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1 to 3 to 1 piece necks?

#1 User is offline   gnappi 

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 12:54 AM

In the 50's Gibson necks were one piece. Many warped and to remedy the issue Gibson went to three piece necks with different grain structures to keep the necks from warping. Now Gibson seems to have reversed itself and is installing one piece necks again. Why? was there something they found out about truss rods that keep necks from warping? Or was the three piece neck story about preventing warping just a way to make necks cheaper by laminating?


Gary
Regards,

Gary

#2 User is offline   BigKahune 

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 08:08 AM

View Postgnappi, on 10 November 2012 - 12:54 AM, said:

In the 50's Gibson necks were one piece. Many warped and to remedy the issue Gibson went to three piece necks with different grain structures to keep the necks from warping. ...


When was this?

I guess I missed something. Over the years I've owned Gibson guitars from every decade going back to the 60s and they all had one piece necks. There are some models have/had 3 piece necks over those same years, but I don't recall Gibson going to three piece necks across their whole line.


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#3 User is offline   Danny W. 

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 08:25 AM

View Postgnappi, on 10 November 2012 - 12:54 AM, said:

In the 50's Gibson necks were one piece. Many warped and to remedy the issue Gibson went to three piece necks with different grain structures to keep the necks from warping. Now Gibson seems to have reversed itself and is installing one piece necks again. Why? was there something they found out about truss rods that keep necks from warping? Or was the three piece neck story about preventing warping just a way to make necks cheaper by laminating?


Gary


Mahogany generally doesn't need to be laminated. Gibson started making three-piece mahogany necks in the '70's, but all the ones I've seen since the early '90's have been one-piece. Maple necks tend to be less stable--Gibson has always used three to five pieces on their maple-necked guitars. Some small makers have used one-piece maple necks that have been very well aged; Roger Borys, John D'Angelico and Jimmy D'Aquisto for example.


View PostBigKahune, on 10 November 2012 - 08:08 AM, said:

When was this?

I guess I missed something. Over the years I've owned Gibson guitars from every decade going back to the 60s and they all had one piece necks. There are some models have/had 3 piece necks over those same years, but I don't recall Gibson going to three piece necks across their whole line.


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In the 70's Gibson's solid-bodies and semis all had laminated necks. Many had formerly used one-piece mahogany, but Gibson changed to three-piece mahogany and then three-piece maple. My '71 ES-355 had the former and my '81 ES-355 had the latter. They also had volutes. Luckily, Gibson realized the error of its ways and reverted them back to one-piece mahogany sans volute in the early '90's.

Danny W.

#4 User is offline   BigKahune 

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 09:24 AM

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Thanks Danny.


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#5 User is offline   Hannu 

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 09:25 AM

Gibson still makes the five piece design in some of the archtop guitars, like L5 and S-400 CES. The five-piece neck made from high-grade maple, with two streamers made from high-grade walnut.
This is an old design, my 1964 S-400 CES has this same design, it is very visible when you look at the back of the neck. My experience is that this is a superior design, my guitar keeps its tune and action much better than any other guitar, Gibson or Fender, that I have had over the years.
Also, it seems to be able to handle string tension changes extremely well. I have changed my CES from 0.012's to 0.010's and back without any need of truss rod adjustments.
It also clearly gives a somewhat different tone to the guitar, little brighter and "accoustic" than the solid mahogany.

Out of all manufacturers, Ibanez started to experiment with the maple/walnut/maple/walnut/maple necks already in the seventies, they even had a 7-piece at one time. Today, their upscale models have this design, and it looks exactly like the Gibson five piece. My Ibanez AK-95 has a three-piece maple neck, and it works extremely well.

Hannu

#6 User is offline   gnappi 

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 09:34 AM

View PostBigKahune, on 10 November 2012 - 08:08 AM, said:

When was this?

I guess I missed something. Over the years I've owned Gibson guitars from every decade going back to the 60s and they all had one piece necks. There are some models have/had 3 piece necks over those same years, but I don't recall Gibson going to three piece necks across their whole line.


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I guess you did :-) Gibson had advertising claiming that the three piece necks were less prone to warping, probably because many like me saw a "CHANGE" in the build we assumed it was for value engineering. By the same token, the "volute" had the same perception. The volute was "supposedly" an idea to put more wood in an area that had been weakened by carving out the truss rod adjustment pocket.

For my take, I figure that Gibson knows a whole lot more about construction and longevity as they have to deal with repairs to product AND reputation so in general I am likely to go along with sound engineering over opinions.

All of my Gibson guitars have three piece necks and have never given me a problem. I posted this as I see "one piece neck" in advertisements for used guitars and wondered why the change in philosophy at Gibson.
Regards,

Gary

#7 User is offline   Danny W. 

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 11:12 PM

View Postgnappi, on 10 November 2012 - 09:34 AM, said:



All of my Gibson guitars have three piece necks and have never given me a problem. I posted this as I see "one piece neck" in advertisements for used guitars and wondered why the change in philosophy at Gibson.


There's actually a simple answer to this:

Gibson used one-piece mahogany necks on solids, semis and lower-priced hollow-bodies into the sixties, but as their sales took off with the big guitar boom of that period, they no longer had the supply of well-aged wood that they had always enjoyed. As their sales rose, so did warranty problems. In a misguided effort to reduce these, they replaced the one-piece mahogany necks with three-piece ones and also added volutes. To further strengthen the necks they then went to 3-piece maple necks.

There were several problems with this approach. The laminated necks added weight, which was especially a problem on the semis and solids, and they hardened up the sound, which many players did not like. The volutes did nothing useful at all--they do not strengthen the headstock joint and many players find them objectionable. The maple necks further brightened the sound and added even more weight.

To make these changes palatable to customers Gibson advertised them as being improvements, but players didn't buy into this. It's no mere coincidence that the rise of the vintage market for Gibson guitars began when guitars with these features came out. Players were glad to pay a premium for ten-year-old guitars with one-piece necks and no volutes.

When Gibson decided to make models more true to their roots they went back to one-piece mahogany necks, which can be every bit as stable as laminates if done right, and eliminated the volutes on all models except the Citation, on which it is sort of an artistic statement. While all the top-end carved-tops have the traditional multi-piece maple necks, pretty much all the rest of the models have one-piece mahogany. Much here has to do with being "historic," but more of it is reacting to player's preferences.

I have had a great many ES-355's, with all the neck variations, and much prefer the one-piece mahogany ones. I think it feels better, sounds better and looks better on these models. OTOH, I would not want a hollow-body with one.

Danny W.

#8 User is offline   BigKahune 

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 07:31 AM

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Really interesting info Danny.

Thanks again. . B)


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#9 User is offline   Danny W. 

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 11:33 PM

The multi-piece maple necks that Gibson used on the high-end archtops were quite different from those on ES-3X5's and solids. Through the '50's, Gibson made L-5 & S400 necks out of two pieces of maple with a thin, contrasting center piece generally of walnut. Some people call these two-piece necks. In the '60's they went to three pieces of maple with two spacers, again, generally of walnut. Some people call these three-piece necks. This style of construction is still in use.

Either way, the result was an elegant-looking neck that easily stood up to the heavier-gauge strings usually found on these guitars.

The laminated maple necks that became common in the '70's on the ES's and most of the solids was one maple neck block cut into three pieces and glued back together with the center piece reversed. This made for a stable neck, but one totally lacking in beauty compared to the neck on a L-5.

1960 L-5:

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2011 L-5:

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1982 ES-355

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Danny W.

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