Routing tenon/neck heel for Firebird Non Reverse confusion

Neverwhere

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633
I have a set of templates for a Firebird Non Reverse (the "non neck through body Firebird") and I am currently starting the build on the neck and I am a bit perplexed how to approach this (it has turned out to be lot more complex than a Les Paul type set neck).

The neck has a 3 degree angle, routing the neck pocket for the tenon is straight forward but I need to rout a matching angle into the neck, would I approach this the same as how to rout the neck pocket on the body, except flip the neck so I place the template on the underside of the neck for routing? :dunno

The neck doesn't have a big cavity where the entire thing slips into and there is no routing of a matching angle like with a Les Paul type construction, a portion of the neck and fretboard are glued to the stop of the body, which is where the angle matching has to occur, getting this matched precisely with consideration to the heel area is quite intimidating... Anyone have experience building this sort of neck construction for advice? Anyone know how these guitars were made in a production enviroment? The only thing I can think of to match certain joints in areas of this construction would be using tedious hand chiseling, which doesn't make any sense to me considering these were a budget line for Gibson back in the day.

I suppose I could just have a gap under the fretboard like how Gretsch guitars are made, but that seems sloppy, at least for this.


I have some pictures of a beater Burny Firebird NR to illustrate and the templates-







 
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Terry McInturff

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@Neverwhere ....are you confident that you could make your own accurate routing template for the body?

If so, I would suggest that you at least consider changing the style of neck joint to one which mimics what is IMO the best solid body neck joint that Gibson ever made...that to be found on the single cutaway Les Paul Junior.

Why is this better?
1) Relatively EZ to design and to generate
2) A whopping amount of glue joint surface area prior to the neck pickup route, where it counts the most.
3) EZ to dial-in the neck pitch.

Technically, this is a mild dovetail joint, not a strict mortise and tenon, but we can use the terms mortise and tenon, no problem.

As you may know, with this design the tenon is the same width/taper as the fretboard. And so, when it comes time to generate that tenon, you have a slotted but not radiused fretboard glued onto a partially carved neck. Then, using either a shaper or even a routing table, the excess wood either side of the fretboard edge is shaved away. Of course, the sides of the tenon must be checked for/corrected for square..very square. And so no template is 100% needed for generating the tenon, but I'd advise making one that allows the tenon to extend beyond the end of the fretboard for even more surface area.

A template must be made for the mortise of course. Obviously the mortise must be exactly in line with the body centerline (duh).

If go this route (pun intended) you'd want to mod the body shape at the neck joint a tad, in order to have enough body wood at the start of the mortise in order to capture and conceal that part of the tenon. No biggie!

The neck is carefully fitted via sanding the walls of the mortise, and when it seats all the way down, you angle the bottom of the tenon in order to get the perfect bridge height the end.

If you decide to stick with the existing design/templates, you'll still want to manually sand the angle on the bottom of the tenon....as well as the cheeks of the heel (so they exactly mate to the body side). When that angle is checked for accuracy, you'll then need to make a couple of mahogany wedges that fill-in the gap betwixt fretboard/body.
 
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Neverwhere

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633
Hi Terry-

The problem with the Les Paul/LP Jr. type neck joint is that there is a portion of the firebird body on either side of the neck at the joint which swoops up pretty sharply, there's a much more gradual blending in on this than a LP, so if I routed a pocket like that on a LP/LP Jr, I would run out of material/become incredibly thin along the neck (from how I envision it)...or I suppose I could end the body at the 17th fret instead of how it goes to the 16th and do away with the slim tenon entirely?

I had though about just using shims under the fretboard...thanks for the input.
 

Terry McInturff

40th Anniversary of guitar building!
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Messages
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Hi Terry-

The problem with the Les Paul/LP Jr. type neck joint is that there is a portion of the firebird body on either side of the neck at the joint which swoops up pretty sharply, there's a much more gradual blending in on this than a LP, so if I routed a pocket like that on a LP/LP Jr, I would run out of material/become incredibly thin along the neck (from how I envision it)...or I suppose I could end the body at the 17th fret instead of how it goes to the 16th and do away with the slim tenon entirely?

I had though about just using shims under the fretboard...thanks for the input.
Yes indeed, as I mentioned previously you'd need to slightly mod the body shape at the neck join to accommodate the LP Jr style joint.
 

Dave Weir

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1,273
@Neverwhere ....are you confident that you could make your own accurate routing template for the body?

If so, I would suggest that you at least consider changing the style of neck joint to one which mimics what is IMO the best solid body neck joint that Gibson ever made...that to be found on the single cutaway Les Paul Junior.

Why is this better?
1) Relatively EZ to design and to generate
2) A whopping amount of glue joint surface area prior to the neck pickup route, where it counts the most.
3) EZ to dial-in the neck pitch.

