My new neck sits too tight for tone?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Reissueplayer, Jun 23, 2008.

  1. Reissueplayer

    Reissueplayer Member

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    I just had a new Musikraft neck installed on a 62RI Strat. The job was very well done and the guitar got more resonance and sustain. The thing I'm wondering though - the tone also got sharper and less compressed in the treble register. Have you had similar experiences where tightening the neck to the body changes the tone this way.

    I rely a lot on the natural soft compression of a guitar for bluesier sounds. What is your take on this? Should necks really always be installed as tightly as possible or are there other ideas abouts this? How does a guy like Bill Nash attach the necks? Should there be shims in the neck pocket?

    I'd be glad to hear your thoughts and experiences in this field.
     
  2. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    In guitars, there's no "should": you just do what works. I generally think the neck should be fastened pretty tightly to the body. You shouldn't break your wrist tightening the screws, but "snug' isn't tight enough, IMHO. Hand tighten the screws, but don't wimp out, get 'em tight.

    I expect the tone difference is in the wood the new neck is made of. Play it for awhile and let it get some vibration in it before you judge it - most new necks take several weeks minimum to 'break in', and several months is not uncommon.

    I've heard a good Strat that my pal had refinished that sounded bad for many months until the finish really began to harden, and then it 'came back'. New necks can be a little like that too.

    Play it for awhile, it'll soften up a bit. In my experience, after a few weeks the treble will be less strident and less forward.

    Hope this helps, Dana O.
     
  3. wavey63

    wavey63 Member

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    I agree with Dana. The only should is you should try everything you can then decide. I know what you meanabout softness. I had an old Squire from the 80's that I dearly loved. The body had 4 very large cracks in it that ran almost through the whole body. It was not a pretty guitar but it had a fatness that I cannot reproduce on anything I have tried so far. I am certain that it was from the lack of sustain and attack. Just fiddle with it until you find the happy ground. Another thing I do is use a ton of Pledge on my necks and fingerboards. I love that softness the tone gets when it gets "dead". All my friends laugh but they all agree it does sound great. Not a procedure for everyone but just to prove a point about anything can work. Good luck bro!
     
  4. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    A tight neck pocket is desirable for structural reasons as well as tone. From a mechanical standpoint, a solid union between neck and body means that the neck will stay put, keeping everything in alignment. From a tone standpoint, a solid union between neck and body will allow the most energy to transfer between the neck and body. The "compression" you're referring to is more a byproduct of wood resonance, so decoupling the neck from the body is actually counterproductive.

    Dana is right when he says that the neck and neck finish need some time to break in and settle down, especially if it's finished in nitro. I would suggest keeping the neck attached nice and tight and just playing it for a couple of weeks and see if it starts to settle down.
     
  5. wavey63

    wavey63 Member

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    And don't forget how bright new strings can be. I like mine after a week or so.
     
  6. Chris Scott

    Chris Scott Silver Supporting Member

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    +1 on the finish deal.

    It takes a few months or so after a re-spray, but the difference between a freshly sprayed neck (or whole guitar) and one that has begun to cure is really quite remarkable.
     
  7. Reissueplayer

    Reissueplayer Member

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    Thank you all for the enlightening responses. I'll wait for the finish to settle in before I do anything drastical. It's good to know what to expect from changing necks like this.

    In retrospect, being happy with the previous sound, maybe I should have had a fret job done to the old neck instead. You learn as you go along.
     
  8. Vintage-tone

    Vintage-tone Gold Supporting Member

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    to me new neck = new sound...
    I never ever changed a neck on a guitar and got 100% of the exact same sound. It gets close enough if you respect the specs of the old neck ( woods, size, flat sawn or quarter sawn etc etc ) but it s never dead on to me.
     
  9. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Last month I got a cool Fender CS strat, and took the neck off to get to the pickguard (22nd fret) anyhow, I slapped it back together. After playing it for the next few days, the guitar sounded really different. It sounded kind've dead with less punchiness and percussiveness than what I had remembered. It was an expensive strat and I went through a lot of a-b'ing with other strats and just being blown away by it. I really liked this guitar and traded for it because it had a strong punch and percussiveness. The low strings had this powerful resonance that was felt through the body, but it seemed to have disappeared.

    I just figured a new set of strings would bring it back. Well they helped, but I wasn't overwhelmed like I was before. I started to think I made a big mistake and this guitar wasn't all I thought it was. well I remembered there was a shim in the neck, and thought I'll take that out, so I did and I bolted it up nice and snug. As I was tuning up, I started feeling that big power coming through. It was amazing and like it was originally.

    Now I did pull that shim as it didn't need it, minor touch up on the action. But that shim was there originally and the guitar sounded good to me, either way. But I remember being in a hurry when I pulled the neck off the first time, so I'm thinking it was a matter of not really snugging the neck up and tightening the bolts enough to give a solid connection. Anyhow, it was very weird. I"m glad I got it right now.
     
  10. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    i've brought this up before, but what probably happened is the neck was initially bolted on with no strings attached. sometimes you can end up with a slight gap between the end of the neck and the body pocket.

    if you loosen the 4 bolts just a little while strung up to pitch, and then re-tighten, the strings can pull the neck hard into place, "seating" it firmly in the pocket. this will often result in improved tone and sustain.
     
  11. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Well both times, the strings were all the way slacked when I pulled the neck. I just torqued it in there better the 2nd time. But either way, it was completely for the better. And it still sounded good with the shim or without.
     

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