PDA

View Full Version : One-piece necks vs. more-piece necks


Pages : [1] 2 3

Ivob
03-14-2012, 06:05 AM
i don't know much about necks, but what I have read so far in some articles about guitars there prevailed a opinion that compound (laminated) necks are more stable than one-piece necks. If it's like that why some (maybe major) high-end guitars have laminated necks? some builders even postulate it as an advantage in the specifications of their guitars. it's quite logic that one-piece wood is probably more susceptible to change than compound piece...

PWoolson
03-14-2012, 07:22 AM
you are correct, laminated necks are MUCH more stable than one piece necks. The reason that big manufacturers don't make them? Time. It takes a lot of time to lay up the lamination as taking a lot of time to mill the materials to proper thickness. Then there is a lot of waste when finished. The big guys think about the bottom line.

Ivob
03-14-2012, 08:05 AM
i've checked some builders' website, e.g. all the lakewood guitars have one-piece necks, and the guitars are quite expensive and are considered to be high-quality instruments... even one custom builder here in our country makes one-piece neck guitars for his high-ends. but the term "high-quliaty guitars" is evidently a relative term... :confused:

PWoolson
03-14-2012, 08:51 AM
i've checked some builders' website, e.g. all the lakewood guitars have one-piece necks, and the guitars are quite expensive and are considered to be high-quality instruments... even one custom builder here in our country makes one-piece neck guitars for his high-ends. but the term "high-quliaty guitars" is evidently a relative term... :confused:
Not at all. Some VERY high quality guitars have one piece necks. It doesn't make them any better or worse. Your original question was about stability and laminated necks are more stable. The flexibility of one piece necks can have desirable traits for some musicians as well.

Ivob
03-14-2012, 09:21 AM
can't imagine that the flexibily of the neck can be desirable. in what ways? altered tunings?

Aaron Smith
03-14-2012, 09:36 AM
My experience building Strats and Teles from parts has shown me that the neck's mechanical properties have a HUGE affect on the guitar's tone. With electric guitars, I believe that effect is at least as big as the choice of pickups. I would imagine this also makes a profound difference to the sound of acoustic guitars.

The neck's properties determine a lot about the guitar's frequency response, sustain, etc. I had a telecaster with a huge 50's style neck. That guitar was about as lively as a cinder block when I got it. I put a regular old made-in-Mexico neck with a lower profile on it, totally transformed the guitar.

People love to oversimplify by saying things like "stiffer necks sound better", but there are no hard fast rules. As Paul pointed out, laminated necks are definitely more stable and most often stiffer than one-piece necks. Whether or not they sound better is an open issue.

Kent Chasson
03-14-2012, 10:42 AM
First, I'm assuming you are not talking about true plywood necks like Martin uses in some of their cheaper guitars.

As for necks with 3-5 laminations, I have never seen anyone prove that laminated necks are inherently more stable than solid wood. It is a huge assumption that the laminations will equal out all the stresses. And unless one uses a non-water based glue, it's quite easy to introduce stresses during the laminating process.

I'm sure a good builder like Paul has figured out how to do it well but there is absolutely no way to say that one approach is more stable than another. The wood selection and care in construction is way more of a factor than whether a neck is laminated or not.

cjd-player
03-14-2012, 10:58 AM
Guild D-55's have always been made with 3-piece necks; traditionally mahogany-maple-mahogany. When Fender moved production to New Hartford, CT they also changed the design of the guitar slightly. One of the changes was a switch to mahogany-walnut-mahogany for the three piece necks. During a factory tour they told us that the reason for the change was because historically there were occasions of differing seasonal movement between the maple and mahogany laminations, and the neck surface would become uneven. Reportedly, the walnut and mahogany move more similarly. So to me it seems that argues against a laminated neck being more stable only by virtue of the fact that it is laminated.

