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neck wood strength-alternatives?

sahhas

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
17,166
i was wondering if anyone has/had explored different types of wood for use in a neck? i've been researching stuff for a while, trying to find the alternatives, and have been looking at the janka hardness scale of stuff and the psi strength. my last guitar project i built a neck that had a sandwich of:
oak/aluminum bar/maple/aluminum bar/oak--it's very chunky, but has been my fave neck, the 2 aluminum bars are epoxied so it's a non-adjustable neck (got the idea when i read that martin guitars were non-adjustable for a long time).
some of the alternatives i've read about:

original danelectros-poplar neck w/ big steel bar in middle (non-adjustable)
new martin acoustic that uses cedar for neck
parkers-basswood w/ carbon glass outside w/ truss.
teuffel niwas use-red alder for neck w/ truss
kleins-solid rosewood no truss rod
some prs have solid rosewood w/ truss rod i think
travis bean-solid aluminum

was curious if anyone knew of other alternatives besides the standard of mahogony and maple
thanks,
s----
www.myspace.com/scotthansen
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=235503632389016121
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5791548553161416906&hl=en
 

Pfeister

Member
Messages
1,586
Cedar and basswood are definitely not good alternatives if you want a strong neck. Cedar has been used on classical guitars a lot, but it's generally a bad idea for steel string guitars, especially if you have heavy strings. I'm sure somebody here will disagree with that, though.

Although, basswood has an absolutely great sound, so if you can reinforce it properly, it could have amazing results(carbon fiber bars would be my pick).

In my experience, poplar tends to warp a lot, but results seem to vary.

Rosewood makes for great necks!
Bubinga works well for necks. It's heavy, but it's sturdy and can look great.
Plain Jane Honduran mahogany still makes for the sturdiest.
I like using bloodwood for necks, personally. It has to be on the right guitar, though, and it has to be very well dried.
Purpleheart works very well, but is VERY heavy.

I've heard mixed results about ebony. I'm actually about to try it for myself on an upcoming build. I'll be sure to post how it goes.
I haven't tried it myself, but I've heard plenty of great things about walnut necks.

There's definitely more. I'm just trying to list what's coming to mind.
 

MarkF786

Member
Messages
1,770
BTW, according to the Niwa's specs, "the new 2-way truss rod supports the neck in combination with a maple inlay". I'd be curious to see how the maple inlay is used. Also, I wonder what special treatment is done to the alder to increase it's strength.

I'm a big fan of Parker's carbon-fiber coated wood necks. They have the resonance of wood with A LOT of rigidity. I'd imagine it takes a lot of expertise to make though.

Mark
 

Route234

Member
Messages
8,948
Im not sure I would say they have "experimented" per say, but if you look at what Alembic has been doing they have been using woods like purple heart and ebony laminates to reinforce their necks. They use a lot of different combinations in their bass and guitar necks.
 

Pfeister

Member
Messages
1,586
Im not sure I would say they have "experimented" per say, but if you look at what Alembic has been doing they have been using woods like purple heart and ebony laminates to reinforce their necks. They use a lot of different combinations in their bass and guitar necks.
Lots of lesser known builders do that. If you browse around luthier forums, you'll see a ton of laminate necks. Most people seem to see at it as just for looks, so they really don't sell. I think a lot of people would think differently about it if they knew what went into making them.

Personally, I think ebony reinforcements are a great thing. I'm in talks with a guy right now who wants a nine piece neck with mahogany, purpleheart, and ebony. I think it'll look amazing.
 

daddyo

Guest
Messages
11,797
Carbon fibre has been used internally in necks as a reinforcement by cutting edge luthiers for some time. Maple (obviously) and agathis are also widely used. The use of a single piece of mahogany as a neck (ala Gibson) will probably end soon with 3-5 pice sandwiches of mahogany and other woods. Framus used to make necks from 30 plys of birch in the 60s. I know purists will call foul and cling to their Historics like ship wrecked sailors to a life preserver but beautiful music will be made on these new instruments and we'll all carry on.
 

donnievaz

Member
Messages
3,566
I like using bloodwood for necks, personally. It has to be on the right guitar, though, and it has to be very well dried.
Purpleheart works very well, but is VERY heavy.
I've never worked with purpleheart but I've worked with bloodwood quite a bit. Is purpleheart heavier than bloodwood? Bloodwood's heavy as hell. I'd have to think it would be pretty difficult to balance a guitar with a bloodwood neck.
 

