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Thread: Headstock attachment questions

  1. #1
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    Question Headstock attachment questions

    Hi All,

    Trawling through the internet I see a number of ways to create necks ... in particular in terms of the headstock connection:
    * cut from single piece.
    * Scarf joint.
    * "V" joint.
    * Stacked joint.
    Disclaimer: Please don't cry if I missed any out of the list ... Other types may also exist

    Now I kind of get the appeal of single piece and scarf joints when sorting out a headstock.

    Is the stacked headstock method a big no no? If so is that due to strength issues and/or the look of the finished neck? or maybe another reason?

    Regarding the "V" joint I saw some people do these on the internet but mainly on guitars. Is this pretty pointless for a ukulele/in general? anyone ever bothered to try it?

    Cheers

    Andy...

  2. #2
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    I've done lots of V joints. At one time (like a few hundred years ago) it was just about the only joint ever done, until the scarf came along. You can consider the V more of a decorative feature. It takes much longer to do than a simple scarf, it takes a lot more skill and hardly any player gives two hoots what type of joint is done. You rarely get any more money for the extra work anyway.
    Cutting Necks out of single piece can be a bit wasteful and you end up with short grain on the headstock. I suppose if you have a decent bandsaw it's quick.
    Take your pick.

  3. #3
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    As a hobby builder I've tried all the methods you list. My first uke had a stacked head and also had wings (to give the required width). The only place the joint was visible was on the back and that was partially covered with the machine heads. I tried the V joint on one instrument but couldn't see any point in spending the extra time doing it!

    The scarf joint is quick and easy and I suppose is least wasteful of wood so that's the one I use most. It's the joint found on many mass produced ukes.

    You don't mention laminating which gives a stronger neck and prevents any tendency for warping. I've used this for a continuous neck/head and for a neck with a scarf jointed head.

    Just for the sake of doing it, my last tenor (with scarf joint) was reinforced with carbon fibre, giving a stronger and stiffer neck. Many makers consider use of carbon fibre on a uke (rather than a guitar) to be overkill.
    Last edited by greenscoe; 08-27-2015 at 03:12 AM.

  4. #4
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    To me, the heel causes the most waste in a one piece neck more than the headstock. If you do glued up blocks to make the heel then there isn't any reason you can't get a good yield out of a large board. The "waste" can be used for haed and tailblocks. It just takes some creative planning.

    When I do a scarf joint, I put the scarf in the headstock and not the neck. Then I use wings on either side. I use this method with steel string mandolins and haven't ever had a problem and there is a lot of tension on one compared to a uke.
    Last edited by thistle3585; 08-27-2015 at 03:28 AM.

  5. #5
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    Stacked headstock/heel are just simple ways to use short bits of wood that would otherwise be pretty useless.

    V joint, Forget it for the reasons michael said- it's now primarily used for ultra purists in replica instruments....i have another name for them but i cant say it here.

    Scarf joint- great, strong at nut (no short grain)

    One piece necks- also great, time saver, wood waster, less strong at the nut (short grain). Synonymous with high end instruments hence why i reluctantly use them now due to the markets perception of anything else...

  6. #6
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    thanks for the info everyone. Much appreciated.

    Sounding like I'm edging towards the scarf joint as it seems to offer less wastage and no short grain ... especially as I have no interest in market perception and getting thick lumps of decent wood is sometimes tricky.

    Laminating ... hmmm .... now there's an idea. I'll have to read up on that topic as I'm unclear whether I can get away with using flat sawn wood turned on it's side (opens up more wood purchasing options here in the UK) and whether the lamination (assuming 3 part plus any thin veneers) mean I am less likey to need a CF rod in the neck. Ah ... the joy of trawling UU and the general internet whilst pretending to work in the office.

    thanks,

    Andy...

  7. #7
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    I use the scarf joint, and if you add a peg head veneer to both sides, that join in next to invisible. And far stronger than will ever be necessary.

  8. #8
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    Short grain weak point? This is a complete red herring unless you have a headstock break angle more than 45 degrees... all types have their pros and cons. I prefer one piece necks because of the look. Stacked and scarfed neck require perfect quarter to look right. The Gibson solution is another good look that uses flatsawn stock in a sensible way.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beau Hannam Ukuleles View Post

    One piece necks- also great, time saver, wood waster, less strong at the nut (short grain). Synonymous with high end instruments hence why i reluctantly use them now due to the markets perception of anything else...
    Interesting to me that one piece necks are synonymous with high-end instruments. I would guess it looks better to the eye. I remember reading many, many years ago that the scarf joint is actually stronger than the one piece neck/head stock connection. Has something to do with glue lamination and grain. Counter intuitive I always thought, but true I'm told.

    This is why I think the V joint was invented: When steel string guitars first became popular around the turn of century(?), the strings were like piano wire and the stresses were causing the pegheads to detach in nasty ways which was very, very bad for the manufacturers ($$$!!!). The old classical guitar joint just wasn't cutting it anymore. Thus the V joint. It works sorta by interrupting the lateral stresses, but the labor time just didn't justify the time except on high end instruments.

    This is not even an issue with ukuleles since the stresses are so much less. However, this will always be a vulnerable joint/place on the instrument just due to its nature.

  10. #10
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    I doubt the V joint had anything to do with the introduction of the steel string guitar. V joints were around in 1580 (or thereabouts) and metal strings had been around for hundreds of years too. By the time that the steel strung guitar came about metal string manufacture was pretty advanced.
    The V joint appeared on steel string Guitars for the simple reason that Martin was trained in the Stauffer workshop. Practically every Guitar made in N. Europe up until around 1880 had the V joint. They only really changed to the scarf joint when the influence of Torres came about. The V joint never went away. Countless thousands (maybe countless hundreds of thousands) of Guitars were made in and around the Schonbach area of Germany during the 19th and 20 th centuries. The V joint (sometimes referred to as the Fussen joint) was prevalent. It was simply part of the tradition and the way that guitars were made. Those guys were so quick at executing it that they could probably have a V joint complete before you could spread glue on your scarf joint.
    You see these types of Guitars all over Ebay, although for the most part they never were the most refined guitars ever made. They were Guitars for the masses. Hofner came out of that tradition, although Hofner are now located in Bubenreuth.
    Richard Jacob Weissgerber was probably it's best known maker. He reputedly made some 4,000 Guitars during a long career. He had an astonishing output for someone largely working by himself. Even more astonishing given the number of different models that he made, all done with basic hand tools. He was one of the few makers who was allowed to work for himself under the former East German government. A fascinating maker if ever there was one.

    http://www.studia-instrumentorum.de/...rber_index.htm

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