I am working on my first build.  

It is a 3-stringer with an oak (not quartersawn) neck and a walnut fretboard.  

I like having quite narrow string spacing and wanted to replicate the string spacing I had on a couple of other guitars that I play.  Measuring up at the neck it looks like 25mm would fit the string spacing and give a bit to spare either side of the top and bottom strings.  Then I would taper it out to 35mm at edge of the box.  

Is this too narrow?  Am I removing too much wood from a neck strength point of view? Is it going to feel like I am playing a pencil instead of a guitar?

Please, could you let me know your recommendations? 

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Replies to This Discussion

1 1/2 inches is the standard three string neck width and corresponds to a standard lumber board width.  Any narrower and you increase the probability of the string tension bending the neck.   you would need a truss rod to counteract this.   IMHO, a narrower neck would also not be comfortable to play.  It would be like playing a dowel rod or broom handle.  The string spacing on a three string is also easier to play slide on than a six string spacing as it is more forgiving.  I've been beating on guitars and basses for many years and it wasvery easy to transfer to the 1 1/2 inch neck and string spacing.

Thanks Chuck.  Finding hardwood seems to be a bit trickier in the UK.  I am making this guitar from a bannister. 

For timber in the UK try Feuillus Fencing,sapele,oak,lime,walnut,wenge etc.For fingerboards try your local model shop for 900 lengths of 6mm hardwood or on line SLEC.Or get to know a local builder,they are pulling out hardwood conservatories and doors,replacing them with plastic! Here's a photo of some of my collection from that source.The guitar neck is wenge from Feuillus,beware of the spelks! 

P.S.Feuillus also sell replacement laths for garden seats that are about the right size for a neck

Great advice - thank you!  I love the idea of the reclaimed hardwood too.  Really good value from Feuillus - that Wenge neck looks great. 

This tenor four string is 1 1/8" at the nut and 1 3/8" at the body.being a four string it does have steel in the neck.

Thanks - that looks like a lovely guitar. I think I am going to go for something in between your two recommendations.  I really appreciate the help.  I think I will put some steel in my next one to give me a bit more flexibility. 

Michael, 

Can I just ask a follow-on question here, please?  Did you also taper the thickness of the neck up to the fretboard as well? If so how thick is the neck at the nut/heel (as opposed to the width which you have given here?)

The neck is 5/8"thick at the nut and 7/8" at the heel.The finger board and spacers add about 3/8" to that. 

Hollowbelly's old red Christian Beshore 3 stringer has a very skinny neck, about 25mm wide at the nut. He's had it years and thrashed it mercilessly on many European tours - I've recently  had it in my workshop to replace the nut and it's still in fine fettle. As long as you keep a decent amount of depth in the neck you can get a very narrow neck to work. I've tapered a few necks from my usual 35mm width and rather like the feel of them.

Thanks John.  Thanks also for organising Boxstock.  My wife and I had a great time at the day event and learnt loads.  Thanks also for the supplies - most of the hardware on the guitar (to be) I got from you.  What thickness do you normally make your necks at nut and heel? 

Typically I start with a 22mm neck blank with a 6mm fretboard glued on, and usually they are are a constant depth  from nut to heel.

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