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> Guitar Necks - Knowing What Wood You Want On Your Axe!
Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 5 2013, 10:19 AM
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A lot of people read specs about various guitars and have no clue what to choose in respect to the woods being used on the guitars, so I thought that a wood classification based on what can be done out of it in respect to necks would be of general interest - let's share some experiences - who uses what and why? smile.gif

Neck woods


Guitar wood 101



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Gabriel Leopardi
post Feb 5 2013, 11:49 AM
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Good links mate! I'm one of those that never remember the names of the woods, but I know that this is one of the most important characteristics of a guitar, so I will start studying this. wink.gif


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klasaine
post Feb 5 2013, 05:23 PM
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Great reference articles Cosmin!
It shows that there are a lot of variables other than pick ups.

I've pretty much always had either maple or rosewood. My LPs have mahogany 'necks' w/RW fingerboards and I have an Ibanez with an ebony board.

In general I've noticed the obvious distinctions -
Rosewood: a little mellower/darker
Maple: brighter
Ebony: articulate and piano like

Because an electric guitar's sound is a big collection of parts (bridge, tuners, frets, pkups) obviously there can be exceptions.
For example: the Jazzmaster I have is BRIGHT as $h1t and it has a rosewood FB. I also have a G&L asat with a one piece maple neck/fingerboard that's pretty 'dark' - as fender tele style axes go. I have a Heritage LP style axe with mahogany/rosewood neck/fb that's a little on the brighter side. It's body (mahogany) is slightly thinner and the arch in it's top is different than a Gibson LP. Also, the headstock is a different shape. I even put a Gibson bridge and tailpiece on it, Gibson tuners and changed the pkups to Duncan Seth Lovers and it's still on the brighter side. It's the 'whole' guitar.

*And this is something I learned when having a custom guitar built for me ...
A 'birdseye' maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard, when it's new, can move out of alignment pretty quickly (needing a truss rod adjustment). The 'birdseye' pattern is two densities of wood that expand and contract at different rates and temperatures. Couple that with rosewood which also has a different coefficient of expansion (now you've got 3 things 'moving' at different rates - did I mention glue and the fret material?) and you'll potentially get some serious bow when the weather changes.
This solves itself as the guitar ages/breaks in.
Also, a heavy coat of poly on the back of the neck minimizes any problems.
I requested light nitrocellulose so I ran into some issues. (My repair guy actually tried to steer me away from the bidseye neck, laugh.gif - he was right).

Even fret size can make a difference. I just recently put some tall and big frets (Dunlop 6110) on a Strat it changed it's character - kinda darkened it but also made it 'bigger' sounding.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Feb 6 2013, 02:36 AM


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Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 6 2013, 10:36 AM
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You sure know your stuff man! For my next guitar, I'd sure like a maple neck, as I was always fond of those!

Something like this maybe:

PRS DC3



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klasaine
post Feb 6 2013, 03:25 PM
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Beautiful guitar!

I LOVE articles like that. I can read that kind of thing all day - and sometimes I do biggrin.gif Wood, pickups, amp cabinet construction, even fret wire info.

As far as me 'knowing my stuff' - all I know is this ... the rules about wood are fairly general. I've been 'surprised' many times. Every piece of even the same type of wood will have slightly (if not greatly) different density. Which alters the response and tone. It's like the common Les Paul discussion - "heavy LPs suck, the light ones are good" and then you go pick one up that weighs a ton and it sounds great. Pickup descriptions are the same - they'll get you into the ballpark. *Personally, I believe that one's picking hand and picking technique has more to with the sound of a guitar than anything else.
Or, as John Suhr says, "most tone issues are solved with practice".
Case in point: for funk and soul most guys will immediately go for a strat or tele or at least some variant of fender, right?
All James Brown and most EW&F and Tower of Power rhythm guitar was done on Gibsons. LPs, 335s and Super 400s mostly.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Feb 6 2013, 03:32 PM


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Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 6 2013, 06:01 PM
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I had no clue about the funk band recordings done on Gibson guitars, but I know for certain that tone is in the hands in almost every context smile.gif It takes a bit of time till we get to that conclusion, but all the time spent is beneficial as it gets our mind and body ready to face the conclusion biggrin.gif

Best example I could find? See the vid below and read the text description biggrin.gif



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MHD Pickups
post Feb 7 2013, 10:14 PM
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I build tons of parts casters so i generally have maple and rose wood necks as well as straight maple. I base my necks on 2 factors. the pick response from the guitar acoustically and the resonance of the guitar.

