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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 8:22 am 
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Koa
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So I've endeavored to build an electric guitar but this is something I've been thinking alot about for the past few weeks.

I like the concept of the carbon fiber supported neck ala Vigier guitars. The shop I currently work for sells them and I've had alot of time to handle them and see how they're constructed. They do not build their instruments with a truss rod, the entire neck is supported by a single large beam of carbon fiber inlaid into the wood. They get fantastic results and the guitars are very playable.

This isn't a plug for Vigier. What I'd like to know from someone who's used carbon reinforcements in a neck is what did you think of the results that you got? How would you rate the longevity of the carbon vs. an adjustable neck?

My guitar would have a bolt on neck ala F*nder to adjust for neck angle. It seems like a mortise and tenon neck without an adjustable truss would be a bad idea.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 8:49 am 
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I've used dual 1/8" x 3/8" CF rods in the neck but I also combined them with a truss rod. They do stiffen the neck considerably. Turned out to be a great combination on a replacement neck I made for an ES335 12-string copy.

I think a neck with only a CF rod for reinforcement should be fine but you will have to compression fret to get the neck relief right and if there is a change in the neck relief at some point down the road then your only option will be to refret since you won't be able to adjust it. Personally, I wouldn't do it.

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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 9:09 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Read Steve's second paragraph carefully, he's spot on - not having a truss rod can bite you down the road..... Stuff happens....

I'll add that sometimes the only way to save a dried out guitar without unnatural acts... is to rely on not only the truss rod but it's helpful to have a double action rod.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 9:25 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Electric guitars don't have the string tension of acoustic guitars so that's probably why they are ok with it. If you can build a neck that is so strong it will not distort from string tension then in theory you are fine without an adjustable rod. In practice though the adjustable rod is the next best thing to sliced bread. I am curious as to why you would not want to use an adjustable rod?


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 9:27 am 
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The neck joint choice is not much related to the truss rod. It is less stressful to build a bolt-on neck guitar because you can fine adjust the angle after you string it up.
A well made truss rod allows the vast majority of neck issues a guitar might develop over fifty years to be dealt with routinely. Without the truss rod the day will come sooner when the fretboard will need to be reshaped. That is not the end of the world, you remove the frets, sand the board with a truly flat tool being careful to only remove the wood that was making some areas of the fretboard have too low of an action.
Carbon fiber is not infinitely stiff. The neck will still have different relief with different gauges of strings.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 9:30 am 
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Have done it with truss rods, and without. With is better.

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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 10:21 am 
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Different players like different setups, it's good to be able to adjust.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 11:27 am 
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Koa
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I've done enough repair work to see a variety of guitars come over my bench without truss rods. Nearly every one needed some neck adjustment and having a truss rod would have made things a lot easier. I use a dual rod with 2 strips of CF on either side on my new builds.

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These users thanked the author Josh H for the post: ChuckH (Thu May 12, 2016 10:51 pm)
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 11:55 am 
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Having a truss rod makes life a lot easier, and I always put one in. However, if someone or something forced me to build a guitar without a truss rod, I would want to make sure that I had access to something like an Erlewine neck jig to get the guitar set up right. Having carbon fiber in the neck makes the neck stiff, but it doesn't guarantee that the neck will be straight after string pressure is added, nor does it guarantee that the frets will all be the perfect height for playing under real life conditions. This isn't just about the ravages of time; it is also about whether the guitar ever plays right in the first place. It takes more work to get that first setup right when you have to do it without a truss rod.

If you are just getting started, don't hobble yourself; put a truss rod in the guitar. That's my $0.02.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 12:39 pm 
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I've never made an electric but I did do the carbon fiber plus truss rod thing for awhile. I found they were to stiff, I couldn't get proper relief. So I switched to just the rod.

I'd say it would be hit or miss with just CF in an electric.

If I did try it, for at least the first, I would assemble the guitar without frets, put in a short nut, string it up and leave it under tension for a week or so then check relief. If it is not were I want it I would sand relief in or out of the neck. When I got it right I would fret it.

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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 12:57 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Joe, just use smaller carbon rods.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 2:13 pm 
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Both. CF + truss rod. While it may not need much adjustment, your guitar is more "sellable" with it.
Easy to do

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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 2:49 pm 
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beehive I never found CF augmentation necessary or desirable with my guitars. And... I always used a double action rod as well.

We have attempted to work on small builder instruments with CF augmentation and a truss rod that could not deal with the CF and was useless.... The two ideas can be counter to each other if not well thought out.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 3:02 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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This is a good argument for the smaller carbon bars I use, which do not overwhelm the truss rod. My carbon bars are 0.092" wide by 1/4" high from Dragon Plate.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 4:17 pm 
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I've built several with both CF bars and a double action truss rod, and a few with just truss rods. I am going to stop using CF bars for a while. I am with Hesh; I don't want the truss rod to have to fight with the CF bars. And if the CF bars are small enough to be easily overpowered by the truss rod, then I don't know what benefit they add over the wood they replace. Like I said earlier, they don't guarantee a straight neck; only a stiffer neck. A good truss rod gives both stiffness and the ability to be adjusted.

My answer would change if I were trying to build a very long, thin neck, like on some electrics. I can definitely see the benefits of shoring up a neck like that with both CF bars and a truss rod. I've played some electrics with necks that are too flexible, and they are NO fun at all to keep in tune.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 4:27 pm 
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Koa
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To answer the question of why. I was simply considering all my options and the topic of CF came up with a discussion at my shop about certain makers using ONLY cf with no truss rod.

To me it simply seems like a good way to keep stable over a longer period of time. But as mentioned, if something goes wrong there is a bit more involved in fixing the issue.

One thing I have considered as well, is using cf to straighten a neck that doesn't have one such as some pre-war guitars and such. I'm certain that would affect the vintage value of them, but it might be a good alternative to installing a full on truss rod?


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 11:52 pm 
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If going with only carbon fiber I'd consider using either the D-tube
https://dragonplate.com/ecart/categories.asp?cID=130

or fabricate your own equivalent as Mr. LeGeyt has done.
viewtopic.php?f=10101&t=43737&hilit=carbon

Those two solutions look pretty bomb-proof. The two CF bars that a lot of makers use will make things a lot stiffer but not enough to guarantee that a neck that wants to move stays put.
Also, if I was doing this, I'd fret the the way Mario P. does so you're not introducing any forces that want to cause a back-bow when fretting (not really sure you could move one of these type necks with frets but would want to be safe)...and I'd carefully build any relief you want into the system.

I honestly think it can work well...but I also think it takes a lot more skill, time, work, and $ to get it right.


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