Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Freeman Keller » Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:49 am

You are probably getting sick of me chiming in on every one of your posts, tell me to shut up if its not helpful. I did put the Nashville style bridge (small inserts) on the guitar and crank it all the way down - the top of the middle two saddles is 0.625 off the top. The bridge that I have is not the original Gibson part, it is marked Korea on the underside and may well be the same bridge that Mighty Might sells (note the grumbling in the StewMac comments about the quality). There is a good chance I will be replacing this if my customer agrees. Unfortunately, StewMac does not show the dimensions for the Mighty Mite bridge.

I have a set of StewMac plans for a standard Lester and I drew a line on top of the fret and measured to the top - 40/64th. That plan shows an early style ABR-1 (without inserts). Its not completely obvious if the frets are the middle or edge of the board as shown.

Lastly, as I said, I have built three guitars with the "modern" Gotoh style bridge with the big inserts (and one with a Gotoh roller bridge) and have used 5/8 for the center string height on all of them. When I'm setting the neck angle I just put the bridge on little pieces of wood that simulate the studs and adjusters and shoot my fret line to that height. Not saying that is the right number, just saying that it has worked for me.

Image

Image

Image

Also, in my opinion, the shape of the top doesn't matter in this discussion - what we are looking for is a starting geometry that will give you enough range of adjustment to get a playable action, which for me is about 0.060 to 0.080 at 12, 0.012 to 0.016 at 1, and 0.004 or so relief, and some adjustment either way.

edit to add, that last picture is kind of interesting - note that I've had to do the over the top wrap on the stop bar to get the string angle low enough that the strings don't hit the frame of the bridge. I could also have cranked the stop bar up a lot higher but for some reason I decided to do it this way. You probably also know that may Juniors had the one piece wrap around bridge.
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Steve Sawyer » Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:29 pm

Freeman Keller wrote:You are probably getting sick of me chiming in on every one of your posts


Not at all, Freeman - I'm enjoying the discussion. I have so much to learn that I soak up everything like a sponge, even if it's something not immediately useful.

But you are making me go back and find better ways of measuring the bridge height. This attempt should be the nuts! :) AND, it's showing that I was still off a bit, but it's coming up now at .549.

I used a granite reference plate, a height gauge zeroed out on a .500" setup bar. I placed the pointer parallel to and flush up against the back of one of the center two saddles, then gradually raised the pointer until I could just barely slip a piece of 0.010" E-string through the saddle and under the pointer. The dial read .059, so subtracting the diameter of the guitar string and adding the height of the calibrating setup bar, I get the .549.

Applying the trig again, this shows a required neck angle correction of only .118 degrees - too small to measure.

And thanks for pointing out the issue illustrated in that picture - I might have to do the same!

Bridge Height.JPG
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Freeman Keller » Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:08 pm

You show me yours, I'll show you mine. What you are doing is dead on and I'm not questioning it, but here is my poor little Lester. I'm not sure how the pictures will come out, but here is the problem with the neck that I can't fix. I may or may not try to fill the gaps, I've done a pretty good job of hiding all the other damage.

IMG_4432-2.jpg


My guitar has the small inserts (your ABR-1 bridge does not) They stand 0.050 proud of the top. Btw I am doing all my measuring with a digital caliper, reasonably accurate but there is some variance in the reading and I have not calibrated it against anything known (like a drill rod or similar). Lets say its within 0.005

IMG_4427-2.jpg


Here is the cheap Korean bridge with the adjusters screwed all the way down. They stand tall of the top at 0.150, the total height to the middle saddles is right at 0.625

IMG_4430-2.jpg


And here is what really scares me about the whole geometry of this guitar. I think I can raise the bridge high enough but its going to be marginal

IMG_4431-2.jpg
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Steve Sawyer » Wed Apr 04, 2018 11:21 am

Wow - that's an ugly situation. I'm having trouble picturing exactly what the cause of this separation is. It would seem that the FB or neck shaft would have to be warped, either of which could play hell with trying to get the action right and getting it playable.

Would it be practical to make a shim to go under the bridge? You'd have to pull the inserts, fabricate a shim (a piece of ebony would be nice and minimize any acoustic degradation), probably dowel the existing insert holes, then glue on the shim and re-drill for the inserts.

Also, the thought occurred to me last night that when I get to fitting the neck, I might just experiment with facing the outside edge of the wedges under the FB with some binding. It might look too "chunky", but worth playing with. I'm anticipating a bit of "chunkiness" in the binding at both the neck/body and neck/headstock transitions anyway (see pics below), and this suggests that edging the wedges with binding might work ok.

Binding At Neck.JPG


Binding At Body.JPG
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Freeman Keller » Wed Apr 04, 2018 12:10 pm

Steve Sawyer wrote:Wow - that's an ugly situation. I'm having trouble picturing exactly what the cause of this separation is....


