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Thread: Neck blank prep -tenor

  1. #1
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    Default Neck blank prep -tenor

    2nd build and trying to improve myself.

    Doing a practice neck to refresh my memory (it's never been particularly good and lately it's not getting better!). The 3 different woods I will be experimenting with are mahogany --Philippine, African (Khaya), and Genuine (Honduran?) are all 7/8" or heavier. I built this practice neck from stuff I thicknessed down to 3/4" but it sure looks heavy. Bob Gleason says I should get the thickness close to working dimensions before doing the scarf joint.

    Okay, here's the question: What do you shoot for in terms of thickness to get to the stage I am with this practice neck? And, perhaps, why that dimension?

    Trying to not be nearly the pest I was with the first build...

    Chuck Barnett
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    "Why is it that you never have time to do it right the first time, but you always have time to do it right the second time??"

  2. #2
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    For a tenor, depending on how much final shaping I want to do, I usually aim for a head stock thickness of ~12mm, a raw neck thickness of 14 -15mm at the first fret, and 17-18mm at the tenth fret.
    Dressing can reduce these figures by ~1mm or so.
    I cut the scarf at 19mm, which is the local DAR dimension of a standard quartersawn board.
    For plain or unattractive head stock grain, I add a 0.6mm face veneer.
    Some experienced players have rigid preferences for neck depth and profile, but thankfully, ukulele players are generally less pedantic than guitarists.
    Consider a few opinions before deciding what your approach should be … non-ergonomic necks can impact on the appeal of otherwise well-built instruments.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bazuku View Post
    For a tenor, depending on how much final shaping I want to do, I usually aim for a head stock thickness of ~12mm, a raw neck thickness of 14 -15mm at the first fret, and 17-18mm at the tenth fret.
    Dressing can reduce these figures by ~1mm or so.
    I cut the scarf at 19mm, which is the local DAR dimension of a standard quartersawn board.
    For plain or unattractive head stock grain, I add a 0.6mm face veneer.
    Some experienced players have rigid preferences for neck depth and profile, but thankfully, ukulele players are generally less pedantic than guitarists.
    Consider a few opinions before deciding what your approach should be non-ergonomic necks can impact on the appeal of otherwise well-built instruments.
    Thanks for taking the time to help me with my question. I'll work on getting my head around what you have given me here. 😃
    "Why is it that you never have time to do it right the first time, but you always have time to do it right the second time??"

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bazuku View Post
    For a tenor, depending on how much final shaping I want to do, I usually aim for a head stock thickness of ~12mm, a raw neck thickness of 14 -15mm at the first fret, and 17-18mm at the tenth fret.
    Dressing can reduce these figures by ~1mm or so.
    I cut the scarf at 19mm, which is the local DAR dimension of a standard quartersawn board.
    For plain or unattractive head stock grain, I add a 0.6mm face veneer.
    Some experienced players have rigid preferences for neck depth and profile, but thankfully, ukulele players are generally less pedantic than guitarists.
    Consider a few opinions before deciding what your approach should be non-ergonomic necks can impact on the appeal of otherwise well-built instruments.
    Based on what you suggest I think that the 3/4" thickness (~19 mm) for the blank is ballpark. The numbers to shoot for at various fret locations is down the road from what I was looking for, but certainly useful. My headstock veneer will be thicker since I'll have inlay on it.

    My difficulties last time were about getting the nut location, 14th fret location and peghead thickness to come together. If you plane the headstock the distance from nut to 12 and 14 frets is pushed further out. Conversely, if you plane the top of the neck that distance grows longer. After that battle I decided for future building to forget things downstream and establish the nut location and thickness the back side of the headstock. Then work the rest out. It might be helpful for me to see what the methods are others use who actually know what they're doing with this process.
    "Why is it that you never have time to do it right the first time, but you always have time to do it right the second time??"

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChuckBarnett View Post

    My difficulties last time were about getting the nut location, 14th fret location and peghead thickness to come together. If you plane the headstock the distance from nut to 12 and 14 frets is pushed further out. Conversely, if you plane the top of the neck that distance grows longer. After that battle I decided for future building to forget things downstream and establish the nut location and thickness the back side of the headstock. Then work the rest out. It might be helpful for me to see what the methods are others use who actually know what they're doing with this process.
    Exactly... If you want to decrease your headstock thickness without disturbing the nut location you can sand down the back of the headstock. Obviously if your nut location on the neck gets shorter or longer, you have changed the location of the bridge longer or shorter in order to comply with your calculated scale length. This may move the bridge out of that "sweet-spot" location. Hope that helps. Of course you could change your scale length and fret interval to compensate and keep the same bridge location, but that is bit like the tail wagging the dog so to speak.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sequoia View Post
    Exactly... If you want to decrease your headstock thickness without disturbing the nut location you can sand down the back of the headstock. Obviously if your nut location on the neck gets shorter or longer, you have changed the location of the bridge longer or shorter in order to comply with your calculated scale length. This may move the bridge out of that "sweet-spot" location. Hope that helps. Of course you could change your scale length and fret interval to compensate and keep the same bridge location, but that is bit like the tail wagging the dog so to speak.
    Thanks for responding!

    As I recall the issue of where I would end up with the bridge was of concern with that first build. I ended up adding a thin strip to the front of the bridge plate because I wasn't sure I liked where things would line up. (Clearly, that wasn't the best solution, but it's what I did at the time.)

    I don't like that sort of situation. Hence my goal is to not be flying by the seat of my pants so to speak but think this stuff through more intentionally.

