Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Please put your pickup/wiring discussions in the Electronics section; and put discussions about repair issues, including fixing errors in new instruments, in the Repairs section.
User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Peter Wilcox »

After several years, I thought I'd try my hand at an acoustic guitar again (besides resophonics.)

Back, sides and neck are mahogany, top and headstock veneer spruce, bridge osage orange, fret board Honduran rosewood. It differs significantly from the usual build in that it has a solid body type neck pocket and heel, a Smallman type adjustable neck (and an overly large head block to accommodate), double X bracing, flying buttresses, a zero fret and straight pull to tuners. The head stock inlay is a Mexican 5 peso coin.

It has some cosmetic defects, as do all my builds, but if I live long enough I may make a perfect guitar some day. :)
top1.jpg
back.jpg
side-view.jpg
heel-strap-button.jpg
headstock.jpg
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

Bob Francis
Posts: 541
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:28 pm

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Bob Francis »

Really nice!

User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Peter Wilcox »

A few more pics.

Bracing.
CF-struts.jpg
Neck assembly. The Allen screw adjusts the neck angle, accessed through the hole in the fret board. The striker plate is the 3rd drywall screw. String tension holds the neck in place.
neck-assembly.jpg
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

User avatar
Bryan Bear
Posts: 1278
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:05 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Bryan Bear »

Cool!
PMoMC

Take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you.

Steven Wheeler
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:52 am

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Steven Wheeler »

Nice neck adjust Peter. My initial attempt at this was similar to yours but for some reason I couldn't work out the hinge to my satisfaction. You make it look simple. In the end I found some brass hardware and accomplished the same thing in a different manner.
My only worry with the system is that in time the end of the neck may "ski ramp" but the three I've built ranging from 2 to 10 years old show no signs of deformation. I skipped the intonation adjustment after the first one as it became apparent that it was unnecessary.
I like that massive neck block coupled to the UTB. I've added that detail to my standard neck guitars also.

Here's a couple of pics of the original during the build. Action adjust is the same as yours and intonation I adjusts through the soundhole just below the trussrod.
Attachments
430.jpg
429.jpg

User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Hi Steven. Your design looks like it is very stable due to the metal parts which I assume fit fairly tightly together. I think part of the reason mine works well is because of the tight fit laterally of the neck into the pocket. I have to force it in and it easily stays in position without any strings on. I could adjust the intonation a small amount by putting a shim in the groove in the neck, or by adjusting the position of the retaining block that is screwed into the pocket. I'll hope the neck doesn't ski ramp, though a small amount shouldn't cause any problems.

The neck block is made of oak, as it was the strongest wood I had available. However, it is heavy, and for future builds I will pare it down and use a lighter wood - maybe alder, since I have plenty of it. I like that it includes the UTB, but will also make that lighter since the CF buttresses should take a lot of the stress off the upper bout.

If you (or anyone) has any suggestions on how to improve this, please post.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Finished another one of these: Mahogany neck, back and sides; spruce top; headstock, rosette, bridge, bindings spalted something (don't know what); Honduran rosewood fret board. I know bridges shouldn't be spalted, but this is a pretty solid piece of wood (time will tell.) Cheap UST and mic with preamp in the side (I know a lot of folks don't like this, but it was cheap and convenient) with blend, and sounds pretty good.

I love the adjustable neck - I can tune the action in perfectly to suit my playing style (light fingerpicking), and should never need a neck reset.
top.jpg
back.jpg
oblique.jpg
oblique-back.jpg
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Peter Wilcox »

A few more pics:
hradstock.jpg
bridge-rosette.jpg
heel.jpg
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

User avatar
Karl Wicklund
Posts: 165
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:42 am
Location: NW Wisconsin
Contact:

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Karl Wicklund »

I really like the spalted whatever. It ties especially well between rosette and bridge.
Kaptain Karl

Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1558
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Nice looking guitars Peter,
Adjustable necks kind of grow on you. One side affect of the travel guitar design I use is that the action is adjustable if some relief is added to the neck pocket. It uses a single socket head cap screw to attach the neck and adjust the angle. String tension acts as the counter force.
I'm pretty sure it would work with a glued down fretboard extension if a little head space was allowed at the top of the pocket.
Attachments
siz 2 action 1.jpg
siz 2 action 1.jpg (73.1 KiB) Viewed 4828 times
siz 2 action 2.jpg
siz 2 action 2.jpg (67.8 KiB) Viewed 4828 times

Matthew Lau
Posts: 515
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:03 am

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Matthew Lau »

I really like your joint Peter.

