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Forum topic by camps764 posted 11-08-2013 12:36 PM 970 views 1 time favorited 40 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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camps764

816 posts in 1107 days


11-08-2013 12:36 PM

I’m getting ready to start my first guitar build. It will be a solid body telecaster – in cherry.

My question concerns the neck for the guitar.

Do you guys build your own necks, or buy?

When I look out at some of the guitar building forums there seems to be a pretty equal split. Seems like a good tele-style neck will run about $200.

If you build, do you need specialized tools?

If so, could you please help me understand which tools I will need for the neck portion?

As I understand it, outside of my standard WW’ing tools, I will need:

A radius jig/template – for putting the radius on the neck
a fretting jig – for setting up the fret locations on the fingerboard
a fretting saw – either blade for the table saw, or a miter box style

Am I missing anything?

I’m hoping I enjoy this project as much as all my other WW’ing, and will build more guitars in the future. So a tool investment isn’t out of the question, but not ideal.

Thanks!

-- Steve. Visit my website http://www.campbellwoodworking.com


40 replies so far

View twelvepoint's profile

twelvepoint

38 posts in 709 days


#1 posted 11-08-2013 01:25 PM

I am very interested in building something similar. I don’t have much to offer here, but I’ll be lurking!

It does seem like if it’s your first guitar, you may want to limit your scope of work to just body construction, and purchase a neck. There are also some hybrid solutions, where you can build a neck and purchase a pre-slotted fingerboard. There are a lot of options, but I guess I’d consider how many jigs and prototypes and research you’re willing to get into in order to have a guitar, and what you want to get out of it in the process.

-Chris

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

513 posts in 1508 days


#2 posted 11-08-2013 01:56 PM

It just depends on how much of the work you want to do yourself. Some people want to get it finished as fast as possible, some enjoy the actual building process. I built an acoustic guitar years ago from instructions in a book and a few looks inside a top end store-bought one using a mirror and a flashlight. It is not difficult. It is exacting work though and not for the ham fisted types. Building the neck isn’t difficult. Building the fret board is precise work though. I hand cut the fret grooves with a small saw using two pieces of wood clamped to the saw sides as depth gauges. Slow going but doable.

Planeman
.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

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12strings

433 posts in 1131 days


#3 posted 11-08-2013 02:37 PM

I’ve build one with Tele-style guitar, I made the body, but bought a neck. That is just because I was scared to make a neck, especially getting the frets in the exact right place. I bought my neck on ebay for $50, though now I can’t tell you what kind of quality it was…I no longer have the guitar. If you’re making a neck, You also need to consider the truss-rod, btw.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

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CharlieM1958

15793 posts in 2965 days


#4 posted 11-08-2013 02:50 PM

If you plan to make a playable guitar, keep in mind that the straightness and flatness of the neck are critical. Commercial guitar makers end up discarding a good number of necks because they warp, bow, or otherwise become imperfect after initial shaping. It could conceivably take you several tries to have one come out right. Then, as Planeman pointed out, there is the matter of fret placement. Again, this is extremely critical. If the frets are not installed perfectly, the guitar will not play in tune.

I have not built any guitars yet myself, so I’m no expert. But from what I know as a guitar player, I definitely would not attempt a neck on my first build.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2169 posts in 1597 days


#5 posted 11-08-2013 04:24 PM

Bass builder here, but I faced the same dilemma when I realized I had something unique to contribute to the bassplaying community.

Echoing Charlie’s wise contribution, I felt I didn’t have two spare years to spend perfecting my neckbuilding before I could get the product to market. I was old then, not necessarily wise. I am older now, and I look upon that decision as a good one.

My upper end instruments have necks by Warmoth. The others come from Allparts (paddlehead—I shape my own headstocks). I have had zero problems with the latter, a few with the former, and that is from a much greater number of pieces.

Oh—and by the way—there’s another Steve Campbell out there with remarkable (acoustic) instruments.

There are numerous guitar players out who have decided to build their own instruments, and the results are beautifully rendered in this priceless metaphorical drama.

Your woodworking background is a wonderful platform from which to launch this endeavor.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Loren's profile

Loren

7822 posts in 2395 days


#6 posted 11-08-2013 04:42 PM

I build acoustics so building the necks is kind of obligatory. It
is not complicated especially. The fretwork is the fussiest
part. You can buy slotted fretboards for not much more
money than blanks.

I built a miter box with UHMW guides and use LMI templates
and their pin (which I got them to sell me but it was
not cheap). The saw is a Sandvik gent’s saw which I
stoned to reduce the set for the kerf I wanted. It was
a hassle to build but the LMI model was like $250 so
I saved a lot of money building is myself.

