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View Full Version : What's your favored method for attaching the neck?



Matt Clara
09-05-2014, 07:24 AM
Bolt on, spline, mortise and tenon, dovetail? I've been doing bolt on, but there are things about it I don't like. My earliest builds are now three years old, and I notice that there's a little separation at the base of the heel, due to the string tension. My latest build placed the bolt and drum lower in the heel to fix that problem, but that had problems all its own, like, a thicker heel was required to make room for the drum, and then it's a real son of a gun working an allen wrench at the back of the uke, farthest away from the sound hole. Dovetail looks like a real pita, though, where spline looks the easiest. Also have been considering the Spanish heel method, which looks easy enough, except for the "step." Regardless the method, attaching the neck before finishing would seem to present a set of problems all its own, too, like polishing after the finish is applied.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
09-05-2014, 08:20 AM
1 bolt with a threaded insert (thanks True Value).

Today, i changed my mortise/ tenon to about 20mm wide for a bit more safety in regard to possible wood splitting due to the insert.

Ideally, I want to change the shape of my tenon to a V to sort of follow the heel shape to really have some meat there.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-05-2014, 08:37 AM
For me there are so many excellent reasons to use a bolt on connection. Finishing and set up are only two of them. A little dab of glue on the heal will solve your separation problem. Make sure to remove the lacquer in that area first.

Matt Clara
09-05-2014, 09:33 AM
So, Beau, do your ukes use both mortise and tenon plus the bolt and insert?

Flyfish57
09-05-2014, 10:10 AM
I've been using the bolt on method since I started building. My last two sopranos were with dovetails so I could make the heels smaller. I'm still undecided on if I'll do any on my tenors or concerts though.

Firetail
09-05-2014, 11:00 AM
I've been using this for several ukes now, "borrowed" Robbie O'Brien's dovetail jig and made it simpler, use a slider rail and stop system for the router and a 5/16" router bit
Alan
70574

Timbuck
09-05-2014, 11:49 AM
I feel the necessity that I must revive this old thread ...To show my prefered method http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?72978-Bolt-on-necks-are-for-quot-Girly-Luthiers-quot&highlight=girly+luthiers

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
09-05-2014, 01:34 PM
Here is how i do it- as of today the mort/tenon is a little bit wider (20mm) then this one which was about 16mm.
70575
70576

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
09-05-2014, 01:35 PM
the other little bit in the first pic is because i like to extend the CF rod into the body a little bit-

DPO
09-05-2014, 02:12 PM
I only make banjo ukes so my experience will probably count for nought. My necks are bolted on with two lag bolts. The upper bolt is fixed with a dome nut and the lower bolt is attached to the rim rod which takes care of any heel gaps.

ericchico
09-05-2014, 02:17 PM
I feel the necessity that I must revive this old thread ...To show my prefered method http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?72978-Bolt-on-necks-are-for-quot-Girly-Luthiers-quot&highlight=girly+luthiers
I read this whole thread and man there is some good stuff in there, thanks for the repost

Titchtheclown
09-05-2014, 07:09 PM
After I saw an African musician who had replaced the traditional goat skin on his akonting with a bit of spruce it did leave me wondering why nobody apart from us cigar boxers and banjo people using a neck through method. Reduces the need for structural bracing on the sound box if the compressive force of the string is supported at either end by a solid bar.

Kekani
09-05-2014, 07:20 PM
Bolt-on, mortise & tenon.

My neck angle jig was the basis of a workshop last year at the UGH Exhibition, which was actually called "Centerline Neck Jig" because all of my neck jigs are based on the M&T bolt on and the "centerline" created by the c/f rod in the neck, that sits a little proud. Beau knows about this one.

Beau also knows about the slot on the threaded insert facing in. What he doesn't know is that I use two bolts, instead of 1. I've used one in the past, but went to two when I realized the heel joint would be tighter, which it is.

I'm having some Bo Jackson flashbacks now. . .

DennisK
09-05-2014, 08:57 PM
After I saw an African musician who had replaced the traditional goat skin on his akonting with a bit of spruce it did leave me wondering why nobody apart from us cigar boxers and banjo people using a neck through method. Reduces the need for structural bracing on the sound box if the compressive force of the string is supported at either end by a solid bar.
For most guitars and ukes, it's the torque of the glued bridge what you really have to fight against. But even on tailpiece instruments, it seems that the compressive force can be beneficial. Particularly arched tops like violins, because compressing the soundboard longitudinally causes the arch to spring upward, countering the down force of the bridge. A neck through may be good for flat top tailpiece guitars. Especially if combined with a zero downforce bridge, so the soundboard has no structural role at all, and can be shaped entirely for tone.

