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Acoustic Necks ?

GUEST,Mr Big palms-short fingers 08 Dec 08 - 12:43 PM
olddude 08 Dec 08 - 12:55 PM
Les in Chorlton 08 Dec 08 - 01:03 PM
JedMarum 08 Dec 08 - 01:26 PM
Melissa 08 Dec 08 - 02:09 PM
Piers Plowman 08 Dec 08 - 02:29 PM
Richard Bridge 08 Dec 08 - 02:52 PM
Don Firth 08 Dec 08 - 02:59 PM
Murray MacLeod 08 Dec 08 - 03:01 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 08 Dec 08 - 03:14 PM
Murray MacLeod 08 Dec 08 - 03:22 PM
Richard Bridge 08 Dec 08 - 04:05 PM
PoppaGator 08 Dec 08 - 04:23 PM
Bruce MacNeill 08 Dec 08 - 04:41 PM
Riginslinger 08 Dec 08 - 11:15 PM
Uncle Phil 09 Dec 08 - 01:13 AM
mandotim 09 Dec 08 - 02:16 AM
Musket 09 Dec 08 - 03:32 AM
Richard Bridge 09 Dec 08 - 03:36 AM
Will Fly 09 Dec 08 - 03:53 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 09 Dec 08 - 06:10 AM
Big Al Whittle 09 Dec 08 - 06:47 AM
Richard Bridge 09 Dec 08 - 08:33 AM
GUEST,amgreen 09 Dec 08 - 06:12 PM
mattkeen 10 Dec 08 - 06:26 AM
mattkeen 10 Dec 08 - 06:26 AM
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Subject: Acoustic Necks ?
From: GUEST,Mr Big palms-short fingers
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 12:43 PM

I just had an idle moment and posted this in the "Expensive Martins" thread.
But then considered, maybe this could be amplified into a debate
on its own merite..

"Irrespective of price, I just wish more acoustics would be marketed
with thinner/narrower electric guitar dimension necks."


So, I can't be the only guitarist 'blessed' with big shovel palms
and stubby sausage fingers who finds traditional acoustic necks
an uncomfortable chore to play !!!???

Over the years, some Yamaha acoustics have been manufactured
with more manageable narrower necks,
and more recent Fender budget bowl backs
have been graced with more modern bolt on 'electric' necks..

But where are the full-sized wood bodied acoustics with traditional glued-in 'electric dimensions' necks ???..

I contend there would be significant market potential for such
'user friendly' acoustic guitars.
Finger pickers would still have a huge variety of wide fat necks to choose from,
so no market sector would be abandoned or alienated.
Just there would be more fair choice of instruments/ neck dimensions
for all adult players with smaller hands.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: olddude
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 12:55 PM

My Buddie Garry has problems with my old Martin. He claims his fat fingers don't fit. He plays and old wide neck something or other. I have narrow hands and it fits perfect but recently I played my friends old avation from the early 70's. I swear that neck has to be the narrowest thing I ever played. I finger pick and stumbled around quite a bit.   I think it all goes back to finding the guitar that fits your hands, your ears and your budget


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 01:03 PM

I am always puzzled as to why the action on electrics is always so much better than many acoustics.
L in C


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: JedMarum
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 01:26 PM

I always thought the Gibson acoustic guitars had necks that were too small, too much like electric necks. I haven't tried too man of the new Gibsons, so I'm not sure if that's still true - but I'm one of those players who prefers a wide neck - so I'm happy with the current trend.

You know yo can look for, or special order guitars with slimmer and or shallower necks.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Melissa
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 02:09 PM

I have a friend who covets my old Gibson because the neck is a little bit narrower--but it varies by year or something. I've played other J45 and the neck felt like a baseball bat to me..


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 02:29 PM

Subject: Acoustic Necks ?
From: GUEST,Mr Big palms-short fingers - PM
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 12:43 PM

"Irrespective of price, I just wish more acoustics would be marketed
with thinner/narrower electric guitar dimension necks."

