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Alembic Club » Miscellaneous » Archive: 2009 » Archive through April 21, 2009 » Asymmetrical neck lams- good or bad idea? « Previous Next »

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Intermediate Member
Username: robinc

Post Number: 144
Registered: 5-2008
Posted on Monday, April 20, 2009 - 1:33 pm:   Edit Post

What, if any, would be the effects of a neck-through instrument with asymmetrical neck lams? To clarify, I mean if you took a standard neck recipe, purple heart/ebony/purple heart, and instead used purple heart/ebony/vermillion (or whatever other wood).

Would you want the denser wood on the side of the neck with bigger strings? Would this have an effect on tone? Would this even be feasible (I would imagine warping would be a concern)?

I'm not thinking of this seriously, I rather like symmetry. This is just a hypothetical for discussion. Opinions welcome!
Senior Member
Username: 2400wattman

Post Number: 699
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Monday, April 20, 2009 - 1:56 pm:   Edit Post

I've seen mahogany used for the bulk of a neck and I believe it's the softest wood they use, at least for necks. So I don't think there would be any issues with warping.
Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 1264
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Monday, April 20, 2009 - 4:04 pm:   Edit Post

The Brown Bass uses mahogany (2), birch (2) and walnut (1) for the neck lams. I have never had any problems with it. I think it was a fairly common recipe in the early years. I also seem to recall a purple heart and ebony neck bass being built. In both cases the lams were symmetrical.

Even if there is more tension from the bigger strings the dual truss rods let you compensate, if needed, for this additional tension. Given this I see no reason for having asymmetrical neck laminations.

Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 2304
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 6:39 pm:   Edit Post

Every neck I have seen has been identical in either direction going out from the middle. I think this is important for stability. Let's say you had purpleheart in the middle and used maple on the bottom and mahogany on the top. If the maple wanted to bend forward while the mahogany wanted to bend back, you'd get a twisted mess. The theory, I suspect, is that if you have the same wood in the same orientation on either side of center, then the neck will remain straight when it tries to bend forward or back because the pressures on either side of center will be the same.

I don't know this for fact, but I suspect it to be true, if more complicated than my description would suggest.

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