But back to the topic at hand, I love the Spanish heel method. The added finish difficulty is minimal compared to the added difficulty of cutting any other kind of neck joint. Although I favor less shiny finishes, so maybe not for everyone. The only reason I constantly second-guess myself about it on steel string guitars is because of the added difficulty of doing a neck reset, and consequent likelihood of my instruments being left in a closet unplayed in the far future. But not so much an issue for ukes and classical guitars. And at least using hide glue and easily repairable French polish, it's a lot easier to do a heel slip reset on my instruments than most. Even moreso if I get lazy and skip the back binding :p


Also have been considering the Spanish heel method, which looks easy enough, except for the "step."
The step is indeed tricky to chisel accurately, but it's easy with a router. Just make sure you get the depth perfectly matched to the soundboard thickness before you go routing all the wood away, or you won't have anything for the router base to sit on for a second pass.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
09-06-2014, 05:02 AM
Bolt-on, mortise & tenon.

My neck angle jig was the basis of a workshop last year at the UGH Exhibition, which was actually called "Centerline Neck Jig" because all of my neck jigs are based on the M&T bolt on and the "centerline" created by the c/f rod in the neck, that sits a little proud. Beau knows about this one.

Beau also knows about the slot on the threaded insert facing in. What he doesn't know is that I use two bolts, instead of 1. I've used one in the past, but went to two when I realized the heel joint would be tighter, which it is.


haha- what size bolts do you use???- i can only find the bolts I like (the ones with a flat head which sit pretty flush with the headblock) in 1/4"which is way over kill. Id like to go to 2 bolts. I put mine right in the middle of the headblock

mzuch
09-06-2014, 05:18 AM
My neck angle jig was the basis of a workshop last year at the UGH Exhibition, which was actually called "Centerline Neck Jig" because all of my neck jigs are based on the M&T bolt on and the "centerline" created by the c/f rod in the neck, that sits a little proud.

Kekani, I'd love to know more about your neck angle jig. The one I'm using has proven to be imprecise. BTW, I also use a mortise-and-tenon with a bolt.

Kekani
09-06-2014, 08:49 AM
Same as you, 1/4" x 20. I use Allen head cap screws, and the tenon is only 1/2". Yes, that leaves only 1/8" on each side, but my tenon is only 1/4" anyway, and most of the insert goes into the neck. You're thinking,"That's going to crack, all the time." It does, so when I thread the insert, I use a channelled block that wraps around the tenon, with large holes to thread the insert through (think of a mortised neck block, that has holes where the inserts go through). This prevents it from cracking, but still pushes the tenon out, which for me, makes the joint that much tighter.

I've used the flat heads in the past, but with pickup installations, the battery bag doesn't stick well. The cap head (with a star lock) is what I'm doing currently. I used to cut the velcro backing for the battery back to go around the Allen bolts, but with the Five.0, not really an issue - it fits right inside. You'll like two bolts, trust me.

For the OP and for conversation, the reason I did the M&T is not necessarily for "strength" or whatever, its what I think Rick referred to in another thread - there are just things that make my current builds "complete", and this is one of them.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the neck, I'm "locked" into my jigs, and how the "centerline" application carries into shaping jigs, routing jigs, and even fretboard jigs, and if I want to do something different, I have to do it by hand. However, it took me a long time and a number of builds to stratify what I do all the time, and what I don't. What I do all the time is make necks, in the same dimensions, so being "locked in" to my jigs works for me. In the end, the player won't know the difference one bit whether I use a bolt on, M&T bolt on, screwed, splined, etc.

mzuch - my neck angle jig is almost exactly Robbie O'Brien's, except smaller, and made out of Baltic Birch plywood, which is pricey, but its what I use in my Bass cab, Guitar cab and speaker cab building. Once I used real Baltic Birch, all other plywood is just, plywood. Note: I was going to make it a neck jig, instead of a neck angle jig. I'm glad I put the angle part in, as I'm not a machine, and no matter how well I jig to make the neck block square, its not, so I can cut the M&T to match the body. There are pics on the Big Island `Ukulele Guild website photo gallery, start from pic #22 http://www.bigislandukuleleguild.org/gallery/ugh---exhibition-2013.html

mzuch
09-06-2014, 09:01 AM
Thanks, Aaron. Your jig is very similar to the one I'm currently using.

BlackBearUkes
09-06-2014, 03:33 PM
I have used a dovetail arrangement for many years and will stay with that construction. After making and repairing ukes for years, I have to say doing a neck reset on a uke is a rare occurance, no matter how they are attached. Ukes can suffer many problems down the line, but the low string pressure on a soprano or concert is not normally a concern, unless the uke is the older Spanish heel type, which has its flaws and has been discussed in the earlier treads.