Neck Through Headstock Angle Calculation

Discussion in 'Guitar Building' started by TonyL, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. TonyL

    TonyL New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Everyone, Im really new at this (besides never doing the easy thing, ever) I have a question which Im desperately hoping someone can solve.

    I plan on building a Neck Through electric and need to work out what measurements to use for the headstock angle. There are essentially two ways to tilt the head stock. The scarf join in the Headstock ( which is the easy way, relative to the location of the nut, where the angled cut IS AT THE NUT, with the headstock tilting from there) and the other more complex way where the scarf join is part of the neck. Now, heres the kicker.....

    How does one go about measuring back from the Nut for lets say a 13deg angle such that the nut ends up the CORRECT DISTANCE from the bridge? The problem comes in, in that one need to flip the headstock over and then one is working with the hypotenuse which is LONGER and which subsequently alters the scale length.

    I realise one could just move the bridge forward a bit to compensate for the error which this introduces BUT as I said at the beginning, with a Thru Neck design - Everything - IS CALCULATED IN ADVANCE - which includes the placing of the finger board and the beginning of the neck/body angle, so there is NO POSSIBILITY of 'simply moving' the bridge.

    If anyone has A FORMULA to calculate this distance ( most (read: ALL) online calculators work for BOLT ON necks and hence do not apply.
     
  2. Michael_P

    Michael_P Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2014
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Austin
    just model (draw) it out...work backwards from the nut location to the intersection point of fretboard to body, etc.

    or...use trigonometry or the pythagorean formula...

    in the end you are going to be using a tape measure or such, just like you would to draw it out, to finally lay everything out so the resultant number from the math is still going to be pushing the ability of any human to 'accurately' layout, and in spite of what you have said, yes you can just move the bridge to compensate for errors in production of what's been calculated
     
  3. TonyL

    TonyL New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi and thanks for confirming my suspicions. ITS HIT AND MISS! I could seriously NOT work it out. I had thought to do a cardboard cutout but im just the kind of guy that believes that the has to be a mathematical way to work it out. The problem with moving the bridge to compensate is that the fingerboard length is affected and with a 2 degree angle on the body (as opposed to on the neck) this wii create and additional headache. So.... looks as if I will have to do cardboard cutouts after all..... the technician in me says there has to be a formula like the one which I am also looking for that equated scale length to truss rod length. But I must confess at this rate of obsession, might get so bogged down and never build a guitar..... and that would be the ultimate thumb in the eye.... Mmmmmmm
     
  4. Michael_P

    Michael_P Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2014
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Austin
    WOW...you really need to take a deep breath...

    I model stuff all the time and can easily use a tape measure to mark out 1/32" increments and almost as easily work it to a 64th...I'm quite sure any decent bridge has saddle adjustments that take into such small errors in trying to layout something to 1/1000" as any calculator would give as a result using pure math. cardboard? sure, why not...I prefer pieces of 1/4" plywood (being a trim carpenter I usually have access to such from time to time and ferret it away when I have pieces destined for the dumpster) to draw on, but to each his/her own.

    AGAIN, draw it out....and use the results as a template for prepping your neck through blank...

    you have repeatedly said that it is all calculated beforehand...gee, you think? of course neck angle relative to the body is important as that will work with what type of bridge you are using...TOM?, then angle needs allow for bridge to be at an elevation that works for its mounting studs and allows a decent range of adjustment...Floyd? you want a recess or no recess???? etc, etc, etc...you think I'm a freaking idiot who can't even see those simple considerations?

    back tilt on headstock is not nearly as important for extreme accuracy and exact numbers are a hotly debated topic...point being, you can miss your projected angle by a bit and not have it be as great of a deal breaker...that being qualified, again, draw it out...after you've got your desired type of scarf joint drawn, work backwards to fret# where neck meets body, etc...

    such modelings result in a workable plan that can be followed...

    you want to be concerned about accuracy? how about worrying just how you are going to accurately drill the holes for the TOM studs or Floyd studs?

    seriously, if you can't work that out, then buy a kit and assemble it...in the end, with a "perfectly" placed bridge you're going to be moving the saddles to intonate it, right?

