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1/4 Sawn and 1 Piece necks?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jock, Mar 2, 2002.

  1. jock


    Jun 7, 2000
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Whats the difference between ordinary, 1/4 Sawn and 1 Piece necks. And 1 Piece 1/4 Sawn necks.
    Does it affect sound, quality, looks or what?
  2. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    A true 1 piece neck has the frets installed directly into it... no separate fingerboard, a la some Maple Tele's and early P-basses. Quartersawn describes the actual cut of the wood with a lot of vertical grain, (close grain lines, running the length of the wood). A one-piece neck can be, (and often is), quarter-sawn. Flatsawn boards tend to have very open and visual grain patterns, and tend to be less stable.

    One-piece nowadays typically means a slab neck with a separate fingerboard, (or graphite!). This is a totally accepted way of constructing a neck, although in a few cases, these necks can warp or twist with time, as there is very little added, (truss-rod and fingerboard), to counteract the woods natural tendency to shift under tension.

    Laminated necks get around some of this by using different pieces of wood, tending to shift in different directions so that ones tendency to shift downward is perhaps counter to anothers tendency to shift upward. When I make a neck, I cut a wide piece of maple into three lengthwise strips and flip the middle one end for end before gluing to achieve this.

    Soundwise, there may be those who can hear a difference in the methods of construction. I can't, and I'm pretty sure that the listening public can't either! Multpile laminate necks, (Warwick for instance), can be a thing of beauty if you're into that.


  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Quartersawn necks are cut so that the wood grains run perpendicular to the surface of the fretboard. For that reason, they're structurally more stable than flatsawn necks, which are cut so that the grain runs along the axis of the neck. It's easy to check which is which. A quartersawn neck will have lots of straight lines running up and down; a flatsawn will have only a couple of wavy grain lines, usually in the shape of an arc.

    One piece necks can be either flatsawn or quartersawn.
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    So they say. I have a Pedulla Rapture J2 5 that has a flatsawn one piece neck, and it is very stable. Never had to tweak the trussrod, once I had the relief the way that I wanted it.

    IIRC, Sadowksy uses one piece flatsawn necks too. Haven't heard any Sadowsky owners complaining about stability.
  5. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I'm glad that fellow TBers who know the difference (between 1/4 sawn and flat sawn) are sharing their knowledge with the rest of us. I've never really known the difference.

    I can attest that I've seen some unstable flat sawn necks on Fenders. they'd have a bow that you could never fix.

    By the same token, I've seen extremely stable flat sawn necks. I had a '74 Fender P bass with a solid maple neck (back then, they were all flat sawn) and it was very stable, it never bowed. I wish that I never sold it.
  6. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Usually, when I see "one piece neck" on a mass produced bass w/ and angled headstock, I.E. Ibanez, it's usually got a scarf joint. Or, if you're lucky, a volute (true one piece).

    Personally, if it's well constructed, I have no beef with either Quater or flatsawn. I just want a good bass.
  7. Sadowsky

    Sadowsky Commercial User

    Nov 1, 2000
    Owner: Sadowsky Guitars Ltd.
    I personally do not believe that quartersawn maple has any advantage over flatsawn. For mahogany necks, quartersawn is stiffer for sure. However, I always remember Rick Turner, at our occasional guitar maker gatherings, citing a US Department of Forestry manual that, if I recall properly, actually states that flatsawn maple is stiffer than quartersawn.

    The issue is quality---a good piece of maple, properly cut and seasoned, will make a good neck, regardless of grain orientation. What one wants to avoid is a rift sawn neck in which the grain orientation changes a lot from the top end of the billet to the other.

    I have always used flat sawn maple necks. I now use quartersawn maple fingerboards, but that is a cosmetic decision. I let my kiln dried wood sit for over a year before using it and I let my carved necks sit as long as possible before truing the board and fretting. We will occasionally catch a bad neck before we get to true the board and will reject it at that point. In almost 3800 necks over the last 20 years, I think I have had to replace a total of less than 20 necks on finished instruments, due to warpage.

    Roger Sadowsky
  8. Jock,

    Howzat for a definitive answer? You must be connected dude... your request line went right to the top.
  9. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Agreed. Grain consistency is probably more important to neck stability than orientation.