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Thread: Big Head Strat Neck - In Birdseye

  1. #1
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    Big Head Strat Neck - In Birdseye

    Brian's friend asked him to make a pickguard for his Fender Jaguar. We worked on it together, with Brian doing most of the work. His friend must have liked it because he asked Brian to make a neck for him. He wanted all birdseye maple with black fret markers. I helped Brian make up the 1/4" and 3/4" templates and he took it from there. I did have one boo-boo when I picked out a drawing that wasn't to scale and didn't measure it first. Brian made up the 1/4" template but I caught it before it went any further. Whew!

    Here's where it is now.

    Sorry for the bad color tones. Poor camera skills on my part.

    I'm going to make up some 1/4" ebony dots but will use plastic on the side of the neck.

  2. #2
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    Where birdseye maple trees grow,there is a higher rate of cancer. I will not work birdseye for that reason. Not until they figure out WHY the cancer rate is higher. Use a mask,at least.

    Maybe I'm nuts,but I err on the side of caution.

    Whatever causes the cancer is killed off in kiln drying,you might say. Prions are not killed off,even at burning temperatures. Who knows what is going on with the stuff? Maybe it's not the wood at all. Possibly electromagnetic properties in the areas it grows? Perhaps this is what causes birdseye. They are buds that didn't make it. Who knows.
    Last edited by george wilson; 04-18-2015 at 9:58 AM.

  3. #3
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    I always wear a respirator when creating dust in the workshop. Allergies and all that.

  4. #4
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    I failed in effectively passing along my knowledge.

    It was time to rout for the truss rod. We had everything ready to go. I showed Brian how to make the first pass. He did that fine. I showed him how to drop the depth on the router a bit, and he did that, and the second pass went fine. Then I let him go. He made another depth adjustment and began routing then I heard an uh-oh. He had taken too much of a bite and the router went astray. It didn't look too bad so he finished. The fretboard was glued on and the shaping began.

    While shaping the neck I saw this tiny black spot. And it grew. Then I realized what it was...

    Somehow, the router's depth of cut dropped, and that's when Brian had his uh-oh. There's still more wood to be removed and I can see that hole will grow in length as that happens.

    Completely my fault. I should have been coaching better. Tomorrow I'm going to make a run to the hardwood store and start this one over.

    It's been one of those days.

  5. #5
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    Oops! That hurts. That's one of the reasons why I hate routers.
    Shawn

    "no trees were harmed in the creation of this message, however some electrons were temporarily inconvenienced."

    "I resent having to use my brain to do your thinking"

  6. #6
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    Yeah, it was a bit of a shocker. I usually rout for the truss rod on the router table but on this neck Brian had already rough cut it. So I used a template I made for my Bosch Colt. It has rails set for the standard base. But that base isn't very well designed. Setting the depth is a pain and securing the router in the base requires double checking to make sure nothing moves.

    I'm considering telling Brian to give the guy his money back. He doesn't seem to have the skills nor the desire to learn them. Making this neck has been very low on his priority list (girls and partying come first) and I ended up doing most of the work. Not a good life lesson.

  7. #7
    You could always rout a skunk stripe down the back to save that neck.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Sherman View Post
    You could always rout a skunk stripe down the back to save that neck.
    That's what I ended up doing, Mike. Here's how it went...


    I used the same jig that was used to rout for the truss rod. The narrowest width I could do was 1/2" because the hole had drifted off center.


    The deeper I went, the longer the over-rout became.


    I had a piece of padauk that was close in size to what I needed so I shaped it to fit snugly.


    I don't think padauk is the right choice of wood but I can use this piece as a template for whatever wood I use. In figured woods I have bubinga, cherry, sapele and maple. I'm leaning toward sapele. Unless I built a border around the maple, I can't see any kind of maple looking right.

    The only thing that concerns me is near the headstock. The rout is only a fraction of an inch above the profiled cut. And there is still about 0.1" I need to cut back to get to where I need to be.