For instance a very resonant guitar will almost always get a maple/rosewood neck where as a more subdued piece of lumber will get maple. And every now and then there is this body that just quivers for Ebony.

I usually design my electronics around this.


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Sensible Jones
post Feb 7 2013, 10:39 PM
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It's also worth noting here that the way the wood has been cut can make a big difference to the sound as well. A quarter-sawn piece of lumber will have a deeper resonant tone than flat-cut timber. Oven Baked Maple has a far 'rounder' quality than that of normal maple.
biggrin.gif

great articles C-man, thanks for posting. I enjoyed the read!


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klasaine
post Feb 7 2013, 11:39 PM
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When I walk into a shop with guitars hanging on the wall. When I see a 'solid body' that interests me I will keep it hanging, hit the B string open and then grab the guitar near or at the input jack. If I feel vibration/resonance then I'll take the axe down and play it for real.
Not advice just my method for not having to play everything in the store. I'm sure I'm wrong sometimes.
I also don't use locking tuners because I feel they cut off a lot of the resonance of the neck/headstock - which I feel is at least one third of the guitars tone (body and pkups being the other 2/3rds).


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Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 8 2013, 10:53 AM
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QUOTE (MHD Pickups @ Feb 7 2013, 09:14 PM) *
I build tons of parts casters so i generally have maple and rose wood necks as well as straight maple. I base my necks on 2 factors. the pick response from the guitar acoustically and the resonance of the guitar.

For instance a very resonant guitar will almost always get a maple/rosewood neck where as a more subdued piece of lumber will get maple. And every now and then there is this body that just quivers for Ebony.

I usually design my electronics around this.


Wow man smile.gif I think it's wonderful to know and feel these things biggrin.gif It's like the wood is actually alive, ain't it? smile.gif Each piece talking a different language..

QUOTE (klasaine @ Feb 7 2013, 10:39 PM) *
When I walk into a shop with guitars hanging on the wall. When I see a 'solid body' that interests me I will keep it hanging, hit the B string open and then grab the guitar near or at the input jack. If I feel vibration/resonance then I'll take the axe down and play it for real.
Not advice just my method for not having to play everything in the store. I'm sure I'm wrong sometimes.
I also don't use locking tuners because I feel they cut off a lot of the resonance of the neck/headstock - which I feel is at least one third of the guitars tone (body and pkups being the other 2/3rds).


Interesting method man! I'll try it and see what I notice smile.gif

Do you like tremolo bridges or only fixed ones?


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klasaine
post Feb 8 2013, 05:14 PM
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Any solid-body. Trem or fixed.
Try it ... I think it's a pretty decent indicator.


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MHD Pickups
post Feb 9 2013, 03:12 AM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Feb 8 2013, 09:53 AM) *
Wow man smile.gif I think it's wonderful to know and feel these things biggrin.gif It's like the wood is actually alive, ain't it? smile.gif Each piece talking a different language..



Interesting method man! I'll try it and see what I notice smile.gif

Do you like tremolo bridges or only fixed ones?



It is all about the wood. While i can make plywood sound decent, their is just something about a good vibrant peice of lumber that just make what I do sing.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 9 2013, 09:17 AM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Feb 8 2013, 04:14 PM) *
Any solid-body. Trem or fixed.
Try it ... I think it's a pretty decent indicator.


