Official Luthiers Forum!

Solely owned and operated by Lance Kragenbrink
It is currently Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:26 pm


All times are UTC - 5 hours





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 38 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 12:18 pm 
Offline
Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
Posts: 9898
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
First name: Hesh
Last Name: Breakstone
Country: United States
Status: Professional
How well you fit a neck to a new guitar is one of the things that pro builders will surely look at when evaluating your work.  And getting a "perfect", gapless, joint is something that is not all that easy to accomplish.

In addition, when fitting a neck the builder also must take into consideration the geometry of the guitar and the neck angle as well.

I thought that some might appreciate seeing how I fit a bolt-on, Watkins neck to a guitar. 

As always this is just how I do things now and subject to change.  And as redundant as this is to say - there are many ways to do most things in guitar building.  Today I am just attempting to share one method with the sincere hope that this will help someone be more successful with their own guitar building.

As much as I tried this is going to be a very long tutorial.  In order to put this together I will use multiple posts in this same thread.  I would respectfully request that comments, questions, and better ways to do things be held until I complete the entire presentation.  At that point, as always I encourage any contribution of questions, comments, and improvements that anyone would wish to add.  Many thanks!

Today we will be fitting a neck to an OLF SJ that I bound in my last tutorial. 



Prior to starting to fit the neck it is important to sand with a block the area of the guitar where the neck and guitar meet.  Although a flat area is far easier to fit a neck to I personally never liked the look of guitars with the upper bout flattened.  So I continue the curves and spend a bit more time fitting the neck.  Regardless - true up this area be it curved or flat with a block and sand paper.

Once that is done the neck is trial fitted.



Step one for me is to determine if the neck is centered, left or right, on the guitar when facing the guitar.  For this task I use a neck alignment jig from Tracy at luthier Suppliers, an OLF sponsor.  This is an excellent jig and a major time savor for me.  If you do not have one of Tracy's jigs you can accomplish the same thing with a 36" straight edge.

To use a straight edge simply place tape across the face of the neck in the nut area and at the area where the neck meets the body and make a mark in the exact center of the the two pieces of tape denoting the centerline of the neck.

A third mark is also made on the tail end of the guitar in the exact center of the guitar.  The goal is to align all three marks if using a straight edge or to simply have the alignment jig rest over the mark on the tail if using the jig.

Here is the mark that I made in the exact center of the tail end of the guitar.



The process that I use has three steps:

1)  Align the neck left or right - improve the neck joint
2)  Set the neck angle for the guitar - further improve the joint
3)  Once all angles are correct make a perfect neck joint

Here is a shot of the Luthier Supplier neck alignment jig that I use.



Here we see the neck trial fitted so we can determine where we have to get busy.



Prior to starting to align the neck and fit the neck the area around the tenon needs to be relieved so that the neck will eventually sit flush on the curved upper bout of the guitar.  Even if your upper bout is flat you will benefit from relieving the excess material around the tenon as you fit the neck.

This is what my neck looked like after I initially relieved the excess material around the tenon.



How you remove this material is completely up to you.  I use a Dremel tool with a bit that I have no idea what it is... and chisels.  Be very careful to not damage the neck on the out side surfaces.....



Please note that when using a Dremel only work in directions where if the tool slips it will not ding the outside of the neck.

With the neck trial fitted and bolted into place and using the alignment method of your choice check the alignment, left or right, of the neck against the center mark on the tail end of the guitar.

Here we see that my neck is off center by well over 1/4" and leaning to the right when facing the guitar.



This means that I need to remove material to make the neck lean more to the left.  I also place a mark where the alignment jig indicated that the neck was/is initially set at so I can track my progress.

Early on in the fitting process and when major material needs to be removed I use self stick 120 grit sand paper and attach it to the guitar.  The neck is sanded on the sand paper by moving it forward and aft with emphasis/pressure applied to the high side.



Once the neck is sitting more level and I wish to only sand one side of the neck at a time I will use 1" wide strips of 120 grit and pull them between the guitar and neck.  The grit side is of course up toward the neck since that is what we are attempting to sand here.....  This process is called "flossing the cheeks...."  Really - I didn't make that up......



When flossing your cheeks... what you want to do is pull the sand paper toward you and downward attempting to use an even, full stroke.  It helps to lodge the sand paper strip right up against the tenon and I find that it tends to tear or break less when supported by the side of the tenon.