Laurent Brondel
03-14-2012, 11:43 AM
My experience building Strats and Teles from parts has shown me that the neck's mechanical properties have a HUGE affect on the guitar's tone. With electric guitars, I believe that effect is at least as big as the choice of pickups. I would imagine this also makes a profound difference to the sound of acoustic guitars.I totally concur with you on the effect of neck material and dimension on a Fender style guitar. I suppose that a solid body has such a limited acoustic power output that the neck plays at least equal role with the body.
However, it is much less obvious on an acoustic. I've used a handful of different woods for necks and fretboards and the tonal contribution is much more subtle.

Otherwise I am with Kent on this one. I build with both solid and laminated necks and see no advantage using one or the other. Laminating necks allows me to be a bit more adventurous with decoration, and to use beautiful stock that would otherwise be too small for one piece necks. I laminate with a polyurethane glue, so no water.
Assuming the timbers are beyond well seasoned, have straight grain and no runout, both solid and laminated will be stable. I haven't noticed any difference in stiffness either, that is more a function of the particular piece(s) of wood used. Mahogany varies in density and stiffness, so does maple.

tdq
03-14-2012, 12:39 PM
Could a laminated neck potentially have issues with truss rod adjustments?

Wade Hampton
03-14-2012, 12:54 PM
After Aaron wrote:

Originally Posted by Aaron Smith
My experience building Strats and Teles from parts has shown me that the neck's mechanical properties have a HUGE affect on the guitar's tone. With electric guitars, I believe that effect is at least as big as the choice of pickups. I would imagine this also makes a profound difference to the sound of acoustic guitars.

Laurent replied:

I totally concur with you on the effect of neck material and dimension on a Fender style guitar. I suppose that a solid body has such a limited acoustic power output that the neck plays at least equal role with the body.

However, it is much less obvious on an acoustic. I've used a handful of different woods for necks and fretboards and the tonal contribution is much more subtle.

That's been my experience. There's some tonal effect from the neck on acoustic guitars, but it's nowhere nearly as important as on a solid body electric.

Same thing with tuning gears. What tuners you put on may or may not have a noticeable effect on an acoustic guitar, but on an electric even a slight difference in the mass of the tuners will have an impact on the tone.


whm

PWoolson
03-14-2012, 01:27 PM
As Paul pointed out, laminated necks are definitely more stable and most often stiffer than one-piece necks. Whether or not they sound better is an open issue.

That's what I was getting at...pure physics states that a laminated beam is always stiffer and stronger than the same sized beam of one piece of wood. (assuming there is no flaw in the gluing process) Forest Products Labs tests this kind of stuff all the time (indecently , they are just blocks from my shop).
So yes, if I put one of my necks against an identically sized neck of solid mahogany, the mahogany neck would break first, though that would be under hundreds and hundreds of pounds of force. Not likely an issue in guitar building.
I'll argue the stability issue as well. Unless you have perfectly straight grain with no runout, (not very likely) a solid piece of wood will inherently want to twist or bend. Now, the way I laminate is to flop-bookmatch each cut so that the forces are counteracting each other. I have no way of testing something like stability, but common sense says that this situation would be more stable than a single piece of wood with even a slight bit of varying grain.
As to tone: I'll never preach which is better. My laminated necks are a factor in why my guitars sound the way they do. Kent's solid necks are a factor in why his guitars sound the way they do. Again, neither is better or worse, just different in this regard.

ljguitar
03-14-2012, 02:39 PM
Hi folks...

Here's a laminated neck that runs through the headstock, and after 19 years still straight, and works fine with truss rods.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5209/5277278615_f643f0955f_z.jpg

wrench68
03-14-2012, 03:04 PM
Laminated necks are stiffer than one piece, and therefore have higher resonant frequencies. How they sound in your guitar is depenedent on how the neck's tone integrates with the rest of the instrument. I find the natural frequency of mahogany necks to be around A3, and laminated mahogany necks at A4, but at much lower amplitude. Seagull's maple necks are around middle C, and a Seagull Folk in C-Wahine tuning feels like it's going to explode right your hands.

