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pszy22

Epiphone Acoustic Neck Joints

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Got a copy of the Epiphone product catalog. In the acoustic guitar section spec, the neck joint type for each model is listed. There seem to be three neck joint types used for acoustics -

 


  •  
  • Tapered Dovetail
  • Glued-In
  • Set

 

I know what the dovetail is, but what is the construction method used for the Glued-In and the Set?

 

Also the catalog says that only hide glue is used on all the Masterbilts. Anyone know if it is also used on the Glue-In (or even the Set) necks?

 

Just curious.

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"Tapered Dovetail" describes the shape of the joint that is "glued-in" to the matching neck block on the guitar's body. A glued-in neck is "set" in place; a bolt-on neck is not--it can move easily by adjusting the screws or bolts that hold it.

 

Hide glue was used to put the whole guitar together until the 60's, generally, when manufacturers started using white glues since they were easier and faster to work with. Hide glue is primarily used today just to set necks. Hide glue is water soluble, so its use allows easy neck resets in the future if needed. The glue in the dovetail joint is loosened with steam that is introduced into the joint through a hole in a fret slot.

 

Hide glue is sometimes used for top bracing. Certain Gibson models use it, for instance, but there is usually a pricey upcharge. Only very rare and expensive Gibson, Martin, or other traditionally built instruments use it on all parts (like the Gibson Legend series, for instance, or the Martin D-45 Authentic). Hide glue is thought by some to have superior acoustic properties; others dispute it. Hide glue is used throughout Gibson's Legend series and Martin's Authentics because they are mean to be exact reproductions of vintage guitars, and that's the way they were originally built. Some boutique manufacturers still use it, too.

 

I don't know for sure, but I doubt most Epiphones (other than the Masterbilts) use hide glue to set the necks, just due to the fact that hide glue is so slow drying. When keeping costs down on an assembly line, time is money, so the most expedient processes are used. That's why Epiphones have fast-drying poly finishes, versus the slow drying, time-consuming, multi-step process of shooting nitro.

 

Red 333

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Yep, "glued-in" and "set" are the same thing. The terminology all depends on which employee wrote the specs for a particular model.

 

Glued-in and set necks can also have dovetail joints, so, again, its just a lack of consistency with terminology.

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That's pretty much what I had thought before I looked at the catalog. It was just interesting that they thought it important enough to list the neck joint type for every guitar in the catalog, yet seemingly were inconsistent in the terminology used. They don't list that data type for their online specs, but do include it in their printed materials.

 

Quite honestly, I was surprised to see that they used hide glue at all, even on the Masterbilts.

 

Thanks for the verification.

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Prevailing wisdom has it that hide glue does help the sound (I refer you to the interview with TJ Thompson, master restorer of vintage Martin golden era instruments, Fretboard Journal #26). Of course there are many other factors that affect tone, but at the Masterbilt's price point, hide glue is one of the factors that make it the incredible value for the money. As far as neck joints go, I was surprised to find out that Martin does not use

dovetail neck joints on a couple of their lines, they use bolt-on necks (and just not the sub-$1000 line either). The use of hide glue on Martin's was previously discussed in this topic, so I won't revisit it. Not bashing Martins (I own one),but I own 3 Masterbilts.

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On 6/13/2014 at 6:01 PM, Red 333 said:

"Tapered Dovetail" describes the shape of the joint that is "glued-in" to the matching neck block on the guitar's body. A glued-in neck is "set" in place; a bolt-on neck is not--it can move easily by adjusting the screws or bolts that hold it.

 

Hide glue was used to put the whole guitar together until the 60's, generally, when manufacturers started using white glues since they were easier and faster to work with. Hide glue is primarily used today just to set necks. Hide glue is water soluble, so its use allows easy neck resets in the future if needed. The glue in the dovetail joint is loosened with steam that is introduced into the joint through a hole in a fret slot.

 

Hide glue is sometimes used for top bracing. Certain Gibson models use it, for instance, but there is usually a pricey upcharge. Only very rare and expensive Gibson, Martin, or other traditionally built instruments use it on all parts (like the Gibson Legend series, for instance, or the Martin D-45 Authentic). Hide glue is thought by some to have superior acoustic properties; others dispute it. Hide glue is used throughout Gibson's Legend series and Martin's Authentics because they are mean to be exact reproductions of vintage guitars, and that's the way they were originally built. Some boutique manufacturers still use it, too.

 

I don't know for sure, but I doubt most Epiphones (other than the Masterbilts) use hide glue to set the necks, just due to the fact that hide glue is so slow drying. When keeping costs down on an assembly line, time is money, so the most expedient processes are used. That's why Epiphones have fast-drying poly finishes, versus the slow drying, time-consuming, multi-step process of shooting nitro.

 

Red 333

Very curious answer. Hide glue is exactly the opposite of slow curing, which is one of the very reasons it's not often nowadays used for neck joins. 

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UK luthier, you are right. As you surely must know, it takes a lot of skill to work with hot hide glue, as there is actually less open time to get parts in place before it begins to bond and the parts can't be refit or rearranged as compared to synthetic wood glues. I  was wrong to say to was more slow drying. It is less efficient in mass assembly though--especially when building a lower cost instrument, because not only would workers be required to be more skilled to use it,  the entire building process would have to be more precise as well. Besides just being easier to work with (and less stinky!) some synthetic  glues and even epoxies are used in factory-production guitar making because the builders can work faster and with less precision when cutting and joining parts. The synthetic glues and epoxies do a good job filling gaps without compromising the strength of the joint. Builders don't have to carefully sand braces to match tops, painstakingly fit necks to dovetail joints, etc. like they would when using hot hide glue. Joined surfaces have to be very precise for the thin hide glue to bond.  Thicker synthetic glues bonds slightly irregular surfaces more easily so guitars can be built faster and for less less money. I guess in that regard, it's akin to using poly instead of shooting nitrocellulose to finish guitars; poly doesn't always require pore filling, is self-leveling, requires fewer coats, etc., so the guitar can be completed faster (and thus less expensively).

Now, I'm not saying that all builders that use these kind of glues do so because they can take shortcuts and work with axes and butter knives. Not at all. Good builders like Martin and Gibson use it to gain additional open time to work on part positioning (as you pointed out) and more tonal consistency instrument to instrument due to well-joined parts without the incremental extra effort that hide glue would require. But you do see examples of synthetic glues used as gap filler on very low cost instruments, especially before the widespread use of CNC machines.

When the modern Masterbilts were first introduced in the mid 2000's, they were advertised as having hot hide glue joined braces and necks. I don't know whether that is still the case. But Gibson certainly still uses hot hide glue for necks,  and even braces and bridges on some models, and will occasionally build an entire guitar with it. Collings uses an "animal protein glue" (said to be fish glue) on some high-end models. Martin still uses it for the high-end Authentic series. Some smaller and boutique builders use it.  But as you say, it's not often nowadays used, and when it is, it often comes at a premium.

Red 333

 

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