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  #16  
Old 11-06-2013, 11:46 AM
blaren blaren is offline
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Originally Posted by brian a. View Post
All I know for certain is that a guitar with no neck doesn't sound so good and a guitar with a neck sounds better. Therefore, I must conclude that the neck has a lot to do with how a guitar sounds.
mmmmm...I think one with no neck might actually sound "better". That great big huge massive soundboard that extends all the way to the toners would be a bugger to try to play though.
Hey does a dulcimer have a neck? Wade?? I know it has a fretboard but....
So yeah...I'd imagine that a neckless guitar while unplayable, would probably sound HUGE!!!

So there you have it. The neck is probably the single biggest tone-sucker on the whole guitar. If you could play a neckless guitar that had a body that ran from endpin to tuners...CANNON??? Nope...NUCLEAR DEVICE!
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  #17  
Old 11-06-2013, 12:01 PM
woodstock64 woodstock64 is offline
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Originally Posted by Long Jon View Post
Ok. Anybody wanna commission say a Taylor BTO with maybe 4 different necks to swap around and put this theory to some scientific testing ?

Toby Walker ? He loves a/b-ing stuff !

I too remember seeing ads for weights to fix on your headstock to "increase sustain" or whatever... I have also lately noticed the "low mass" improvement claims!
ONE of them MUST be right!!
The A/B comparison would still be unreliable and useless given that even the same make and model guitar is constructed of different sets of wood. How would one know whether the difference in tone was due to the different style neck or the difference in wood?
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  #18  
Old 11-06-2013, 12:01 PM
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without the neck, what do you have? nothing but a bunch of parts!! it has to go together as one!

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  #19  
Old 11-06-2013, 12:03 PM
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dneal dneal is offline
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Maybe I'll save somebody some typing...

In THIS THREAD, Alan Carruth said:

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Originally Posted by Alan Carruth View Post
One of the problems with this is that it's so easy, and so false, to draw a parallel with solid body electric guitars: everybody knows how important the neck is on those, so it must be similarly so on acoustics.

In theory, the string works best (produces the purest signal) when both ends are 'fixed' so that they don't move at all. Of course, on an acoustic, you'd get no sound if the bridge and top couldn't move, but at least you'd like the neck to be 'rigid', and massive enough to keep the nut from jumping around too much. For the most part, any neck that's stable enough to be usable will do this. The top moves so much more than the neck or the nut that any effects on the tone of neck movement will be secondary at best. The issue comes in with that little phrase 'for the most part'. What happens is that there are resonant modes of the entire instrument that can alter the tone a bit, at specific frequencies, in some cases, and these are tied in with neck stiffness and mass (particularly the headstock mass).

The most important of these 'whole body' modes on an acoustic is the lowest pitched one, and then only sometimes. Basically, the whole guitar can vibrate like a xylophone bar, with the head and tailblock going one way while the upper bout goes the other. There are two stationary 'nodes' for this mode of vibration; one at about the nut or first fret, and the other across the lower bout near the line of the bridge. If you hold the guitar up at the nut and tap on the back of the head you can usually hear this.

Generally, it's quite low in pitch: often around C below the low E note, so it doesn't make any particular difference. However, if the neck is particularly stiff, and the head is light, this 'neck mode' can be pitched high enough to interact with the 'main air' ('rum jug') resonance, and this will affect the tone. It's most common to get this match on Classical guitars, and uncommon on steel strings, since they tend to have longer necks and often use heavier machines. The frequency match has to be exact for there to be any noticeable difference in the tone, and sometimes things like swapping machines, or even replacing metal buttons with wood ones, will be enough to bring things into line. That's why some folks are convinced that changing machines makes a big difference, and others are not: it all depends on the details of their particular case.

There are several other such 'whole body' resonant modes on acoustics, but they tend to be weaker, quite variable in pitch, and high enough up so that they don't seem to matter too much. This is the opposite of what happens on solid body guitars, where the lower three or four such modes are low enough, and active enough, that they can really alter the sound; usually by stealing energy from the strings. The worst case is solid body basses, where the bridge is perched 'way out at the end of the body, where the motion and energy loss are greatest. That's why they tend to have so many 'dead' notes. On an acoustic there's usually so much else going on that it would be pretty hard to pin any specific dead note or wolf note onto a 'neck' vibration.

The bottom line, then, is that the neck does influence tone, but less than a lot of other things. At any rate, what really counts on an acoustic is not so much any particular detail, but, rather, how it all works together.
If you're wondering how he came to this conclusion, he explains in a later post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Carruth View Post
There's a persistent belief that the neck to body joint influences the sound. It's possible that it does, of course, but the problem is isolating variables well enough really be able to say.

I have made several Classical 'test mules' using the same neck (it saves time), which can be easily swapped out. It's basically held on by string pressure: there are a couple of pins in the end of the fingerboard on the neck that plug into holes in the stub fingerboard on the box to locate it, and a bolt through the neck block and neck keeps the thing from folding up. This is pretty similar to the old Stauffer adjustable neck, and I've seen modern ones that work more or less the same way, but with the guts decently hidden. On mine there's a gap between the end of the heel and the box of about 1/4". I have never been able to detect a difference in the sound of the guitar whether that gap is filled with a wedge and snugged down tight or not. Without the wedge you can just pull the head right back until the strings ground out on the 12th fret, so you'd think there would be a difference in the way it 'transmitted vibration'. This suggests there is either no difference, or no vibration to transmit. BTW, I've seen this same joint used on the neck of a very fine sounding guitar that Manuel Valasquez built for John Bigelow.

