Neck – The One Piece Neck Stick

neck comp2

Current plan is to construct a one-piece neck thru design, or “neck stick”, for the same reason you see this done on solid body electrics: Sustain. It was more of a structural thing for the steel body resonator guitars. Often on wood body resonator guitars you will see the traditional neck/neck block construction. I will be combining some aspects of each into a wood bodied resonator guitar.

The construction method chosen for this build is to integrate the end of the neck stick into a modified neck block and a more traditional tail block. The neck stick also ties into the cone support ring/top and back via sound posts/bracing. I believe this is going to provide a solid “foundation” for the other parts of the build and hopefully not be too restrictive, allowing the shell to resonate.

Mahogany would be a preferred wood choice however I am using White Ash on this prototype to keep cost down and it’s readily available to me. The White Ash has proven to be easily workable but not overly soft. It even smells good when you’re working it. It is porous similar to an oak and grain is more open than I think looks good on a neck – we’ll see how it looks finished up!

While a neck stick isn’t necessarily innovative – there are examples out there ranging from Stewmac’s “How To” series which is a modified version of a two-piece neck stick design, mainstream manufacturers like National Resophonic, and of course an ever growing community of custom guitar builders. My application has more specific intent than what I’ve been able to find. Examples I’ve come across seem to end with just fastening it somehow – more like an afterthought, either mid body under the cone or via endpin in the tail block. Some do it more aesthetically than others but what I am after is fully integrating it into the fit-form-and function of the overall design.

Profile of the neck is partially taken from a 1929 National Triolian as a starting point. I modified the contour thickness for a somewhat thinner neck. Using a rat-tail file, pencil, and my custom gauge, I filed the contours at frets 0-3-5-7-9 to define the profile. Then carefully shaved, carved, rasped, gnawed, scraped, willed, and sanded my way to the final shape. After many hours I think the shape feels really good albeit not sold on 12 fret-to-body length. The neck seems too short to me – parlor size. I’m planning to do a cutaway that blends into the neck so might work out pretty cool. If not I’ll make some plan adjustments and try a 14 fret-to-body as an option for the next round.

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