Neck shape reprofiling: what about tone, sustain, etc..

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by nico1975, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. nico1975

    nico1975 Active Member

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    Hi everyone,

    this is the question: do you think that reprofiling a neck (in this specific case, of your best and most beloved guitar with her chunky neck) might affect the overall characteristics of the guitar (tone, sustain, balance...)?

    I am aware that tone comes from many different factors, from wood to electronics, but I like to believe, in an holistic way, that a well done guitar owes his own success to a sort of magic balance between all these factors, and once you modify this balance you risk loosing this magic.
     
  2. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    For me, it’s all about the feel of a neck when choosing a guitar. I prefer a chunky neck and would never consider removing wood from it.

    There are so many guitars available that already have Slim Taper necks to choose from if that’s what you’re looking for.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  3. nico1975

    nico1975 Active Member

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    Oh yes I remember your Junior, that's fat!!!

    For me it's kinda strange, I feel ok and play well any guitar I have (from slimmest Jackson neck to fatter Strat necks) but I can't deny I feel more comfortable with medium sized necks. I got this beautiful SG I'm in love with, and I will never ever think about selling it.

    It has a quite chunky neck (2,5 cm at 12th fret) and my hands are not big, so for me the only relative limit this guitar has is its neck shape. My intention is to keep the guitar as it is, my question was more about a technical subject, maybe one day I will give it to a friend of mine who's a famous wooden boats builder :), or maybe not and have fingers extension! ahah
     
  4. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    If it's not an expensive guitar, go for it. If the contrary, it'll lose all its value. Personally I wouldn't do it, even to an inexpensive guitar.

    Maybe try to find another of the same, with the neck size you like, that you feel is as good and THEN sell this one.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
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  5. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    That's a tough call on the SG. I have been through many guitars in the past that I thought I would never part with and did. I don't like to get emotionally attached to guitars and consider them as tools.

    Hoarding guitars that I don't play clutters both my space and mind. Perhaps you could find another SG that has the neck profile of your preference and then it will become your new favorite. After some time has passed and you feel comfortable with the new SG, the old one will be easier to let go when you realize it doesn't get played.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
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  6. nico1975

    nico1975 Active Member

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    Oh yes, I understand what you mean. I really love this guitar, no will to part from her, but I am looking around in the market to give her a little sister. Lately my eyes are on this one, love the ebony board and that finish mmmm, a no-compromise rock machine!

    SG Special 2003

    5852848_1537821636.jpg
     
  7. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    I had a couple of 2003 SG Special Faded with the ebony boards in the past. One with dots and one with moons. Both had the rounded chunky neck profile.

    All the 2000-2005 SG Specials that I had in the past and a couple that I currently still have are my favorites because of the rounded chunky necks on those years.

    The 2017 SG Faded has the Slim Taper neck if that is what you’re looking for.
     
  8. nico1975

    nico1975 Active Member

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    Mmmm, I remember I tried a '05 Special a couple of years ago and it had a quite chunky neck, not the best for me but not so disturbing. Who knows if this one is fatter than my actual Std neck shape...

    My previous and only other SG I've owned was a '61 RI (not for a long time though) I remember the slim taper, better shape for my hand but lacking of that feeling of sturdiness that I like when I handle a guitar.
     
  9. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    I had a 2009 61 Reissue in the past. It had the slimmest neck I have ever played. The backside of the neck was flat. The neck felt like playing a slide ruler and would cause my hand to cramp after playing for any extended period of time. I also had other guitars at the same time that had thicker rounded necks that did not cause my hand to cramp. It was at that point in time that I realized I needed to avoid Slim Taper necks.

    I can play any guitar with a fat rounded neck, but cannot tolerate Slim Taper necks. One is not better than the other, it's just a matter of getting the right guitar that feels right to you. No different than buying a pair of shoes the correct size.

    If you’re particular about necks, you really need to try before you buy.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  10. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    Yep, same with my 2011 Epi '61 Reissue.
     
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  11. Satellitedog

    Satellitedog Active Member

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    Well, it does slightly alter the balance between neck/body mass, so it may have some effect on sustain, but you should ask some professional luthiers. I know that Leslie Stewart from Croatia loves very resonant pieces of Cuban mahogany, and did a comparison video between two neck blanks with the same body to choose the right one.

    I have three SG Standard clones (all small pick guard Japanese/Japanese market guitars), all noticeably different in resonant and sustain qualities:

    -a Greco (the refinish/re-shaping thread in this forum is about that one) that is quite a bit heavier than average
    at 7.6 lbs / 3.45 kgs, which has great sustain (it did before the reshaping, so fingers crossed), but not too lively resonance, although still nice enough. It also has a really skinny C/D shaped neck compared to the other two. It also had a heavy bridge which I'll be swapping for a lightweight aluminium one when the refin job is done.

    -an Edwards E-SG 120, which is the lightest of the bunch at 6,2 lbs / 2,8 kgs, and has less sustain, but a lively resonance.
    It has a thinner slab body and an average C shape neck that feels a lot more substantial than the Greco. It may have a different Mahogany type wood under the solid finish, I don't quite remember whether I checked in the control cavity for chipped spots to see... The Greco seems like African mahogany to me.

    - a Tokai MIJ SG, that is 6.8 lbs / 3.1 kgs, has a biiig chunky baseball bat neck and is both resonant and has good sustain. I think it's also African mahog.

    Judging by these guitars, I guess the body weight is more important with regards to sustain and resonance.
    Reprofiling will tip the balance in favour of the body mass (ever so slightly) so you might get a slightly more focused tone perhaps?