When you were referring to locking tuners, did that imply Floyd? smile.gif I gave it up a while ago as well, on one hand because changing strings was a nuisance biggrin.gif and because I couldn't get some bends sounding good (that situation when you need to bend while playing other notes that needed to stay in pitch).

To older I get, I tend to like simpler and simpler stuff in terms of guitars and gear - but they need to have personality and inspire me to play smile.gif

QUOTE (MHD Pickups @ Feb 9 2013, 02:12 AM) *
It is all about the wood. While i can make plywood sound decent, their is just something about a good vibrant peice of lumber that just make what I do sing.


Plywood - like this?



Mate, can you tell us more about the process of making a guitar sound in a certain way? How do you start and where do you finish? It would be a very interesting experience to share with the community smile.gif


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klasaine
post Feb 9 2013, 09:34 AM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Feb 9 2013, 08:17 AM) *
When you were referring to locking tuners, did that imply Floyd? smile.gif I gave it up a while ago as well, on one hand because changing strings was a nuisance biggrin.gif and because I couldn't get some bends sounding good (that situation when you need to bend while playing other notes that needed to stay in pitch).

To older I get, I tend to like simpler and simpler stuff in terms of guitars and gear - but they need to have personality and inspire me to play smile.gif


While I personally never really got into the locking trem thing I concede that that is a totally different animal.
Most guys who play those use fairly high output pkups and a lot of gain, usually these days from pedals ... which definitely lessens the affect (and importance) the wood is going to have on the end result. Not completely but less so than the dude that just plugs a Tele into a Deluxe reverb.
I had a G&L 'Rampage' (Jerry Cantrell - Alice in Chains) with a Kahler in the mid/late 80's - Awesome guitar! But yeah, I got sick of changing strings ... and I really never did the 'dive bombing' thing.

I found that the locking nuts/bridges (floyd/kahler) actually affect the tone/resonance less than a set of locking tuning pegs/gears. I know there's exceptions (as with all things guitar) but this is what I've noticed.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Feb 9 2013, 09:37 AM


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Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 11 2013, 10:30 AM
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Heh, always wanted to know what was up with that Jerry Cantrell signature guitar (I'm a HUGE AIC fan - I am also part of an AIC tribute band here in Bucharest tongue.gif)

So, you wouldn't recommend getting a guitar with locking tuning pegs, if we are tone conscious.. I will have to try some and see how they feel because, honestly speaking I was thinking this was a good idea in order to NOT have a Floyd and still keep tuning stability alongside good sustain with low gain tones smile.gif


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klasaine
post Feb 11 2013, 11:04 AM
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The original Rampage that I had was pre the Jerry C. sig model. His was yellow mine was a red one. It was a beauty. One pick up, Kahler, ebony neck ... http://www.studiogears.com/images_products...y_101170big.jpg

I would try some locking tuners and see if you can find a set that doesn't close off the 'resonance' of the guitar. The headstock receives a lot of vibration from the strings - they couple with the guitar at the nut and through the tuners (as well as bridge and tailpiece). Next time you pick up your axe just strum all the strings open and grab the headstock. You'll feel a lot of vibration. IMO, you don't wanna cut that off.
Another thing about the locking tuners ... they def add weight to that end of the guitar. They are easier to deal with than a locking nut but if your standard nut isn't cut and right (string grooves too tight) the strings will stick behind the nut and not come back to pitch either.

Just more stuff to think about before you drop some coin on new gear or parts.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Feb 11 2013, 11:11 AM


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Slavenko Erazer
post Feb 11 2013, 01:13 PM
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I use this materials cos' it's good for every-school heavy metal.

Body - alder or mahagony

Neck - quatersawn hard maple

Fretboard - ebony or brasilian (never argentinian!!) rosewood

This post has been edited by Slavenko Erazer: Feb 11 2013, 01:14 PM
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Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 11 2013, 03:56 PM
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Man... I think I'd better give the idea of having a guitar with a standard tremolo unit that stays in tune without any locking tuners smile.gif


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