Can I copy/use it on a future build?
I'll be building an acoustic bass guitar with nylon string.

User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Hi Matthew - it's not really my design, just sort of a modification of the Smallman neck, without the usual heel (which I decided was unnecessary structurally), so help yourself. Some people are probably offended by the lack of heel - I think it helps reach the upper frets if no cutaway. Good luck with the build!

Here's the link where I found some pics (courtesy David Schramm) and a diagram of his neck (about halfway down): https://www.classicalguitardelcamp.com/ ... 4&start=15
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

Max Dickinson
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2020 1:47 pm

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Max Dickinson »

That's beautiful, I love the adjustment in the heel block, so easy to use. This is really similar to the adjustable neck that I use.

User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Peter Wilcox »

I've finished another. This one's a cutaway, kelobra back, sides and headstock veneer (I didn't pore fill), spruce top, mahogany neck, Honduran rosewood fret board and bridge, maple binding, marquetry top purfling, maple and walnut rosette, JJB-330 pickup. It's my first cutaway, and my first fret board and headstock binding.

The kelobra bent pretty easily - the only build problems were installing the pickup piezos on the bridge plate (lots of swearing, but I finally figured it out), and some too-small metal bridge pins. I drilled and tapered the holes for the pins, only to find that they were too small for the string ball ends when I went to string it up (more swearing). I had to increase the size of the holes from 11/64 to 3/16, and now the pins were too loose. I had some plastic pins on hand that fit the new holes.
kelobra-top2.jpg
kelobra-back.jpg
kelobra-heel.jpg
kelobra-rosette.jpg
kelobra-headstock2.jpg
Yes, that's an Indian head penny.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

Carl Dickinson
Posts: 67
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:38 pm
Location: Forest Ranch, California

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Carl Dickinson »

Nice one, Peter!

Brian Evans
Posts: 920
Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:26 am
Location: Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Brian Evans »

I'm at the "finalize the neck fit and start finishing" stage of a build, and I may very well modify the joint based on your ideas. I love the idea of an adjustable neck, and using string tension to keep it together. My favorite neck joint is the Howe-Ormes arrangement, and while yours is completely different it really reminds me of that simple idea. Very nice guitars!

Mark McLean
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2017 3:51 pm

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Mark McLean »

Dear Peter and other contributors. Thanks so much for sharing your designs and experiences with the adjustable neck joint - and the other innovations you have adopted in these builds. I have also recently been building with flying buttress CF rods, zero fret and various forms of bolt-on and bolt-down necks. I have also built one with a heel-free pocket neck like yours, I also own a Taylor Big Baby with that design, and I am a big fan of that idea. What I have not yet done is to try an adjustable neck but I have been investigating lots of different approaches to this. I have looked at (but not actually built) the Howe-Orme, Stauffer and Mike Doolin designs. However, I am converted to the idea that you have demonstrated. The additional information and pictures from Stephen Wheeler and David Schramm are invaluable. I think I have enough information and inspiration to get started - but don't expect results from me any time soon. I build slow!

User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Glad this thread was of help, Mark. Let us know what you come up with.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Well, this is the last of the four adjustable neck acoustic/electric dreadnoughts I started a long time ago. It's been a real learning experience, and reinforces my knowledge that I'll never make a perfect guitar. This one has Australian lacewood back and sides, and taught me that I'll never bend or finish this wood again. The wood is scalloped, the grain goes every which way, and filling it would have taken a quart of epoxy and added weight to the guitar. The cutaway side broke in half when I bent it - it was an interesting but far from perfect repair. I also need to be more careful preparing the purfling ledges, and 0.01" is too thin - any variation is readily apparent (at least in my builds.)

The guitar has a spruce top with some bear claw figure, bindings are lacewood but probably another type (from a different board), bridge and fret board are Osage orange, rosette is lacewood, osage orange and ebony with the same marquetry purfling as the top (from LMI), and the pickup is JJB 330.
lacewood1.jpg
lacewood-back1.jpg
lacewood-side.jpg
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Acoustic/electric dreadnaught, adjustable neck

Post by Peter Wilcox »

More pics.
lacewood-top.jpg
lacewood-head-stock.jpg
lacewood-neck-side-purfling.jpg
lacewood-end-graft.jpg
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

Post Reply