Technically, this is a mild dovetail joint, not a strict mortise and tenon, but we can use the terms mortise and tenon, no problem.

As you may know, with this design the tenon is the same width/taper as the fretboard. And so, when it comes time to generate that tenon, you have a slotted but not radiused fretboard glued onto a partially carved neck. Then, using either a shaper or even a routing table, the excess wood either side of the fretboard edge is shaved away. Of course, the sides of the tenon must be checked for/corrected for square..very square. And so no template is 100% needed for generating the tenon, but I'd advise making one that allows the tenon to extend beyond the end of the fretboard for even more surface area.

A template must be made for the mortise of course. Obviously the mortise must be exactly in line with the body centerline (duh).

If go this route (pun intended) you'd want to mod the body shape at the neck joint a tad, in order to have enough body wood at the start of the mortise in order to capture and conceal that part of the tenon. No biggie!

The neck is carefully fitted via sanding the walls of the mortise, and when it seats all the way down, you angle the bottom of the tenon in order to get the perfect bridge height the end.

If you decide to stick with the existing design/templates, you'll still want to manually sand the angle on the bottom of the tenon....as well as the cheeks of the heel (so they exactly mate to the body side). When that angle is checked for accuracy, you'll then need to make a couple of mahogany wedges that fill-in the gap betwixt fretboard/body.
Terry, I like your thinking on this and am considering using this Jr type neck joint for a design I'm working on. Do you know how wide that little lip is under the neck? I'd go measure but but everything is closed. It looks like maybe 1/4" in the pictures. Some Gibson Jr's not seem to have a lip at all. I don't think that would work for me.
 

Terry McInturff

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Messages
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Terry, I like your thinking on this and am considering using this Jr type neck joint for a design I'm working on. Do you know how wide that little lip is under the neck? I'd go measure but but everything is closed. It looks like maybe 1/4" in the pictures. Some Gibson Jr's not seem to have a lip at all. I don't think that would work for me.
Not sure what you mean by "that little lip", Dave. The sides of the tenon are flush with the fretboard side= no lip. Perhaps you are referring to the "tongue" of tenon that's longer than the fretboard and which protrudes into the body (hidden under a pick guard in the case of a Junior). I don't have my bench logs with me at the moment and so cannot check the length those; maybe, 1.5"???
 

Dave Weir

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In this picture, it's the are to the right of the neck, The cutout is not flush with the neck. Some are like this.


Others appear to be flush on the side, like a regular Les Paul.
 

Dave Weir

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Kind of like this. The cut away doesn't come up flush to the neck like on a strat. I think this gives the neck a bit more stability. Just wondering what the approx. thickness of the ledge is.
 

Dave Weir

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huh!

makes me suspect the top one has the kick-butt big square block like terry mentions wile the other one has a smaller two-pickup LP-style tenon



vs

Yeah, I’m more interested in the top one. I don’t see any point going that deep. Then either I waste a whole bunch of neck wood or glue a heel block on. But really my question is how thick is wall on the left in the top picture? Too thick would get in the way, too thin and it might blow out. Maybe 3/16”?
 
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larry1096

Member
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1,350
Yeah, I’m more interested in the top one. I don’t see any point going that deep. Then either I waste a whole bunch of neck wood or glue a heel block on. But really my question is how thick is wall on the left in the top picture? Too thick would get in the way, too thin and it might blow out. Maybe 3/16”?
I've only made one guitar with a 'lip' like you're discussing, Dave, and my approach may or may not have been the right one-it did, however, work...so take this for what it's worth:
I was also concerned about blowing out the 'lip', so routed the body but left that area almost untouched; it was rough cut, but left ~3/4" of meat there. AFTER I'd set the neck, I used the spindle sander to reduce it down to a realistic depth; this seemed (and proved to be) fairly simple, and certainly safer than trying to rout a cavity with that narrow side.

Larry
 

Terry McInturff

40th Anniversary of guitar building!
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
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Yeah, I’m more interested in the top one. I don’t see any point going that deep. Then either I waste a whole bunch of neck wood or glue a heel block on. But really my question is how thick is wall on the left in the top picture? Too thick would get in the way, too thin and it might blow out. Maybe 3/16”?
Sure, something like 3/16 and you'll be fine.

Fitting that type of joint takes a bit of finesse. You'll be opening-up the mortise by sanding the walls. Count your strokes, take equal amounts off of each wall and keep them square. The right fit is hard to describe, just past the "squeaking" stage. You'll not blow out the treble side wall if you don't force the neck down before its ready.

BTW thx for posting that pic of a TCM! Id forgotten about that one. The tenon on that one extends beyond the fretboard into the body to just shy of the middle of the P90 route.
 

Matt Novak

Member
Messages
1,142
For what it's worth, I built a 9/10th scale NRFB recently, and I took a similiar approach - I disregarded how it 'should be done' and went with a much simpler neck join:

 




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