"So, I can't be the only guitarist 'blessed' with big shovel palms
and stubby sausage fingers who finds traditional acoustic necks
an uncomfortable chore to play !!!???"

I have an electric guitar on another continent which I haven't seen for too many years, but I've played a classical guitar now for about 20 years and I think I would find it difficult to go back to playing a guitar with a thinner neck.

I have medium-sized hands and I wonder why you find it uncomfortable to play a wider neck. What's your technique like? I find it much more comfortable to have the extra room to manouever that you have with a classical guitar. I really don't think one needs long, slim fingers to play one. I don't have them, although they're not short and stubby, either.

Barre chords are easier on a thinner neck, but I think that's mostly a matter of strength. I practiced it for a couple of months on my first classical guitar when I bought it and have never had any problem since, even when I've taken long breaks from playing. Can you not reach the low strings with your third, fourth and fifth fingers comfortably?

That being said, I think anyone should have whatever neck he or she wants, and if you can afford it, I'm sure a guitar-maker will customize a guitar for you, if it's possible, or build one with a thinner neck.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 02:52 PM

Planks can be set up lower and lighter because they do not need to wiggle wood to make a sound. It's all down to the pickups.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 02:59 PM

I have fairly large hands with longish fingers. I've been playing classic guitars (flat fingerboard, 2 inches wide at the nut) since 1955. The nylon string sound on a good classic is fine for most songs, but there are some songs with which I would actually prefer the steel string sound. But to me, the necks on the vast majority of steel-string guitars feel like I'm trying to play on a toothpick. I have room to maneuver on a classic fingerboard, whereas I feel cramped and restricted on the narrower steel-string. And if I spend much time playing a steel-string, it takes me a couple of days to get back to the feel of the classic again.

Gibson used to have a model that was the same dimensions as a classic and even looked like a classic (except the soundboard was either black or dark sunburst rather than light-colored spruce or cedar, like most classics), 12 fret neck, slotted headstock, complete with flat 2" fingerboard, but it was braced for steel strings. Out of the market now, but I sure would have liked to get my lunch-hooks on one of those!

I think the reason that the action on electric guitars is lighter than on acoustics is that to get volume out of an acoustic, you have to honk on the strings a bit, so they have to be higher off the fingerboard to avoid fret-buzz, whereas with an electric, you can just tickle the strings and have all the volume you want with the twist of a knob.

If your guitar feels like it has a hard action, have it checked by a good repair person for set-up. A good set-up can make a world of difference.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 03:01 PM

There is no question that most Martins (and other makes) have more wood in the neck than is necessary.

I have in the past taken a cabinet scraper to the neck of a D18 and rendered it infinitely more playable, it doesn't take a lot of wood removal to make a huge difference.

It screws up your warranty of course, but if you are not the original owner then that doesn't matter.

I also did this to a Lakewood with a similar quantum leap in ease of playing.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 03:14 PM

One reason builders are resistant to thinner necks on acoustics is that they're more prone to problems due to the extra stress of higher tension acoustic strings. Replace a few hundred and the wisdom of building them a bit beefier becomes apparent.

Ironically, it shouldn't be a problem. If they'd just use multiple-ply construction on thinner necks, they'd be nuch more resistant to stress-related problems. A five-piece laminated neck is MUCH stronger than a one-piece neck of the same profile. It's just a matter of educating the average guitar buyer to the fact that it's built that way for a reason, not to save a few bucks in materials cost.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 03:22 PM

"It's just a matter of educating the average guitar buyer to the fact that it's built that way for a reason, not to save a few bucks in materials cost "

well said.

fact is, the average guitar buyer is incapable of understanding why the laminated neck construction is far stronger.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 04:05 PM

Curious, I've had that discussion about laminated necks, too, yet the average folkie understands perfectly why a laminated top vibrates less.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 04:23 PM

What some people may have difficulty understanding is that the properties of laminated vs solid wood might be desireable in one part of the instrument while being decidedly undesirable elsewhere.

