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Glued VS Bolt on Necks


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Well... it's kind of impossible to make an SG properly with a bolt neck. The main advantage to a set neck, as it's called, is that you get rid of that clunky block on the body that the neck is bolted to, so that you end up with better access to the upper frets.

 

Sonically, well, some will say that the best way to do it is with a neck through body construction, then a set neck, then a bolt-on; however if a bolt neck is fitted nice and tight and smooth it works about as well as a set neck.

 

Disadvantage? Well it's a lot more dificult to work on and a real PITA to refinish a set neck guitar. Fender went with bolt necks not so much for any sonic advantage but basically as an engineering compromise to simplify the construction process and to make maintenance easier... if a guitar got damaged in construction at least you could salvage part of it.

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Well... it's kind of impossible to make an SG properly with a bolt neck. The main advantage to a set neck' date=' as it's called, is that you get rid of that clunky block on the body that the neck is bolted to, so that you end up with better access to the upper frets.

 

Sonically, well, some will say that the best way to do it is with a neck through body construction, then a set neck, then a bolt-on; however if a bolt neck is fitted nice and tight and smooth it works about as well as a set neck.

 

Disadvantage? Well it's a lot more dificult to work on and a real PITA to refinish a set neck guitar. Fender went with bolt necks not so much for any sonic advantage but basically as an engineering compromise to simplify the construction process and to make maintenance easier... if a guitar got damaged in construction at least you could salvage part of it.[/quote']

 

 

Thanks for the reply...I was a little worried about the set neck.....are the Gibsons SG's with set necks too?

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The advantage of the earliest Fender bolt on necks was that when it bent as a result of having no truss rod...they could send you another one ;^).

 

But more seriously and to enlarge on Rotcan's comments...

 

Don't let folks convince you that set necks are "better" than bolted on necks... or vice versa.

The design of the neck joint does have an affect on the perforamnce and feel of the guitar but it's "horses for courses."

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I agree that one isn't necessarily better than the other, to a point. I think it has a lot to do with the type of guitar you're dealing with as well. SG's and Vee's don't seem to take a bolt-on neck very well. I think this is mainly because the bolt-on neck negatively impacts the deep access to the upper register. That's not to say that bolt-on necks are bad, they're great on strats, but not so much for SG's.

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Funny thing. On one end you get the acceptance of a bolt neck as a valid alternative to a set neck... then on the other extreme you get the debate over whether a short tenon neck on a Les Paul is crap or not.

 

Yeah... basically we've come to accept the bolt-on as a legitimate alternative to a set neck... mostly because Fender got away with it. No-one is about to suggest that Fender guitars are crap because of their bolt-on necks and in actuality when Fender makes set neck versions of their guitars they don't sell all that well. There's a tradition here and nobody is going to change it at this stage of the game, regardless of what is best--quality does not even enter into the discussion. Similarly, Leo very cleverly did away with angled headstocks for a very simple reason: by doing so he could make necks more easily and more cheaply. However he found out that these necks didn't quite work properly and in typical engineer fashion he came up with a stopgap solution: string trees. Of course the trees cause tuning problems and Fender has been dicking around with these Rube Goldberg devices ever since: one tree; two trees; roller trees; cast trees; and now even staggered machine heads, all trying to make a bad design work. The plus side of course is that the flat neck is less prone to breakage although the material also has a lot to do with this.

 

It is interesting to note the saga of the Fender Coronados... in 1966 or so Fender started producing hollow body guitars with DeArmond pickups in an attempt to penetrate the jazz market and get some of those ES-335 sales. They even went so far as to offer them with "Wildwood" finishes which were achieved by injecting dyes into growing trees... well, it WAS the sixties so yeah, groovy. Anyway, they of course built them with a Fenderish six-on-a-side headstock and a bolt neck... which was suicide. No player was interested in a non set neck hollowbody guitar and the line tanked. Even today they're not worth much.

 

On another note, when I first noticed Epiphone clones appearing in the stores back in the late eighties, they all had bolt necks and as such I pretty much dismissed them out of hand. It wasn't until I came across a set neck Samick Les Paul in 1995 or so that I took notice of what Epi was doing... in fact I ended up buying that guitar the same day. I think it's a given that Epi sales would not be anywhere near as good as they are today if they had stuck with bolt-neck guitars.

 

I leave you with one question to ponder: what do you think would happen to Gibson sales if they suddenly switched to a bolt neck on the Les Paul? =D>

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Spud,

 

You raise a very valid point, one that I think you've already answered. Fenders are commonly accepted as bolt-on only, and Gibbys are set neck only. As you've mentioned, I've noticed a number of set neck Fenders over the past few years that seemed to fail miserably. The one that I played (a strat) seemed to be a very solid, playable guitar. But the fact is, no one is willing to believe or accept that Fender can produce a quality set neck guitar. The same holds true with Gibson. If they switched all their Les Pauls to bolt on construction, regardless of quailty, two things would happen. The first, would be a serious plummet in sales accompanied by a hailstorm of public complaining. The second would be a dramatic spike in the value of set neck Lesters on the secondary market.