One hand is of course holding the neck in place since it is not bolted and just sitting on the guitar and the other hand is what you use to pull the sand paper strip with.  Again be sure to pull out and down.  It is very easy to pull out and up and this will create problems for the fit if you do so.



We are attempting to sand down the cheeks on the left side of the neck so that the neck will be more in alignment with the center line of the guitar.

Notice from the sand paper strip the material that we are removing.



Once the neck has been flossed check the relieved area around the tenon and repeat the step of relieving additional material as required.  What you want to see is a strip of material that contacts the body of the guitar but also retain the relieved area as well so as to not have this area interfere with seating the neck.



Next, and before further reducing the left side of the neck we check our alignment once again.

Here we can see that we have indeed moved the neck alignment more toward center and it is close enough, for now, to move on to the neck step.  Remember that step one is centering the neck, left to right, and improving the neck to body joint.



I'll continue in a moment in a new post - my dog (Sony) has to be emptied.....









Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:13 pm 
Offline
Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
Posts: 9898
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
First name: Hesh
Last Name: Breakstone
Country: United States
Status: Professional
Sony thanks you for your patience.....  Me too.....

OK step two is very critical and it is setting the proper neck angle.  Although various builders use different specs for this I like to set the neck angle so that with the fret board on the neck and the bridge properly located a straight edge will skim the top of the bridge and be about 1/32" above the bridge.  The straight edge is pressed firmly on the fretboard and any bow of the fret board is pressed flat as well.

Here we see the BRW fret board and bridge located where they will live.



Although it is difficult to see from this picture the straight edge is sitting to high above the bridge.  This means that the neck is leaning to far back and the neck angle must be improved.



Please note that I like to do the neck fitting prior to attaching the fret board.  Every thing is easier to get at and work with and you can also floss from the front of the guitar this way.  Although we will endeavor for a perfect fit of the joint and a perfect neck angle and neck alignment now once the fret board is attached things will be rechecked and if any minor adjustments are required they remain just that - minor.

Since the neck is leaning slightly to far back this means that we need to remove material from the front area of the neck cheeks.  I do this with a block and sand paper and try to sneak up on it rather then risk taking off to much material with a chisel or any other method.

With the block I try to just sand the front areas of both cheeks also counting my strokes in an attempt to preserve the previously gained left/ right neck alignment.





You can also reinstall the self stick sand paper and sand the neck on the body taking care to only sand the front of the neck cheeks.



After the front of the neck cheeks have been sanded the neck is bolted in place again and the left/right alignment and the neck angle are again checked.



Here we see that the neck angle has been improved, the straight edge sits closer to the top of the bridge.



Now with the neck angle getting close, the left/right alignment very close as well, it's time to go at the neck joint while keeping in mind any improvements that we need to still make to the neck angle and alignment.  In this case some additional material will need to come off the front of the neck cheeks and the near centered neck alignment simply needs to be preserved.

I move on to flossing again taking care to attempt to "read the joint."  What I mean by reading the joint is that the neck joint will tell you where it has high spots and where the gaps are.  With a little practice you will learn that you can only insert the sand paper strips part way into the joint and only concentrate on problem areas if you wish.  You also have the option of working from either the back or the front of the guitar again isolating problem areas.

Since we are trying to preserve the alignment that we worked on earlier be sure to count your strokes and repeat the exact number of times on both sides.

Here if you look closely you will see the the front most edge of the neck has a slight gap between the guitar's binding.  Now that you have "read" the joint you can elect to place the neck so that it over hangs the body over the binding so that when you floss you are no longer creating a gap here.





Once my neck joint is gapless I again recheck the left/right alignment and the neck angle and if they are perfect I move on to flossing on both sides with 220 grit.



Once I am satisfied that my joint is perfect I again recheck the alignment and neck angle.

Here we see that the alignment is perfect.  Remember that you can manipulate the left or right alignment simply by flossing more on the high side.



And the neck angle is rechecked once again as well.  The straight edge now comes in over the properly located bridge 1/32" above the bridge. 



And the results, a very nice neck joint - here is the left side.



And the right side.



Achieving a great neck joint is something that you will get better and better at from experience.  I am sure that this tutorial alone will not get you where you wish to go.  Learning to read the joint, keep an eye on relieving excess material next to the tenon, and constantly checking and rechecking your progress toward proper alignment and neck angle will provide you with excellent neck joints too.

