I 'm on my fifth build, and bought my sixth on EBay - the one on EBay just kicks my ass as for vibrancy and sustain! I'm ready to retire from building and just start buying! But I love building and creating thing's!
Should the sound board be glued to the neck in a neck through design? Or should there be at least a small gap between the two?
Scarfed neck or step down?
Bridge / nut material used?
If I have a magnetic pickup working in conjunction with a piezo - bronze wound - or nickle wound strings?
Any help would be great guy's!

Chris Carlson

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Chris when I do my neck thru's I glue all my fret boards to the neck, scarf joint or step down is your preference and the same for strings really. Personally I use a medium gauge acoustic on a 25.5 scale, tuned Gdg; bronze wound. Like our friend Randy Bretz would say...."tone is in the bone".


Reeds is right, IMHO. Glue and / or screw that fretboard to the neck. The soundboard (the top, or bottom, of the box) can be glued to the fretboard (if you have, as many builds do, a fretboard extension that carries over onto the top). Glue the neck into the slot you cut for it; try to get it to fit as close as possible. However, many builders cut a relief for the portion of the neck that sits under the top, so as to allow the soundboard to vibrate as freely as possible. There should be a gap in this design. Spend some time looking around the site here for pics of this; there are easily hundreds, if not thousands, of examples. Another alternative, which works well for dulcimers and Uncle Crow-style builds, is to attach the neck to the soundboard outside the box. The idea here is that all the vibration gets transferred along the length of the top, causing the air inside the box to vibrate. Many builders and players, myself included, like bronze wound medium strings; they sound warmer, and give a bit of grind when playing slide. Some of that also depends on the slide material (glass, brass, copper, steel, bone, ceramic). Those strings that are bronze wound over a steel core (which is almost all of them) will work with both mag pups and piezos. Nickel strings will give you a brighter tone; just depends on what sound you like. Piezos work through direct vibration transfer, while mag pups work through disturbance of a magnetic field by an iron or steel string. Bridge / nut materials can be softwood (weak, easily split, poor vibe transfer), hardwood (much better), steel, or brass rods or screws, (better, hard, dense, good vibe transfer but brighter, can wear on strings), plastic ( easily worked, but can split, so-so vibe transfer), Corian ( easily worked, pretty dense, good vibe, comes in colors), and bone ( relatively easy to shape, great vibe transfer, dense, the gold standard for warm tone). Bridge and nut height also factor in for tone, as well as playability. Lots of things to think about and tweak.

I've built 24+ guitars and tried many methods, glueing to the lid was not as effective for me, it created all sorts of problems as did tone and volume controls...scarfed joints offered little advantage, step down and keep the whole thing straight,  through neck though is the way to go, no gaps, magnetic pickup or piezo one or the other,  they don't work well together, ordinary electric guitar strings are fine - keep it simple! - don't give up after 5 builds..., unless you buy one of mine! (-;


Well I'm only on my third build so any advice I can offer is a little suspect but here goes. The sound board needs to vibrate to make or amplify sound so for acoustic builds you want some space between the neck and sound board. On guitars with electric pickups it's not as important as the pickup transfers string vibration to a electric signal. I didn't have much luck with using a piezo with my first build but it sounds fine acoustically so I've switched over to electric pickups as that's the sound I'm looking for. Don't give up on builds as you learn from mistakes and for me that's the fun!   

Thanks for all your advice guys! Maybe number 6 or (lucky #7) will turn out with any luck?

If you do a recess like this, it will allow the box lid to vibrate freely.

on another  thread ,    quite  a few   builders   that  have  done both  " glue     down"  ,    and "space    under the neck "  examples   have stated they  see   very  little  difference,  but  if any at all ,  the glued one was  better  .

but  i  have  seen others say the opposite.

i think its  more the sum of the  whole thing  .. if  you  get alot  right  on a  solid  built   guitar,    the   whole thing  will act as a resonator  even   up  the neck  .

then again  making the   body act  like a drum   will reso  well  too .

trial  and error  on your  own  skill level  and  materials  you      can  get    should  determine  your answer    for  you  .

studying   another   good  sounding  guitar  may  save you some time  also   .

it may be  a mix of ingredients     not  one magic    fix    too  ;-)

ps  .. mag  pups  should  use  steel     /  nickle  strings .    bronze will   work  but sound  muddy  .



There's no magic, but I've got a couple of observations. I've built both methods, of leaving a clear gap between the underside of the top, or having full contact between the neckstick and the underside of the top - both are equally valid and will work fine. However, some boxes work better than others, so that part is always down to chance and or experience, and some 'free floating' tops will need bracing, like a regular acoustic guitar. One thing I do know, is that glueing the neck into the body is not necessary - I never do this, mainly because it means doing any modification during the build (to alter the action for example) or or making repairs (to the electrics) after the guitar is finished is virtually impossible. The sustain and tone will not be any better for glueing - I say this after now getting well into over 500 builds, and every one of them has the neck fixed by just 2 or 4 screws. Recently a few people have remarked on how much sustain my guitars have...making a decent Les Paul sound pretty weak in that department, so I know my approach works. What is perhaps more important is a neck that combines rigidity and resonance, so it needs to have enough mass and thickness to give you this. Also, the gauge and tension of the strings is vital - too loose and they just flop around, too tight and they can just become too resistant to vibrating freely. And the nut and bride are also areas which can inhibit string vibration and transfer of sound to the structure of the guitar - they material needs to be hard, any string slots accurately cut, and also very important, they need to have full and even contact with the guitar to ensure no energy is lost through a sloppy fit or uneven contact.

So there are a lot of areas where things can go wrong for you..getting just one of them a little bit off can adversely affect the sound of the guitar, and getting them all right isn't always easy.

I think John said it all! John mentioned nut and bridges. Be sure the intonation is spot on. Even a fraction off can sometimes make a great guitar sound "out of tune" even if your guitar is tuned up. I have found some of my bridges had to be moved back a tad to achieved this. In other words, the length from the 12th fret to the bridge is a hair longer than the length from the nut to the 12th fret. That is just my experience.

Don't expect to much from a box, bottom line is there is very little air to move and wood surface to make a lot of sound. Just keep trying to get the most you can with trial and error that's what were all doing. Look at building your own boxes that are bigger then most cigar boxes that way you pick the size and thickness of you box.

Just finished revamping my fret less "Rat Rod" CBG and tore out the piezo disc's (2) and put a piezo rod under the bridge! And that little guitar just "SPRANG" to life!!! It was enough to give me shivers down my spine and make me cry!
Thanks for all your help everyone!

Just keep messin around with them and you will get what you want, disc's are tuff to get good sound from you got to try moving them and different way to insulate them.


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