    basics of the math:

    a^2 + b^2 = c^2

    a and b are the legs of triangle, c is the hypotenuse...duh...what's the thickness of your neck at the nut??? let's call that a...b will then be either drawn out using a speed square or such to create an angle, or reverse engineered from using trig to clearly define dimensions created by a specific angle (again, great, you define an angle with math then have to draw it out...you getting my point here?)...c will either be measured out to whatever accuracy you can muster, or mathematically calculated being that it is the hypotenuse of a right triangle which is covered by both the above formula and trigonometry...sin...cosine...tangent...yep, I not only know what they are, but know how to use them (learned that a few decades ago as a sophomore in high school...learned about pythagoreus in 5th grade)

    my point is that all that math is just grand, in the end you have to make it using your hands...unless of course you plan on using CNC, and if that's the case you're really going to be having issues if you can't even model things correctly or use simple math to get some numbers that you then have to cut...

    are you perhaps totally missing the point that the results of your work will be the blueprint you should follow to produce your ideas? or are you just going to wing the whole process and hope that measuring 2x and cutting once is going to work out?
     
  5. TonyL

    TonyL New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    ok, let me describe in detail the problem. yes your trig is quite standard but it doesn't solve the problem. Allow me to explain.
    Im working off a scale length of 609 (24"). So I know the nut position. I have the thickness if the nut at 5mm so I allow an extra 5 mm that brings the distance to the beginning of the scarf to 609 + 5 which is now 614 from the bridge. I want a 15 degrees headstock angle so using 'trig', and the unshapped neck thickness being say 25mm gives me Sine15 = O/A or Sine15 = distance back from the far side of the nut (which is what I want) over the neck thickness. Which gives me an answer of whatever (and you will understand the problem in a moment). So I get the distance I need to mark back from the other side of the nut to start the scarf join - and in so doing I get the hypotenuse - which is now going to be the NEW FACE once turned over. PROBLEM. The hypotenuse gives a longer distance which effectivly pushes the other side of the nut out by a few mm. Can you see the dilemma. The problem becomes a problem, NOT because I couldn't move the bridge forward towards the nut, which I obviously can. The priblem becomes critical because I start the neck angle at the 16th fret, which has now shifted up a few mm and compounded the error. Perhaps you can now better see my dilemma. BTW. thanks for taking the time and an interest in this thread. I always work off the premise that if I have a problem, others do to and while some might perhaps be content to just jippo the thing to make it work, it doesn't sit well with this 'technician'.
     
  6. Michael_P

    Michael_P Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2014
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Austin
    you're not much of a woodworker are you?

    you're freaking over a theoretical location of the nut when that's about the least of your worries...what's the full plan of action for this neck trough guitar with a neck tilted relative to the body (implying a TOM or non-recessed Floyd Rose)?

    I'd suggest you skip the scar joint and do a laminated neck blank that is thick enough to allow for all the material needed to traverse the butt of the guitar to the tip of the head stock...more work (milling, gluing, etc...e.g. $ to a manufacturer like Jackson) but in the end probably stronger and more resistant to have the head stock breaking because of the 'normal' reasons.

    then your worries about location of a scarf joint are done away with...

    [sarcasm]then your only (small of course) worries will be:

    1: modeling out your project (making your blueprint)
    2: coming close to the lines when cutting into the woods
    3: skip the math of scarf joints, have fun thinning the headstock to its final thickness and accounting for desired location of nut as it pertains to just where you take wood away from to get to thickness that allows for tuning machines to be installed
    4: gluing those wings onto the neck blank and then final thicknessing of all your pieces so that the body is nice and flat...
    5: w00t? you say you plan for a AAAAAAAAAAA quilted maple cap? see #4 and extend those concerns to making it flat enough to be a proper glue joint for a cap
    6: have real fun after all the thicknessing arriving at the perfect location of the neck to body joint...I'd plan on modifying the body shape as needed to achieve that
    etc...etc...etc....[/sarcasm]

    in a production environment all of the issues are figured out in pre-production modeling and making prototypes so that when production is started it becomes a game of doing it by rote and getting close enough each time to have a playable instrument that looks nice too boot...

    get over your concerns about the math of it all..that's just 'theory'...said theory being that you can actually shape the woods and end up with a workable result.
     
