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Optimal grain direction in neck?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Frank Martin, Mar 18, 2006.


  1. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Of course, parallel to the strings, when we look at the longitudinal picture.
    But what about a cross-section picture?
    A few pictures got me thinking...
    Does it matter even?
    My idea is this (for a 5-piece neck):
    ______
    \\|=|//

    The sides are slanted for easier sculpting
    The center and the two lams being perpendicular adds more stability, or so I assume.

    So, what are your thoughts or experience?
     
  2. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    I didn't have perfect quarter-sawn wenge on my first 5 piece neck. Looking at it cross-sectionally, the grain ran somewhat diagonally. So, I took the straightest-grained piece and put it in the middle. Then I fixed purpleheart. The outer pieces (wenge again) had the diag. grain, so I reversed one of the pieces so that one was at about 45 degrees to the right, the other was 45 to the left (or 135 degrees according to a protractor). That way, any tendancy to move would hopefully be offset by the other piece. Of course, the laminate plus the truss rod would hopefully counter movement as well.
     
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Quartersawn is most stiff, flatsawn next, then rift-sawn. Runout is more of an issue from a carving perspective than quartersawn versus flat versus rift, I would not worry about that.

    If those are the 3 types of boards you have right now, then your arrangement seems logical.
     
  4. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    I don't yet have them, but will be looking for them on Monday.
    This just seemed logical; and the medium of the combinations I've seen.
    Is there a better method?
     
  5. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Better would be to eliminate the rift-sawn outer lams and replace them with quartersawn ones. Not always possible, but quartersawn laminates are something to shoot for.
     
  6. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Thanks for the advice, Matt! :)
     
  7. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    No problem. Buying neck wood and obviously fingerboards is when you must scrutinize the wood most closely. Fingerboards actually might be a bit easier because the criteria are so strict, most of the time you aren't even thinking fingerboard.

    Be sure to watch for checks and knots, and especially kinks in the wood. A kink is a bad sign. Check for kinks and bow with the wood on its edge so it won't sag due to gravity. Read the end grain on both sides of the board so you can see whether or not you will end up with nice, straight grained material either flat or quartersawn.

    And enjoy.
     
  8. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Best is to have all pieces quartersawn, i.e. ||.
    Flatsawn can work, but sets another standard´on the wood: you need to make sure that the plank is of the wanted stiffness - there are surprises out there... And the risks of warping and cupping are much more severe.
    Slanting the sides? No practical influence, definitely not on function, IME no impact on sculpturability (hey, do I get a place in Websters for thatr word?:) )
     
  9. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca

    What do you mean by slanting the sides?
     
  10. gyancey

    gyancey

    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I'd reverse your outer neck laminates so that the grain runs inwards towards the center. That way your neck profile "sees" quartersawn grain (i.e. intersects perpendicular to the grain) along the whole edge. I've found its easier to carve/sand woods with big, obvious early/latewood differences (i.e. wenge) with this arrangement since you don't expose large swaths of early/latewood interface. Hope that made sense. Plus it looks nice, and you'll get more consistant figure in flame maple, for instance, which shows up on the quartersawn face.
     
  11. Rodent

    Rodent Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Regenerate Guitar Works
    instead of this

    \\|=|//

    would it not make more sense to run the grain like this

    //|||\\ so that the side pieces are relatively quartersawn in relation to the edges vs the original which is more flatsawn relative to the edges? (I assume the fingerboard is towards the top side of these examples)

    all the best,

    R
     
  12. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    What is important is grain direction with respect to the tension. I don't know if flipping rift sawn boards will make much difference in terms of strength.
     
  13. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Nor tipping off quartersawn to get the grain stand at an angle.

    Which is what I mean with "slanting the sides"; making the grain stand /// or \\\.

    Simply put: it won't help rigidity, nor the easy to shape the neck. So why do it? To be unique, I guess. Which does have a value in itself!