Opinions on 2 piece Center Joined bodies

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by AJ Love, Nov 7, 2005.


  1. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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    I'm interested in this topic as so many Fender CS guitars and Boutique guitars with 2 piece Center Joined bodies sound really great

    Originally Leo Fender almost never joined 2 pieces in the center, they were joined off center or as 3 piece bodies, so that the bridge was vibrating on one piece of wood... this led many folks to speculate over the years that off-center 2 pieces or 3 piece bodies gave the best "tone"... however the CS and other boutique guitars seem to be debunking that myth...

    I'd like to hear the opinions of the luthiers and guitar players who frequent this forum about this subject...
     
  2. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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  3. Vince

    Vince Member

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    I'll jump in.

    IMHO, the placement of the joint or the number of joints doesn't matter. It's the wood used that really matters. Doing a center seam is expensieve and means you have to reject any boards less than 7" wide. Of course, it you have boards wider than 7", you have a riped off piece leftover. Even if the original board was 12" wide, it would'nt make a one piece body, so you'd have a 5" wide piece left, which wouldn't make center seam status for a 12.75" wide tele body. Lot of waste there. Since Leo wasn't one to waste, he just glued up what he had and made it happen. Since those guitars were (and still seem to be) the standard, there was nothing to compare it to to make a quality judgement one way or the other.

    Today we have more wood to choose from and know a lot more about how to select raw stock for certain solid body tones. That's why they sound great. Not the seam placement. IMHO, of course.
     
  4. stratofied

    stratofied Member

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    This sounds logical and there may be something to it but i think it would be difficult to prove.
     
  5. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    Couldn't agree more.
     
  6. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Supporting Member

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    We specify 8" or wider lumber so the glue joint is off to the side. Generally we try to put it through the control cavity minimizing it as much as possible. With a 10"+ wide piece we can hide the joint in the burst or only intersect the lower bout of the body.

    The grain of the wood has everything to do with the way the vibrations/TONE are carried through the wood and the glue joint is an important factor in that. The fundamental piece of wood is the one piece that carries both the bridge and the neck and will determine what the guitar sounds like.

    Nothing looks worse than a center seam with the wood positioned so the grain is running uphill on one side and downhill on the other and I have seen many Fenders like that!

    Now I am not saying a center seam is a bad thing, I have built plenty, but just offering our perspective on the matter in regards to bolt on neck guitars.
     
  7. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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    Thanks for everyone's reply, so far...

    Ian, what are your thoughts on 1 piece bodies? Provided it is a nice piece with nice tight grain, is that "better" than a 2 piece or not necessarily so?
     
  8. hemlock

    hemlock Guest

    I'm not a builder, but I would be willing to bet a fair chunk of change that 99.9999999% of folks cannot hear a difference between one-piece, two-piece, or three-piece bodies. Most probably can't even distinguish among wood species, much less seams. I like a center seam on trans finishes for aesthetics. On painted guitars, I couldn't care less if it was 10 piece as long as it sounded good.

    And the issue is kind of a moot point since, to actually tell whether a center seam would sound better with a particular piece of wood, one would have to glue it up with a center seam and then take it apart and try it offset or as a three piece.
     
  9. redgold

    redgold Supporting Member

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    But: builders are probably the only people who would be in a position to know, assuming they have sampled an adequate number of different groups. With a large sample size, variations attributable to other factors could be minimized. The only real hurdle is personal bias, as the builder would not be blind to groups.

    That's why I think paying more for the smaller builders is worth it. You are paying for their knowledge and experience, not just better materials.
     
  10. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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    Thank you, John Suhr, for your perspective. Much appreciated...

    I've found that, generally speaking, to be true in my experience as well...
     
  11. Scott Lentz

    Scott Lentz Member

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    All of us builders have different thoughts on making bodies and necks, what matters most is how they sound and play. I used 6 ft boards and marked each bodie we cut in relation to the board, they all sounded different from the same board! I use the curve board neck circa 62, a pain in the ass to make but it works for me.
     
  12. hemlock

    hemlock Guest

    That was my point. Wood is so idiosyncratic, that, even among the same species, a butcher block top from one board might sound better than a one piece from another- well, maybe not that idiosyncratic. What matters is whether the player and guitar synch in a way that makes good music.
     
  13. Vince

    Vince Member

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    Swamp Ash Scott? It's amazing how much the density (and weight) of ash can change over the length of the board. That's why I only buy the bottoms of the trees.
     
  14. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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    I asked John Page (former Fender Custom Shop manager and builder) this same question on a different forum and this was his reply (I sincerely hope he doesn't mind me "quoting" him here) ---

    "I believe that Leo was an extremely efficient man. I don't believe that the aesthetic of a center seam was important to him, and I believe that's why there were not too many of them in Leo's day, not because one was better than the other. We (the CS) had to buy and sort wood specifically to center seam, it took a lot of extra time and money. After decades of building hundreds of guitars, and managing the building of thousands, and years and years in research and development, I have not seen (nor heard) any evidence to prove that an off center seam would sound better than an on center seam. I understand the "psychological engineering" of it, but not the reality of it. In my experience, once two or more pieces of wood are glued together, they pretty much act as one, especially same species. From a sructural point of view, most of the stress on the body is sheer, so neck and bridge screws in two pieces of wood vs one is a non-issue. That's my opinion based on years of experience."
     
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  15. Vince

    Vince Member

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    I miss that guy. A lot.
     
  16. Scott Lentz

    Scott Lentz Member

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    Vince to answer your question yes, swamp ash.I used to be able to buy 6 ft. boards from various lumber yards, not any longer!I also use the butt or bottom of the tree in 24 inch sections.Something for thought on the seam, in the old days I believe they did not have alot of faith in caesin glue,They were probably afraid someone would drop the guitar and it would break down the middle! For me it is easier to use big pieces, I have a oversized template with center lines. I mark the centers and pencil in the centerline stencil out the template and were gone!I always liked the look of the 50's guitars, with that big cathedral down the middle!!
     

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