View Full Version : Neck Wood

01-30-2016, 05:35 AM
I recently read here a discussion Beau and Chuck had about neck weight. I donít know if there is already a thread about this, if so, hereís another one. Several years ago I built a 24Ē parlor size guitar that originally had a bolt-on mahogany slot-head neck. I didnít like the way it looked, so I fit a maple neck to the body, and it became the guitar with two necks. I went back to the mahogany neck for a while and then finally back to the maple. This is already a great sounding guitar that puts a smile on the face of anybody who plays it. Like most good sounding instruments, you can immediately feel the vibration in the neck when you play. Question is: does one neck make it sound better than the other? My answer is that I really canít tell. Maybe thatís because I wasnít listening for it, and I doubt Iíll switch back to the mahogany neck to check it out. I have always judged neck wood on how stable it is, how it looks, and how its weight works with the overall balance of the instrument. When you think of the vibration of the neck itself, Spanish cedar rings with a lot of sustain when tapped, mahogany to a lesser degree and maple even less. But the neckís tone wood quality might be diminished by the dense ebony fret board thatís glued to it and the fact that your hand is gripping itóall of which must have a dampening effect. I tried tapping the mahogany neck--tuners, fret board and all--and it barely had a ring; that ring was reduced to a thud when I put my hand around it. I donít doubt that neck wood plays a part in the sound of an instrument, but I think itís more a subtle flavor than an actual driving force that contributes noticeably to overall sound. As usual, I could be wrong and wonder what other factors need to be considered.


02-01-2016, 03:14 AM
I use bolt on necks also and have built necks primarily out of mahogany with a carbon fiber reinforcement. I had a piece of old growth, very tight grained, quarter sawn pacific yew that i made a neck out of. Not a wood that I have heard used for necks. Can't see that it made any difference. can sure feel it vibrate! I use the reverse heel or cantilevered design. I have wondered if placing the mass of the neck heel inside the body would contribute to the internal vibration and make a difference? I have read that the mass of the tuners and head stock can influence sustain, but I have used a variety of head stock designs, including a very small head stock on a travel tenor guitar that has great sustain. There are so many variables that it rapidly becomes an uncontrolled experiment. As far as tone, sustain and volume go i put all my efforts into the top, the bracing, the saddle height and the setup/action. The rest I just build as tight and clean as I can.

02-01-2016, 01:12 PM
Granger, I built a yew necked concert uke last year and just really liked working with the stuff and that instrument may be the best sounding uke I have made. I don't attribute the sound to the neck but hey...
Like yours, my yew was old growth nicely quarter sawn and I wish I had more. I have one piece left.