Hi, I'm really new at this but love the idea.
Anyway I've watched a ton of videos and I wonder why the fret board is always, it seems, a separate piece of would glued to the neck?
If the neck is hardwood and the fret board is hard wood why the layers? or is it just aesthetics?
Welcome David, there are a number of reasons why builders choose a different hardwood fingerboard.
1) it covers a trussrod if fitted from the top face of the neck
2) it adds a bit more stability, especially if grain is oriented correctly.
3) not all neckwoods have a grain or cell structure that will grip the fret tang into its slot firm enough, fingerboard material is selected with this in mind.
4) it adds a decorative feature.
5) allows for better break angle of the string at the peghead...and
6) allows fretting to extend past the body if fingerboard goes over the body, at the heal.
7) some people can here a difference in tone when different fingerboards are used......
Thanks. That all makes sense. I just never heard the "why" in any of the videos.
So as to grain orientation, should they run parallel or perpendicular to each other?
Hi, l always aim for 1/4 saw timber for the neck and the fingerboard. If you have seen timber bowed or boards "cupped" (not flat) in the hardware store, it is probably slab cut instead of 1/4 cut, grain lines going from face to face when looked at the end grain of the board.
It is a more expensive process to cut a tree this way, but the end result is more stable.
Taffy is correct on ever point he made and for the record, I almost always use a separate fret board for the reasons he notes. However, if you go to a music store or ebay and look at the Fender Stratocaster you'll find that many (most/all) strats install frets directly into the neck (no fret board). So, building with no fret board is possible and done, so the option is open.
Another thing to add about fretting softer woods like Poplar is, don’t get it at any big box store. I would get it at a bonified lumberyard, big box stores sell young, hurry-dried wood, which is usually softer & less dense than the quality stuff you can get from the lumberyard? FYI lots of members usually go with oak, since it’s hard & readily available just about everywhere, another thing that will help is gluing the frets in, this will secure them even more so they won’t come out in the future? To reiterate on what Tom said, yes Fender makes a neck without a fretboard, but they don’t use anything softer than Maple so there’s no chance of fret sprout there? Good luck on your builds, you may want to peruse the Pics section for ideas?