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Horizontal neck laminations?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by calmb4tehpwn, May 15, 2011.

  1. Has anyone ever played around with this as an idea? Laminating wood horizontally?

    I'm not even sure if what I'm saying makes sense.

    Anyways, I don't have much to add, just curious if anyone's played with it.
    Would there be any structural concerns with it?
  2. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Do you mean laminated perpendicular to the length of the neck? I think there would be structural concerns with that.
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I think (hope) the OP meant laminations parallel to the plane of the fingerboard. I have done one neck that way. I have not noticed a huge difference but I think in theory the mechanical properties are slightly different due to the glue surfaces being oriented the way they are. Maybe some of the engineers can weigh in.
  4. Keith Guitars

    Keith Guitars Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 25, 2004
    Woodstock, NY
    Builder: Martin Keith Guitars, Veillette Guitars
    There are a few builders that make necks this way.
    Linc Luthier has done it for years.
    AFAIK the Benavente "B-style" neck is made like this as well.
    Finally - wasn't JP doing this for a bit?

    The original, "real" Parker Fly basses were made with a 16-ply laminated mahogany neck, with the glue lines in plane with the fretboard. The whole glue layup was done in a big press, with shaped cauls, so the laminates actually bent in a shallow "S" shape along the heel and continued unbroken into the body mortise. Neat.

    My gut reaction is that it's not really that bad an idea.
    Actually, I could make a theoretical case why it would be better than vertical lams (perpendicular to fretboard plane), since you could put a high tensile-strength material on the rearmost surface of the neck where it can do the most work.

    However, as always, the question should be "why?"...I'm all for trying new things, as long as they are motivated by some kind of clear goal. Are we recovering some otherwise too-thin lumber? Trying to change the neck's behavior? Reduce weight by using a softwood middle layer? A different neck-to-body interface?

    If it's just to be different...well...OK, I guess...but wouldn't it be more fun to have a real reason?

    Frankly, I think that vertical laminations developed as a result of people wanting to make quartersawn necks from flatsawn planks by ripping them up into strips and gluing them edge to edge - I'm thinking of many older archtop guitars I've seen.
    It wasn't long before someone put some accent veneers in there, and it became an aesthetic. That's my guess.

  5. Blind Dog

    Blind Dog

    Jun 19, 2010
    Gilbert AZ
    I have a 1938 National Style O guitar that has a laminated layer below the fretboard.
  6. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    My motivation was to have the layers be symmetrical from front to back, in order to bring about more stability in changing ambient conditions. Also, as Martin mentioned, you can put weaker wood in the middle if it's surrounded by stiffer wood on the stressed outer elements.

    In theory, it should work; in reality, it is yet to be proven.
  7. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
  8. Hi.

    Hoizontal laminations does work, but may present some unpredictable complications if care is not taken.

    There was a thread about this a year or so ago, but I can't find it :(.

    You can test the structural behaviour by making a square block and testing how the different laminating orientations (and laminate thicknesses) changes the way the "stick" bends.

    Since we don't usually have square necks, You should take the experiment one step further and turn the square stick into a round stock that you split in half. That way the properties of the test sample are as close to the reality as possible.

    You can roughly test the behaviour just by sawing a 1" strip out of a 1" plywood (for example), but since the materials and the grain orientations are most likely different from the ones you're going to use, that only gives a rough idea.

    I haven't done the half round test (yet ;)), but IME the parallel to the strings laminations produce less -but more even- resistance to bending without twisting with the square stock plywood test piece.

  9. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Except that I'm not trying to show, or in any way believing, that horizontal laminations are going to make anything stronger or stiffer just by virtue of laminating.

    I'm trying to get the best properties out of a beam made up of differing woods.

    Like I said, you can achieve the highest beam stiffness by pushing the stiffer material out to the extremes, away from the neutral axis.

    The other idea is that even though different woods react differently to temperature and humidity changes, by using a front-to-back balanced construction the net beam will not react to these changes. Or at least not as much.
  10. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    The plies in plywood have grain direction oriented perpendicular to each other so I would think you would expect less stiffness out of the "sideways" plies.

    I should add that the one neck that I built, the neck came out of clamps and cured with an amount of relief slightly more than is usual, in my experience. This *might* be due to the glue surfaces or any of a number of other things that went slightly differently in the layup of that particular neck. Can't say for sure until I've done more necks that way (which I have no plans to do).
  11. I have a concern about putting the stiff woods at the extreme. Aside from the fretboard the first extreme would essentially be the middle of the neck, and the other extreme would be shaved down to a fraction of it's former ability. Which leaves you with making the bottom extreme much thicker to compensate for taking so much away, and the top extreme being the fretboard, which could happily be ebony anyways. That doesn't leave much room for any other woods, wouldn't it be prudent at that point to make it a stiff neck all the way through?

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