In my personal collection, the only guitar I have with a laminated neck sounds more clear to me through its entire range. All my guitars with one piece necks (no customs, all mass-produced) leave a little mud puddle in their sound signatures. As for physical stability, my laminated neck needs a minor truss rod adjustment at the same time as all the others. For sound, I am a BIG fan of laminated necks. I am not builder, but I would think the lack of tonal interference from a laminated neck would really let a builder's voicing efforts shine through. If some builders actually voice the box to accommodate the neck frequecy, then that is some very mad science, and I salute you! :D

rschultz
03-14-2012, 03:14 PM
It's a proven fact that laminations are stiffer than a solid piece. It's also good lutherie practice to have a scarf joint (http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://ultimate-guitar-building.com/wp-content/uploads/Headstockjoint.gif&imgrefurl=http://ultimate-guitar-building.com/preparing-the-neck-scarf-joint/&h=317&w=530&sz=16&tbnid=Yj1D0SJe9R33rM:&tbnh=75&tbnw=126&zoom=1&docid=0if7in9Rb0M4vM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=vvtgT-vJNMbUgAfagumGCA&ved=0CFsQ9QEwAw&dur=373) at the head. As suggested before, most big builders just use a solid piece and hog the neck out of that. My new $2000 Martin PA has a 1 piece neck.

Michael Watts
03-14-2012, 03:19 PM
I prefer a one-piece neck from both an aesthetic and feel point of view. The neck on my Kostal Mod-D is further strengthened by CF rods running through it

http://i655.photobucket.com/albums/uu274/michaeldwatts/Kostal%2032/206.jpg

http://i655.photobucket.com/albums/uu274/michaeldwatts/Kostal%2032/204.jpg

Kent Chasson
03-14-2012, 04:13 PM
...
I'll argue the stability issue as well. Unless you have perfectly straight grain with no runout, (not very likely) a solid piece of wood will inherently want to twist or bend. Now, the way I laminate is to flop-bookmatch each cut so that the forces are counteracting each other. I have no way of testing something like stability, but common sense says that this situation would be more stable than a single piece of wood with even a slight bit of varying grain.


You say "I have no way of testing something like stability" but in your earlier post you say "laminated necks are MUCH more stable than one piece necks".

How can you be so emphatic if you can't test it?

You also mention book-matching pieces to even out the stresses. It is a huge assumption that stresses will be even. How do you know that? If you are using wood with internal stress, how do you measure it to know that one side is equal to the other.

I am more comfortable starting with wood that is essentially perfect, virtually no runout and no evident internal stress. I just don't see how you can get more stable than that.

I have no doubt that you get fine results. But you are not justified in saying your laminated necks are more stable than my solid wood (3-piece) necks.

murrmac123
03-14-2012, 04:34 PM
I am slightly puzzled by why it would make any difference whether you laminated a neck up using water based glue, or an alternative (which would presumably be polyurethane based).

I can see that there could, "conceivably" , be an issue with gluing the fretboard down to the neck using water based glues, there could "conceivably" be a back bow issue, but I don't see how this would be an issue in the original neck lamination.

Kent Chasson
03-14-2012, 05:20 PM
I am slightly puzzled by why it would make any difference whether you laminated a neck up using water based glue, or an alternative (which would presumably be polyurethane based).

I can see that there could, "conceivably" , be an issue with gluing the fretboard down to the neck using water based glues, there could "conceivably" be a back bow issue, but I don't see how this would be an issue in the original neck lamination.

The water in the glue gets absorbed by the pores in the wood and causes it to expand. If everything expanded equally, it would not be a problem but it doesn't. It expands only on the face that glue is applied to and causes distortion or warping. When the glue sets, this distortion can be built into the wood as tension.

This is an extreme example. Here's a spruce cut-off from a top. It's pretty flat and stable.

http://www.chassonguitars.com/images/images_agf/no_glue.jpg

Here is the piece 30 seconds later with glue applied to one side. If I were to laminate that to another piece of wood, there would almost certainly be tension built into it when it dried.

http://www.chassonguitars.com/images/images_agf/glue.jpg

Laurent Brondel
03-14-2012, 05:25 PM
Laminated necks are stiffer than one piece, and therefore have higher resonant frequencies.
It's a proven fact that laminations are stiffer than a solid piece.

