Stupid question of the day. Finish then set neck, or set neck then finish?

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

Stupid question of the day. Finish then set neck, or set neck then finish?

Post by Brian Evans »

I'm doing a kind of Les Paul ish tenon neck joint, glued. Straight tenon so fit is critical. I've never done one before, so I can't make up my mind if I set and glue the neck first, then finish, or vice versa. I normally do bolt on necks, so I finish everything first right through final polish then do the final neck fit and bolt it up. I think the more normal order for a glued on neck is attach it, clean it up perfectly, then finish. I can see pretty equal reasons to not do either, but I can't see the big pro's to say do this or do that.

Help?

Brian

Freeman Keller
Posts: 450
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:34 am

Re: Stupid question of the day. Finish then set neck, or set neck then finish?

Post by Freeman Keller »

I have built seven or eight set neck guitars and have always glued the neck on before doing any finishing. There are several things that all come together right at the neck to body joint - the width of the fretboard and neck needs to flow into the body, any binding needs to be dealt with. I use this time to get the neck angle and geometry perfect, I want the neck in place before I drill the mounting holes for bridge and pickups.

The only disadvantages I can see to finishing with the neck on is that (1) it is slightly more awkward and (2) its bit harder to buff in the sharp inside corner. I get around the first by finishing the guitar on its back or top rather than hanging and the second by just taking a bit more time with the buff.

ps - I actually do something else that is different from many builders - I set the neck before I glue the fretboard on - that lets me control the top of the joint and eliminates the possibility of a hump. It also lets me bind and fret the board off the guitar which I feel results in a better fret job,.

Freeman Keller
Posts: 450
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:34 am

Re: Stupid question of the day. Finish then set neck, or set neck then finish?

Post by Freeman Keller »

On the other hand, if you think you will ever be removing the neck then you probably should finish them separately. I know I'll be taking the necks off my acoustics some day, I hope I never have to on an electric.

Christ Kacoyannakis
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:58 pm

Re: Stupid question of the day. Finish then set neck, or set neck then finish?

Post by Christ Kacoyannakis »

I completed two set neck guitars in late 2019, and I finished them after I glued on the neck. My reasoning was that any imperfections in any point of the neck joint could be filled, and sanded. They came out very well.

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