I think I get it: the neck does not produce sound and thus does not need to vibrate easily ~ but it should be as strong as possible. A multiple-ply piece of laminate would be an asset in this context. The soundboard or "top" of the intrument's soundbox requires exactly the opposite properties: it should vibrarate as freely as possible, and relative fragility is acceptable.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Bruce MacNeill
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 04:41 PM

When I started taking guitar lessons, back in '50 something, when I was about 10 I think, I was told my fingers were too short to really be any good at it. I think they're about average at least now. I learned from some old Jazz men my father knew so my first real guitar, once he decided I was going to learn, was a Gibson L7-C, F-hole, archtop, acoustic with a narrow neck, low action and a big enough body, bigger than I was at the time, to still make some volume. I think gibson still makes them occasionally although they officially stopped in the early 70's. Now, I suppose it looks strange when I'm fingerpicking folk on the beast, but it's what I learned on and the easiest guitar to play I've ever had or played. To be fair, I have a bolt-on pickup for the thing too so it can be electric as well. Later I got a Gibson ES-165 which is escentially the same as the L7 but with a real pickup, still a full body F-hole with a jazz neck. Properly setup it plays like the L7 but just doesn't produce the same volume. Whether that's because of different wood or the electrics, I don't know. What I do know is that when I was teaching, if I let a kid who was having trouble with whatever cheapie the parents got as a starter guitar play the Gibson, they could tell the difference. I suspect you would too. Of course then I had to tell them that they had to learn on what they had but if they did, someday they'd get something better.

Later, much later, I got a classical and took some lessons once I figured out I couldn't teach myself. The classical neck is much better for the technical finger style of classical music and I can't really play much of the clasical stuff on the Gibsons. I also have Don's problem of switching between the two styles and having to readjust my hands. I know that guitar playing, like any instrument is really a matter of muscle memory and I would think that when I play something that I learned on the classical my muscles would move appropriately and then when I play something I learned on the Gibson it would be automatic but it doesn't seem to work that way. When I switch guitars I have to play a couple of simple pieces to get adjusted before I can do anything complex either way.

Anyway, if you think you need an acoustic with a narrow neck like an electric, and if you can get over the fact that it looks funny to flat-top players, try an acoustic jazz guitar like the L7 (the -C just means it has a cutaway). Pawn shops are generally a good place to look for old "Kalamazoo's".

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Riginslinger
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 11:15 PM

I was searching the web for a jumbo guitar, and kept coming up with different nut widths on the various options. Finally, I typed "jumbo with a 1 3/4 inch nut width" into the space provided on "Musician's Friends," and most of the options that came up were top-of-the-line Martins--which aren't really full-sized jumbos--Gibsons and Taylors.
             Epiphone, Washburn, and most of the others had narrower nut widths that went down to 1 5/8 inch.

             I wondered if that had something to do with the cost of materials to manufacture a wider neck, without using laminate, or a softer wood.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 01:13 AM

The width of the fingerboard is important but not the only variable in the ease-of-playing equation. A good setup, as mention above, is critical to playability.

Another variable is the radius of the fretboard – how curved it is from bass side to treble side. In general the more curved the fretboard the easier it is easier to play chords, particularly barre chords. Classical fretboards as usually flat, Martin flattops usually have a relatively flat radius of 16" or more, Gibson flattops usually have a rounder 12" radius, and a Fender Strat has a radius of 7 1/2 ".   

There's no reason someone couldn't build a flattop with an electric-style neck, though a transplanting Fender necks probably wouldn't work because there is not enough string break angle over the nut. A Les Paul style neck might work better.
- Phil


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: mandotim
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 02:16 AM

