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Neck Construction


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Neck Construction

There are different ways to build the guitar neck. One is to start with a solid piece of wood, usually mahogany and then cut and carve it to shape. The problem with this is the expense of finding that large of a piece of mahogany. There is also a lot of waste when built that way.

Another popular way is to use one long, thin slab of wood with blocks glued to the ends for the heel and the headstock. You will see this in the figure to the left (Fig 1). This is probably the most popular way to build a guitar neck.

Some people build with a slab and blocks but on the end of the neck, for the head stock,

they cut the end piece off, turn it over and glue it back on to give the angle for the headstock. Taylor guitar builds their necks this way.

Fig. 1 - One way to build a guitar neck is to use blocks of wood, glued together and then cut and carved to shape.
Fig. 2 - This type of neck is similar to the one in Fig. 1 but the headstock area is cut off, flipped over and glued back on.
Olson guitars builds five piece necks for all of their guitars and that is what I want. I use three pieces of sapele and two pieces of rock maple. This gives a very strong neck!
With this type of neck, the headstock area is too narrow so I add "dogears" or extra pieces of sapele to make the area wider.
Here, the dogears are glued and clamped into place. Most of the wood will be cut away when the headstock is shaped.
Another view of the dogears glued and clamped in place.

I really like the looks of the necks on Olson guitars. They are five piece necks. Not only are they beautiful but they are also very strong. For my guitar neck, I am using sapele and maple. I wanted to use mahogany but the place I bought my wood only had Cuban mahogany and it is very expensive. My Taylor T5 electric guitar is built completely of sapele so I figured it had to be okay to build with. It is very close to mahogany in strength and appearance. The rock maple I am using is very strong and gives the contrast I want in the neck.

The way I built my guitar, leaves the neck too narrow in the headstock area so I have to glue "dogears" or extra pieces of wood onto the sides. The top of the headstock will have a veneer to cover the 5 pieces and they will be left exposed on the bottom of the headstock.