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Thread: Question on Neck Wood

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Western Washington
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    111

    Default Question on Neck Wood

    I have two ukes in process, both are koa, one with koa soundboard and one with sitka spuce soundboard. The material I have on hand that is a size that would work for necks are:

    Hemlock - never heard of anyone using it but it is light and strong and has a nice ring to it. I can always darken it with a stain.

    Cocobolo - Lovely but very heavy - would it overbalance the uke?

    or should I just buy some cedar?

    Let me know what you think, and thank you in advance for your replies.

    Anne Flyn
    Anne K. Flynn

    Family Motto: LIFE IS A MUSICAL

  2. #2

    Default

    dont use the cocobolo.

    no idea about the hemlock, apart from I think that is what Socrates drank at his execution.
    ~ Beau Hannam Ukuleles ~
    Grand Junction, Colorado
    Email- beau@beauhannamguitars.com

    www.beauhannamguitars.com
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Kapolei, Hawaii
    Posts
    1,433

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by afreiki View Post
    I have two ukes in process, both are koa, one with koa soundboard and one with sitka spuce soundboard. The material I have on hand that is a size that would work for necks are:

    Hemlock - never heard of anyone using it but it is light and strong and has a nice ring to it. I can always darken it with a stain.

    Cocobolo - Lovely but very heavy - would it overbalance the uke?

    or should I just buy some cedar?

    Let me know what you think, and thank you in advance for your replies.

    Anne Flyn
    Okay, you made me look up hemlock. No. I would agree with Beau on the Cocobolo, unless you only had a choice between the two (some bass necks are made with Rosewood).

    As for Cedar, what kind specifically do you have in mind?

    On a side note - if you have enough Cocobolo to make a neck, I'd trade you a Spanish Cedar piece for the Cocobolo (I'm back to Maples again, and Cocobolo is one of my favorites for those instruments).
    Last edited by Kekani; 03-01-2014 at 10:47 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Greenville, VA.
    Posts
    411

    Default

    Hemlock is the poor cousin of the softwood family. It gets no respect. Its usually reserved for siding meant to be painted. But I think you should try it and tell us what you think, especially if you use bolt-on necks. I'd address any strength issue with a stiff, thickish fingerboard. After all, how often do we get to discover something new?

    Don't confuse Western red cedar with Spanish cedar. If red cedar works as a neck hemlock should be a shoe-in.

  5. #5

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    And where are the pictures, Anne?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Western Washington
    Posts
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kekani View Post
    Okay, you made me look up hemlock. No. I would agree with Beau on the Cocobolo, unless you only had a choice between the two (some bass necks are made with Rosewood).

    As for Cedar, what kind specifically do you have in mind?

    On a side note - if you have enough Cocobolo to make a neck, I'd trade you a Spanish Cedar piece for the Cocobolo (I'm back to Maples again, and Cocobolo is one of my favorites for those instruments).
    It might be kind of hard to trade, since it is so dang heavy and you are half an ocean away.
    Anne K. Flynn

    Family Motto: LIFE IS A MUSICAL

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    keaukaha, hi
    Posts
    10

    Default

    Anne; As you know cocobolo is very dense....I've used it for fingerboards, but no more...too heavy IMHO....as neck wood? It will be VERY heavy, if that's what you're looking for. Western Hemlock?....I have a few 1/4 sawn boards that I picked for necks, but haven't gotten around to using it on necks...feels good, is light colored (good/bad?).....tempting. Let us know how it goes.....Doug

  8. #8

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    I think you are better off getting some true mahogany neck blanks.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    175

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    Mahogany is best for necks. As I understand, the the direction of the grain alters each year of growth, with creates a kind of natural "plywood" effect. This makes the neck very strong and resistant to warping over time. That is why most guitars have mahogany necks.

    However, you might try something unusual for the fretboard, although it would have to be a very hard wood to stand up over time. Again, that is why rosewood and ebony are usually used on guitars.

    That said, ukulele's are relatively lightly strung and not subject to the heavy stresses as a guitar would. So you could get away with lighter construction.

  10. #10

    Default

    The Cocobolo is pretty hard, and precious too. Seems that a billet large enough for a neck could be sawn into a fair number of fretboards. You'd probably use up all your elbow grease shaping a neck from such a hard and dense wood anyways.
    I live in New Hampshire, and the necks for my last two builds came from a maple log in a firewood pile. Not very difficult to find suitable stock when all the pieces are so small.

    Good luck,
    Ron B

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