Neck Size & Tone

WineCaster

Supporting Member
Messages
275
I acquired a solid parts-caster a few months ago, you know, one of those guitars where the components seem to be made for each other. The neck on it is huge and fat and tonally sublime... except my hands are small and I can't play it with the swiftness that I'd like to. I bought a Warmoth Pro (bigger more complex truss rod) Clapton neck which is in all ways thinner with less mass but I find it way more playable.

When I installed the Clapton neck I instantly noticed a loss of articulation of notes. They aren't dampened but instead somewhat crowded sounding with a perceived increase in sound output. Conversely, the thick fat neck makes each note sound extremely smooth with character and longer sustain. But again, I can't play the dang thing as well. I'm using Klein Jazzy Cat pickups with a Princeton Reverb 68 Custom. The tones I'm getting with this current combo are everything I've wanted in a Fender setup.

Is it the extra truss rod material of the Warmoth Pro construction? Is it the overall mass of the neck that has caused this tonal shift? What should I look for to find a happy medium?

*The second picture shows the Clapton (Left) and the Thick-Fatty (Right)


 

bek

Member
Messages
1,349
If you can afford another neck, try a Clapton-type made of mahogany. I've heard real good things.
 

VaughnC

Supporting Member
Messages
17,701
In my neck swapping experiments, the voice of a Strat tends to follow the neck.
 

Jack Daniels

Member
Messages
1,869
After making hundreds of necks for folks around the world, I found the folks with the greatest feedback on tone, complexity and fullness were those who had me make larger profile necks. My own experience is the same. The big necks have big sound. Complex and rich overtones, fatness, articulation etc. I supposed there is a point of diminishing returns. Around 1" thick seems to be that point. My favorite neck is a Koa neck that is just about 1" thick at the first fret. It sounds glorious.

Also, most times, once you get used to a larger neck, the smaller ones just seem like a toy. You will find less hand fatigue and cramps with a larger neck. I will say at first I as a bit scared of my 2001 Gibson R8 which has a huge neck. After a few minutes, I forgot it was huge and was enjoying it quite a lot. Each time I picked it up, this was less and less of an issue. I now have played that guitar hundreds of times at gigs over the last few years.
 

Jack Daniels

Member
Messages
1,869
Ps: yes the construction of a neck also makes a noticeable difference. The old style single truss rod is 100x better sounding than a modern double rod which is over 3x the mass.
 

tdarian

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,027
I strongly prefer big necks for reasons of comfort and fit, and the "logic in my head" says a bigger neck will give "bigger tone". As much as I want to believe it, it really doubt that it is consistently the case.

Has anyone ever taken a toneful neck like the OP has and had to trim some of the tone off of it to achieve the perfect fit? Just curious if shaving a neck has significantly altered tone for those who have done it.
 

SPROING!

Member
Messages
8,800
I strongly prefer big necks for reasons of comfort and fit, and the "logic in my head" says a bigger neck will give "bigger tone". As much as I want to believe it, it really doubt that it is consistently the case.

Has anyone ever taken a toneful neck like the OP has and had to trim some of the tone off of it to achieve the perfect fit? Just curious if shaving a neck has significantly altered tone for those who have done it.
I just completed a build. It's a walnut hollowbody with walnut neck.
Originally, I just carved it to a huge 1" thick D shape but found it was just too much. I kept the 1" depth but shaved the shoulders so now it's a V.
I can't really notice any change in the sound, perhaps because I didn't trim the "meat" of it in the center but only the shoulders.

The only conclusion I've drawn is that on my guitar, it didn't change things much. I can extract more change out of a different type of string.

Perhaps the real answer is "Maybe. It depends." Lol.
 

p19978

Member
Messages
1,946
In my neck swapping experiments, the voice of a Strat tends to follow the neck.
My experience as well, tried this on an SRV Strat and wound up sticking with a Warmoth Fatback.

Best part was that I sold the SRV neck for more than I paid for the new Warmoth neck.
 

Stratburst70

Member
Messages
5,515
In my neck swapping experiments, the voice of a Strat tends to follow the neck.
I agree. I bought a 1998 American Deluxe Strat in 2005, mainly because it had Kinman pickups already installed. I was lukewarm on the actual guitar until I swapped out the standard neck - due to a rising tongue - for a Warmoth SRV carve (maple, pau ferro).

The difference before and after was huge. Replacing the neck gave it a massive boost in the mids and an increase in articulation and sustain. It also allowed me to play a lot more aggressively on the guitar, which also helped the sound. It turned the guitar from a "maybe I'll rip out the pickups and sell it for parts" to my #1.

 
Last edited:

mxvin

Member
Messages
1,259
I like large profile necks and the tone is better because I play it better...

thats the real difference
 

gadzooka

Member
Messages
507
In my experience with several Gibsons, the fullest, most "classic" Gibson tone has come from a 2011 model guitar with a 60s slim taper mahogany neck. This didn't surprise me so much as the fact that the profile felt comfortable. What Gibson calls "slim taper" right now actually has a nice, round feel in my hand.
 

27sauce

Member
Messages
35,350
I had 2 '59 Les Paul Juniors for a while, one with a typical chunky neck, and the other with a pretty slim neck. The one with the slim neck was a tad lighter. They often shared pickups, everything from boutique, to japanese, to the original vintage ones, but retained the same tonal qualities throughout. The slim one was louder, more compressed, and the single notes would sustain/feedback quicker, with less control. The fat necked one sounded bigger, more dynamic, and the sustain was smoother.
 

buddastrat

Member
Messages
14,711
Every neck is different. It's wood and resonates it's own way. Find a neck you like the sound of, then size, shape, and fret it the way you want and you'll have happy fingers and ears every time.
 

smallbutmighty

Supporting Member
Messages
9,037
In my neck swapping experiments, the voice of a guitar tends to follow the neck.
Fixed that for you. :)

IME, when it comes to electric guitars the sound is determined by the neck and the pickups.

There are opinions on both sides about Warmoth Pro necks, and necks with double-expanding truss rods in general. I've had a chance to play lots of examples of Warmoth Pro necks, and while I do think that type of construction effects the sound, I don't think it effects it any more than other choices like wood, neck shape, or thickness.

The bottom line for me is that any neck is the sum total of all the design choices: wood, thickness, truss rod design, scale length, profile, fret size and material, etc, etc, etc, and you have to play it to know what you have. Many times it just comes down to the individual piece of wood. I've played identically spec'ed necks that sound pretty different.
 

rockinlespaul

Member
Messages
3,854
After making hundreds of necks for folks around the world, I found the folks with the greatest feedback on tone, complexity and fullness were those who had me make larger profile necks. My own experience is the same. The big necks have big sound. Complex and rich overtones, fatness, articulation etc. I supposed there is a point of diminishing returns. Around 1" thick seems to be that point. My favorite neck is a Koa neck that is just about 1" thick at the first fret. It sounds glorious.

Also, most times, once you get used to a larger neck, the smaller ones just seem like a toy. You will find less hand fatigue and cramps with a larger neck. I will say at first I as a bit scared of my 2001 Gibson R8 which has a huge neck. After a few minutes, I forgot it was huge and was enjoying it quite a lot. Each time I picked it up, this was less and less of an issue. I now have played that guitar hundreds of times at gigs over the last few years.
Absolutely. Big neck=big tone. Imho of course....
 




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