    I don't know, but a physicist (or someone who knows physics:-) may prove more helpful here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
  12. Ray

    Ray Well-Known Member

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    I got several variants... A medium-fat on my '00 Standard and a slim on my '60s Tribute (a Special without neck-binding, really) and a really superslim neck on my '18 Standard. I like having different ones. Guitars are kind of tools, like mr Gasket wisely points out.
     
  13. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    I'll suggest something here that no one else has:

    There's nothing wrong with your SG, it's your style and your hand position that is causing you discomfort. And you have control over that.

    My suggestion is to work on your style and your hand position, or your
    playing position, with the assumption that you are doing something to
    cause yourself distress.

    If the SG you describe is your favorite, keep it just the way it is!
    Reprofiling the neck will destroy its value, and it might have a negative
    effect on tone and sustain, in a small way.

    Do not allow your hand to tell you what guitar you play. That's like
    taking career advice from a three year old. You choose the guitar you
    play by the tone you need for the song you intend to perform. And
    then you tell your hand to play it. And you practice with it until your
    hand complies.

    My suggestion involves taking a very hard look at hand position on the
    neck, as well as your playing position when you practice. Stand up straight
    when you play, and look out over the "audience" like it was a sea of
    admiring faces, even if that's only imaginary. Practice in front of a mirror,
    so you can see if you are all hunched over or looking at the guitar neck
    all the time. Boots on the front monitor... Keep your thumb behind the neck, and play with a much more
    relaxed hand, and the neck shape will not be important at all...
    only the tone. Which your guitar already has, and which is why it's
    your favorite.
     
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  14. Norton

    Norton Well-Known Member

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    Roger sadowsky says (paraphrasing here) the guitar’s voice comes from the neck.

    He’s built thousands of guitars and knows way more than me. Big necks, little necks maple, mahogany, metal....these are all REASONS to get more guitars.
     
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  15. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Active Member

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    I'm a believer in the neck contributing to tone. If I like the sound of the guitar, I make my peace with the neck and rock it. Of course, I've spent a lot of time on classicals and 12-strings as well as all sorts of necks on electric and acoustic 6-strings. Gigged bass, too. For me, neck feel is a pretty natural adjustment and it's a hell of a lot easier than trimming the neck to my hand and chancing the screwing-up of a good tonal recipe.
     
  16. nico1975

    nico1975 Active Member

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    Thanks guys, I really appreciated your comments, and I agree with those saying "make peace with the neck and rock it!". I must admit I never thought seriously about a reshaping of the neck...

    @Col Mustard: what you suggest is exactly what I am trying to do in these days with this guitar, it's not that easy because when you are used to a way of handling a neck learning a new position is not that quick (I have been playing for 25 years, but always as a self-taught player, so I probably miss some technical rules...)
    I am trying to twist and rotate a bit my hand around the neck, in order to "have more fingers lenght" moving on the fretboard and a more perpedicular approach of the fingers.

    Yes, I am the limit! :) and the limit is there to be overcome :thumb:
     
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  17. Ray

    Ray Well-Known Member

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    Im not sure how much you dislike this neck.. But if you dont dig that neck at all...
    I totally see what you mean. Ive played electrics, mostly Gibsons, nonstop for 30 + years and I clearly prefer slim necks. For me, the neck , and liking its comfyness, is crucial whenever I get me a guitar. I gotta sigh when people insist you should (and probably would) become used to a neck that you already dont feel comfy with...

    Of course you can play it, but in the end, a guitar that limits your technique and skills and not at least - the joy of playing!- thats not a good idea. I have several variants. I have a 1968 Bjarton by Hagstrom 12 string acoustic which is pure -and impossible - hell for fingerstyle. But it sounds insanely good so I keep it for slide.

    Most of the members giving you answers here have multiple electic solidbodies.. seems easy to forget how it is to have just one axe to go to..

    If you after some months of playing still feel the axe limits you, you should sell it IMO. No refinish. Get another SG, theres loads of models with thinner necks. Your guitar is a too big part of your overall wellbeing to not take VERY seriously! ;)

    Good luck and keep your good spirits up.:smile:
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
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  18. nico1975

    nico1975 Active Member

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    I agree. This neck is definitely not impossible for me, so one way is to get used to it and struggle a bit to find the right feeling but without doubt there is a physical limit that cant be denied, my relatively small hands dont like big necks, and I cant deny I feel better with other guitars I have in terms of playability (in terms of tones this SG is the best one), notes come out easier and more accurate.
    So, if the plan is just playing doom-drone-noise rock then no problem, but when its time to play cleaner stuff, with arpeggios and legatos and fluid solos.....there's the limit, that I tolerate so far because of the beautiful tones I get from this axe.
    It is like having a beautiful girlfriend with....mmm let me think, big feet? :D
    No luthier can do anything with it however....
     
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  19. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    Nico, I have been playing for 52 years, with fat sausage fingers on bear-claw hands, self -taught save for a single lesson from Greg Hess.
    I have developed a very light touch over the years. I don't hang my thumb over the top of the neck and I don't use a death grip. I have 24 guitars currently with all different shaped and sized necks and fretboards. I would say that I prefer slim taper except that my 03 SG specials and my extra-chunky 08 SG Classic are some of my "comfort" guitars, most likely to be on the stand in my studio. I used to have a flight instructor who's motto was "You fly the plane you're in." I like the Col.'s recommendations and would add: Start playing along with unfamiliar styles, trying to play what's in your head, instead of note for note covers. you'll be surprised how soon you're not even thinking about the physical guitar.
     
  20. Ray

    Ray Well-Known Member

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    he he... or like a beautiful girlfriend with a great, big neck.:D
    (Uhh... actually I gotta admit I have no idea what thats like:D)
     

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