Denser neck wood than body wood

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Paul Rhoney
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:34 pm
Location: Vancouver, WA USA

Denser neck wood than body wood

Post by Paul Rhoney »

I was talking to an acquaintance of mine about guitar woods, recently. He brought up a particular guitar that he owns, made by a luthier with some notoriety. This guitar "sounds pretty unholy" he said. He meant that in a good way. The luthier left an impression on him about one particular building method, that is, the density of the wood in the neck as relative to the body. According to him, this luthier was a strong advocate for having a neck made of a denser piece of wood than the body, even if only slightly, and even if the neck and body were made of the same species of wood.

Now I've done a lot of research on topics similar to this, but this was the first time that I'd heard about this particular concept. Have any of you guys ever thought about this? Does i carry any weight?

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Hans Bezemer
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Re: Denser neck wood than body wood

Post by Hans Bezemer »

I'm not an expert but as far as I know the denser wood for the neck is used to give the right strength to withhold the string tension. "Lighter" (= lower density) wood is used for a body to reduce the weight.
But this should not be a revelation for the most of you...

My first build was from one kind of hard wood (meranti) and it sounded fine.

A question pops up:
Are there guitars build the other way around (using denser wood for the body)?


Jens Moller
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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Re: Denser neck wood than body wood

Post by Jens Moller »

Quite a few 50's and 60's Harmony Guitars, and almost all 50's and 60's Danelectro guitars used poplar for the guitar necks. I have a 1958 Silvertone (made by Harmony) and a 1957 Danelectro U2 that have poplar necks that continue to work fine. Its very light wood.

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David Schwab
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Re: Denser neck wood than body wood

Post by David Schwab »

Lots of guitars have denser neck woods, such as a maple neck and swamp ash body. As Jens said, the opposite is true also, with poplar necks, and even basswood necks, as used on the original Parker Fly guitars. My buddy made a Les Paul Jr with a poplar neck, korina body with an oak top. Great sounding guitar.

gene downs
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Re: Denser neck wood than body wood

Post by gene downs »

I've built necks with hardwoods (maple, etc.) and softer woods (mahogany, poplar, etc.). I used to defend the softer woods. But now I'm not so sure.

Strength, stiffness of the wood has not been an issue for me. But recently, I had a chance to play a couple of guitars I build 15 or so years ago, one with a long, thin mahogany neck and the other had a poplar neck (both with rosewood fingerboards). I noticed that both *necks* were much more resonant than I was used to hearing. And not a good sort of resonance. I don't know how that resonance would affect the amplified tone, but I didn't like the effect it had on the un-amped tone.

I'm going to have to reassess my opinion on this issue.

Jairo Eduardo Suarez Gallardo
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Location: Bogotá D.C., Colombia.

Re: Denser neck wood than body wood

Post by Jairo Eduardo Suarez Gallardo »

I've been using multilaminated neck with hadwoods, and combining hard and not so hard, and i like the sound of the hard wood necks, for me it is crispier and with more sustain. My clients like it, and if clients like it, I like it too. ;)
Jairo Eduardo Suárez Gallardo.
Industrial Designer / Luthier

James Tonguet
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Location: Duluth,Ga

Re: Denser neck wood than body wood

Post by James Tonguet »

I've made several with hard rock maple/ebony necks and softer bodies like Alder and Swamp Ash . So far it has worked well . I especially like it for basses .

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