And, yes, NY NY: I've been a builder for over forty years, done my share of repair, and published a few papers on guitar acoustics too, so I guess I'm entitled to an opinion. For that matter, there are other folks in this thread who's opinions I respect, even if they're not makers or techs: Wade Hampton Miller being one.

Speaking of which: as far as I can see, banjos and solid body guitars have a lot in common. Both have relatively thin necks joined to a massive and rigid body. The banjo, of course, has a has that is light and mobile, instead of a massive and hard bridge and top, which is why you can hear it when its not plugged in. I suspect that banjos fall somewhere between acoustic and electric guitars in terms of the influence of the neck material, but I don't have data to back that up.
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  #20  
Old 11-06-2013, 12:28 PM
mhs mhs is offline
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Rather than trying to figure out how an inanimate object affects tone, I wonder how much it affects the player who in turn hugely affects the tone.

If you're happiest with a neck that suits your body, arms, fingers, and a million other parameters, then your tone will probably be better. Things that make you more comfortable, relaxed, whatever state it is you require to play well in probably make your tone better as well.

I have a cat that jumps on my head when I'm playing at home. That affects my tone a heck of lot more than anything on the guitar.
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  #21  
Old 11-06-2013, 01:08 PM
Long Jon Long Jon is offline
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Originally Posted by Long Jon View Post
Ok. Anybody wanna commission say a Taylor BTO with maybe 4 different necks to swap around and put this theory to some scientific testing ?

Toby Walker ? He loves a/b-ing stuff !

I too remember seeing ads for weights to fix on your headstock to "increase sustain" or whatever... I have also lately noticed the "low mass" improvement claims!
ONE of them MUST be right!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by woodstock64 View Post
The A/B comparison would still be unreliable and useless given that even the same make and model guitar is constructed of different sets of wood. How would one know whether the difference in tone was due to the different style neck or the difference in wood?
Well I was only being silly anyway,,,, but I DID say dif necks on SAME box...
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  #22  
Old 11-06-2013, 01:39 PM
woodstock64 woodstock64 is offline
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Default How much does the neck affect tone?

Long Jon, my apologies. I don't how I missed the "same box" part of your post.
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  #23  
Old 11-06-2013, 01:46 PM
Long Jon Long Jon is offline
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Originally Posted by woodstock64 View Post
Long Jon, my apologies. I don't how I missed the "same box" part of your post.
Ha ha.. don't mentch... I really was only being silly anyway.

Apologies to the OP, who may be looking for serious answers!
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  #24  
Old 11-06-2013, 01:50 PM
Alan Carruth Alan Carruth is offline
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Roger Knox wrote:
"The neck has very little effect on tone in an acoustic guitar, the neck resonant frequencies don't couple with the soundboard very effectivly, so there isn't much contribution."

Thanks dneal for resurrecting those posts and saving me a lot of typing. I'll just add here that you can't think about the neck independently of the rest of the guitar. Its not something like a diving board that's relatively whippy and light and is solidly anchored in concrete. It flexes more than the box, but the box flexes too. That's why your guitar can need a neck reset even when the truss rod has kept the neck straight. That static flexing is mirrored by dynamic flexing and resonances at different pitches that can sometimes alter the tone. Changing the neck changes the vibrations of the system, but so would changing the box.
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  #25  
Old 11-06-2013, 01:53 PM
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Wolfram Slides Wolfram Slides is offline
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Of course the neck affects tone.

Strum the open strings, then touch the headstock. You will feel it vibrating - that's the neck. It's also how clip-on tuners manage to get a signal.

If something vibrates when you play the guitar, it is absorbing or reflecting energy and will affect the sound.

How it vibrates depends on what it is made of and how it is made. It's construction will also affect the presence (or absence) of dead or wolf-notes.
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  #26  
Old 11-06-2013, 05:19 PM
dangrunloh dangrunloh is offline
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I'm convinced a very hard wood neck like Maple sounds different than a typical mahogany neck. I don't care for it. Bolt on or set in construction and other factors may affect sustain but I believe hardness density and weight of the wood neck can affect tone. I'd bet a solid metal neck wouldn't sound the same either.
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  #27  
Old 11-07-2013, 12:36 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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My experience has been that the wood of the neck most definitely has an impact on the sound of an acoustic guitar. It's not as dramatic or as obvious as the effect the necks have on electric guitars or banjos (which, on banjos, have an IMMENSE impact on the sound,) but there's a difference when the neck of a guitar is made of mahogany compared to when it's maple.


whm
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  #28  
Old 11-07-2013, 03:07 AM
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Toby Walker Toby Walker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
My experience has been that the wood of the neck most definitely has an impact on the sound of an acoustic guitar. It's not as dramatic or as obvious as the effect the necks have on electric guitars or banjos (which, on banjos, have an IMMENSE impact on the sound,) but there's a difference when the neck of a guitar is made of mahogany compared to when it's maple.

whm
I've had the same experience with a National Tri-cone, albeit by accident - literally. Someone had dropped the guitar the result of which was a broken mahogany neck. It was replaced by a maple neck and the difference in tone was pronounced.
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