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  #16  
Old 04-18-2009, 09:22 AM
Sordid Tales Sordid Tales is offline
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I must admit, for being an acoustic player for so long most of my repair experience has to do with electrics.

About 2 years ago I did a little experiment where I took a strat and did a basic recording with it. No effects, no overdrive, straight into the board. The response was quick, sharp, and had the strat attack.

I then glued the neck joint (using the neck bolts as clamps, and then removing them once the glue had dried) using traditional hide glue. The following recording was sluggish, warmer, and the response had diminished (I'm almost compelled to call it "tube amp sag").

I noticed a little increase in sustain, but the tone had changed dramatically.

Now I know that 80% of an acoustics tone and color comes from the top (the amp if you will) and bracing. It's the way acoustics are, but I find it absurd to believe that the construction techniques in a guitar have no holding in the overall tone.
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:42 AM
stsanford stsanford is offline
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Just wanted to add that Marc Beneteau has been using a Bolt-on neck joint for some 20 years.

Sure as heck didn't affect the tone to my ears!
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  #18  
Old 04-18-2009, 09:54 AM
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You know that (true but misleading) statistic that says shoe size is related to IQ? It holds true only up to a point.

The brightness of a bolt-on neck joint (if it has any effect) might be like that.

It's possible that those who build with a dovetail happen to favor a different bracing style, deeper scalloping, thicker tops, two finger braces instead of one, not tucking the tone bars into the lining, etc., etc. -- all things that can have an effect on tone (in my opinion a much greater efect than the type of neck joint).

So, if there is more brightness in guitars with bolt-on necks, it could be related to something not at all connected (no pun intended) to the neck joint.
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  #19  
Old 04-18-2009, 11:26 AM
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Hi Sordid...
First things first - hello and welcome to the forum.

All I base my opinions on is playing a lot of guitars and chatting with some builders - and two of my own collection.

My main two handbuilts are the mellowest toned instruments I own and they are both warm and fat-toned. One has a dovetail neck joint, and the other bolt-on neck. The brightest toned guitar in my collection - dove tail. Cheapest (but still great sounding) - bolt on.

I don't think you could empirically attribute tonal characteristics to the style neck joint. Most luthiers would not switch if it were going to affect their signature tone or the integrity of the instruments they build. Several I have been privileged to play examples from ''both sides'' and couldn't detect any differences that I'd attribute to a neck design change, and in fact could not tell you which side of the equation without asking the builders.

From the luthiers I've asked about it, all claimed there was no detectable change in the tone of their instruments when they switched their building techniques from one to the other.

There are still some builders who only build dovetail or mortise-n-tenon and make claims about it being better - but that seems more like commercial talk to me than reality. It wouldn't keep me from owning one of theirs if it had killer tone and playability and I had the dollars (with my 4 acoustics, I own two of each).
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  #20  
Old 04-18-2009, 02:12 PM
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I'm willing to believe that the neck joint can affect the sound of a guitar. But that doesn't mean it generally does. What I mean by this is that the effect is not so great that it can't be offset by other apsects of construction or material choice. As a case in point, my Goodall grand concert in European spruce and Indian rosewood has a bolt-on neck and it's Mr. Mellow. James Goodall's overall construction methods give his instruments tons of overtones. The EIR on mine further reinforces those overtones. So, although the trebles are plenty strong, the overall impression of the guitar is by no means bright. (Some might say the same of me, I suppose).
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  #21  
Old 04-18-2009, 04:07 PM
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People replace bridge pins and change saddle material and claim changes in tone/sustain etc. It's ridiculous to think that something as critical as the neck joint has no effect on tone.

Guitar Player did a huge article on set neck, versus neck through, versus bolt neck in electrics back in the 90s and the differences in string amplitude, attack and sustain were measured. The differences were dramatic.

Tonally,the differences between a set neck, versus bolt neck versus neck are equally as dramatic.

It's not to say that a builder can't compensate, but I've seen the demonstrated differences in the world of electrics. It's hard to believe that they don't exist in acoustics.
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  #22  
Old 04-18-2009, 04:36 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Yes, bolt-on necks are infinitely easier (and thus less expensive) to reset. Absolutely no comparison.

But when done properly, whether the guitar has a bolt-on or dovetail neck joint it has no discernible effect on the sound.

When Fender started making acoustic guitars with bolt-on necks back in the 1960's, and some lowball European manufacturers like Eko and (I think) Framus followed suit, the results were not good.

But the designs nowadays are much more sophisticated, and as result more companies have embraced bolt-on systems.

As for Martin's mortise and tenon neck joint guitars sounding subtly different from their dovetail models, this is true, but it has everything to do with their use of a "modified A" bracing pattern on those guitars instead of their traditional X bracing.

Anyway, I used to believe that no decent acoustic guitar had a bolt-on neck, but that was before I knew that Collings uses bolt-on neck joints on all their guitars. Once I learned that I did a complete 180° turn, because most Collings guitars I've played have been superb instruments. So obviously THEIR bolt-on neck attachment doesn't hurt the tone in any way.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
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  #23  
Old 04-18-2009, 04:39 PM
Sordid Tales Sordid Tales is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hambone View Post
People replace bridge pins and change saddle material and claim changes in tone/sustain etc. It's ridiculous to think that something as critical as the neck joint has no effect on tone.

Guitar Player did a huge article on set neck, versus neck through, versus bolt neck in electrics back in the 90s and the differences in string amplitude, attack and sustain were measured. The differences were dramatic.

Tonally,the differences between a set neck, versus bolt neck versus neck are equally as dramatic.

It's not to say that a builder can't compensate, but I've seen the demonstrated differences in the world of electrics. It's hard to believe that they don't exist in acoustics.
Exactly my point. It doesn't make sense to me that someone can claim that string type, pick type, pick attack, materials used, and everything down to the type of material of the tuners has an effect on tone but to think that something such as the neck joint has no effect on tone.

