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Neck Questions......

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Total Posts: 514
Looking at my neck and trying to figure out how I will approach everything and how everything fits and I have a couple of questions.

- First, does the base of the nut lie on the angled portion of the headstock? After measuring, I would guess it sits on the angled portion rather than the flat part of the neck where the fretboard is glued.

- My neck is from Hannalei-Moon with an oversized headstock so you can create your own design if you want. (I'm sticking with the standard Martin layout) Do you find it better to glue the headstock veneer onto the headstock then shape the headstock?.......or do you shape the headstock then glue the veneer in place and trim the veneer back to the shape of the headstock?

- When shaping the headstock, I could make a template, stick it to the headstock with double stick tape, and use a router with a flush trim bit to shape the headstock? Or alternatively, I could mark the shape of the headstock and cut to shape with the tablesaw or bandsaw (would require some sanding afterward). What are the pros and cons to pick one method over the other?

- Finally, I have two pieces of E. Indial Rosewood in my kit sized roughly 6 3/4" x 5/8" x 1/16".......what are these pieces for? I have ivoroid for the tail end piece. It almost appears it's for sides to the headstock but there wouldn't be a piece to cover the top of the headstock. So far I haven't figured it out.

Jan 12, 10 | 4:35 pm
Bill Cory

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Total Posts: 3584
Darrell --
Nut -- it sometimes goes on the flat, sometimes on the angled ... There's no hard and fast rule unless it has to be on the angled head because of fretboard position. Martin kits and Stewmac kits differ on it, for example.

Shaping veneer: I would glue it and then shape it. Or shape it slightly oversize and glue it, then fine-shape it.

I would use the bandsaw and get close, then finish with files and sanding. That's just me.

I've found nice pieces of EIR like that in several kits and never knew exactly what they were for. Still have a lot of them! I've used them for tail wedges, for neck heel-caps, and various things. Hopefully someone will provide the real answer ... if there is one!


Jan 12, 10 | 5:19 pm

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Total Posts: 257
I had the same question with my StewMac dread. I measured from the start of the flat portion to the edge of the top and found that to be 14". So I'm assuming my nut will sit on the angled portion of the headstock. Seems I saw a picture or two where the bottom side of the nut was cut at an angle so it would be perpendicular to the flat neck.
I imagine each is/can be different, but that the distance from the nut to the edge of the top would control nut location. Did that make sense? 2c.

Jan 13, 10 | 5:38 am

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Total Posts: 509
Contacted Chris at Hannalei-Moon and the nut is supposed to be on the angled portion of the headstock. What is confusing is the neck was a little too long for the fretboard. After a lot of measuring, it appears I have a neck for a literal 25.4" scale but the fretboard scale length is the Martin 25.4" scale which is actually 25.34". This makes the neck 0.066" (roughly 1/16") too long. Had me confused for a bit.

Anyhow, I discussed this with both Chris and John Hall and will use the parts I have. The 14th fret will be 1/16" north of the neck/body intersection and the bridge will be 1/16" north of the expected location.

Think anyone will notice? It might be noticable but I doubt it will make a noticable difference in the way the guitar sounds.

Jan 13, 10 | 1:04 pm

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Total Posts: 668
Making the bottom of the nut angled does slightly complicate the process of making the nut when you get there, but I have seen it done both ways. Necks from the Martin line will have roll pins for indexing the fretboard - that is a very good idea to add them to keep the f/b from skating around when you glue it on.

I have had the best luck shaping the neck itself, then gluing the venier on and using a flush cut router to clean it up. Many of the kit necks will be rough shaped on a cnc, but you need to do the final profiling. Here is the LMI neck for my parlor

It is tricky cutting the headstock profile on a bandsaw - very difficult to hold it flat on the table and work around the saw - making a pattern and using a router would certainly be best. The volute and all the other angles make this pretty difficult.

The small pieces of rosewood could be used for your heel cap and are very handy to practice your staining and pore filling on when you are ready to finish. I also keep some pieces to make powder for filling around inlay. I wouldn't use them on the sides of the headstock

Last very minor thought, if you move the 14th fret too far you may have trouble if and when you need to do a reset. Standard practice is to pull the fret over the heel joint, drill a hole into the joint and inject steam. If you are doing a dovetail joint you may want to take this into consideration. And I am assuming that your fretboard is long enough to extend to the sound hole - usually you have to cut a little bit off of them. Otherwise shouldn't be a problem.

Jan 13, 10 | 1:45 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

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Total Posts: 981
You if your peghead is too thick, which I imagine it is oversized that way too, and you need to plane it down to thickness, you can take material off the top surface and move that "length" easily down a 1/16", in effect, shortening your neck from the nut to the 14th fret.
It is very easy to do.


Jan 13, 10 | 1:57 pm

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
Thanks for the responses.

Freeman, this is a bolt on neck so shouldn't require glue.

Kevin, you bring up an interesting point. How thick should the headstock be? I assume the thickness is determined by the size of the tuners. Chris mentioned this as an option but I didn't really want to thin the headstock and make it weaker......but If the thickness of the headstock veneer makes up for it, that wouldn't be an issue. Hmmm, I wonder what I could use to plane it down evenly? Don't really trust myself with a hand plane. I'll measure the headstock and the rosewood veneer and see where I'm at.

BTW, here is a video of a method of shaping the headstock recommended by Robbie O'Brien:

Jan 13, 10 | 3:46 pm

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Total Posts: 509
Just measured the thickness of the headstock and the rosewood veneer that will glue over it.

Headstock = 1/2"

Veneer = 0.060"

So it would be a little over 0.560" thick after I blued the veneer in place (the glue would add a little thickness). Anyone know how thin and thick the headstock can be and the tuners still work? These are Grover Sta-Tite, open back tuners.

If I can't think of some way to thickness the headstock easily, I won't fool with it. Can it really change things much if the fretboard and bridge move 1/16"? My guess is a lot of folks have built it this far off accidentally. My only concern is if I were to glue the top to the rim a little off in the opposite direction.........could move the bridge right to the front edge of the bridge plate.

Jan 13, 10 | 4:01 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

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Total Posts: 981
That is going to be just about right for most tuners, so I think you are already there with the thickness. That is too bad because it is a good way to gain a little length. You can always use a sanding block to remove the small amount that would be necessary, but I don't think you can take any away.
Did you talk to the people you got the neck from and ask them what is up?


Jan 13, 10 | 4:15 pm

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
Kevin, it's just "one of those things". What Martin calls a 25.4" scale is a true 25.34" scale. So the neck was made a true 25.4" scale.....and the fretboard from LMI is a Martin 25.4" scale (actually 25.34"). It's easily misunderstood so an honest mistake.

I just cut the headstock to length using my compound miter saw (wow, it's intimidating to make that first cut on a CNC'd's so pretty and perfect <smile>) Now all I need are the sides trimmed narrower with the Martin taper. If I had a jig to hold the neck at the correct angle, I think I could cut it on my tablesaw without getting into the main portion of the neck. Problem is I have to reference off the centerline of the neck (sides of headstock are parallel now, but as soon as I cut one side, I can't reference off the other side).

Just thinking out loud, but I have a very heavy duty, 12" sander with a 90 deg ledge/table. If I could draw the lines accurately on the headstock, I could just sand to the lines. Hmmm.

Jan 13, 10 | 4:39 pm

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