  7. TonyL

    TonyL New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi and thanks for all your suggestion. Allow me too go through them.
    1. The neck break angle is precisely for an oversized bridge (like a FR at 19mm)
    2. I intend to make a guit that is as close to ideal as possible. Laminated, Quarter sawn and with a three aside (with the after length running parallel and un angled so as not to exert and side friction at the not, with the headstock, angled for the correct tension on the nut and a double action side adjustable truss rod, with auto trim locking tuners and non nickel frets, a short scale length with XL strings for ease of play. (to list but a few of the specs). To suggest doing away with the scarf join is perhaps like doing away with the Truss Rod because after all it's quarter sawn and laminated. To suggest cutting it all out of one block is to ignnpte the transverse grain at the neck which will be prone to breaking. So excuse me if we differ in our approach.

    Doing away with a problem doesn't solve it, it just kicks the can further down the road, which is not a way to deal with things.

    The rest of your suggestion would best suite a dope artist who takes the path of least resistance. I like a challenge. Or else what's the point.

    But, as I have reckoned, adjusting the wings to start at the 16th fret - after having decided on the nut placement doesn't upset the grand scheme of things and moving the bridge this way or that to allow for a little compensation isn't the end of the world. PS. The change of radius at the nut and the bridge, as a result of a compound radius Ebony fingerboard also doesn't present much of a challenge either way.

    So to close off this thread and to put a rather miserable forum experience behind me I say this to any others who seek assistance. Provided your brain dead..... don't expect too much,a 'luthier's forum' couldnt be a better introduction to a world of aggressive, ignorant, ego boasting aholes. Im outa here.
     
  8. pauls_49

    pauls_49 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey there, I joined this site a while ago and forgot all about it. An email just caught my attention to read this thread. Reason being I am in the process of also building a through neck guitar. Unlike the above, the plans for my guitar were all in my head. No plans whatsoever. The guitar is well under progress now. If anyone is interested in pics I'll post some up.

    Paul
     
  9. TonyL

    TonyL New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, Paul. Please do. Im still interested in the headstock angle bit. t
     
  10. pauls_49

    pauls_49 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Tony and Michael. I forgot that I joined this site and was reminded in an email. Anyway, the through neck build caught my attention. I have made 7 guitars so far, 6 solid bodies and 1 acoustic. Building an acoustic is soo difficult to building a solid body. Chalk and Cheese. Anyway for a while now I had this through neck in the back of my mind. The thing that always concerned me was the neck/body angle, thinking how would I do that. I searched through heaps of googles and youtubes etc. I found an online neck/body angle calculator, where you put in all the measurements, etc etc, and my angle come up at 1 degree,..??. I am thinking, how am I going to do one degree. So first of all I made the neck. I'll do some pics here in a minute if I can. I also made the fretboard. I run a length of fine string, tensioned, from the nut to the bridge (gotoh bridge), and it seemed perfect to me. I routered the pickup cavities into the neck. I also routered a 10mm slot down the side of the neck from the neck pickup to beyond the bridge pickup for the wiring to go through. This was before I glued the wings for the body on.

    I had no plans for this at all, everything was in my head. Sure I worked out distances along the way, where my fretboard would enter the body and so on. Maybe my pics will explain this all a bit better.

    Others photos wouldn't load, they were too large, I'll have to reduce them later on. More to follow later

    Paul
     

    Attached Files:

  11. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2016
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey TonyL,

    Google s your friend!! :)

    This will explain and show how to calculate the headstock angle.



    What bridge are you going to use?? If it's a Floyd Rose, there is no need to have a headstock angle because the nut gets locked.

    If you are using any other body mounted bridge having a headstock angle can be helpful, especially if you do not like string trees. Honestly a 10 degree headstock angle is plenty for nearly any guitar. When you go to steeper angles the chances of the wood not being strong enough grows.

    The necks with headstock angles that I have built have been 10 degrees, laminated to quarter sawn layout, then cut out to the angle... this is the strongest way to build a tilt back headstock.