I have to disagree 100% here. Laminating 2 or more pieces of mahogany will not make a neck stiffer than a similar density mahogany 1 piece neck. Nor will it change the taptone frequency of the neck, this is absurd.
However, if you choose for your laminations denser/stiffer woods along mahogany, sure it will affect stiffness and resonance. But then, it's a different neck material.
My laminated mahogany necks have not been stiffer than the 1 piece ones.

I am slightly puzzled by why it would make any difference whether you laminated a neck up using water based glue, or an alternative (which would presumably be polyurethane based).
I can see that there could, "conceivably" , be an issue with gluing the fretboard down to the neck using water based glues, there could "conceivably" be a back bow issue, but I don't see how this would be an issue in the original neck lamination.The same way water can provoke a backbow while gluing the fretboard, gluing laminations with a glue containing water has the potential to twist the neck.
That being said I glue my fretboards with hot hide glue and have never had the backbow issue. I leave the clamps over 12 hours though.

RussB
03-14-2012, 06:00 PM
Aren't ALL acoustic guitar necks laminated? You have to glue on a fret board, no? That makes 'em at LEAST two-piece.

There are solid-body necks made with an integral fretboard, but even they have a "skunk stripe" to cover the truss rod

wrench68
03-14-2012, 06:20 PM
I have to disagree 100% here. Laminating 2 or more pieces of mahogany will not make a neck stiffer than a similar density mahogany 1 piece neck. Nor will it change the taptone frequency of the neck, this is absurd.
However, if you choose for your laminations denser/stiffer woods along mahogany, sure it will affect stiffness and resonance. But then, it's a different neck material.
My laminated mahogany necks have not been stiffer than the 1 piece ones.

The laminated neck I tested has a rosewood strip between two pieces of mahogany. I did not measure stiffness, I measured natural frequency. The natural frequency of this neck is twice that of a similar mahogany neck with no lamination. Ergo, the laminated neck is stiffer.

I failed to specify the makeup of the lamination under the assumption that laminated necks are always made of multiple species. Wrong? Maybe, but I would say absurd is a little harsh.

Since there is no change in stiffness or frequency when laminating mahogany to mahogany, why do you do it? That sounds absurd.

Laurent Brondel
03-14-2012, 06:36 PM
The natural frequency of this neck is twice that of a similar mahogany neck with no lamination. Ergo, the laminated neck is stiffer…/…Since there is no change in stiffness or frequency when laminating mahogany to mahogany, why do you do it? That sounds absurd.You are assuming a lot with your first statement, what you call "natural frequency" could perhaps be indicative of density, but not stiffness. As for the question, I wrote this earlier in the thread:
Laminating necks allows me to be a bit more adventurous with decoration, and to use beautiful stock that would otherwise be too small for one piece necks.
As in this:

http://i719.photobucket.com/albums/ww191/lbrondel/b4ang.jpg

http://i719.photobucket.com/albums/ww191/lbrondel/b4hd2.jpg

Or this:

http://i719.photobucket.com/albums/ww191/lbrondel/0c822419.jpg

And even this:

http://i719.photobucket.com/albums/ww191/lbrondel/036/02cd0892.jpg

Dr. Jazz
03-14-2012, 06:42 PM
I have a 1936 Epiphone Emperor with a 5 piece neck (see avatar) that is ruler straight after nearly 80 years. Maple, Ebony, Maple, Ebony, Maple.

wrench68
03-14-2012, 08:13 PM
You are assuming a lot with your first statement, what you call "natural frequency" could perhaps be indicative of density, but not stiffness. As for the question, I wrote this earlier in the thread:

As in this:

http://i719.photobucket.com/albums/ww191/lbrondel/b4ang.jpg

http://i719.photobucket.com/albums/ww191/lbrondel/b4hd2.jpg

Or this:

http://i719.photobucket.com/albums/ww191/lbrondel/0c822419.jpg

And even this:

http://i719.photobucket.com/albums/ww191/lbrondel/036/02cd0892.jpg

Absolutely beautiful! Actually, I was pretty sure you had good reasons to build as you do. I meant no disrespect by my comments. Mischief, maybe, but disrespect, no. ;)

