Douglas Fir guitar neck???

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Aron Petersen
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Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:45 pm

Douglas Fir guitar neck???

Post by Aron Petersen »

What are peoples thoughts on guitar necks made from Douglas Fir? I have heard mixed thoughts on using D-fir for necks and it seems like no one has thought it was a good idea to use it for fingerboards. Has anyone had an experience with using D-fir they are willing to share?

Well I ended up building a one peice neck without a trussrod, I glued the frets in (I am thinking this could have been unneccessary). I then bolted my D-fir neck to an old less paul body I had. Ihave been playing this guitar daily for about a month and I am pretty happy with the results of my first attempt.

I am thinking that there is no problem with using D-fir for the fingerboard because the size of frets most people install are tall enough that the strings rarely touch the fingerboard. As far a no trussrod I can see a problem down the road because of string tension, but I am hoping living in the interior of B.C, humidity change won t cause warping too fast.

I am very new to building guitars, I am interested in using softwoods for an entire electric, so if anyone has some experience they could share on using softwoods and how it relates to the playability of their guitar?

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Charlie Schultz
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Re: Douglas Fir guitar neck???

Post by Charlie Schultz »

Hi Aron and welcome to the forum!

Rodger Knox
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Re: Douglas Fir guitar neck???

Post by Rodger Knox »

Douglas fir is definitely too soft for a fingerboard, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it. It will wear quickly, but that may still be a long time before it needs to be replaced. I'd go for a truss rod for sure. For softwood bodies, search the archives for Ellie Erickson. She did quite a few.
A man hears what he wants to hear, and disreguards the rest. Paul Simon

John Hamlett
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Re: Douglas Fir guitar neck???

Post by John Hamlett »

Dick Boak built (or had built?) a guitar, at Martin, all from spruce (the "Spruce Goose"). He used ebony for the fingerboard and bridge, I believe, it's been years since I saw the guitar, but the top, back, sides, and neck, at least, are all spruce. It sounds like a Martin guitar. As far as I can tell, there are no good reasons not to use stiff, hard "softwoods" like D. Fir for necks, other than looks and tradition. I suspect it would not make a long lasting fingerboard that would hold frets well in the long term, though.

Aron Petersen
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Re: Douglas Fir guitar neck???

Post by Aron Petersen »

Thanks for the reply guys. This neck was a test build, I used limited tools(skil saw, rasp, calipers and a rusty old mitre box saw for frets), I wanted to build untill I hit a roadblock. I never thought I would even get to install the frets. I just kept taking my time and I surprised myself with what turned out.

I chose D-fir because I have practicly no experience with woodworking and thought it could be easier to work with than a peice of maple. I was really happy the way it did turn out(although it does have flaws), but I was not sure if I would just be wasting my time continuing using locally available softwoods.

I am really happy to hear anyones thoughts on using D-fir or any other softwoods like lodgepole pine, alpine fir, engleman spruce, hemlock or even larch; but what I would really realy like to hear is peoples very own experience(s) with using these types of wood for electric guitar necks, bodies and fretboards.

Alan Carruth
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Re: Douglas Fir guitar neck???

Post by Alan Carruth »

I think you'll find that a truss rod is a good idea in the long run. Necks don't warp because of humidity changes, for rhe most part, but because of the string load. Wood 'cold creeps' under any sustained load, and the truss rod is there to take care of that. Otherwise, I can't see any reason not to use Doug for a neck.

Alan Carruth / Luthier

Clay Schaeffer
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Re: Douglas Fir guitar neck???

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

To install a truss rod in your already completed neck you could rout it from the back and do a "skunk" stripe as Fender does for their one piece necks.

Aron Petersen
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Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:45 pm

Re: Douglas Fir guitar neck???

Post by Aron Petersen »

For sure I will definetly install a trussrod next build, there was just no router available to me at the time. This build was great to study the process and learn for myself when you should start and finish certain features on the neck. I am not sure I am ready to lay a route without a good squared edge to guide me.

I still am wanting to hear peoples own experience with using Douglas Fir for an entire electric and how happy they were with final outcome?

Michael Sankey
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Re: Douglas Fir guitar neck???

Post by Michael Sankey »

I've been thinking of trying out doug. Fir. It is often stiffer than most of the woods we usually use for necks, though I have read that there is a lot of variation, so you have to pick your pieces carefully.
Like you I'm intrigued by the idea of using more softwoods, mostly to save weight and improve the "feel" of the guitar. I'm just finishing up an electric made almost all out of eastern hemlock. I have also made a whole electric out of spruce and it has worked very well for the few years that I have used it. It was quite lightweight eastern white spruce, so I reinforced the neck with two carbon fibre bars, and it's been very stiff. You must use a truss rod though! No matter what you make your neck out of! Also, the only "softwood" I would even consider considering for a fretboard would be Yew. Of course in BC that should be easy enough to find, especially in fretboard sizes.

Michael Sankey
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Re: Douglas Fir guitar neck???

Post by Michael Sankey »

Just remembered- Ken Parker builds his archtop necks using a core of douglas fir. Of course they also have harder wood wrapped around that, along with some carbon fibre etc, but he knows what he's doing. I recall reading that doug. Fir has better resistance to cold creep that many woods as well, though I also recall being surprised that I could find only one scientific study on the subject.

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