The guitar was dropped and split right down the center of the heel and into the tenon. The neck popped up out of the pocket. The owner "fixed" it by putting some polyurethane glue, which as you know, expands as it cures. That pushed the neck up out of the pocket (I doubt that he clamped it). I made a half hearted effort to get the neck back out but decided that it was going to be impossible. If its going to stay in place and the geometry isn't too bad I can make it play (again).

IMG_4393-2.jpg


IMG_4395-2.jpg


IMG_4404-2.jpg


That second and third picture shows something that happens with a carved top LP and binding which kind of relates to your question. All of the body on a Lester drops away to the same thickness (1/4 inch) at the "recurve" all the way around the body except in the cutaway, where it is quite a bit thicker. The binding is quite a bit taller there to fill that gap, it drops away on both sides. On my home made guitars I made the binding go up and back down in that area, it worked OK with plastic but would be impossible with wood binding.

I built an archtop a while back that needed a wedge under the fretboard. The neck was mahogany so thats what I used for the wedge. Everything else on the guitar is maple, including the binding. The f/b, bridge (floating ToM), pickup rings, head plate, pick guard are all rosewood. I'm kicking myself for not making the neck and wedge out of maple also - even tho its tinted with the amber finish the neck and wedge just don't look right (and it bugs me when I play it)

IMG_3562-2.jpg
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Steve Sawyer » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:28 pm

With a sapele neck and pommele sapele veneer on the body and probably a rosewood FB, I may encounter a similar contrast problem as the neck (and presumably the wedges) would be typical reddish brown, but the veneer is much darker, more of a deep chocolate brown.

That Lester you're working on is a hot mess. Even when doing some kind of construction project, I think long and hard before using that poly glue. Sticks great, but really nasty stuff!!
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Dan Smith » Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:36 am

Steve Sawyer wrote:Wow - that's an ugly situation. I'm having trouble picturing exactly what the cause of this separation is. It would seem that the FB or neck shaft would have to be warped, either of which could play hell with trying to get the action right and getting it playable.

Would it be practical to make a shim to go under the bridge? You'd have to pull the inserts, fabricate a shim (a piece of ebony would be nice and minimize any acoustic degradation), probably dowel the existing insert holes, then glue on the shim and re-drill for the inserts.

Also, the thought occurred to me last night that when I get to fitting the neck, I might just experiment with facing the outside edge of the wedges under the FB with some binding. It might look too "chunky", but worth playing with. I'm anticipating a bit of "chunkiness" in the binding at both the neck/body and neck/headstock transitions anyway (see pics below), and this suggests that edging the wedges with binding might work ok.

The attachment Binding At Neck.JPG is no longer available




The attachment Binding At Body.JPG is no longer available


That’s Epiphone binding. Gibson binding is not chunky at the headstock. If you are facing the headstock with a thin veneer, you can add a ramp on the neck to add space for binding. As far as the wedges, I still recommend sanding the top of the body near the neck to match the neck angle so the fretboard is flush with the top of the body. Just some thoughts I had. Also, on a Gibson, the bottom edge of the top body binding is parallel to the bottom of the body. That’s why it is thick at the cutaway.
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Apr 05, 2018 11:47 am

What I'm not getting about your recommendation, Dan, is that with the geometry of a flat top, sanding the top will, at best, only make the top parallel to the FB, not close the gap. Sanding or planing an angle on the body would require setting the neck lower into the body. I suppose this could be done, but from what I've seen this is usually done after carving the top, and is a bit of a cut-and-try process. I'd have to do this with the body blank before veneering, and allowing for the finished veneer thickness. Because I'm chambering the body, my plan was to veneer the top cap and glue up the body before cutting the body shape and neck pocket, further complicating an attempt to shape the body to match the angle of the underside of the FB.

As to the headstock/neck binding, I am veneering the headstock, (with a 0.070" multi-ply sheet, if that qualifies as "thin") so you're suggesting that I increase the thickness of the headstock to allow routing for the headstock binding that would not also take material from the neck shaft and vice-versa? Hope I explained that well. Can provide a drawing if not.
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Dan Smith » Thu Apr 05, 2018 1:42 pm

Gotcha Steve,
.070” is a good thickness for the head veneer.
I typically use .02” thin veneer and add the little ramp.
Yeah, I would not try to bend the veneer over an angle on the top. Sorry, I understand what you are doing now.
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Apr 05, 2018 2:16 pm

Dan - sorry, posted this not realizing you'd already replied, but I think it still helps to clarify my understanding of the point I think you were making...