    So I asked lots and lots of questions. Like I said I may not be fast but I sure am slow!
    "Why is it that you never have time to do it right the first time, but you always have time to do it right the second time??"

  7. #7
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    Placement of the bridge on the top is absolutely critical to the way the instrument will sound. Too far back and it will sound plinky. Too far forward and it will sound flabby. Determining this spot is what qualified acoustic instrument designers do. I am not a qualified instrument designer myself so I do what most people do and use a template from a reputable designer (whoever that might be - (Lloyd Loar where are you??? Dead I think). So I use Stew-Mac's old tenor template and it yields a fine sounding instrument. Their new tenor template below:

    Fullscreen capture 422020 121742 PM.jpg

    Note that measurements are not included on this template. I use a much older one that included all the critical measurements. However you can calculate where the center of the bridge plate should be by knowing the the measurement of the entire top from butt end to neck end which is exactly 12 inches. Measure the template (any size it doesn't matter) and determine the center of the bridge plate as a ratio of 12 inches.

    Hope that isn't as clear as mud.

  8. #8
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    A few additions to the previously mentioned points:
    The accurate placement of the nut (departure point) is necessary in preventing you from having to make further (ad hoc) scale adjustments.
    After truing the neck and peghead face surfaces, mark the desired position of the nut accurately with two fine knife lines and do all subsequent measuring/positioning from the lower line. You will then be able to position, trim and shape the heel blocks roughly, before gluing them on. This is providing that your chosen heel block design does not include a stiletto tip, as you will need to leave enough surface area for even clamp force distribution. This tip from the 'School of Lazy Lutherie' negates a bit of rough carving and chisel work, but not the fun shaping bit.
    If you intend to 'sink' the nut slot, do not do it until after the fret locations are marked out and checked for accuracy, as the nut slot position will then be difficult to relocate ... (it's OK to ask me how I know this to be worthwhile advice). Ukulele builders may not be bothered with this step, as it is a guitar 'carry-over' and requires a deeper nut.
    You can then use a small block plane, Safe-T-Planer or thickness sander to complete whatever work you deem necessary to the back of the peghead, without changing any critical geometry.
    If you choose to plane, check regularly to ensure that you are not 'wedging', as that can become an exercise in see-sawing that can result in removing too much wood.
    If you opt for the quicker mechanised methods, ensure that you don't overrun and leave insufficient wood for a strong and smoothly shaped transition.
    Last edited by bazuku; 04-03-2020 at 01:18 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by sequoia View Post
    Placement of the bridge on the top is absolutely critical to the way the instrument will sound. Too far back and it will sound plinky. Too far forward and it will sound flabby. Determining this spot is what qualified acoustic instrument designers do. I am not a qualified instrument designer myself so I do what most people do and use a template from a reputable designer (whoever that might be - (Lloyd Loar where are you??? Dead I think). So I use Stew-Mac's old tenor template and it yields a fine sounding instrument. Their new tenor template below:

    Fullscreen capture 422020 121742 PM.jpg

    Note that measurements are not included on this template. I use a much older one that included all the critical measurements. However you can calculate where the center of the bridge plate should be by knowing the the measurement of the entire top from butt end to neck end which is exactly 12 inches. Measure the template (any size it doesn't matter) and determine the center of the bridge plate as a ratio of 12 inches.

    Hope that isn't as clear as mud.
    Helpful as always, Sequoia! Thank you for the template concept. When I put that first one together I made sure that I was following the plan for scale length, etc. That's why I was concerned that I might have to redo the neck which I had put some time into. I am making a coupleneck templates.
    "Why is it that you never have time to do it right the first time, but you always have time to do it right the second time??"

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bazuku View Post
    A few additions to the previously mentioned points:
    The accurate placement of the nut (departure point) is necessary in preventing you from having to make further (ad hoc) scale adjustments.
    After truing the neck and peghead face surfaces, mark the desired position of the nut accurately with two fine knife lines and do all subsequent measuring/positioning from the lower line. You will then be able to position, trim and shape the heel blocks roughly, before gluing them on. This is providing that your chosen heel block design does not include a stiletto tip, as you will need to leave enough surface area for even clamp force distribution. This tip from the 'School of Lazy Lutherie' negates a bit of rough carving and chisel work, but not the fun shaping bit.
    If you intend to 'sink' the nut slot, do not do it until after the fret locations are marked out and checked for accuracy, as the nut slot position will then be difficult to relocate ... (it's OK to ask me how I know this to be worthwhile advice). Ukulele builders may not be bothered with this step, as it is a guitar 'carry-over' and requires a deeper nut.
    You can then use a small block plane, Safe-T-Planer or thickness sander to complete whatever work you deem necessary to the back of the peghead, without changing any critical geometry.
    If you choose to plane, check regularly to ensure that you are not 'wedging', as that can become an exercise in see-sawing that can result in removing too much wood.
    If you opt for the quicker mechanised methods, ensure that you don't overrun and leave insufficient wood for a strong and smoothly shaped transition.
    Bazuku, you filled in some big gaps in answering my next question! I was stumbled on how the process should flow and now I see I'm on track after all. I have trued the two top surfaces (belt sander is my friend!) and felt that the next logical step was to set the nut location. And you confirmed that!

    I am aware that the Safety Planer can get away from you -My first headstock veneer was double thickness because I wasn't proficient with it.

    Very grateful! And grateful for this forum, as always.
    "Why is it that you never have time to do it right the first time, but you always have time to do it right the second time??"

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