View Full Version : Fitting a butt joint neck?

Koa Soprano
12-18-2010, 12:33 PM
I have done butt joints for necks on all my previous ukes, mainly sopranos and one concert, but for some reason can't remember how I fitted the joint...it has been a few years.

I reached that stage a few days ago on my current uke so I aligned the neck and the body, traced out the body's profile where it will attach and cut the joining area of the neck to match. I then used sandpaper taped to the body and moved the neck forwards and back slightly to get an exact fit. It took a while and is now a very nice fit, but should it be this much work?


dave g
12-18-2010, 02:10 PM
Spanish heel - come over to the dark side :)

12-18-2010, 05:16 PM
Spanish heel - come over to the dark side :)

:agree: I'm with you on that Dave

Doug W
12-18-2010, 06:09 PM
I know almost nothing about making ukes, with only one Grizzly kit put together...Is the only argument against Spanish Heels that repair of the neck later on will be difficult?

12-18-2010, 11:04 PM
I have never seen a uke that needed a neck reset. Not enough tension. Spanish heel, ole!

Doug W
12-19-2010, 06:28 AM
Spanish heel - come over to the dark side_dave g
I'm with you on that Dave_tattwo
I have never seen a uke that needed a neck reset. Not enough tension. Spanish heel, ole!_dustartist

So for those of us who are looking towards building that first uke-why the Spanish heel over a butt joint?


I found this thread which I think answers my questions:

12-19-2010, 09:21 AM
The Spanish heel method incorporates a building technique like Classical Guitars. ie on a work board that guarantees the neck to be in the correct plane and alignment with the sound board. These 2 things are what make using a bolt-on, butt or dovetail neck a bit more challenging to get right. It's also very easy to get a very neat neck to body join. Far less easy with the other methods.

I can't imagine what it would be that would require you to work on a uke neck once the instrument was completed as long as you built it well in the first place. The argument that you might need to work on them just doesn't hold up for me. Almost every Spanish style guitar ever built uses this method.

It's the method that I use on all my ukes, and the one that all the students that go through my classes learn.

12-19-2010, 01:32 PM
If you are afraid of Spanish Heels, when designing the curve of the upper part of the uke where the neck will fit, match the profile to an existing cylinder (coffee can, PVC pipe, 5 galllon bucket, drainage culvert, etc.). When you need to fit the neck, tape a piece of coarse sandpaper to the cylinder. Sand the profile to the line on the neck.

Doug W
12-19-2010, 02:15 PM

Thanks for the clarification.

I don't know enough about uke building yet to have opinons one way or the other on neck joining but thanks for the sanding tips on matching the curvature. I have been pondering all these building questions in my mind. Been getting more tools together since my Grizzly build and some wood so I hope to make enough time to get started in the next month.

Vic D
12-19-2010, 06:52 PM
This is what I do. A couple of spacers of layered cardboard (folded matches covers) under the lower bout raises the body to allow for the 22' radius in the top and also gives a very slight neck angle. Alternatively you could sand the radius into the platform like you would a solera. The neck is stuck down with carpet tape and in the future will also hold a couple of brass or steel guides that will slip into and 8th inch channel routed down the center line of the neck slider thingie. You can't see it in this photo but I added a nail in the poplar slider above the headstock there that holds rubber bands that run to another nail in the MDF in order to keep a constant tension. Works great... no gaps... tight joint... on center.

This probably doesn't make as much sense as it should, my back is out... again. Any questions just ask and I'll try to answer the best I can.

Koa Soprano
12-19-2010, 07:11 PM
Vic D, I was thinking of something like that too, but because this is a one-off with a looming deadline I didn't want to have to stop and make a jig.

12-19-2010, 07:39 PM
My method is also similar to Vic's. It is the same principal that you are using but I think the jig gives more control. Maybe something you can look into when you have some time on your side.

There is a channel routed to the depth of the plexi. The plexi has a center line scribed onto it that is aligned and attached with double sided tape.