I'd noticed that the two main users of bolt on neck acoustics (Godin and Taylor) both of their guitars can be either bright or mellow, but all have an exceptional clarity. Some newer Martins I've noticed have this as well, and I attribute it to the HPL, Formica, etc. used.

So I've come to the conclusion that it is not unreasonable to assume that the bolt on neck joint has some sort of function in this.

I am not saying that the same sort of tones and overall sound cannot be had out of traditional dovetail set necks, and I'm not saying that bolt ons cannot be muddy and jumbled. This is an overall observation.
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  #24  
Old 04-18-2009, 04:41 PM
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Herb Hunter Herb Hunter is offline
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If I'm not mistaken, these guitars all have bolt-on necks and their tone runs the gamut from muddy to bright.

Bashkin
Bourgeois
Breedlove
Collings
Gallagher
Goodall
Hamblin
Huss & Dalton
Lakewood
McElroy
Mossman
Ryan
Tacoma
Taylor
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  #25  
Old 04-18-2009, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sordid Tales View Post
Exactly my point. It doesn't make sense to me that someone can claim that string type, pick type, pick attack, materials used, and everything down to the type of material of the tuners has an effect on tone but to think that something such as the neck joint has no effect on tone.
Hi ST...
So are you assuming that a dovetail neck-set creates better contact (or more solid) between the body and neck than a bolt on neck?
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  #26  
Old 04-18-2009, 05:19 PM
Sordid Tales Sordid Tales is offline
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I do not believe that a set or glued neck provides a more "solid" joint. In my book, both are equally as solid and stable. One does not top the other looking strictly at strength and longevity.

What I am saying is perhaps the glue works something like a capacitor would on a tone knob. It's bleeding off some of the highs. Is this a bad thing? No. I'm not one to tell you what you should believe in terms of tone.

And nor am I to believe that one certain tone is the be all end all. Certain tones have certain applications. My Yairi is PERFECT for bluegrass runs, and songs that I write that lean towards the darker side. But, in the terms of a full band (Rhythm, lead, bass, drums) it dosn't cut through the mix. It's too dark.

The Taylor lends itself more to the upbeat stuff, and cuts through perfectly in a band mix.

Tone is objective, and I'm not one to cross swords. I'm simply stating an observation and wondering if anyone has had the same thoughts.
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Old 04-18-2009, 05:24 PM
Superchamp Superchamp is offline
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I would think scale length, tonewoods, shape and size would be the determining factors. Like a scale of 25.5 would be brighter and punchier than say a 24.75 scale length that would be warmer and smoother, if the woods and shapes were the same. ect...
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  #28  
Old 04-18-2009, 05:30 PM
jeremy3220 jeremy3220 is offline
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With all the mass in that area, I would think it would be the most acoustically dead area of the guitar. Sure the neck joint is crucial but that doesn't mean it's tonally crucial.
It doesn't follow that because strings, saddles, etc affect the tone that the neck joint would; otherwise you could say the same thing about end pins, pickguards, tuner screws(a crucial component btw). I imagine the neck joint does effect the tone some but I believe it is way down the list of importance.
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  #29  
Old 04-18-2009, 05:31 PM
Hambone Hambone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
Yes, bolt-on necks are infinitely easier (and thus less expensive) to reset. Absolutely no comparison.

But when done properly, whether the guitar has a bolt-on or dovetail neck joint it has no discernible effect on the sound.

When Fender started making acoustic guitars with bolt-on necks back in the 1960's, and some lowball European manufacturers like Eko and (I think) Framus followed suit, the results were not good.

But the designs nowadays are much more sophisticated, and as result more companies have embraced bolt-on systems.

As for Martin's mortise and tenon neck joint guitars sounding subtly different from their dovetail models, this is true, but it has everything to do with their use of a "modified A" bracing pattern on those guitars instead of their traditional X bracing.

Anyway, I used to believe that no decent acoustic guitar had a bolt-on neck, but that was before I knew that Collings uses bolt-on neck joints on all their guitars. Once I learned that I did a complete 180° turn, because most Collings guitars I've played have been superb instruments. So obviously THEIR bolt-on neck attachment doesn't hurt the tone in any way.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller

I own a custom shop strat and a custom shop historic reissue LP that are both superb instruments. But they are bananas and kumquats when it comes to tone.

I don't believe either method is "superior" to the other, but there are differences.
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  #30  
Old 04-18-2009, 06:47 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hambone View Post
I own a custom shop strat and a custom shop historic reissue LP that are both superb instruments. But they are bananas and kumquats when it comes to tone.

I don't believe either method is "superior" to the other, but there are differences.
My experience has been that solidbody electric guitars are far more sensitive to these factors than acoustic guitars. The choice of tuning gears, for example, makes a huge difference in tone on electrics; not nearly so much on acoustics.

So I don't believe that acoustic and electric guitars are directly comparable in this regard.

It's also important to note that the simple "slab of wood in a pocket" design of the Fender bolt-on necks is nothing at all like the considerably more elaborate bolt-on neck joints of modern acoustic instruments. So, again, it's not a direct comparison.

If all anyone was using was the Fender-style bolt-on neck joint, then I'd agree with you. But since about the only thing the neck joints that Collings, Goodall, Taylor and so forth are using have in common with those Fenders is the use of bolts, it's not an issue.

What happened in the thirty or so years between those dreadful 60's bolt-on neck joints on acoustics and the use of these modern designs is that luthiers learned how to design bolt-on joints that directly couple the neck and neckblock far more effectively.

So I stand by what I wrote in my earlier post.


Wade Hampton Miller
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