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Mahogany is the most common neck wood and, increasingly, Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata; very similar to mahogany and not to be confused with western red cedar on p63). Maple and maple laminates are also used.
“You want the neck to be stiff,” says Eggle. “Once you hit the string, that kinetic energy has to go somewhere. If you’ve got a very thin, whippy neck then a lot of the energy can be dispersed through it, which isn’t doing anything for the sound. You want all the energy to go into the bridge, to get the top working.”
As with the headstock, on very high-end/vintage-style guitars, this will be hewn from the same piece of wood as the neck. Most manufacturers, though, will build the lower heel out of separate pieces. Heels vary in shape and size, but it’s here, slightly towards the lower bout, that is the most structurally sound position for your second strap button.
3. Neck joint
Dovetail, glued: the traditional method for attaching neck to body. A shaped ‘tail’ is cut into the neck block, into which a corresponding ‘pin’ on the end of the neck heel is fitted.
“Purists will say it’s got to be a dovetail,” comments Eggle, “because that’s the best join. If it’s good then yes... but most of the time they’re not. I’ve done a lot of neck resets on vintage guitars, and not-so vintage ones, and what you’ll normally find when you take a dovetail neck off is a load of bits of veneer and glue – and fresh air!” Mortise and tenon, bolted: Martin, Taylor and Collings, to name just three, use their own variations of this method. Eggle explains his...
“There are two holes for M6 bolts that go into the neck,” he says. “There’s also a fretboard extension and under that is a mahogany block that has small brass inserts, which are bolted from underneath. It’s a solid joint, but you can still take the neck off in a couple of minutes, which is great if you want to do a neck reset or anything.”