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Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

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Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

Postby Brian Evans » Mon Jun 20, 2016 3:34 pm

I have seen spanish cedar recommended for classical guitar necks, but I haven't heard if it is suitable for steel string necks. What do you think? I usually use mahogany or maple, but looking to build a light guitar. I thought it might be an option?
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Re: Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:38 pm

Brian, it works great - I've used it many times.
With all wood, there is variation in properties from stick-to-stick. And punky Cedro can be almost like balsa...
So, make sure you have a good solid, and reasonably dense piece of Cedro before you go for it.
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Re: Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

Postby Doug Shaker » Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:29 pm

Brian, it works great - I've used it many times.
With all wood, there is variation in properties from stick-to-stick. And punky Cedro can be almost like balsa...
So, make sure you have a good solid, and reasonably dense piece of Cedro before you go for it.


Chuck-

Did you add any graphite to the neck to stiffen it?
Did you try to do anything to make the surface of the cedro less prone to surface dents?
-Doug Shaker
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Re: Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Mon Jun 20, 2016 7:04 pm

I've done 3 different "truss" techniques with Cedro on steel string guitars.
1) Carbon fiber reinforcement only - 3/16" x 1/2" bar IIRC
2) Carbon and steel static rod - it's a complex beast that ends up at 1/8" x 1/2"
3) Dual-action rod (I think - I use a curved compression rod now, and I can't remember if I had switched at the time)

I've also used it twice for nylon strung guitars ... no 3!!
Once with no truss, the others had 1/8" x 3/8" carbon bars.

I have not used any special finish to harden the surface. I think all of these necks were FP (one might have been nitro)
Mahogany dents pretty easily as well.

EDIT: Basically, treat it like any neckwood if it is a good, solid piece. I've used basswood for 14-fret 25.4" scale steel string neck, and it was just fine. That neck weighs absolutely nothing.
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Re: Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

Postby Doug Shaker » Mon Jun 20, 2016 7:26 pm

I am going a Port Orford cedar neck and, so far, I am planning a dual-action truss rod to control the deformation of the neck under load and then I am thinking of painting on a coating of low viscosity epoxy to the surface of the neck in an attempt to reduce the its tendency to dent.

This is for a baritone that otherwise would be a bit heavy. I am trying a few things to try to bring the weight down to make it a little more comfortable to use.
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Re: Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Mon Jun 20, 2016 7:50 pm

Doug, keep in mind that just because "cedar" appears in the common name of both woods, they are 2 extremely different trees (species).
That being said, I'm sure a good piece of POC can be used for a steel string neck.
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Re: Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

Postby Alan Carruth » Tue Jun 21, 2016 1:13 pm

Just as lots of brown tropical woods are called 'mahogany' or 'rosewood', so almost anything that smells nice is a 'cedar', whether or not it's botanically related.

I've used cedro for steel string necks several times. If you get a relatively high density piece it works pretty much like mahogany. You might have good results with the lower density stuff on a short scale 12-fret neck.

Softwoods all seem to follow pretty much the same rule relating density and stiffness along the grain. The denser stuff, say with a specific gravity above about .45, will be about as stiff as most mahogany at the same size, and may be less dense.
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Re: Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

Postby Mario Proulx » Wed Jun 22, 2016 12:00 am

Spanish cedar is not a softwood, but a true hardwood, and from the same family as mahogany.

Makes a dandy steel string neck, with just the normal truss rod/reinforcements.


Working it gives me a nasty rash and leads to breathing problems...! Otherwise, it would be my go-to neck wood....
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Re: Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Wed Jun 22, 2016 9:23 am

And the dust tastes NASTY!
How is it that I know? - you ask...
Just the dust that settles on you upper lip while shoe-shine sanding a neck is enough to know.
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Re: Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

Postby Bryan Bear » Wed Jun 22, 2016 11:52 am

I've never used cedro but I do have 1 neck blank in the stash. As a mouth breather, I expect discovering the taste will be unavoidable. It is good to read that it is a go for steel strings; I've been saving it for just the right project and now I know that project could be a steel string.
PMoMC

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Re: Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

Postby Alan Carruth » Wed Jun 22, 2016 2:12 pm

I guess I was not clear: cedro is a hardwood alright. The following paragraph was in reply to the post about using Port Orford Cedar, which is a softwood.
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Re: Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Wed Jun 22, 2016 9:06 pm

I've used Spanish cedar for necks, and Martin used it when they were mostly building gut strung guitars. Some cedro is a little too wimpy for a steel string neck in my opinion. It does vary from board to board so the right piece can work fine, but I can understand why Mahogany became the "go to" wood for steel string guitar necks. If I wanted to build a lighter neck I might still use mahogany, but change the cross section to a deeper , more triangular shape like the old guitars had.
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Re: Spanish cedar for steel-string necks

Postby Lance Lawson » Wed Jun 29, 2016 7:28 pm

Actually Spanish Cedar is my neck wood of choice on 12 fretters and especially Parlor Guitars. A good modern truss rod is more than sufficient to strengthen it.
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