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  13. THRobinson

    THRobinson Member

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    Well, lucky for me, for once my design diploma can be of some use... nice big drafting table for sketching it out, and adobe illustrator for making the final draft, that way I can be really accurate with heights and angles. Sadly no CAD skills beyond basic Sketchup. Debated to learn it but, not a lot of use for it really. Something like this should be ok in illustrator.

    Great thing about the internet... can pick what hardware you want and always some accurate specs on measurements online for them. Can try out a few bridges without having them in-hand.
     
  14. semi-hollowbody

    semi-hollowbody Member

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    if you rout a recess for the TOM, don't u have to do the same for the pups??
     
  15. THRobinson

    THRobinson Member

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    Not sure what you mean... the holes need routed for pickups regardless... just, adjust the screw and lower them more I suspect. I think routing for a TOM would just make the TOM's saddles as low as something like a Strat Tremolo.

    Being semi-related... any recommendations on bridges? That Hannes Schaller one is nice looking, but maybe something similar and cheaper?

    Would a Deusenberg work on a lowered TOM?
     
  16. robertkoa

    robertkoa Member

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    No luthier but down pressure at nut is a good thing for tone transfer and sustain always.
     

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