As an added bonus I was asked by 3 members how I photograph these tutorials where sometimes it seems difficult to be holding a camera.  Most of my camera work is by hand but for some shots I set up as below.



I have a very well lit shop with various spots that I can direct where I want them.  Photographing what I am doing is great fun for me and only takes seconds to do most of the time.  I just replaced all my florescent bulbs last week because these lights tend to lose half the lumen output in one years time.



And of course I use a timer when I can't sling the camera.

Thanks very much folks for looking!





Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:21 pm 
Offline
Koa
Koa

Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2005 6:35 am
Posts: 1325
Location: Kings Mtn., NC, USA
First name: Bill
Last Name: Greene
City: Kings Mountain
State: North Carolina
Zip/Postal Code: 28086
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I mean it when I say your tutorials are just great...helpful, thorough and very well done. Thanks greatly for the time it takes to do these.

Bill

_________________
Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:30 pm 
Offline
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:25 am
Posts: 3788
Location: Russellville, Arkansas
Toot on Hesh, nice job.

_________________
http://www.dickeyguitars.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:31 pm 
Offline
Cocobolo
Cocobolo
User avatar

Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 3:45 pm
Posts: 206
Location: United States

Thanks Hesh,


very well done. I'll be cutting and pasting to word and saving this.


Thanks for doing this


Peter



Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:31 pm 
Offline
Cocobolo
Cocobolo
User avatar

Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:29 pm
Posts: 156
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Excellent Hesh! Some cool tricks there and I will check into that neck
alignment jig. For what it's worth, Gibson uses a similiar jig to locate the
bridge. Thanks again.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:33 pm 
Offline
Koa
Koa

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 3:20 pm
Posts: 632
Location: United States
Excellent job Hesh. You make a strong contribution to the OLF always.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:46 pm 
Offline
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:25 am
Posts: 3788
Location: Russellville, Arkansas
Hey, that's a Rosewood Guild CD on your wall. Hesh, you must be part of the conspiracy, aha!

_________________
http://www.dickeyguitars.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:59 pm 
Offline
Contributing Member
Contributing Member
User avatar

Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2006 7:37 am
Posts: 4184
This must've taken a lot of time. Thanks, Hesh. They way you remove
material from the interior of the heel, next to the tenon, is something
John Mayes does in his neck fitting video, too.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 2:01 pm 
Offline
Contributing Member
Contributing Member
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2005 1:43 am
Posts: 1501
Location: Morral, OH
Hey Hesh,
This is a monumental occasion. I noticed our post card is ABOVE Somogyi's bumper sticker. This is a first (and only) for us. Thanks for making our day!

_________________
tim...
http://www.mcknightguitars.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 2:42 pm 
Offline
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 3:15 pm
Posts: 2302
Location: Florida
Well done my friend!  Couldnt have said it better if I tried.

_________________
Reguards,

Ken H


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 2:55 pm 
Offline
Koa
Koa

Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:23 pm
Posts: 1693
Location: United States
First name: Lillian
Last Name: Fuller-Watson
State: WA
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Hesh, are you taking apprentices?

_________________
Aoibeann


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 2:58 pm 
Offline
Koa
Koa
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 6:17 am
Posts: 1903
Location: Evanston, IL
First name: Steve
Last Name: Courtright
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Nice one, Hesh, and clear as could be as always.

_________________
"Building guitars looks hard, but it's actually much harder than it looks." Tom Buck


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:15 pm 
Offline
Koa
Koa
User avatar

Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2007 1:14 pm
Posts: 761
First name: Blain
City: Leander
State: Texas
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Thank you for taking the time to create this tutorial Hesh. Very nice indeed!

_________________
Thanks,
Blain

http://www.ullrichguitar.com

"89.67% of all statistics are made up on the spot."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:28 pm 
Offline
Koa
Koa
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jun 24, 2006 12:41 pm
Posts: 975
Location: United States
First name: Tracy
Last Name: Leveque
City: Denver
State: CO
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Great Job Hesh! So glad to see others getting the benefit of using this jig. It
really makes my day to see it being used in the real world! Great tutorial,
and I have saved this one for further reference. Bravo!
Tracy

_________________
Tracy
http://www.luthiersuppliers.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:04 pm 
Offline
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:11 am
Posts: 2761
Location: Tampa Bay
First name: Dave
Last Name: Anderson
City: Clearwater
State: Florida
Zip/Postal Code: 33755
Country: United States
Hesh, That's a good tip using a dremel to take off material.I've always just chiseled it. By having 1/32 above the bridge,how much saddle height do you get? I would like to have a little more saddle on my next one.I have been having the straight edge just scrape the top of the bridge.

