I have a nice piece of poplar that is 2" wide and 1" actual size that I want to make a neck for a 4 string CBG. I honestly think I will reduce the width to 1.5" width would be wide enough, but since I already have one full inch of wood for the thickness I was wondering if anyone has any experience or knowledge of just using something like this without adding a fret board. I was considering just cutting the slots into the neck. What do you guys think? Your advice is appreciated.

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Many folks have  laid frets right on the neck, yes that's fine , ,  many  use poplar   for 3 string necks too . 

However , with a 4 string , i think you are approaching  the threshold  of the amount of  string tension  poplar  can  handle  without  "fear" of warpage . Even if  you  just added a harder wood fretboard   you would be alot safer ,  even at the same width . You'd be surprised how much strength a hard fretboard adds to a neck . it's like an exo-trussrod.

Poplar is fine for a 3 string .Some poplar is great and can handle a 4 , but there's that uncertain risk factor approaching 4. 

if it's just  for you ..and you really wanna used that piece of  wood ..... go for it . 

if building to sell.  just pretend you are the buyer  .. hearing   " it "should "....  probably... " be fine" . ;-/

It will probably handle the string tension providing you don't tune too high for any given weight of strings, I've done this plenty of times with oak and sapele, but poplar is generally way too soft to fret directly into. It is very easy to punch the fretwire too deep into the surface of the poplar,and it really is on the soft side to hold the tang of the fretwire with any degree of confidence. Make it fretless or glue a harder piece of timber on as a fretboard is my advice.

Wow! I had no idea poplar was that soft. I think if I am going to use it I will just mill it down a little and then add a piece of red oak for the fret board not only to give the neck strength but also like you say to have something hard for the frets to seat into. It looks like ,"the anonymous pick " is thinking along the same line. Glad you guys could give me some well needed advice especially due to all the time needed to make a quality neck . I sure do not want to use the wrong type of wood and find out after I have completed it all the problems that I had created for myself. Thanks again.

I'm with Chickenbone. I've done frets directly into  the neck with oak and maple, but poplar is pretty soft (relatively speaking). You could probably pull its off, but you would need to keep string tension in the 15# range to be safe. Also, soft wood is a pain to pound frets into without problems. I say put a fret board on it or save it for another project. It would make a fine "slider" and the frets would not be an issue.

Yep, to add to the fine advise above. What causes problems when fretting  softer timbers is that the barbs on the tang of the fret push the wood fibres in the slot aside, causing a looser fit. instead of forcing their way into the fibres of hardwood thereby maintaining better grip in the slot.


Thanks Taff. I think I will be adding an oak fret-board. What thickness do you prefer for a fret-board?  Are most fret-boards 1/4" thick?

Yes, I always use 1/4" material.


I used a very nice piece of quartersawn Black Walnut for a 3 string neck,1" thick, and I added no fingerboard, just fretting the surface of the neck shaft. The wood had been air dried indoors for several years. I went for a GDG tuning using the 5th,4th, and 3rd strings from a Martin Acoustic set of strings. I sold the guit a month after it was built. When I fretted the neck blank it was dead flat. After a month of full string tension there was noticeable relief increasing with time. I have learned that an external fretboard and the glue joint that binds it to the neck are a must for my "peace of mind".,.,.,

Thanks for sharing you experience Jerry. This info is very helpful.


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