---
Dan - having trouble making sense of the drawing in the page that you posted. The pic below illustrates the geometry of an LP neck, fingerboard, nut and headstock. As you can see, this has the line of the BOTTOM of the neck binding intersect with the line of the TOP of the headstock binding right at the headstock break angle just behind the nut. This gives rise to the "chunky" binding in that pic of the Epiphone. To eliminate this, the face of the headstock (including any veneer) must be raised to bring the BOTTOM of the headstock binding ledge up to intersect with the bottom of the neck binding at the same point.

I've drawn in some dotted lines to show what I think you're suggesting, adapted to this geometry. Because this would add an additional .130" to the neck thickness (and I'm pulling these numbers out of my butt, so might be more than I need to make an appropriately-sized headstock binding) I would actually shift the headstock upwards (not changing the angle, just retaining an appropriate thickness) to allow the bottom of the neck binding and the bottom of the headstock binding to meet.

I hadn't yet gotten around to asking this question as I don't own any guitars with a bound headstock, but some advice re a suitable thickness for the headstock binding is appreciated. I have some .040" binding material put aside for this.

From a practical standpoint, I can add some additional sheets of veneer to the piece I have for the headstock. Right now it's one layer of the pommele sapele to match the stuff I'm using for the body, backed via vacuum clamping with two sheets (alternating the grain direction) of birch veneer. If an appropriate thickness for the binding is only .070" then the existing stack will be good. If the recommendation is for, say 0.100", then I'd add one or two more sheets of birch veneer to bring the stack up to that thickness, glue it to the headstock, then rout just deep enough to notch the veneer stack to create a binding ledge.

Neck-Headstock Binding.png
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Dan Smith » Thu Apr 05, 2018 5:03 pm

.070 may be fine. You want to make sure the headstock surface is below the bottom of the nut slots.
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:24 pm

Dan Smith wrote:.070 may be fine. You want to make sure the headstock surface is below the bottom of the nut slots.

Good point. Shouldn't be a problem. The bottom of the nut slots should range from .185 to .237 (3/16 FB radiused to 12" and bottom of nut slots ~0.050" from the FB) above the headstock without accounting for the veneer.

Thanks Dan!!
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Freeman Keller » Thu Apr 05, 2018 9:05 pm

You can use about any thickness of wood on the headplate - I commonly use a cutoff from the sides or back to keep a theme going. You can buy small pieces of different woods from any of the supply houses. Its a little more difficult to do a back strap since that usually has to be bent and worked into some sort of volute. With 60 or 70 thousands head plate I typically make it butt up against the nut (a decision is always whether to put the nut on the flat or the angled part of the head).

The most important thing is to make your head the correct thickness for the tuners you want to use - 0.575 to 0.585 seems common but check your tuners. I do lots of slot heads - those are quite bit thicker to fit the tuners.

I often bind my heads in the same materials as the bodies (and necks) which is usually 1/4 inch wood or plastic. I like to put a contrasting purfling line on both sides of the binding - it all depends on what I'm doing on the body, A lot of times the head binding will come up under the nut and intersect the f/b binding. Here are a few ideas

That archtop - rosewood headplate that matches f/b, pick guitar, bridge and p/u rings, bound in maple with a rosewood line

Image

0.025 rosewood backstrap

Image

The Les Paul thing with the spanish cedar top. Headplate is spanish cedar, rosewood binding to match the f/b and other trim. Rosewood truss rod cover - still not sure if I like it

Image

Ebony on a 335 to match the f/b and other trim. Cream plastic binding. Ebony truss rod cover

Image

The OM I just finished. Cocobolo cutoff from the back, coco binding, maple purfling

Image

A slotted head, koa with maple trim, dark purfling line

Image

here is the back of that neck - it is a 3 piece laminate (I almost always do scarf joined heads, thought I would try something different)

Image
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:26 pm

Thanks for the pictures, Freeman. I'm already way over my head on this build, so I'm NOT going to do purfling! :) :roll: I was thinking the other day that I have enough of this sapele veneer to do a back strap if I wish.

This thread is starting to drift into headstocks and binding, but I'll leave it to the moderators to decide if this should be split off into another thread...

Interesting that you mention you usually do a scarf-joint w/volute. In the drawing I posted above in my conversation with Dan, you'll note that my plan is to scarf so that the joint is under the facing veneer on the headstock, and it also shows the outline of a possible volute. What has me a bit concerned is where that joint will show on the volute, and whether to a) make the volute part of the headstock blank, b) part of the neck shaft blank or c) glue it on as a separate piece after gluing up the scarf. I note that the picture you show of the rosewood back strap shows NO joint on the volute at all, so I'm wondering if that one was not scarfed. I've included another drawing below that may clarify the issue.

Neck Blanks with Volute.png
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Freeman Keller » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:59 am

I think the only person who should be concerned about thread drifts is you - its your questions that started it and its your design and build. Certainly if you want to start another thread on head design you could do that. There also have been some pretty long discussions on neck construction at the other lutherie forum.

