Neck joint


It is easy to get buried in and confused by the marketing spin surrounding various types of neck-body joint; dovetail, mortise and tenon, direct glued, bolt-on etc. etc., so it is worth standing back and analysing the purpose that the neck joint serves, which will lead us to an appreciation of what really matters and therefore to the most appropriate design.

The neck joint provides a transition from a shell structure (the box) to a solid structure (the cantilevered strut that forms the neck).  It has to provide for a fretboard surface of a very specific profile at a very specific angle to the soundboard whilst supporting a large compressive load, and do this with great stability over a very long period of time.  

The things that go wrong with necks are that the profile changes (backward curve, forward curve, humps and lumps etc. in the fretboard, which are relatively common; twists, warps, misalignments etc. which are relatively uncommon) and that the neck angle changes.

The ways around these problems are to eliminate most of them in the design phase and then design so that adjustments can be made relatively easily.  The myriad styles of neck joint where the body and neck start life as independent components can be adjusted for pitch angle with varying degrees of ease, but are much more prone to fretboard hump at the body join over time.  Pulling the frets and leveling the fretboard or resetting even a glued-in dovetail neck are not such major jobs as adjusting the neck angle of a guitar with Spanish foot construction, where the neck is built as an integral part of the box structure.

Logic brings us inexorably to the conclusion that a bolt-on neck is the most sensible option, provided it is well engineered, with the neck wood continuous under the fretboard into the upper bout of the guitar, which virtually eliminates fretboard hump at the body joint.  The neck joint I designed is shown in the photograph.  The neck bolts to the body using four socket head cap screws inserted from inside the guitar body.  The heel bolts screw into a brass bar that is embedded down most of the height of the heel (no threaded inserts here!) whilst the fretboard bolts screw into captive T-nuts beneath the fretboard.  It is very strong, very stable, and adjustable if required just by removing the bolts. I use this type of neck joint on nearly all my guitars.


 The bolt-on neck joint that I use on nearly all my guitars


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