  9. #9
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    I said I wouldn't use maple but that's just what I did. When I saw this cutoff that had the dark grain in it, I decided to see if I could use it to look like a flame coming up out of the neck pocket.


    It looks better than the pic. Bad photographer.

  10. #10
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    Well... Brian has decided this was too much for him. I didn't know what to do so I asked him if he wanted me to finish the neck for his friend. I don't believe in teaching kids someone will be there to bail them out but I felt badly for the friend who handed Brian $125 in good faith and expected something in return. Anyway, I decided to take on the project, solo. Good decision, bad decision, time will tell.

    I've never been a big fan of maple fretboards but that may be because I have never spent hours on end playing a guitar. Apologetically, looks mattered more to me. Anyway, Brian's friend wanted a BE neck and FB. And he wanted black fret markers. I didn't have any black dots so I took a piece of ebony and made some. The bit that made the dots created dots around .026". The forstner bit I used to drill the cavities created holes around .024". What I ended up doing was taking a bit a smidge larger than the the forstner bit and, running the drill in reverse, opening up the cavity. It worked! Whew!

    Then I ran it through the 12" diameter jig



    What surprised me the most was that I liked it. Nothing elaborate. No fancy shell. Just wood on wood.

    This morning, I took some pics in the sunlight. Maybe the frustration from working with the shell inlay on the bass is blowing this little success out of proportion, but I really like how this is turning out.


    Now I just have to find out who has been messing with my avatar. I think I know.
    Last edited by Julie Moriarty; 05-01-2015 at 9:55 AM. Reason: add a picture

  11. #11
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    Question: I think I remembered reading unfinished maple will turn black. If so, does that mean I have to finish the fretboard?

  12. #12
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    No, The maple won't turn black. But depending upon the hygiene of the person, finger dirt will create grey / dark patches on the fretboard.I have four guitar with maple fretboards. Two are varnished, one is oiled, and the fourth is unfinished.

    Maple neck.jpg

    Here is one (not mine). Superficial dirt can be cleaned. Some dirt can be thoroughly ground in.
    Shawn

    "no trees were harmed in the creation of this message, however some electrons were temporarily inconvenienced."

    "I resent having to use my brain to do your thinking"

  13. #13
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    Maple left unfinished and un touched for maybe 50 years or more will turn a light to medium brown color. Fingers will make it filthy after the lacquer is worn through.

    I like the slick feeling of playing a lacquered fingerboard,but they aren't the most durable thing out there. Surprisingly,Brazilian rosewood does not wear very well either. Ebony is a lot better for wear resistance.

  14. #14
    What will surely turn an unfinished maple board very ugly is if you don't tape it off before doing fret work. The metal filings and polishing residue will turn it black and icky.

    I had previously worn through most of the finish on my old Strat's neck. I thought it had a nice, broken in feeling to it. When I refretted it, I changed the radius to 12", and sprayed on a bit of nitro. It felt MUCH better. I was expecting the opposite, but raw maple really stinks as a fingerboard surface, IMHO.

  15. #15
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    If you apply lacquer, or some other sealing finish to a fretboard, playing the instrument will eventually wear off the finish. I get that.

    Brian has a Fender guitar neck with a finish on it. His playing has not worn through the finish. He plays his guitar almost every day. I don't know what Fender applies to their maple fretboards but it must be pretty resilient to wear.

    The guy who wants the new neck has a Fender 50th Anniversary Strat that has a maple fretboard with what looks like abalone fret dots. That fretboard has a finish on it. Whatever playing the owner of this guitar has done has not worn through the finish.

    Bear with me. I'm trying to learn.

    Up to this point, everything I've done has been from the position that the fretboard is of a wood that is oily by nature or isn't conducive to exposing its weakness through wear - ebony and rosewood, for instance. Now I'm faced with something that I think is a problem but a company like Fender isn't even phased by. They did what they did and everybody is cool.

    So I guess my question is, if you build a stringed instrument with materials that aren't "user friendly" and you market it well, is that all that really matters to today's consumers? "here's your guitar. If you play it more than what we designed it for, it will cost you."

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