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Wood for 3-piece archtop neck?

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Wood for 3-piece archtop neck?

Postby Eric Knapp » Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:51 pm

Hello,

I'm looking through my wood stack for pieces to build a 3-piece neck for an archtop. The issue I'm seeing is that my wood is all really thick. I always bought flat and rough-sawn 6/4 and 4/4. I have lots of maple, walnut, and cherry like this. What's a good approach for making necks starting with wood this thick? I found a nice piece of maple and another of beautiful curly cherry that are planed to 1 inch thick. It's seems like a waste to plane it further. I can think of many ways to use this wood but I am looking for what experienced folks might do. Any thoughts?

Thanks,

-Eric
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Re: Wood for 3-piece archtop neck?

Postby Randy Roberts » Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:35 pm

Your flatsawn will magically become quartersawn glued up as a three piece neck.

One thing to not do is to make your center piece of the glue up the same width as the slot you will cut for the truss rod. If these two are the same width, once you finish shaping the neck, you will have precious little glue line where the truss rod presses , and you are vulnerable to the wood cold creeping under the truss rod and "growing" a bump on the neck a couple years down the road.. [ DAMHIKT ]
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Re: Wood for 3-piece archtop neck?

Postby Alan Carruth » Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:46 pm

I look for a piece of flat cut wood somewhere around 6/4 or 8/4 thick and 8 inches or so wide. The closer it is to the outside of the tree the better; you want as little curve to the ring lines as possible. Most important, the 'crown' of the ring lines should be right in the middle of the board. You want to be able to rip in in half along the length to the cut faces are vertical grain and the glue-up is tall enough to make the heel plus whatever overstand (height above the edge) you want. If the crown of the grain doesn't run right down the middle, rip it at the angle that makes the grain along the cut really vertical. This usually eliminates any runout. Join the two pieces so that the ring lines are arranged so: ))))|((((. This will be much less likely to peel loose at the edges than gluing it this way:((((|)))). If you want a veneer or three down the middle that's nice; just don't make them too thick unless they don't have much curve to the ring lines.

It's usually easy enough to find wood like this;, I can often find nice curly maple in the 'shorts' bin at the local hardwood place at a discount. This makes a very stabble neck, since any wiggle in the grain lines will be mirrored on the opposite side, which balances the stress. It helps to get both halves to the same thickness before you glue them, as it makes it easy to get the truss rod slot centered.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Wood for 3-piece archtop neck?

Postby Brian Evans » Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:52 pm

Are you doing a 7 string neck as you mused upon? If so, neck weight is an issue. for sound and playability, a walnut or mahogany neck is probably preferable to maple. A three or five laminate neck is stunning visually. A three piece figured maple neck is heavy but also stunning. The neck is obviously a visual interest part of the guitar, but also functional. Epiphone used maple laminates but stained very dark so you couldn't see the wood.
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Re: Wood for 3-piece archtop neck?

Postby Eric Knapp » Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:55 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:I look for a piece of flat cut wood somewhere around 6/4 or 8/4 thick and 8 inches or so wide. The closer it is to the outside of the tree the better; you want as little curve to the ring lines as possible. Most important, the 'crown' of the ring lines should be right in the middle of the board. You want to be able to rip in in half along the length to the cut faces are vertical grain and the glue-up is tall enough to make the heel plus whatever overstand (height above the edge) you want. If the crown of the grain doesn't run right down the middle, rip it at the angle that makes the grain along the cut really vertical. This usually eliminates any runout. Join the two pieces so that the ring lines are arranged so: ))))|((((. This will be much less likely to peel loose at the edges than gluing it this way:((((|)))). If you want a veneer or three down the middle that's nice; just don't make them too thick unless they don't have much curve to the ring lines.

It's usually easy enough to find wood like this;, I can often find nice curly maple in the 'shorts' bin at the local hardwood place at a discount. This makes a very stabble neck, since any wiggle in the grain lines will be mirrored on the opposite side, which balances the stress. It helps to get both halves to the same thickness before you glue them, as it makes it easy to get the truss rod slot centered.

Hope this helps.

That sounds like a good way to use thick pieces and ends up as essentially a 2-piece neck, not counting any veneer. I'm making a 7-string neck so I need a little bit more width for that. I'm also using my favorite string spacing from my Johnny Smith archtop. This results in a wider neck but I have some nice figured maple that's 2 3/4" thick. It has the crown of the grain right in the middle and is wider than 8". I'd like to have something down the middle, maybe three thin veneers.

Thanks, this is most helpful.

-Eric
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Re: Wood for 3-piece archtop neck?

Postby Eric Knapp » Sat Jun 11, 2016 10:00 pm

Brian Evans wrote:Are you doing a 7 string neck as you mused upon? If so, neck weight is an issue. for sound and playability, a walnut or mahogany neck is probably preferable to maple. A three or five laminate neck is stunning visually. A three piece figured maple neck is heavy but also stunning. The neck is obviously a visual interest part of the guitar, but also functional. Epiphone used maple laminates but stained very dark so you couldn't see the wood.

Yes, I'm making a 7-string, multi-scale neck. Why start easy, eh? Walnut? I have tons of walnut. I'll have to see if I can find something out there in the pile that grabs my attention. I am used to maple necks, though, all my archtops have had them. My best guitar is a Gibson Johnny Smith and I'm using it as the model for my neck. Still, the idea of a walnut neck is very interesting, especially if I used some of the figured walnut I have. Hmm, so many possibilities.

Thanks,

-Eric
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Re: Wood for 3-piece archtop neck?

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Sat Jun 11, 2016 10:38 pm

Cherry is also a very nice wood to work with. Like maple, it doesn't need grain filling, and t carves easily.
I just built a neck with cherry, and walnut veneer.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Re: Wood for 3-piece archtop neck?

Postby Eric Knapp » Sat Jun 11, 2016 10:56 pm

Gordon Bellerose wrote:Cherry is also a very nice wood to work with. Like maple, it doesn't need grain filling, and t carves easily.
I just built a neck with cherry, and walnut veneer.

Oh, man. I have almost as much cherry as I do maple. I pulled a nice cherry board off the wall today that was left over from a big drafting table I made for my architect dad long ago. It's very light in color and beautifully curly. It might make a wonderful neck. I'm already breaking so many conventions for a jazz guitar I might go even farther. :D

Thanks,

-Eric
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