    From your posts it sounds as though you have not worked with wood a great deal. I highly suggest that you make "test" cuts of what you are attempting to build using less expensive wood and getting a feel for how the tools react. It's also helps show that a big part of luthiery is fixing your own mistakes.

    ood luck on your build.
     
  12. Michael_P

    Michael_P Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2014
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Austin
    ^^^^^^^^^

    to the OP...you say you like a challenge, well isn't that just grand...

    I stick behind my words about theory and math is just great, real life applications of such are prone for errors when doing it by hand as opposed to CNC...and yeah, I include using power tools in the "by hand" wording...

    I've already intimated at the issues with wood working and losing materials when you clean things up to get a good joint that won't fail...

    again, start at the headstock, get that angle and joint 'correct' then work your way to the body...isn't that obvious????? you then work on the body angle (which is difficult itself, but since the nut location, etc., has been defined you have a larger area to deal with errors..

    you know what?

    YOU are the one who is 'arrogant', or should I say completely stupid...

    I've been working with woods for over 30 years of my life day in and day out...I KNOW just how problematic wood is, and as I already noted, model things out very frequently to make sure it's one cut (crossing fingers) and that is correct...nothing sucks more than to try and be quick, confident, arrogant, and FUBAR a project that already has many thousands of dollars invested in it...

    so you just go right ahead and be challenged and do it all by math...and fairly simple math at that which I was taught in 10th grade...in some attempt to precisely figure out where a nut will end up...then FUBAR it all and throw it away because you're an ignorant, arrogant little snowflake who refuses to realize when they are being schooled by somebody with ages more experience than you will ever have...

    Good day
     
  13. Chris Pile

    Chris Pile Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2016
    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Wichita, KS
    I tried to tell him the same thing. He acted like a little bitch, and they deleted all my posts....
     
  14. pauls_49

    pauls_49 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Gentlemen, My through neck is now finally finished. I've had this idea in my mind for some time now. I had no plans, the only plans I had were in my head. I used Silver Ash and Blackbean timber. No neck angle at all. Totally flat. I spent a lot of time working on the frets after I had installed them. Using the usual rocker, diamond emery board and crowning tool. They seems perfect after that. Upon completion the action looked pretty good. Today I did the final setup. Filed the nut slots down a smidgeon, lowered the saddles. The distance from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the 6th E string is a smidgeon over 2mm. 1st E string is about 1.3mm to 1.4mm. Perfect. Adjusted the intonation, all good.

    Pickups are Zebra Humbuckers from the Warman Factory in the UK. Bridge is a gotoh. Tuning keys are Wilkinsons, I am very impressed with them. They have a thumb knob at the bottom where you loosen it, slip the string in the hole, then tighten it and it locks the string in., amazing.

    Paul
     

    Attached Files:

  15. pauls_49

    pauls_49 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    oops,and I forgot. I used 11 coats of Gun Oil onto this, (Tru Oil), amazing finish

    Paul
     
  16. bruce bennett

    bruce bennett Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2013
    Messages:
    241
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    Chattanooga TN
    Classic case of overthinking a build idea. a Jackson soloist would meet your specs save for the scale length, but thats not hardly any kind of real issue..
    also, the OP has put way too much faith in several of the many "regurgitated Myths" found just about everywhere on the web regarding guitar construction techniques.

    using a laminated block doesn't ignore the grain at the neck angle. its actually a much stronger way to make a neck because it offers a lot of control over how your orient the grain within your laminated block.
    Nor does using a scarf joint add anything in the way of strength or tone that is not somewhat negated by the extra added glue joint.
    scarf joints were simply a method to be able to use thinner materials and achieve an angled or "tilt back" headstock, and it really adds very little to either the tone or strength of the neck overall, and remember that ANY glue joint on a neck can become a liability as all it takes is a little heat and viola! thermocreep.. which can become a serious problem if you have to correct it later.

    whenever I lay out a neck through, I never get too concerned about bridge placement as that comes AFTER the fret-board and headstock are "set in stone". All I want is to get a general overall measurement so I have "enough" material for my body.. but I literally start from the headstock and fret-board and work downward toward the body.

    in a scarf jointed neck I work from the nut placement to either side. and again my fret-board is the main reference and of course my headstock design. once I know what my fret-board overall measurement is going to be and I know what my headstock and Nut measurements are going to be then I can work on my headstock angle.

    unless your going for a specific location of the meeting "point" of the headstock, neck and fretboard being.. say right under the 2nd fret or something similar. then there is no set rule or formula that can dictate what headstock angle you should use.

