Chapter Eight – What’s Neckst?

That was so terrible. Really, really awful. Worst pun yet, by far.

Sorry.

*ahem* I’ve kept a secret going for a little while, and some of you might have pieced it together that my guitar has been missing something pretty important.

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The neck!

Well here it is in all its glory. This will be a picture heavy post, since the wood looks so pretty. It’s flamed maple on the outsides, and padauk/padouk within.

It even smells good. I get vanilla, and I’m told it smells a lot like pipe tobacco, too. Although, being that I’m not a smoker and it’s no longer 1948, I don’t actually know what that smells like.

Getting the angles just right was tricky, tricky stuff. Making sure I had a flat headstock meant I needed extra depth on my wood, and actually it still ended up being on a bit of an angle. You can see what I mean in this photo:

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I actually like the look of that; it’s visually interesting for sure, and won’t have any impact structurally, so we’re all good. I also channeled out the cavity for the truss rod and secured that in place.

From there, I felt like the headstock would have looked too thin, especially with seven strings, so I glued on some padauk wings to either side:

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Gluey Glewis and the Glews.

Gluing on my fretboard and headstock veneer was next, and taking off the excess wood on either side of it came after. These were both simple enough tasks.

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At this point, I wouldn’t call the neck ‘playable.’

Next was the fretboard radius. a 20-inch radius is pretty minimal, but with the extra width of the neck, maybe it will feel closer to a classical guitar. I then made my fretboard inlays using brass, used a Dremel to channel out the slots for them, and mixed up some leftover dust in the epoxy to ensure a clean look.

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Here’s a quick mock-up I did – the camera perspective messes with the fan of the frets, but only the 8th fret is perfectly perpendicular.

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Homemade glitter! NSFL (not safe for lungs).

Following this, I took the excess maple off of either side of the neck, and shaped the headstock with a spindle sander.

Shaping the neck was pretty fun, to be honest, and this is one of the more gratifying tasks. Using a dragon rasp, I took the material down to the depth I wanted at the first fret and down close to the heel. From there, I shaped everything else to the same dimensions, basically (more on the shape in a bit). I liked this part because it was largely about feel and seemed like this must be what Michelangelo was talking about on a far, far, far more basic level. He saw an angel in the marble, I saw a neck in the neck-shaped hunk of wood. Potato, padaukto.

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Not pictured: potatoes

In the process of shaping the neck, several of the fretboard inlays popped out. I’m not entirely sure why that is, because the epoxy had cured for sure. My best guess is that I added too much ¬†wenge dust and it messed with the adhesion. In any case, I was able to repair everything with no major issues. I then sanded the neck at 120 grit, 180, 320, and finally 800, removing¬†any scratches and making it all crazy smooth.

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It’s real!

The neck profile is an odd one. I knew I wanted a chunkier neck, because any seven-string I’ve picked up feels super thin and flat. For this guitar, I wanted it to feel more natural, more like a standard guitar. …but I also wanted it to feel nothing like a standard guitar since I went for a totally weird neck profile. After reading up on the various shapes, I discovered .strandberg* and their EndurNeck. The reviews were all glowing, and the guitars are incredible works of art, so I thought it must be a good idea. I modified it a bit, however, to make it feel closer to ‘normal,’ and to not violate any copyright claims they may have.

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See, ladies? Guitar makers appreciate a good heel.

I’m particularly proud of the heel design because it was something I thought of as I was working on it, I feel like it’s original, and it looks damn good, if I do say so.

That’s all for now. Every time I come back to the shop, I get to see how much closer I am and I think about how wild it is that a few weeks ago these were just flat bits of wood. Next time, I’ll have even more to share. Cheers!

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