I started doing scarfed headstocks (and stackied heels) a long time ago - it seemed to be far less wasteful of wood and a much stronger head than sawn necks. I've made everything from very short scale length to baritone 12 strings, I make paddle head and slot heads. I just like multi piece necks.

I make a lot of traditionally inspired acoustics, most of them slothed headstocks and I just think the traditional Martin "dart" volute looks "correct". I realize that it originated with the style of joint used back in the '30's and now is mostly ornamental, but maybe it does add a bit of strength to the joint. So, when I do an old timey slot head I add the dart.

I literally do add it - when I lay out the pieces for the joint its a little add on. Here is a set of plans for a slotted head guitar with the neck pieces cut and laid out as they will go together - the the little hunk of wood under the head joint

Image

That gets carved into the dart

Image

I don't really make a volute on my paddle heads, however I'm really aware of the weaking by the truss rod access hole (if there is any way to put the adjuster somewhere else I do it, but on a Lester or 335 or an archtop it pretty much needs to go in the head). When I built the archtop I had just finished repairing a twelve string with a broken head, I had used a 0.070 back strap to reinforce it and I just thought "why not put one on the archtop?". That guitar really doesn't have a raised volute of any kind, the backstrap just blends into the neck. Its mostly cosmetic but I hope it adds a little shear strength.

While we are on the subject of built up necks, there are two ways to do the scarf. You can either put it on the end of the neck stick or the bottom - it makes a difference how you cut the pieces and how you jig them up. I've done both, think that end is slightly easier and stronger (was extensively discussed at the other forum). Here is a slothead on the end and paddle on the bottom

Image

Image

I'll add one more thought about building necks (and for that matter bodies) - think very carefully about the sequence of assembly and making all the different cuts. I try to maintain square edges as long as I can for reference on my router table (truss rod slot) and band saw (all the cuts to make the tenon). This goes back to your threads about body and neck angles - you can make almost all of the tenon cuts on a band saw and only the cheeks will be at an angle. Do everything you can square to a fence.
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:41 pm

Freeman Keller wrote:Do everything you can square to a fence.


Absolutely!!

I had no idea what I was doing when I built my Tele, but that was a decision I made early on, and made for a much more confident, trouble-free build.

Thanks for those pictures! Putting the scarfed headstock on the end of the shaft might be a better way to go if for no other reason than the piece of stock I have for the neck is just barely long enough to put it on the back. Good to know that a separate piece to carve the volute is acceptable.
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:42 pm

Freeman - it looks like you cut the slots before you assemble the neck - good idea. How do you cut them? I've done mine with a jig saw (after assembly), always with trepidation that the blade is going to drift.

Sorry for the detour, Steve.
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Freeman Keller » Fri Apr 06, 2018 1:13 pm

Peter Wilcox wrote:Freeman - it looks like you cut the slots before you assemble the neck - good idea. How do you cut them? I've done mine with a jig saw (after assembly), always with trepidation that the blade is going to drift.

Sorry for the detour, Steve.


Absolutely, it is infinitely easier that way. Basically I cut the piece that will be the head off at whatever angle I'm going to use (normally 16 degrees because I've built some jigs). Plane it to thickness (minus the headplate and veneers). I just drill out most of the waste with a Forstner bit, if you want square corners use a small diameter bit. Here is that same neck from the other pictures

Image

Clean out the slots with whatever tools you think best (I have clamped a guide on and used a small router but a rasp and sandpaper work pretty well)

Image

Glue the head on, route the t/r slot and do the rest of the shaping

Image

I usually glue the headplate on after I've done the basic shaping and then use the the head to guide my little router. If I was going to bind the headstock I would route the channel at this time)

Image

I also ramp the slots after the headplate is glued on. A really cool effect is to put a thin veneer of light wood or fiber under the dark headplate - it makes a neat line inside the slot and at the ramp. Didn't do it on this guitar because I was trying for the least fancy effect but I do it on almost all the other slots.

Image

Last step is to drill the tuner holes. I put a block of wood inside the slots and carefully level the head under the drill press

Image

I did a 12 string slot head a while back and made a drilling jig to maintain hole spacing (btw, that is a scarfed neck too, I haven't finished shaping the transition from head to neck). Also it has the light veneer under the rosewood headplate that I mentioned earlier)

Image

Now back to your regularly scheduled Les Paul build.........
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:59 pm

Peter Wilcox wrote:Sorry for the detour, Steve.


No problem, Peter - I've been thinking about how I was going to saw and rout the headstock, and Freeman's reply makes a good argument for the scarf joint under the FB. Shaping the headstock is much easier before gluing to the shaft.
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Re: Neck joint - LP body, flat (not carved) top, neck angle and FB support

Postby Peter Wilcox » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:12 am

Thanks Freeman - that's very helpful.
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