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Old 11-06-2013, 09:12 AM
blaren blaren is offline
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Default How much does the neck affect tone?

Been reading a lot and thinking a lot about whether or not..rather how MUCH a neck has to do with tone.
Whether one is glued-in or bolted-on doesn't seem to make a GREAT DEAL of difference as long as the actual fit is good.
However...the girth and species seem to be important tone determiners (?) where a more massive mahogany or rosewood neck can help a guitar (I'm talking mostly electrics here) sound warmer and have more sustain than say an ultra-thin maple neck and board.

A lot of members here have dog ears. They can hear minute (maybe even non-existent) changes that bridgepins make or how much better a bone nut makes their bar chords sound so much more transparent :roll eyes . Not much talk of how much difference the neck can make.
If neck mass and material can help determine how a guitar is going to sound on a solid body electric with magnetic pups that should only be "hearing" the string itself, well...on an acoustic guitar, where the guitar itself is the mic and amplifier, surely the neck must be a KEY ingredient of the tonal recipe...the big picture?

Any luthiers or builders out there ever tried different necks on an acoustic build? Did they make an appreciable difference in the guitar's tone?
Seems like a very important but highly overlooked component in the final voice of any guitar no?

The two custom builds I had done both have very thin necks (same as my Stonebridge...thinner than Larrivee's necks and maybe thinner than Taylor's too? But there is a LOT going on in my 2 customs and even with the thin necks they sound huge, loud, warm and AWESOME.
Hey did you just catch that? Taylors have thin necks and...how do they sound? Bright, thin, sparkly...
Martins (the traditional models with traditional neck profiles) sound warmer and louder and more muscular(?) than Taylors generally speaking...except probably the new(ish) Martin Performer series that have more "modern neck profiles" (thinner)...they sound closer to Taylors. Larrivees, with necks that are probably in between the Taylor and Martin thickness sound...well kinda in between the Martin and Taylor tones.?

Maybe necks don't have quite as dramatic an effect on tone as I'm insinuating but I do believe that neck mass and material can play a pretty important role in determining how a guitar sounds and that it is an area that we all too often overlook.
Whip em out fellas. Do some A/B/C/D/E and F comparing and see if you notice a pattern where your guitars with the bigger fatter necks sound..well..bigger and fatter and warmer than those thin necked gits.

We know that mass of the headstock can change a guitar's voice. They even used to sell slip-on headstock weights to increase the headstock's/neck's mass and provide warmth and sustain (coulda been just another useless gizmo). PRS's latest locking tuners (for electrics again) are kinda hybrid half open back and half enclosed. They say they are the new "low mass" PRS open back Phase3 machine heads.
Is "low mass" just a term they coined in the boardroom? Rather than just calling them open back, which might seem like a cheap cost-cutting feature to all the PRS corksniffers (I'm the president of that club) and so they came-up with the term "low mass" which makes it seem like the company made the change in order to improve tone and not just for cosmetic or profit driven reasons.

So again, what are your acoustic guitar experiences as far as neck size/mass/material versus tone and volume?
They say there is a pretty big tonal difference between a solid rosewood neck on a stock PRS CU24 and the same guitar with the standard mahogany neck. I have never had the opportunity to try a solid rw neck so I can't confirm that but...an acoustic guitar's neck probably weighs as much as the body. Surely it plays a BIG role in the guitar's tone?
The late '50s Gibsons with PAFs seem to be much more desirable than the '60-'62 PAF equipped Gibsons. We'll use ES335s as an example since the Les Pauls turned into SGs for a while in the '60s.
Maybe part of the reason is that the '50s Gibbys had the baseball bat profiled necks and the ones from the '60s had the '60s slim taper profiles. Yes magnets changed in the PAF line but not right at 1960. From what I hear, they were all over the map with all PAFs regardless of the year of manufacture. You can get a '58 PAF with A2 mags and others from '58 might have A5. A '62 PAF ...oops..a GOOD sounding '62 PAF will sound the same as a GOOD sounding '57PAF.
And not every '57-'59 PAF sounded awesome.

IDK.
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Old 11-06-2013, 09:30 AM
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Willie Voltaire Willie Voltaire is offline
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The fattest guitar neck I've ever owned was on a guitar that sounded phenomenal. But how much of a role the neck played in that is anybody's guess. I've abandoned trying to determine the exact amount of influence a given component imparts on a guitar's tone. With so many variables working simulataneously and dependently on one another, it seems that any conclusion one would draw about a given guitar would be meaningless when applied to another one.
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Old 11-06-2013, 09:43 AM
Long Jon Long Jon is offline
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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!!
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Old 11-06-2013, 09:51 AM
Rodger Knox Rodger Knox is offline
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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.
There will be people that hear the difference, whether it's really there or not.
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Old 11-06-2013, 09:58 AM
Rodger Knox Rodger Knox is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Long Jon View Post
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!!
Actually, they're both right, just not for the same guitar. The direction you need to go depends on where you start.
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Old 11-06-2013, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodger Knox View Post
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.
There will be people that hear the difference, whether it's really there or not.
There is really nothing I can add to this fine answer ^ ^ ^^.
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Old 11-06-2013, 10:06 AM
Long Jon Long Jon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodger Knox View Post
Actually, they're both right, just not for the same guitar. The direction you need to go depends on where you start.
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Old 11-06-2013, 10:08 AM
Phelonious Ponk Phelonious Ponk is offline
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I'm not a luthier and I don't play one on TV, but I suspect neck mass/material probably has a significantly larger effect on tone that nuts and saddles. What effect? How much? Who knows? Does a massive neck give you massive tone? I seriously doubt it is anywhere that simple and would bet the farm that if a good luthier wanted a big, fat, low midrange-dominant tone in a guitar with a skinny maple neck, he could do it. Because I'm sure the top and the braces have more impact, by far, than the neck. It's all navel-gazing speculatiion anyway, unless we can figure out how to do a double blind listening test with exactly the same guitar, while rapidly changing necks.

