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Eleminating dead spots

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Tedward, May 11, 2010.


  1. I'm getting ready to build a new neck for my bass. Maple for the neck, Cocobolo for the finger board, dual action truss rod and light weight tuners. Now, I'm concerned about dead spots. I have heard conflicting methods of eliminating dead spots. Dead spots being caused by soft spots in the fretboard or neck, fretted note is the same as the resonance frequency of the neck, neck not stiff enough, and not enough mass.
    I'm thinking of using graphite epoxy rods to stiffen the neck to raise the resonance frequency. Adding mass to the neck by using steel reinforcement rods is out of the question because it will add more weight and the reason I'm making a new neck is because the one that I have now is too heavy. Using good quality wood will remedy the soft spots (I hope).
    Am I on the right track? Tom
     
  2. Lo-E

    Lo-E

    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I believe you are. It's been my experience that graphite rods tend to reduce dead spots and also make for a more stable neck. Could be coincidence, I suppose, but it seems to work.
     
  3. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Early Fenders are know dead spots and they were all Sugar Maple. Not sure if you get and better than that.

    Laminations help and make a neck more stable.

    Or you could try this to remove dead spots...
     
  4. mikeyswood, making the even deader would be easier than trying to remember where they are when playing. ;)
     
  5. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Also take into account the oily nature of cocobolo, and the dampening effect of such, you might want to look toward Mac Ebony for a similar look and brightening effect all in one, eliminating the need for CF rods, saving a little money too, and as Mikey said, an 3 or 5 piece neck can add extra stability, using purpleheart or bubinga can also add to the rigidity, and brightness. A solid joint also helps to stop dead spots, 5 and 6 bolt joints and set necks seem to have less dead spot problems like neck throughs.
     
  6. We're getting closer. I ran down to the local hard wood store and found some flame maple and wenge for about $40.00. 3piece flame maple with wenge fret board. Ebony veneer between the maple laminates. Light weight tuners. No CF rods. I should add that I'm going for a more vintage tone.
    Sound like a better plan? Tom
     
  7. stevetx19

    stevetx19

    Sep 28, 2006
    Denton, Texas
    this isn't about dead spots, but just a friendly note about cocobolo...be careful with the dust. It doesn't bother everyone, but some have pretty serious reactions. Keep that in mind for yourself and especially for any animals in the area.
     
  8. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Tone is not a building material!
     
  9. mikeyswood, are you saying that different woods used for the neck have no play in the tone of a guitar?
     
  10. dblbass

    dblbass Commercial User

    Mar 24, 2007
    Beacon, NY
    Owner of MBJ guitars, Maker of fine sawdust for Carl Thompson Guitars
    One big cause of dead spots is a truss rod that isn't in the slot tightly. I use a single action rod with shrink tubing around it and then glue it in. When it's all done I tap on the neck to make sure there is no rattle. I don't know if double action rods can be put in as securley. Those HAZ rods that you can pull out of the neck and reverse have got to be about the worst idea I've heard of.
     
  11. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Older basses, especially "F" brand were notorious for dead spots, to this day even. Single action truss rods, today too. This can contribute, but bad neck to body joint is usually the culprit.

    As for woods and tone? On a solid body, the wood has much less to do with tone than most of the "Mojo" sheep will admit. The fretboard has the most effect as the string vibrates directly or indirectly with it. Generally though it's electronics and quality of construction more over than wood. For tonewood applications, see "Acoustics" where resonance of the wood actually effect tone.
     
  12. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Start reading more threads around here.
     
  13. Looks like I need to do my home work.
     
  14. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    It's essential T, just keep plugging away we all learn everyday. It's how we develop technique, and adapt it to our styles.
     
  15. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    Connecticut
    The stewmac double action rods will flex and pretty much snug themselves in as soon as you apply tension in either direction. As long as it's not in really loose...
     
  16. Keith Guitars

    Keith Guitars Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 25, 2004
    Woodstock, NY
    Builder: Martin Keith Guitars, Veillette Guitars
    Not really, IMO. Flame maple is beautiful, but is objectively an inferior material for a neck compared to plain maple.
    It is less stable, more brittle, and more flexible.

    Ebony veneers will do basically nothing to improve stiffness,
    and will double the amount of glue joints (i.e. potential failures) in the neck. If you're gluing with Titebond or similar water-based glue, this will also mean you're introducing even more water in to the neck material, which will not help stability during or after the build.

    If you're after a 'vintage' tone, use the same materials and construction as a vintage instrument - 1 pc. flatsawn maple with a rosewood or maple fingerboard.

    Dead spots are not inevitable, nor are they predictably avoidable. I've heard Fenders without them, and also heard graphite-reinforced 3-piece necks with them.

    The best way to minimize their likelihood is by making a rigid neck (pick your maple carefully for minimal grain runout, ditto for your fingerboard). IF you have a choice, tapping a group of identically dimensioned neck blanks can reveal the stiffest one (the one with the highest-pitched 'ring').
    This is a very rough way to measure but tends to work OK for me.

    Beyond that, I would say the only practical option is to build, and mitigate the dead spot afterwards if it appears.
    Adding or removing mass from the headstock or the body may
    change it. If you're concerned, string it up before finishing and listen.

    There is nothing wrong with those rods (or similar ones) if they're installed correctly. Similarly, any rod can and will rattle if put in improperly.

    A rod that can be removed without woodwork is a big asset in my opinion, as rods can fail or be damaged (stripped nut for example, a pet peeve of user error when people use the wrong tools to adjust a neck).

    Furthermore, as soon as there's any tension on the neck, the counter-tension on the rod will anchor it firmly in place.
    In this regard, gluing the rod in place may be counterproductive, since the rod may be fighting a glue joint as it tries to settle into its resting place.

    We used those HAZ rods for some years at Veillette, and I know that several very well known and very expensive brands continue to use them. None of their very well-known clients is complaining.

    Cheers,
    Martin
     
  17. dblbass

    dblbass Commercial User

    Mar 24, 2007
    Beacon, NY
    Owner of MBJ guitars, Maker of fine sawdust for Carl Thompson Guitars
    I've never built a guitar with a double action rod, only owned and played some. You get no rattle with rod that can come out? If there was no tention on the neck would it rattle? Do you put any covering over the rod or does it just sit in the channel and then the fingerboard is glued on top?

    As far as my rod fighting a glue joint...so is any other rod if your putting a fingerboard on.
     
  18. Rocky McD

    Rocky McD

    Jun 28, 2005
    San Antonio, Texas
    Builder,mcdcustomguitars
    99% of all truss rods are under so much tension, I can't imagine one rattling. Now, a dual action rod would be more prone to buzz if the rods were not covered with tubing. I would think the only rattling rods would be broken rods.
     
  19. Even a 3 piece flame maple could be unstable?

    The ebony veneer would be for looks, but not necessary.

    I have been looking at the older Fender basses and I like the looks of the maple neck and maple fret board.

    After looking at the maple at the hard wood store it all looks like it's slab sawn.

    Not quite sure what you mean by grain run out.

    Any way, I guess I'll have to get my neck jig fixed. It took a bite from the router and tore a chunk out.
    Well, looking at I should just make another jig.
     
  20. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Grain run-out is end grain through the face or edge of the board. Any figured Maple will have a boatload of grain run-out; that's what gives it figure. A piece of Maple without any run-out can only be had from a unicorn, so try to do your best in wood selection.
     

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