zinc alloy vs carbon steel

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by RvChevron, May 29, 2008.

  1. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    Which one is more heavy duty, rigid and hard??
     
  2. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    In this case, weight and hardness are two unrelated measurements. Zinc (or in the case of guitar hardware, Zinc alloy) is usually quite dense and heavy, but relatively soft. Carbon steel is much harder, stronger material.
     
  3. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    Which one would you recommend for using as inserts into maple neck?

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Thanks!!

    BTW, the carbon steel neck kit costs about twice as more than zinc alloy.
     
  4. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    If you're talking about placing stiffening rods into the neck, then go with steel, graphite, or carbon fiber. The idea is to get the maximum stiffness to weight ratio (insert innuendo here). If this is a custom fabrication, there are other metals such as aircraft-grade aluminum or titatium that would be much lighter than steel, but rather expensive.
     
  5. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    It's just the metal inserts into maple neck of a neck kit. Using bolts to install the neck (strat) instead of just wood screws.
     
  6. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    In this application, you should absolutely go with steel for two reasons: first and foremost, you dont want these inserts to strip out so a softer metal would make little or no sense. Second, Zinc tends to have a duller resonant quality, absorbing more high end than steel. This is far more apparent in trem blocks, but the logic would still apply to some extent since the neck/body joint is a major point of resonance.

    You should also consider getting a thicker neck plate since the machine screws will be able to exert more pressure and can bend a standard neck plate quite easily.

    Where are you getting your neck inserts from?
     
  7. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    Thanks for the answer as I have absolutely no knowledge in this field.

    I've been looking at these two:

    From Onyx Forge in the US, zinc alloy:

    http://www.onyxforgeguitars.com/Insert kit.html

    $25 for 5 zinc alloy inserts and 5 machine screws

    From Mancester guitar tech in the UK, carbon steel:
    http://www.manchesterguitartech.co.uk/hardware.html

    GBP45, that's almost $90 for a super heavy duty 2.5mm thick stainless steel neck plate and 4 carbon steel inserts and 4 stainless steel machine screws. The neck plate is the thickest, 2.5mm is 0.10"!

    You've made it very clear that I should go with the one from Manchester guitar tech. Thank you!!

    Now, I know someone who has installed a neck kit from Vintique and hear absolutely no difference whatsoever.

    I simply think that using inserts and machine screws with thicker neck plate makes for a much better connection/mounting/installation.
     
  8. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    Zinc alloy is also commonly known as "pot metal." Think of toy metal cars like Hot Wheels and Matchbox. Or those EZ Anchor drywall inserts. Those are all zinc alloy. Steel out performs zinc by a country mile in every category except ease of manufacturing and corrosion resistance.
     
  9. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    I think the only solution I like better is the one James Tyler came up with. Of course, there are no after market equivalents that I can find...

    http://tylerguitars.com/index2.html
     
  10. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    i remember when we first started carrying suhr guitars, i asked them why they used plain ol' neck screws instead of the fancy machine bolt thing, and the answer i got was that the regular neck screws sounded better.
     
  11. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    The only justification I know of that checks out is if you travel and could benefit from having your guitar broken down and reassembled.

    I might use the inserts if the hold of the neck screws into the maple was worn out and in question; otherwise I think the existing screws are the better choice. Zinc inserts would not be recommended at all.


    Bubbanov
     
  12. K-man

    K-man Member

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  13. in a little row

    in a little row Member

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    Remember that high carbon steel rusts with exposure to moisture...make sure you are getting high carbon stainless steel
     
  14. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    I'll make sure I get high carbon steel then.

    Thanks for the advice.
     
  15. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    Be sure to read that other thread that K-man posted. It brings up some interesting challenges with installing neck inserts that you should be aware of before you buy anything. Specifically, you should be aware that if you're off by a couple of degrees on any of the holes you drill, the machine screws will not line up properly and therefore won't tighten completely. It gets slightly more complicated because the fingerboard has a radius, so you can't just flip the neck over and expect it to be square to the drill press.

    Just food for thought but a little foresight could save you lots of headaches...

    As the saying goes "there's never enough time or money to do it right, but there's always enough to do it twice."
     
  16. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    Thanks for the advice.

    Rest assure I myself "won't" be the one doing it.

    I'll put this job under the hands of a seasoned luthier/tech.
     

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