Then Things Get A Little Tricky
To retain a Gibson style look and feel we wanted the headstock to have about 11° of tilt back from the face of the neck. This is for feel as well as to create a good breaking angle for the strings over the nut. It matches the style you find on Gibson SG guitars. The problem is we are using a flat fairly thin piece of maple where Gibson style necks are typically band sawed, peg head tilt and all, out of a single piece of mahogany. Our solution was to cut a scarf cut that would extend under the fret board and then flip the peg head piece to create our tilt back headstock. This worked well, but it required a precision cut and some hand fitting to pull it off. The cut was made on a band saw using a custom fence jig made just for this purpose. Even with great care we found that the band saw blade flexed a little and our cut wasn’t perfect which required hand fitting for a perfect glue joint.
Left: A plane is used to smooth the fingerboard edge. Right: The end of the fingerboard after trimming.
The headstock piece was flipped and then glued to the neck piece face down to assure that the surface the fingerboard would be glued to is absolutely flat. Clamps were carefully placed to apply an even pressure down and lengthwise. After the glue had dried for several hours our neck was starting to take shape.
Various views of the neck after gluing up the scarf joint. Note the volute on the back (upper right).
While our neck is still in square form a router table is used to cut the slot for the truss rod. Then the neck taper and headstock outline are cut using a band saw. We also cut the taper into our fret board. Some extra material was left for trimming up after assembly. We also used chisels to form the truss rod nut end pocket (which will be covered by a plastic cover).
Left: The truss rod fitted into it’s channel. Right: A small wodden piece is fitted into the space left where the rod bolt is.
Left: Using a block sander to smooth the neck surface. Right: Detail of the nearly invisible scarf joint.
The neck rough cut, ready for the truss rod and fingerboard.
The truss rod was fitted into place and then the fret board glued into place using custom clamps made out of aluminum bar stock. The final assembly of the neck is all or nothing and takes some extra care, at this stage, to align everything perfectly. If the fret board ended up slightly crooked it would be unplayable and look pretty bad as well! After drying a small hand plane was used to smooth over the taper, followed by a rough sanding.
The fingerboard glued up and securely clamped.
The roughed out headstock and the neck partially profiled, the fingerboard glued into place.