You might want to ask around in your town to find a luthier
with the equipment. When I was starting out I sought the
advice of a guy who built archtops and he slotted one
or two fretboards for me on a table saw he used only
for that.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View twelvepoint's profile

twelvepoint

38 posts in 709 days


#7 posted 11-08-2013 04:53 PM

So for slotting fretboards, how does that work? If there’s a radius on the fretboard, which there will be unless you’re building classical guitars, passing a blank over a table saw (or on a hand miter saw, for that matter) will create a deeper cut at the center than the edges. Is that how slots are cut, or is there a trick to rotating the fingerboard over a saw to have the slot depth even from edge to center?

-Chris

View Loren's profile

Loren

7822 posts in 2395 days


#8 posted 11-08-2013 05:00 PM

The fingerboard is usually slotted before it is shaped or even
tapered. The slots can be deepened with a hand saw at the
edges after radiusing if needed to prevent the frets from
bottoming out at the ends.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2169 posts in 1597 days


#9 posted 11-08-2013 05:01 PM

The slots are deeper in the center. You’d like Leo Fender’s solution to this: A long saw arbor with a blade for each fret. The neck was clamped in a gantry like thing that swing over the saw arbor. All the slots cut at once, fixed spacing, zip. Longer to clamp and unclamp the work than to make the multitudinous cuts.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Loren's profile

Loren

7822 posts in 2395 days


#10 posted 11-08-2013 05:08 PM

I’ll add that in production settings the fredboard may be
glued to the neck before slotting with a machine like
Lee described. This allows the glue to cure so there
won’t be any weirdness introduced by the gluing
process. I slot the board, taper it, glue it to the neck,
flatten it after the glue cures, then put the frets in.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Texcaster's profile

Texcaster

729 posts in 421 days


#11 posted 11-08-2013 07:29 PM

The others have covered it pretty well. You will never regret building the neck as well. Stewmac has good, easy to use fret templates

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Special_tools_for_Fretting/Dual_Fret_Scale_Templates.html

frets.com is a great resource, everything about fretting and setup.

http://www.frets.com/

-- Bill....... " was you dryin' your nails or a wavin' me goodbye?" Tom Waits

View camps764's profile

camps764

816 posts in 1107 days


#12 posted 11-08-2013 08:42 PM

you guys are great, thanks!

I was on the fence about the neck. But after reading through everything, I think I will go the pre-made route.

I’ve read good reviews of the Allparts necks…seems like a lot of builders out there use their stuff.

I’m not in a huge rush to get it done and playable – I have other’s that I didn’t build.

This is really an opportunity to share my passion for woodworking with my Brother – who loves guitar playing as much as I love WW’ing.

Maybe I will venture down the neck building route on the next one….or put that off to the side of the bench and try a few prototypes out as I get more confident/comfortable. I will also drop into our local luthier’s shop and get their insight/help as well along the way.

-- Steve. Visit my website http://www.campbellwoodworking.com

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

5601 posts in 2122 days


#13 posted 11-08-2013 11:50 PM

For a first time build I’d definitely buy the neck…..not a bad idea for a 2nd or 3rd time either! The body isn’t too hard to make. It costs a bit more, but I’d pick my own proprietary electronics and follow a known schematic… most of the kit pickups sound like a typical $100 Strat clone, with little character. There are hundreds of free schematics online. Places like Projectguitar.com, MIMF.com, and Harmonycentral.com can offer good advice. Good luck!

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View camps764's profile

camps764

816 posts in 1107 days


#14 posted 11-09-2013 12:24 AM

Thanks Scott – appreciate the input – The body portion definitely seems straight forward. Going to do some work to reduce the overall weight on the body.

now I just have to decide on where to get the neck from. I was thinking allparts…but warmoth prices seem a little better.

The Mighty Mite necks are cheaper still…but have mixed reviews. There are also some Fender necks floating around on ebay…and the asking price on them isn’t too bad…but I hesitate to order a neck off ebay sight unseen.

I’m new to wiring and all that business as well. I’m planning to put Lindy Fralin Blues special in it, or Twang King at the neck and Vintage broadcaster on the bridge…haven’t quite decided yet. Either way, a tele needs some twang :)

Will definitely check out those sites you recommended….plus spend some time at the guitar shops here in town talking to the luthiers about electronics.

-- Steve. Visit my website http://www.campbellwoodworking.com

View Loren's profile

Loren

7822 posts in 2395 days


#15 posted 11-09-2013 12:38 AM

An advantage to building the neck is it can be customized
to player preference. I’m indiosychratic in the way I
shape necks for my own guitars. Some players like
them while others don’t. I seldom play in “blues position”
and some players demand a neck that allows
the position. All production electric guitars
and almost all non-handmade acoustic guitars
make this compromise. This is because a minority
of guitarists are trained in classical playing, but there
are certainly styles, particularly for steel string, which
demand the blues position.

That said, if I was building a 6 string electric (personally
I’d just buy a used one if I wanted one), I would
not make the neck myself unless I wanted to
do something unusual. Fretted necks can be
got pretty cheap and compared to the labor
of making one, my time would be better spent
elsewhere.

Check out b-bender telecasters. I built a b—bender
a few years back for a $50 strat copy I had at the
time and had a great time playing it for awhile.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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