First build - premade neck or not?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by RobertPaulson, Jan 24, 2009.

  1. RobertPaulson


    Dec 11, 2008
    Des Moines
    I've been lurking here for awhile and i think it's time to jump into a build. I have some basic woodworking experience, but not a whole lot. I also have the basic tools, but nothing specialized. In reading all of the how-to's and build threads the thing that has me the most scared is building the neck. I'm toying with the idea of just doing a body first and and buying a warmoth neck and using that. What would you guys recommend for a first project?
  2. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    Just go for it. Worst you could do is screw it up. That's what I told myself anyway.

    The only "special" tool I use is a straight spokeshave. It was less than 30 bucks.
  3. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    go for a bolt on neck, and make the pocket identical to that of the market neck yo would go with (if you have a fender, bolt of the neck, for a template). that way if it goes bad, it is little work to get a decent neck on. also, unless you buy a pre slotted fingerboard blank, or get help from a local luthier, you may want to do a fretless, to save a few steps. if you want get experience cutting slots and, you could do a practice/fake fingerboard of pine, or do a lined fretless. if you do a lined fretless, you won't need incredable accuracy, like in a fretted bass, it just needs to be in the general area, because it is more of a refference. you could just use fretfind to get the measurements or a printable template (my comuter won't allow me too :mad:) you don't need any special tools if you got that route. just draw the locations perpindicular to the center, get a thick block of pine or something with a reliable straightedge, line it upas best as you can with the lines, secure it to the fingerboard, and get a flush cut/pullsaw (menards has them for $10, or $20 for a doublesided one, brand is irwin), press it firmly with the straight edge block, and cut the slot, thin get some thin enough contrast veeners to fill the lines wth.
    a few things to watch out for, are to not go to thin n the neck, or youll reach the truss, make sure you keep the rounding equal on both sides, and don't really heavily on power tools asuch as sandfers, or total neck destruction will be swift and painful.
  4. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Inactive

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Study your tolerances. If you are able to hold tight tolerances in your work then crafting a neck will be easy. If that last sentence did not make sense then buy a neck.
  5. I want to do the same, but instead of buy a neck from Warmoth, I intend to buy a P or J copy from the pawn for $50 (yes, these days, you can talk them down to that) and then stripping the body and learn to paint it, then rebuilding a body.

    Like the OP, I have basic wood workmanship (picnic tables, birdfeeders, shoe cabinets, CD shelvings and what not) but I have a big garage and also some solid electrical engineering background (although I end up being a software engineer, go figure).

    Sorry to hijack the post, but I am in the same boat.
  6. RobertPaulson


    Dec 11, 2008
    Des Moines
    No worries, I'm still torn, I did all the assembling on my warmoth, and wired a bunch of guitars (wiring mods intrigue me), so I'm comfortable with that stuff. So with a premade neck the only new thing would be building the body, part of me wants to do that just to learn that aspect of it, but I see all the beautiful stuff people build on here and it makes me want to do the whole thing. I really want to do a neck-thru design also which pretty much eliminates buying a warmoth neck. Decisions decisions... I think i'll go to the local woodworking store and look for some inspiration haha.
  7. vbasscustom


    Sep 8, 2008
    go for it, get some cheap pine first, or even maple if your supplyer isnt too expensive, make a moc up, learn, make 2 or 3 if neccessary, then, when you feel confident in your abilities, do the good copy, think of it like back in grade school, when you have to keep revising
  8. ProfGumby


    Jan 15, 2007
    Michigan's U.P.
    I'm going with pre-made necks on my first couple of builds. I was a cabinet maker for about 14 years. But I am going to take it slow with the necks.

    I do agree with doing a bunch of mockups first. I also saw someone here using neck radius templates but have no idea where they came from or how to get them.....
  9. basste


    Oct 8, 2003
    biggest problem in the process, IMHO, is to made a perfect radius on the fingerboard. You need some concave wood piece set for the radius you want to, in which you glue some abrasive tape, and must find the good way to perform same and constant move in order to made a straight and regular smooth radius all along the fingerboard. The better will be the radius, the better will be the fretting.
    You can also made a flat fingerboard, which will avoid this difficult part of the process. but i don't know the feel of playing on a flat fingerboard, i never tried.
  10. Arx


    Jan 22, 2008
    There's advantages to both.

    Building with a premade neck is easier, quicker, and less likely to end up as a pile of firewood if you're a bit sloppy.

    Building your own neck gives you more choice over exactly what you want.

    If you want neck through, you could get a neck from Carvin. They don't have a whole lot of fancy options, but if you're cool with an ordinary maple neck, I've heard they're well made.

    It's certainly a baby-step as compared to building from scratch, but it's still fun, and you'll probably get to play with it a lot sooner.

    Nobody's saying you only get to build one. ;)

  11. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Doeringer ( supplies rough-finished laminated neck-through blanks. And at a pretty good price, too - around $100. You shape it, trussrod it, fingerboard it, and cut the headstock.

    If it's shaping of the neck that you find daunting (and I do too), then they can probably do that for you as well, for an upcharge.
  12. ppk


    May 16, 2007

    HAHAHAHAHA that was good:)

    well i say build a neck. do a neck through so theres no neck joint or slot and make it fretless cause fretting is hard to do.. well for me at least.
  13. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    lol if i didn't have help with fretting, then i would be a fretless builder for now.
  14. Arx


    Jan 22, 2008
    I didn't really find fretting that hard. My first bass was built with an extra wide fretless 5 string warmoth neck. I cut fret slots and made it fanned fret.

    No major issues. I had a couple frets that didn't want to stay down (maybe I wobbled the saw?), but a couple drops of CA into the slot from the edge of the fretboard, and it was all good.

    Mark the board clearly, use something to make sure you keep the saw perfectly vertical, and be accurate, or buy a template.

    Tapping in the frets with a hammer seemed simple enough.

    Alternatively, you can buy pre-slotted fretboards. and tap in the frets.

    Of course, you do need to buy or modify some end cutters and files. Maybe not worth it if you're only planning to do one or two basses.

  15. basste


    Oct 8, 2003
    +1. fretting process was not so hard, just scary.
    But radius shape was hard. hopefully, for me it was a course and the luthier was here to explain and finish it in a perfect way.

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