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Neck plate or recessed ferrules?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Flying B, Nov 23, 2018.

  1. Flying B

    Flying B

    Apr 29, 2018
    Starting to plan my next build, what are the pros & cons of each method? Ferrules seem to be more popular here, is it just a question of aesthetics?
  2. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Aesthetics for me, yes, plus complete latitude in screw placement.
    Flying B and Deep Cat like this.
  3. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    I am me
    Yeah .......what CT said
    Flying B and ctmullins like this.
  4. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    From a technical viewpoint, the ferrules have less surface area on the wood. For a given tightness of the screws, there's more concentrated pounds of force trying to crush the the body wood. You have to consider how soft/weak the body wood is, how close the screws are to each other, how long is the neck pocket, etc. If the loading ends up too high, ferrules could crush down into the body wood.

    Ferrules are popular with custom builders because they allow random screw placement, and they are easy to install. As long as the loading doesn't get too high for the wood, they work fine. And you may prefer the cleaner look.

    A neck plate spreads out the load over a larger area, pretty much eliminating any problems with crushing the body wood. But there are tradeoffs. A plate is more metal weight. If you don't have the ability to make your own neck plates, then you are restricted to the hole patterns of commercially available plates (generally the rectangular Fender pattern). A typical thin plate sitting on the surface, Fender style, is something sticking out the back, which catches on clothes. A thicker plate, set in flush, is nice but it's more work to do the installation.

    These are the things to consider when designing your bass.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
  5. Flying B

    Flying B

    Apr 29, 2018
    Ah I forgot about an inset plate, I saw this the other day and thought it looks very smart Screenshot_20181124-113159_Chrome.
  6. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks I build Grosbeak Guitars and Basses Commercial User

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    Grosbeak Guitars
    +1 on everything Bruce said.
  7. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I use Rock Rabbit plates - standard Fender layou, but made od aluminum - saves some weight.
  8. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    I have fixed three Warwicks that hit the ground, and the ferrules ripped off big chunks of the neck pocket. Not a lot of wood there. My $.02
    Flying B and saabfender like this.
  9. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    There are also other in-between possibilities. For about ten years, I was using a pair of recessed bars. They were 1/4" thick and allowed the use of 10-32 socket head cap screws. The bars were easy to make up from 1/2" x 1/4" bar stock. Most I made from brass, polished up and chrome plated. Some were aluminum, satin finished. A strong, simple, elegant looking solution.


    These days I use a rectangular neck plate, that I machine from 1/4" thick aluminum. It has a rectangular pocket milled in the center, which holds the engraved name plate. It's thick enough to use 10-32 stainless socket cap screws, flush with the surface. The whole plate is flush with the body surface. Strong and neat, not much weight.


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