I know the discussion was originally framed to specify wood-bodied acoustics, but one option outside this is a Rainsong carbon fibre guitar. The neck on mine is uncannily like a classic Gibson ES335, and plays very easily indeed. The action is set as a normal acoustic to give a decent break-over angle at the bridge, but the neck profile makes playing more comfortable than most acoustics I've played (and that's a lot!) The inherent strength and stability of carbon fibre necks allow a very thin construction, with virtually any profile possible. No truss rod is needed, with a consequent weight saving as well.
I'd also endorse the idea of laminated necks; Lowdens have a five piece neck, which works both sonically and aesthetically. I've played some Lowdens with wideish but very flat necks, and these were very comfortable for me (I also have big palms and stubby fingers).
Mandolins are different beasts, but my Rigel has a three piece neck, a maple-ebony-maple laminate, and this seems very stable indeed.
In terms of playability, neck size is only one factor; I tend to think that action, and particularly the setting of the nut slots is more influential in determining whether a guitar 'feels right'. Just my two penn'orth.
Tim


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Musket
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 03:32 AM

Despite having large paws, I too prefer narrow necks.

When I played electric more, I loved my Rickenbacker as the width at the nut was very narrow, (no longer have it, can't remember how narrow exactly.)

I always wished an acoustic was made with a more slender neck. Luthiers who I asked informed me, (and it makes sense) that the tension being tighter, an acoustic either needs to be heavier or uses other materials, and that manufacturers who put electric necks on acoustic bodies are taking a chance with life span.

That said, I bought a Jim Harley dreadnought body with a more slender than most in the shop many years ago, and it is still my guitar of choice when it is just me on stage. I have a Yamaha 12 string that is slender (for a 12 string) but the 6 string version disappointed me somewhat.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 03:36 AM

Many guitars are supplied with the nut slots wrong. There is only one right height. Capo at the first fret and measure the action at the second. Take the capo off and cut the nut to get to the same action at the first.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 03:53 AM

I am always puzzled as to why the action on electrics is always so much better than many acoustics.
L in C


There's always a trade-off, with any guitar - acoustic or electric - between fret action and volume. In general, the higher the action and the thicker the strings, the more volume you get. Electrics relieve the guitarist of the need to make volume by hand pressure - but even electrics will sound mellower with a harder action and heavy gauge. After years of playing electric guitar to the exclusion of acoustics, I found coming back to .011 gauge strings a little hard at first. But the fingers soon get used to it, and I'm happy with .012s and .013s on my acoustics.

As to fretboards, I've always preferred a wide, thin neck to a thin, deep one.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 06:10 AM

No comment here yet on one of the key issues involved in choosing a suitable neck width for your guitar - where do you prefer to put your left thumb?

Classical guitar students are taught to keep the ball of the thumb behind the neck, so that their fingers come down more or less vertically on the strings. This grip goes naturally with the classical barre chords.

In contrast, many folkies and jazzers prefer a grip which keeps their palms up against the back of the neck. This makes the thumb available for fretting the 6th (low E) string. (And in the case of Merle Travis and his followers, the 5th string as well.)

If you play with the classical hand position, a wide fingerboard is no handicap. (And it makes intricate counterpoint lines easier to keep separated.) But if you like to hook your thumb over the 6th to play an F chord, then a classical width neck will feel uncomfortable (unless you have very large hands).

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 06:47 AM

I have the sausage fingers also.

Yamaha do a concert sized series called CPX - mine has virtually a strat neck.

I do love Faith Jupiter guitars and they ARE jumbo sized with a slim neck. By and large the jupiters have all needed a set up job, but they are reasonable priced.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 08:33 AM

I don't understand the sausagefinger preferences (unless one is a dachshund) - my fingers are not terribly fine, and not terribly fat, and I find it all too easy to mute an adjoining string when fretting one only - but not easy enough to fret say teh bottom G and C with one finger to make a C chord with the G at the bottom.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: GUEST,amgreen
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 06:12 PM

get a taylor.   nuff said.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: mattkeen
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 06:26 AM

Broo Guitars default neck (though they will build you whatever you want) is thin, as in similar to an electric guitar profile
Simon and Andy at Brook have been building like this for years, and it was something that they were used to when originally working with Andy Manson.


Other factor for fatter necks is that they were developed in the days nefore truss rods, so the extra strength was crucial - don't think that is still true now


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Subject: RE: Acoustic Necks ?
From: mattkeen
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 06:26 AM

BROOK GUITARS is what I meant to type!


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