"No one will ever notice".....

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Terry McInturff, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. Deed_Poll

    Deed_Poll Member

    Jan 19, 2013
    You make some great points, Terry!

    I think another dimension to this is about what specific things you hold dear.

    My business partner (an engineer) was for a long time trying to convince me to use metal dowels to reference a fretboard to the neck shaft while gluing, entombing them in there, and I just couldn't get behind it.

    In the end I re-engineered my "internal skunk stripe" (like the Gibson design, whatever the proper name is for it) to perform this job instead. This took a long time to get right and increased the time it takes and the stock size and jigging requirements a fair bit. But that's a price I was happy to pay.

    I later discovered that PRS does something similar so I'm sure using metal dowels is obviously a totally sensible and reasonable process to use. I just didn't like it somehow, it felt like I could solve the problem another way without putting pieces of metal in my neck.

    My point is, that's probably an irrational thing for me to think. For heaven's sake, you're playing notes on little bits of metal stuck in the neck! It was only the fact that I got hung up on it, and maybe that was more 'me' than 'it'.

    It became this red-line principle of mine, a hill to die on, that I didn't want to be introducing any new elements. Sure, "no-one will ever notice" applies here! Certainly visually, probably in the sound as well. But I wanted to hold to that principle. And my point is, those little points of principle are quite unique to each person, like little superstitions sometimes.
    ford, Gevalt and Terry McInturff like this.
  2. Deed_Poll

    Deed_Poll Member

    Jan 19, 2013
    Incidentally, I'd be interested to hear what you have to say about this!


    This is what the top underside of one of my hollow or Thinline bodies looks like when I have an arm contour or carved top.

    Fender used a 1/4" top and thinned it (not always carefully!) to 1/8" around the f-hole to give the impression of a thinner top (which would be suitable on a geometrically stronger design like an archtop).

    I do the same thing, but I have the machine match the 3D surface 3mm deeper at a minimal offset around the hole.

    Thing is, I leave 'em like this underneath, machining lines and all, and I don't have the feeling like I'm hiding it out of shame or sweeping it under the carpet. I actually rather like the idea of leaving a little clue to its construction embodied in the object.

    It's easy enough after all to see through a rear route cover or to feel the ridges through pickup and control routes. I wonder whether the 'ribbing' is changing the tone, and part of me hopes it is!

    Is that weird?
    ford likes this.
  3. frankencat

    frankencat Guitarded Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    Tampa Bay
    ^ it's cool. If you are doing something on purpose and you like the results then it's all good. Then the question becomes "will other people like the results?". Personally I design and build what *I* like. But I take into consideration the recipes that have been successful and use that to steer a new design of feature where I want it to go. I don't know how efficient this process is but it works for me right now and people are digging my guitars. So far so good. :)
  4. Terry McInturff

    Terry McInturff 40th Anniversary of guitar building! Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Pittsboro NC
    I adore your post and many thanks for writing it!
    There is indeed a "zen" to this art as with all other arts. I'll bet that you know what I mean. One has to follow the heart...but only when one knows that the heart is well informed. Until then, being a "seeker" is the way to go...as always, never ending in general...

    Yes, the captured dowels that index the fretboard method is used by more than one factory to be sure. I'm not a fan of captured slugs in the neck.
    Like you, I prefer a less invasive way to ensure that the fretboard stays registered 1000% during glue-up.
    May I share my simple method (with apologies to everyone who's paid for my TCM "Neck Recipe Consultation"? It's a minuscule tip compared to the bulk of the information, and so I feel ok sharing)........

    In all honesty this tip is worth easily $1000 USD to every serious builder/reader so...PayPal me LOL!

    1. Buy a box of 3/4" x 18 gauge brads.
    2. Cut the head off of one, this will be your "drill bit". Drill thru a little piece of soft plastic (binding scrap) to use as a "bumper". That way the chuck doesn't mar the wood (altho thats not a big deal...you ARE NOT gluing-on a radiused fretboard, are you???????????)
    3. See the pic.
    4. Clamp the fretboard exactly in-place.
    5. Set the "bumper"/chuck-end as a depth-stop so that you drill 1/8" deeper than the thickness of the fretboard.
    6. Using the 18 gauge "drill bit" drill two holes thru the 1st fret slot, two holes thru the last fret slot, and one hole thru the 9th fret slot.
    The holes are a convenient 1/4" from the fretboard edge, and drill 1/8" into the neck. They are completely hidden by the frets later on.
    7. Tap the brads thru the holes in the fretboard, apply glue, locate the brad points into the neck holes, gently tap home (NO deeper than the pre-drill!), snip the brads off 1/16" above the fretboard surface, and clamp the fretboard to the neck correctly ( that is another story)
    8. When the glue is dry simply pull the brads out
    9. BOOM done
    10. Ive done my last 4000 TCM necks this way, 0% failure.
    11. In leu of $$ you all can send me gifts of recording gear (HINT: Neumann U67...I will accept the reissue... and don't forget the PSU and cables thank you very much)
    12. It takes 5 minutes. Do the math. Done properly it locates your fbd regularly around .005" from perfect with zero defects. Send me that Neumann, team! LOL

    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019

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