shaving a neck

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by K-Frog, Jul 14, 2003.

  1. K-Frog


    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    Luthier friends,

    I am in search of a new 5 string and I love the Fender Jazz 5 look, but I don't like the thickness of the neck(front to back). Can the neck be sanded down a bit? I suppose it wouldn't take much to make it more comfortable. It's just a smidge too chunky. How about going a tad assymetrical while I'm at it?

    Thanks for the input,

  2. Yes, you can shave a neck down to match anything you want. I do this all the time with my "interpreted necks" - Off-the-shelf manufactured P type necks that I narrow to J width and recontour to match my favorite profiles. You won't be doing this with just sandpaper though. It'll take other tools like draw knives, surforms, or other tools for shaping.
  3. K-Frog


    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    oooo yeah, you're right, we are talking about hard maple here.

    Maybe it's time to buy a Microplane, made right her in good old Arkansas. Loks like a surform plane sorta, but better, maybe you've seen them.

    So, I could take off maybe 1/8" without harming the stiffness of the neck? I don't want to get into problems with string tension bowing the neck. This will be for a 5 string ya know.

    Thanks, K
  4. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    I think you two might be talking two different things; Hambone width, K-Frog thickness/profile. There was a recent thread here wrt Warmoth necks, the conclusion (iirc) being that there isn't a whole lot you can take away from the thickness before risking getting into the truss rod channel.
  5. K-Frog


    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    permagrin, you are correct about what I'm after. I'm speaking specifically about fron to back thickness and it's shape. I didn't find the mentoned thread regarding warmoth necks.
    I realy wouldn't want to take much off the back of the neck, just a little dab would do.

    Any one have an idea if I can safely take a bit off the back? It wouldn't take much to have that neck really feeling nice, maybe 1/8" max., mostly from the middle of the profile to flatten it out a bit.

  6. i did this to my warwicl i have werid hands so i shaved just one side alittle. all u need to know is were the trust rod is, and do take off to much.
  7. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    When I revamped my Vantage, I flattened the neck profile with no problem. However, I, too, was very worried about going too deep so I was very cautious. It worked out great, but it could be that vantage set their truss rods in deeper than other manufacterers/luthiers. Good luck!
  8. K-Frog


    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    I suppose that necks with skunk stripes have their truss rod closer to the back of the neck rather than non-skunk stripe necks which have their truss rod under the fretboard?
  9. No, we really aren't! :) My "interpreted" necks have all been reshaped to my own preferences. I don't just narrow the width. It takes some planning and some experimentation but you CAN remove plenty - enough to make a "thick" neck feel very comfortable. The real key here is not to go for that paper thin profile all at once. You might very well find out that something slightly thicker is better and you won't have to find out just how deep the trussrod channel is.

    My original post highlighted several tools that are good for this - files, rasps, surforms, or drawknives. You can use just about anything designed to remove wood as long as you feel confident that you have complete control of it's operation. It is also helpful to make cutout contour shapes to compare how far along you are. If you have a favorite neck, you can make these to match several points on the neck and use them to compare your alterations.
  10. RobbieK


    Jun 14, 2003
    Has anyone mentioned using a cabinet scraper? (maybe you US guys call it something else - a Microplane?) That's one of my favourite tools for this sort of work.

    As Hambone said, you can take several mm off quite easily, but he's right, one mm will be quite noticable. (ever defretted a neck that you know well? - this effectively removes the fret height from the neck profile.) The real point here is that even though you'd have to work pretty hard to reveal the actual truss rod, with less timber there, your neck is more likely to crack if (touch wood!) it is stressed in some way (ie bass falls over!).

    I've seen straight cracks of sometimes 4-6" down the centre of the neck from directly behind the 1st fret (to about the 4th fret) several times in unaltered basses that have had a fall.
  11. K-Frog


    Feb 6, 2002
    Camden, AR, USA
    A cabinet scraper is a cabinet scraper over here too. A microplane is like a surform plane, just better. I'm still interested in "improving" the profile of a neck, and I'm sure it wouldn't take much. I just wanted to hear from someone who has successfully done this, and the associated risks.