Neck Mounting Myths
Bolt on Necks Have
Gotten a Bad Rap
By Ed Roman
has been printed repeatedly on various pages
around my site !!!!
I think this is an
important thing for a guitarist to realize !!!!
I believe it is the most important thing
you can learn on this site
Many players assume
that to build a good guitar it should have a
glued on neck. I for one definitely do not
believe that. Just because most companies charge
extra for that option I think people just assume
better because it usually costs more.
I am going to attempt
to dispel that myth. In fact I personally think
that a normal set neck is the absolute worst way
to construct an electric guitar!
It actually costs less
to glue in a neck than to bolt one in correctly.
Gluing up a neck is pretty basic. You apply glue
inside the neck joint, slide the neck in and
clamp it down.
A bolt in neck
requires a lot more work, there is no room for a
sloppy fit like on a glue in neck. The cost of
stainless bolts and press fittings are far
higher than the cost of a little glue. The labor
factor requires 4 holes drilled and countersunk.
The tolerances are extremely tight on a good
bolt on neck where the tolerances are far less
important with the application of glue. If you
make a mistake and drill incorrectly itís time
to throw away the body on a glued up neck there
are no holes to drill and less chances of a
I know, I know itís
been done that way for 60 or 70 years! why
change now? Why not keep our heads buried in the
sand and continue thinking like we did in the
50ís & 60ís ?
Any luthier will tell
you that the
breakage occurs more on set neck guitars
than all other guitars combined. The fact is I
have repaired less than 15 bolt on necks in 40
years. I have repaired well over 2000 set necks
and at any given time there are probably at
least 6 of them broken in my shop.
First of all there is
absolutely nothing wrong with a bolt on or bolt
in neck as long as itís done right. I must
stress the part about it being done right !!!!!
The glue between the
neck & body of a guitar will prevent 60% to 70%
of high end tone transference. For example, try
to get a funky nasal ducktone twang on a glued
in neck guitar. It wonít happen.
NECK THRU THE BODY
Great For Sustain & Low End Fat Tone, But You
Lose Some Versatility
Bolt on necks got
their bad reputation during the 70ís when
companies were making them with ill fitting or
loose neck joints. A loose neck joint causes
instability and detracts horribly from tone
quality. A loose neck joint will also cause
tremendous loss of sustain. Some companies in
the 70ís were mass producing guitars as fast as
they could and were simply not paying attention
to the neck joint! The necks were not fitted
correctly and in many cases the strings were
actually hanging off the edge of the neck.
A lot of criticism is
leveled at the 3 screw neck mounting plates of
the era. Personally I like the concept of the
tilting neck which of course is only available
with a three bolt neckplate.
Thanks to modern
machinery and woodworking techniques neck joints
are a lot better & tighter today. We now know
much more about guitar construction than we used
to. Guitars in general are a lot better today,
even the Mexican ones are better than some of
those USA guitars from the 90ís. A tight neck
joint equals a good guitar !!!
The neck-joint is the
heart of the guitar, If the neck-joint is set up
properly the guitar WILL always sound better.
In my shop we make it
a rule to mount each neck so tightly that itís
almost a force fit. The technician should be
able to physically pick up the guitar by the
neck so that the body is suspended and the fit
alone should be enough to hold the body to the
My sure fire test is
to take a thin guitar pick and try to slide it
between the neck and the body. If I can get the
pick into the crack then I know the guitar will
be lacking in tone & sustain.