Electric guitars? Pickups win. Hands down. Everything else falls into the "think you might hear" bin.

Acoustic guitars? Strings and picks (and technique of course) have the greatest impact And I can actually test and hear. I just switched to Tusq picks after a couple of decades of 1 mm Clayton Ultems. That difference is immediately obvious and I didn't have to steam the neck loose to test it. Is it better? It is to me or I wouldn't have made the switch. YMMV. But I wouldn't seek out massive mahogany necks wth rosewood boards vs slimmer ones with ebony based on tone. Feel? Absolutely. From there, just listen.

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Old 11-06-2013, 10:08 AM
Todd Yates Todd Yates is online now
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The mass and stiffness of the neck have a tremendous effect on the tone.
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Old 11-06-2013, 10:08 AM
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Fat neck fat tone.
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Old 11-06-2013, 10:13 AM
brian a. brian a. is offline
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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.
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Old 11-06-2013, 10:16 AM
Long Jon Long Jon is offline
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Quote:
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.
Finally, a sensible answer.
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Old 11-06-2013, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by kayakman View Post
Fat neck fat tone.
Hi k-man...

I have several thin (depth) necks with fat tone. Does that mean if they have made the necks fatter the tone would be even fatter? Oh, and two are bolt-on and two are mortise/tenon.


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Old 11-06-2013, 10:27 AM
Athana Athana is offline
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Default Lowden

I was thinking about this lately as I bought an O50 Master Sitka/Koa Lowden..
and was reluctant about the long scale neck on it and was,as an alternate, going to order a short scale Lowden.

I wanted to keep the price down but was contemplating the differences of how it would effect this Madagascar/Alpine F35 mid sized guitar….between the standard carve mahogany neck,5 piece maple neck and the limited old growth "Log" mahogany he has.
He is a good person to ask but I decided to keep this great sounding Koa and have not.
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Old 11-06-2013, 10:41 AM
blaren blaren is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodger Knox View Post
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.
There will be people that hear the difference, whether it's really there or not.
It might not "couple with the soundboard" effectively but it might play a role in dampening or absorbing string energy and affecting sustain and or cancelling or augmenting or being "sympathetic" to some frequencies?

And as far as no one component being able to make a difference. Yeah we hear that all the time when people post questions regarding one topwood versus the next or back and sides material etc. Always the "doesn't matter...build matters more...bracing matters more...."
Well whether that's true or not, when I put together or commission a build I ALWAYS refer to each component's properties and characteristics just as much as I depend on each ingredient in a recipe to play a role in the final dish.
Each and every component affects every other as well as the end product. That's why God GAVE us Cedar (several species), Sitka and Adi, BRW and EIR, Ebony and rosewood for bridges and boards, tapered and scalloped bracing, and TWO different scale lengths and neck joins ...LOL
but seriously....each and every piece of the puzzle is important and even if it's just another piece of a blue sky, without that piece, the others around it wont fit and the whole picture will not be complete.

YOU may not be able to HEAR the changes one seemingly insignificant component (or taste it in the case of a culinary experience) makes but it WILL make a difference. Make several seemingly insignificant recipe changes, none of which you would taste on it's own....and you will change the whole dish into one that is completely different in flavor.


But either way...looks like many people believe a neck does make a big tonal difference, some say no, and others think you couldn't ever possibly know since changing necks on an acoustic is impossible?.

Personally I'm buying into the oily pitch. I don't have any guitars similar enough to compare. I have a bunch of PRSs with several different carves..2 WTs, a WF, a PT and a PR but for example the one with a WF neck is a 22 fret McSoapy Standard with P90s, fixed bridge, and a HEAVY solid one piece SALB of hog for a body where one WT necked PRS I have is maple, 24frets, on an hb guitar with trem and the other WT necked PRS is a singlecut.
Apples to oranges with all of mine.

I have a pair of Halcyon acoustics but both have the same neck carves/profiles, widths and materials and their bodies differ wildly.

So yeah...let's assume that we ALL already know that there are many things that might have a more profound effect on tone like the soundboard or bracing. And let's assume that we didn't actually have to physically swap necks on a guitar to figure-out whether or not the neck of a guitar is an important factor in the quest for tone.

And...WOW...thanks for all the replies and thoughts and positions on this subject. Please keep em coming.
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