_________________
Anderson Guitars
Clearwater,Fl. 33755


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:55 pm 
Offline
Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
Posts: 9898
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
First name: Hesh
Last Name: Breakstone
Country: United States
Status: Professional
Many thanks everyone!!!!!

Tim my freind your guitars are World-class instruments and the honor is mine to have your logo displayed in my shop.  Thanks for the model air plane too......

Bruce Buddy it is also my sincere honor to display Waddy's CD, Paul Woolson's clamp and other mementos of our OLF pals.  Somogyi made me buy the bumper sticker.....

Tracy thank YOU for the very cool alignment jig.  I have used it on many guitars now and it greatly speeds up the process.  When I first received it I would use it, then use a straight edge to additionally check my results.....  In time I learned that the jig is more accurate then a straight edge because the straight edge depends to much on me to line up three marks and see clearly too.......  So now I never use the straight edge for neck alignment.

What would be even cooler is some kind of optional mod to the neck alignment jig that aligns bridges with a straight leading edge so that one corner is not higher then the other.  Almost like a T-square attachment.  Hint, hint.......

Dave I like a taller then usual saddle and these settings will give me, with my bridge design, a 1/8" - 5/32" saddle height on the low E while the low E is exactly 1/2" above the guitar body at the leading edge of the bridge.  This is with a medium/low action set-up and a 5/32ths" saddle width.



Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:34 am 
Offline
Koa
Koa

Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2005 10:29 am
Posts: 556
Location: United States
nice job Mr. Hesh


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:55 am 
Offline
Walnut
Walnut

Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:53 am
Posts: 9
Location: Canada
Thanks Hesh!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:12 am 
Offline
Mahogany
Mahogany

Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:57 am
Posts: 97
Location: East Granby, CT

Great tutorial Hesh - I've learned a lot from you already and I've only been on this forum a couple weeks!


What's your Day Job?


Mitch



Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:14 am 
Offline
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Mon Dec 27, 2004 3:50 pm
Posts: 4662
Location: Napa, CA
Very, very cool Hesh! Clear, concise and more understandable than any publication on the topic! Kudos and praises, Bro!!!


_________________
JJ
Napa, CA
http://www.DonohueGuitars.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:17 am 
Offline
Mahogany
Mahogany

Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:57 am
Posts: 97
Location: East Granby, CT
Hesh - A Watkins neck? whazzat? whereintheheckdoyougetit?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:20 am 
Offline
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 7:29 am
Posts: 3840
Location: England
Nice Hesh. Two things I have found helpful when doing this. One, stick shiny parcel tape to the back of the flossing sandpaper so that it slides more easily on the guitar body and stops it tearing. Two, floss from both directions, as by doing it from only the back side there is a danger of sanding more from the back end of the heel and changing the neck angle so that more correction is needed to bring the neck angle down.

Colin

_________________
I don't believe in anything, I simply make use of a set of reasonable working hypotheses.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:27 am 
Offline
Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2006 3:14 am
Posts: 299
Location: United States
Great tute Hesh! Why do you need a trojy when you have the patent pending Heshtone Knee Vise, complete with sweatpants or denim jaw covers



Seriously, thanks for all your help. You're a real Mensch.

_________________
Matt Jacobs

"Don't tase me bro"


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 2:19 am 
Offline
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:21 pm
Posts: 2465
Location: Alexandria MN
That's nice Hesh. Very complete. What angle does John Watkins build into
the cheeks of his necks?
One thing I've really liked about the Fox/Woolson neck jig is that you can
get the angle of the upper bout perfect when you build the box and transfer
that to the cheeks of the neck when you rout the tenon.
Do you ever run into a big mismatch of the neck and upper bout angle with
John's necks?
I like the packing tape idea Colin. I usually use the brown binding tape but
I'll try your idea. Thanks
Terry

_________________
It's not what you don't know that hurts you, it's what you do know that's wrong.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 38 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
phpBB customization services by 2by2host.com