 

I guess it all boils down to what we've all grown comfortable with. Another good example of this is the SG Supreme (and the upcoming SG Prophecy line). To a purist, these are SG's in name only. The change to the scale alone makes them dramatically different from any other SG on the market. They're still great guitars, but they don't seem to do as well as the more traditional models.

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in my opinion set necks and bolt-ons have have differences that can only be determined by the player.

Its said that set-necks get more sustain and ring clearly, but on a set neck you cant just re-adjust the neck in like 5 mins to nice comfortable feel as opposed to bolt-ons that if you buy one and dont like the feel just tighten or loosen the necks joint and your off

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When I was a guitar obssesed kid back in the sixties it seemed that horrible cheap guitars had bolt-ons ala Teisco, Kingston and numerous other Japanese imports. Whereas good solid "quality" guitars, your Gibsons, Ricks,Guilds etc. all had set necks. It took me several decades to overcome the prejudice against bolt-ons [i still have it to a certain degree...although I have accepted Fenders] Now I view it as a matter of taste, you can't deny the quality of top end Ibanez and Jackson guitars, but I still gravitate to the set neck.

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Hey all,

I've played and owned high end and budget axes both set and bolt on. They both acheive good sustain if set right.

I have a Ibanez S 470dxqm that is bolt on and the sustain matches a Paul. You can shim bolt on necks real easy

to get the action just right. I would buy either if its got Feel.

Oldschool

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I've owned a Fender Strat since I bought it new in '79. Ash body with micro-tilt maple bolt-on neck that stays put when it is adjusted. Sustain is maybe not quite as good as my Epi les paul (which I think is better than my Gibby LP Studio).

 

The maple necks on Fenders are HARD rock maple that is less likely to snap than the mahogany necks on Gib/Epi, IMHO. There used to be two groups that argued about the 3 bolt Fender neck vs the 4 bolt model (pre-CBS). The micro tilt model is the 3 bolt one. I tend to move and stress the neck when I play at times and the 3 bolt neck never went out of tune from movement. You just have to keep the screws tight.

I like the micro-tilt adjustment because it will set the angle perfectly without using shims. I would imagine that there are lots of Fenders out there with a piece of guitar pick used as a shim (LOL). Anything that doesn't transmit the vibrations is going to reduce sustain and affect tone.

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Out of the 12 guitars I own, 7 have set necks, 5 have bolt-ons. Unfortunately, one of the bolt-on necks is my 1996 Epi doubleneck...but I got a great deal on it, and I had to snap it up. It plays and sounds great, but hitting that high D is a real stretch!

 

To me, set-necks feel better, have more resonance, and offer easier access to the upper frets.

 

But I love my bolt-on neck guitars, too. If you love to tinker with your guitars, bolt-on neck guitars are like an old Chevy. If you have the right tools and the proper Chilton's manual, you can perform pretty much any repair or modification on it.

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  • 13 years later...
On 3/14/2008 at 5:56 AM, RotcanX said:

Well... it's kind of impossible to make an SG properly with a bolt neck. The main advantage to a set neck, as it's called, is that you get rid of that clunky block on the body that the neck is bolted to, so that you end up with better access to the upper frets.

I'm kinda late to the party but I agree with RotcanX above and I'd further mention that with the bolt-on, the neck overlaps onto the body so the overall length of the guitar is shorter  which means the bridge needs to be positioned farther back on the body which changes the entire geometry and balance of the instrument. If it's any consolation, one advantage of the bolt-on SG is less "nose diving" of the headstock :)

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10 hours ago, R_K said:

I'm kinda late to the party but I agree with RotcanX above and I'd further mention that with the bolt-on, the neck overlaps onto the body so the overall length of the guitar is shorter  which means the bridge needs to be positioned farther back on the body which changes the entire geometry and balance of the instrument. If it's any consolation, one advantage of the bolt-on SG is less "nose diving" of the headstock 🙂

R...K welcome to the forum, RotcamX doesn't seem to have been active since about 2009, but the bolt-on neck issue is kind of interesting. The bolt-on's I think have a better reputation of being a very good playable neck. The set neck Epiphones I have purchased online, about 25% have had problems. Also to me the bolt-on Les Pauls tend to have better action on the high notes, than there more expensive set neck counterparts. The set neck SG's tend to have the neck about 2 frets farther inboard, but are still very playable.

My 97 Junior DC below has a bolt-on that is joined after the 22nd fret, which means there is nothing in the way of the high notes. The neck has a tang that extends into the body a few inches under the pickguard, which also means a neck pickup could damage the strength neck mounting. I mention this because Epiphone could have built a single PU SG Junior the same way.

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Bolt-ons tend to be very good necks..

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Edited by mihcmac
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