Regarding the relationship between stiffness and natural frequency, however, I made no assumptions, and I must hold my position. Increased stiffness does indeed increase natural frequency. The basic formula for the natural frequency of a beam includes stiffness as a variable. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_frequency

I will admit I have only three years of guitars under my belt (and could certainly learn a great deal more), but before that, I had three decades of vibration analysis (of machinery) and engineering. I've seen a natural frequency or two, and even manipulated some - usually by changing stiffness.

noledog
03-14-2012, 08:33 PM
I can only speak from my experiences in that:

1) the 5-piece neck on my Lowden has been one of the most stable necks I've ever used. Playing outside in Florida even directly on the beach and the St. Johns River I've never had tuning or any other issue. I mean being out there for hours in the fall and in the summer, in fact I'll be on Vilano Beach in a few weeks and while some of my bretheran have had issue with their necks this ol' Lowden that I've played since the late nineties has been solid.

2) I have to say tho the one-piece neck on my 75 Guild D-25m also held up just as well and that puppy was outside a ton when I played in the streets and all the way to crazy temps all over Ecuador from the Andes to the shores of Guayaquil and even in lite rain!

3) Last summer I played outside and inside on a cruise ship in the W. Indies and had issues with my one-piece Gold series Avalon neck swelling, my capo saved me! :D But I love Avalon guitars and their upper end series have the 5-piece necks. If I ever get another guitar it will most likely be an Avalon A32c with the 5-piece neck.

So maybe its both the build and the multi-piece.

noledog

PWoolson
03-14-2012, 09:19 PM
You say "I have no way of testing something like stability" but in your earlier post you say "laminated necks are MUCH more stable than one piece necks".
Touche'!
Well, I came up with that base on the FACT that it is more stiff (laminated beams have been tested ad nauseum). Therefore, stiffness usually transfers to stability. (a more stiff top doesn't move as much as a more loose top)

You also mention book-matching pieces to even out the stresses. It is a huge assumption that stresses will be even. How do you know that? If you are using wood with internal stress, how do you measure it to know that one side is equal to the other.
Kent, ALL wood has internal stresses of one sort or another. No, I don't grab pieces with radically uneven grain and runout. But no matter how perfect the piece appears, it will have some internal stress.
I also said I flop-bookmatch the pieces. That way if there is any grain deviation, I can aim that toward the center line, and the other piece will also diverge toward the center line.
If you can come up with a head-to-head test, I'd be more than happy to make a neck for the test.

PWoolson
03-14-2012, 09:22 PM
I have to disagree 100% here. Laminating 2 or more pieces of mahogany will not make a neck stiffer than a similar density mahogany 1 piece neck.

You'd be wrong there, my friend. It's been tested over and over and laminated beams are always stronger and stiffer than a single piece of wood of the same density and species.

You also mention that your laminated necks aren't any stiffer than solid necks. How are you measuring that?

RiloKiley
03-14-2012, 09:27 PM
can't imagine that the flexibily of the neck can be desirable. in what ways? altered tunings?

Some guitarists love to bend their neck, as opposed to the strings, to alter pitch. I think Bill Frisell does this alot... or at least it sounds that way.

It's a lot more common with electric players, I think, but I don't see why you can't do it with an acoustic, although very obviously you are risking damage with either instrument.

Laurent Brondel
03-15-2012, 06:48 AM
It's been tested over and over and laminated beams are always stronger and stiffer than a single piece of wood of the same density and species.Paul, it may be be true in theory, particularly if you build T or H beams. But in luthiery practice, when you're laminating 3 or more pieces of mahogany with the same grain direction parallel to each other, you do not gain in stiffness. As I wrote before, if you use other denser/stiffer woods along mahogany, this is another story. It is not the laminations that make the neck stiffer in this case, but the addition of stiffer components.

You also mention that your laminated necks aren't any stiffer than solid necks. How are you measuring that?Truss-rod adjustments remain the same, with the same feel, and I always use the same rods. I also tend to bend the neck when I play, and the laminated necks do not feel stiffer. Now maple and wenge necks do feel stiffer and barely need a rod adjustment (the rod is much stiffer to adjust).