Pfeister

Member
Messages
1,586
I've never worked with purpleheart but I've worked with bloodwood quite a bit. Is purpleheart heavier than bloodwood? Bloodwood's heavy as hell. I'd have to think it would be pretty difficult to balance a guitar with a bloodwood neck.
They're very similar. The most noticeable difference is their color, actually. Purpleheart might be a bit heavier. I've never compared their weight outright.

I'm working on a guitar right now with a multi piece body made from mostly bloodwood, with a bloodwood neck. It'll be on the heavy side, but not too bad. It'll balance nicely, though. That's one reason I said it needs to be the right body. It also looks weird with some bodies since it's finished color is so much richer than most woods.
 

sahhas

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
17,166
thanks for the info.
the one i forgot is one of ned steinberger's newer bass projects uses
a sandwiching of thin maple w/ graphite reinforcements.
that intrigues me too.
thanks, for all the help!

i will say that when i built my solid rosewood neck-it took FO-ever to shape it-it took me like 3 months, i was just using my hand files of course, and i was able to use my jig saw to get rough size down (was hard to cut though).
so when ever i see a klein w/ a solid rosewood neck-i think-wow there's a lot of work that went into them. they do feel great and sound great also.
again, thanks for the posts and help.
s----
www.myspace.com/scotthansen
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=235503632389016121
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5791548553161416906&hl=en
 

Pfeister

Member
Messages
1,586
will say that when i built my solid rosewood neck-it took FO-ever to shape it-it took me like 3 months, i was just using my hand files of course, and i was able to use my jig saw to get rough size down (was hard to cut though).
so when ever i see a klein w/ a solid rosewood neck-i think-wow there's a lot of work that went into them. they do feel great and sound great also.
I don't know if I'm allowed to post this link, but I'm going to anyhow:
http://www.garrettwade.com/stanley-flat-face-spokeshave/p/11P32ddd01/

The flat faced one will be like your new best friend. It's seriously my favorite tool. It's even useful for carving bodies.
 

alanwf

Member
Messages
35
I have a Warwick bass with a wenge neck that is great. I can't say what specific tones or dynamics it reinforces, as it's the only bass I have with anywhere near the combination of woods, etc. (Swamp ash and bubinga body, flame maple fingerboard, wenge neck) It's also a heavier wood.

I can't help but think that making necks with multiple material sandwiches would produce very rigid, but also accoustically dead (just too much damping) necks. This might be advantageous for an instrument that was designed as "neutral" as possible, but I wonder how much appeal that would have for most of us.
 

blastastick

Senior Member
Messages
394
Modulus did all of this in the 90's. They had Graphite/Fiber cores, with cedar, Spruce, and other tone woods for necks.
 
M

Member 995

new martin acoustic that uses cedar for neck
Cedar and basswood are definitely not good alternatives if you want a strong neck. Cedar has been used on classical guitars a lot, but it's generally a bad idea for steel string guitars, especially if you have heavy strings. I'm sure somebody here will disagree with that, though.
I think builders usually mean Spanish Cedar when they say they use Cedar for the neck. Spanish Cedar isn't actually a cedar.
 

DamianP

Member
Messages
5,870
I can't help but think that making necks with multiple material sandwiches would produce very rigid, but also accoustically dead (just too much damping) necks. This might be advantageous for an instrument that was designed as "neutral" as possible, but I wonder how much appeal that would have for most of us.
I`ve heard many people say the same thing. However my experience is that it`s just not true.

It`s always difficult to ascribe a specific sonic characteristic of an instrument to a particular constructional element and to a degree builders will have reasons why their chosen methodology is superior, but,

I favour guitars that are the exact opposite of neutral or acoustically dead. The best guitars I have in that regard all have 3 piece laminated necks made from disimilar woods.
Not only are they my favourite sounding instruments they have both exhibited incredible stability (No truss rod adjustments needed in 5 years etc).

Are customers interested in such guitars. Of course not. That would be mad!

Damian.
 

BIGGERSTAFF

Member
Messages
7,907
Whatever you use, it's got to be-

A- stable
B- balanced weight wise(you don't want the guitar nose diving from being neck heavy)
C- resonant(and at pleasing frequencies- if it's too stiff, it'll be somewhat bright and harsh sounding)
 




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