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Old 03-14-2012, 05:05 AM
Ivob Ivob is offline
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Default One-piece necks vs. more-piece necks

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...
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Old 03-14-2012, 06:22 AM
PWoolson PWoolson is offline
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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.
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Old 03-14-2012, 07:05 AM
Ivob Ivob is offline
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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...
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Old 03-14-2012, 07:51 AM
PWoolson PWoolson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivob View Post
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...
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.
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Old 03-14-2012, 08:21 AM
Ivob Ivob is offline
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can't imagine that the flexibily of the neck can be desirable. in what ways? altered tunings?
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Old 03-14-2012, 08:36 AM
Aaron Smith Aaron Smith is offline
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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.
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:42 AM
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Kent Chasson Kent Chasson is offline
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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.
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:58 AM
cjd-player cjd-player is offline
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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.
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:43 AM
Laurent Brondel Laurent Brondel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Smith View Post
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.
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:39 AM
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Could a laminated neck potentially have issues with truss rod adjustments?
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:54 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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After Aaron wrote:

Quote:
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:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurent Brondel View Post
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.


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Old 03-14-2012, 12:27 PM
PWoolson PWoolson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Smith View Post
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.
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Old 03-14-2012, 01:39 PM
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Hi folks...

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





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Old 03-14-2012, 02:04 PM
wrench68 wrench68 is offline
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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!
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Old 03-14-2012, 02:14 PM
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It's a proven fact that laminations are stiffer than a solid piece. It's also good lutherie practice to have a scarf joint 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.
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