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Carbon Fiber or Two 3/16 Purpleheart Lams?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by DBC, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. Planing out build of a neck thru 5'er.

    What would be prefeable and why?

    Body wings cherry core w/ bookmatched Blackwalnut on front not shure about back might add walnut on wings but let neck show. Neck Lams can't decide though about two 3/16" purple heart with 3/8" of Walnut or Maple in the center? Leaving 9/16 of flamed maple on the sides.Width of wings are at the nut.

    Thought of Cocobolo or PaoFero for the fret board.

    Is there there a Tonal and sustain benifeit using Purple Heart over the lightness benifet of carbon fiber rods?

    Bad wood combos?

    Any advise welcomed!

  2. Rectangular CF rods are actually more dense than any wood - heavier for the same volume, so they will NOT make your neck lighter - but they are at least lighter than steel. CF is still more STIFF than the same amount of wood, just not lighter.

    Round CF tubes will be lighter than the same volume of wood - if you don't use too much epoxy putting them in - but they do not provide the same strength as solid rectangular rods.

    The main benefit of CF is that it does not act like wood - no dead spots, no movement with changes in temperature and humidity, better stability over time.

    Go with the purpleheart lams, AND the CF!
  3. I do not remember if rectangular tubes are more stiff (or not) than circular tubes - I used to have a spreadsheet that calculated the stiffness for various cross-sectional geometries, but I can't find it just now.

    They will obviously not be as stiff as solid CF of the same size.
  4. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    Are you going to use CF reinforcement only, foregoing a truss rod?
  5. I was planning to use a single action truss rod yielding in a shallower rout allowing for a thinner and narrower neck. I am trying for a 1-13/16" width at the nut. I wanted the color accent showing on the volute and the back of the neck. With 3/8" of maple as the middle neck section and then the 3/16" of Purple Heart it would be visible in that narrow area of the neck. I was going to route for the carbon fiber in the outer flamed maple running parallel with the other taper edge of the neck.

    I was going for stability with the width of the neck during weather and the effect of the elements. My drive home is a gain of 2,700 feet in elevation. With out using two truss rods as others do, or additional reinforcement in to outer area.

    My fret board width is 1.813" at the nut 2.976" when it reaches the body, 3.078" at the 24th fret and 3.641 at the rear of the body thus a great taper.

    I was wondering if I would gain increased sustain and stability with the P.H. or I could use Black Walnut in it place and go with the wedge configuration of C.F.

    I have some Black walnut 48" both heavy and light you can pinch hold in the middle and hit it with your knuckle and it rings. Also have some that sounds dead with same test.

    I know, so many variables and decisions!

    Any and All Suggestions and welcomed and appreciated!

    Dino at Rock Bottom
  6. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    Where do you live Dino? Colorado?

    Now, I don't have a lot of experience with C.F. in necks, so don't take my word alone, but on the few basses I have worked on that had C.F. rods I felt like I really had to fight the C.F. rod(s) with the truss rod to get the proper relief in the neck.

    But, there are a lot of guys that swear by C.F. rods...

    If you're looking for more sustain in the neck I would go with the purple heart over the walnut as the PH will be significantly more stiff than the walnut.

    Just throwing this out there...In my experience, as long as you use good quartersawn wood (rock maple, mahogany, wenge and panga panga all work well) you will not have to worry about using extra reinforcement on the neck and a single truss rod will work, even on 5 and 6 stringed basses. You just need to make sure that the quartersawn wood you use is very straight-grained (beware of deviations in the grain pattern).

    But again, some guys swear by C.F. reinforcement.
  7. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    laminates add stability. purpleheart is strong. so is cf. My vote is a 5 piece neck ( flamed maple-purpleheart-walnut-purpleheart-flamed maple) with as much quarter sawn lams as you can do, AND cf rods. That way the neck looks awsome, has stability from the amount of laminates, stability from the qs lams, and stability from the purpleheart.

    This doesn't have to be a one-or-the-other type thing, unless you want it that way.
  8. My location travels from City to Forest! (Home)

    In a 1.5 hr. drive from the City "Sacramento" @ 22' Elv. By the river (humidity) To my home in the Sierra Foothills @ 3,300 Elv. Very dry. My current neck can't maintain stability. Flat Sawn with single truss rod and no lams or C.F. reinforcement.

    Thank you very much!
    All of your inputs have advised me in the direction I need to incorporate into my personal designs.

  9. Just be careful with the depth of the CF if you're following the neck taper - you don't want to expose it when you start carving the back of the neck. Draw it out.

    Allied Lutherie makes about the lowest-profile double-action truss rods you can find, thinner than StewMac by a good bit.

    The thinner you make the neck, the less you'll have to fight the CF with the truss rod (I always push down the middle of the neck when adjusting anyway).

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