    I personally like a 7-10 degree angle on my headstock that I plan to use a Gibson scale length and .010 gauge strings on. that angle gives me the enough down pressure with the least amount of friction in the nut slots. but its personal preference not a hard and fast rule.

    also, I know this may seem silly but IMHO, once you lock down the nut.. you pretty much have eliminated the tuners and headstock mass from the vibrational string length. so in effect you've turned your guitar into a Steinberger Headless just by locking the nut down. so any money spent "above the nut"... is kinda wasted. but thats JMHO.

    Please feel free to do as you wish.

    Nice work there Pauls_49
     
  17. TonyL

    TonyL New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    quite obviously there are two ways to do a scaff join and I agree that with laminates and quartersawn the need for a scaff join becomes moot. But if I were to do a scaff join then I would use the one where the angle is under the neck. That way, where you cut (for the nut) +5mm after the fboard allows a perfectly calculated, marked and cut distance - Nut to Bridge. Problem Solved.
     
  18. bruce bennett

    bruce bennett Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2013
    Messages:
    241
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    Chattanooga TN
    humm. wood is not a material that you can hold that close a tolerance with.

    I was never a fan of the scarf joint that has the headstock piece on bottom of the neck shaft. the natural forces being applied to the completed neck would make ANY amount of thermocreep, result in a total failure for the neck. but I do know a few guys that do that.
    also, I don't care for leaving the entire joint "open" ( ie. joint is not under the FB at any location) IMHO, the meeting/layering of the 3 pieces is what give that type of joint its strength.. But I do know that many builders are fine with just "leaving it all to the glue" so to speak.. ( Mainly Asian Builders,) I prefer to build like it was meant to stay together for at least 100+ years.

    but honestly, in the real world I've never seen it happen that you could layout something so precisely that there will be no need for any extra material for "adjustment" and I think to plan such would be ..
    1. a disaster looking for a place to happen.
    2. a very unrealistic approach to "hand building guitars"
    3. Even CNC machined parts need room for tweaking the final sub-assembly once the machining is done.
    4. the angle you decide upon for your headstock will alter the way your scarf joint will look/where the "point" will fall within the neck shaft.

    I usually decide first what angle I wish to use based on string tension over the nut, then I build the neck shaft and headstock assembly. layout for the nut and fretboard. rout the TR slot, then trim away all the excess on both the outer ends of the assembly.
    then its on to headstock final shaping. and End of neck shaping. then the cosmetics ( overlays, pearl work etc etc.)

    all my math is done on a full size sheet of paper and I create a good old fashioned Mechanical drawing for my layout of my joint and basic neck profiles ( top, side, back, & cross section)
    this allows me to rough cut my material within a mm of my rough shape. then either CNC it to final, or hand shape. ( depending on the Customers request)
    but there is always some small amount of "tweak sanding" to get things exactly where I want them. even when using the CNC.
    not to mention a light sanding to get a "tooth" on the material for any subsequent glue ups. ( i.e. headstock overlays, fretboard glue up)

    and of course because there is often times some movement of the parts during a glue up, you could have slight alignment issues that, IMHO, require that you layout for the bridge AFTER the neck is totally complete and together with the body.

    Even Gibson and others have issues with this, I've seen several Gibsons that are drilled wrong and can't be intonated perfectly without doweling and re-drilling the bridge holes.
    Gibson knows that they simply can't control some issues.. So they alter the construction steps to allow them to make adjustments on the back end of the process.

    in other words they don't drill the bridge holes until the guitar has a neck on it. this way they can fix small alignment issues.
    and even then, they still have guitars with issues.
     

Share This Page