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Thread: neck shaping for best tone

  1. #1
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    Default neck shaping for best tone

    Hi all,
    I notice that the hana lima ia tenor plans and book differ in neck design. The plans have a much "lighter" construction inside the uke body. The book shows examples that are much more substantial. is one or the other better in terms of tonal quality? the plan drawing shows a thickness of+/- .25" for the landing that supports the sound and fret boards. The book shows +/- 1" with radius. Hopefully my drawing clarifies.Sketch17592740.jpg

  2. #2
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    I'd go with the plan version. One inch thick slabs top an bottom would be way too heavy. 1/4" sounds about right....the body is only around 3" deep anyway.
    I've used Hana Lima plans before but changed to a bolt on neck. I don't do that Spanish Heel nonsense. All the other dimensions they give work out well so the neck block drawing is probably fine too

  3. #3
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    Thanks ksquine
    I'll build following to plan. I did find an image on their site that shows a much thinner ledge. Maybe I misread the image in the book?
    I thought same about spanish neck when first encountered. .. but several around here say its ok. Good to get your feedback.

  4. #4
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    I use the Spanish Heel, but don't bother with that shape inside. Mine is a block that is 20 - 25mm deep and the same width as the fret board (depending on size of instrument).

    You can think of the Spanish Heel design similar to a mortise and tenon without the bolts. The block inside should be sized the same as you would use for the same sort of join. The web left in the centre of the heel design is the same as the tenon width, or even less because you don't have to worry about having enough meat for the hardware of bolt on system.

  5. #5
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    I don't do Spanish heels, not because of my newfound M&T bolt on neck, but because executing it right takes skill, which I may have deloped at this point, but too lazy, or chicken to try.

    I know Allen's heelcaps are awesome, which I can't do on a bolt on.

    Maybe, someday, when I feel the need to make a solera.

  6. #6
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    Apr 2015
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    Thanks guys,
    I already cut it and followed the drawing. Next uke I'll try the 25mm (3/4") without the cutout detail. I'd really like to attempt that tapered sliding dovetail. I've done them before but not on an instrument. Lutherie is new to me.
    really appreciate the comments.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by johneverett View Post
    Thanks guys,
    I'd really like to attempt that tapered sliding dovetail. I've done them before but not on an instrument.
    Exactly. Dovetail joints are cool and fun to make. But not needed on a ukulele in my opinion. Steel stringed guitar sure maybe. I'm not an engineer, but the stress just doesn't need that kind of joint on a uke. Plus, getting the neck off later becomes a nightmare. A simple mortise and tenon joint and a a bolt works fine for most people. Just me, but I think people over build this joint. Why? Because they are basically carpenters like me and not luthiers. This is the spot where ukuleles are NOT little guitars. PLUS: The dovetail joint is an anachronism from the 19th century and needs to go away. (Ducks and covers and runs away.)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by sequoia View Post
    Plus, getting the neck off later becomes a nightmare.
    I agree with that but it is possible ...But! have you ever tried removing a neck with a spanish heel joint ?? now thats a challenge
    http://ukulele-innovation.tripod.com ebay i/d squarepeg_3000 Email timmsken@hotmail.com

    If you can believe that moving images and sound, can fly through empty space across the universe and be seen and heard on a box in your living room ?.. then you can believe in anything.

  9. #9
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    The joint between the neck and the body is the most important joint in the instrument my friend and it can't really be over-built. Until you have a little more knowledge and have done repairs on uke and guitars for 20+ years, it might be a good idea to tone down your attitude. Rare is the time a neck really needs to come off a uke because of a joint failure and when that happens, a dovetail is not that hard once you know what you are doing. As for bolt on necks, I do just as many repairs for a failed bolt-on neck because the bolt/nut has come loose or got knocked off when the instrument was dropped. Unless you are speaking from knowledge and experience, you should not speak at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by sequoia View Post
    Exactly. Dovetail joints are cool and fun to make. But not needed on a ukulele in my opinion. Steel stringed guitar sure maybe. I'm not an engineer, but the stress just doesn't need that kind of joint on a uke. Plus, getting the neck off later becomes a nightmare. A simple mortise and tenon joint and a a bolt works fine for most people. Just me, but I think people over build this joint. Why? Because they are basically carpenters like me and not luthiers. This is the spot where ukuleles are NOT little guitars. PLUS: The dovetail joint is an anachronism from the 19th century and needs to go away. (Ducks and covers and runs away.)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackBearUkes View Post
    The joint between the neck and the body is the most important joint in the instrument my friend and it can't really be over-built. Until you have a little more knowledge and have done repairs on uke and guitars for 20+ years, it might be a good idea to tone down your attitude. Rare is the time a neck really needs to come off a uke because of a joint failure and when that happens, a dovetail is not that hard once you know what you are doing. As for bolt on necks, I do just as many repairs for a failed bolt-on neck because the bolt/nut has come loose or got knocked off when the instrument was dropped. Unless you are speaking from knowledge and experience, you should not speak at all.
    I'm a little tired of worrying about the repairpeople of the future. An instrument that's built to be unbreakable isn't going to make great music. Spanish heel and dovetail people sign up for their own hassles, and are welcome to them. I like bolts and threaded steel dowels. Its just a choice with no religious or philosophical portent. Instruments break, musicians freak, repairpeople fix them. Its not a big deal. Our job as builders is to make musicians happy. Being careful is the musicians' job, but its secondary to making good music. Sh*t happens, and always will. To believe your instruments will last forever is a really poor bet and not to be fussed over. I think this thread was about tone. A heavy/stiff neck is good for sustain, and a lighter neck is good for volume. You don't have to believe that, but I think it might be true. Ukes don't seem to need a lot of sustain, but need volume. You can take it from there.

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