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Author Topic: "Wings on headstock add strength"  (Read 2442 times)
Zohn
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« on: December 08, 2008, 12:15:16 PM »

One of the favourite selling points or "marketing chirps" in the guitar industry, is the specification of one-piece necks, which seems to be a minimum industry standard for high-end guitars. I found myself in that minimum standard mold when I specified the requirements for a proposed 000-12 fretter to be custom built for me by a local luthier. He mentioned that a perfectly quartered neck has a potential weak-spot at the break-angle of the headstock from the neck, since there is grain run-out. It is most of the time not that evident, because the front (and sometimes the back too) of the headstock is covered with decorative veneer. It is a known fact that volutes at the back and at the start of the headstock, is a measure to strengthen the "weak" spot besides for the decorative appeal, and apparently (and according to this luthier) wings serve as an additional measure to provide strength in that area too. With that in mind, I surfed the net and found evidence of wings being used by Gibson and Martin.
Are there any owners who had a Headstock-break on a Larrivee?

Some photos to illustrate these can be seen at:
http://www.buffalobrosguitars.com/images22000-22999/ugb22071-gibsonlc1cascade/index.html   and    http://www.buffalobrosguitars.com/images24000-24999/ugb24475-martinom28v/index.html

http://www.buffalobrosguitars.com/images27000-27999/ngb27102-martinhj35steffangrossman/index.html

As a matter of interest, I add the following article on the same subject
http://guitarbench.com/index.php/2008/08/09/wings-on-headstocks-feature-article/

Any comments?
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2008, 01:58:02 PM »


Any comments?

You're right, 'one piece mahogany neck' is a good marketing term for selling guitars. I'm not sure there's any benefit to the person that buys the guitar though.
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tadol
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2008, 05:01:27 PM »

From your pictures, I think the main reason they are going to wings is the cost savings and decoration. the piece across the top of the headstock adds no strength, because they've glued it cross grain to the endgrain of the neck.

The neck billet has to accomodate the largest dimension, so if you reduce that, the entire billet gets smaller / cheaper - and even more importantly - more available. if you can laminate a neck and headstock up from 4/4 or 6/4 stock, you have a much, much larger selection of material ( especially figured or specialty ) than if you need a full 12/4 billet. Even reducing it to 10/4 and adding small wings to the sides saves alot of money.  I remember reading that you should saw out the headstock and save the pieces to make the wings so that the grain and color would match perfectly from the back, and then put a solid veneer over the top.

But modern glues and finishes are allowing alot of the old rules to be ignored, and newer aesthetics encourage some pretty wild design -

Tad
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Dale_I
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2008, 06:47:55 PM »

I haven't had one break on a Larrivee, but I have had them break before and that is right where they have broken. Taking a consensus of neck breaks, I would probably guess that the majority are broken in that location for that reason as well. I had one early model Takamine 12-string that fractured a neck there, but after pinning and gluing it was more sturdy at that location than others in the guitar. Tad's right, modern glue...
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rockstar_not
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« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2008, 05:43:06 PM »

This is probably one of those topics that eventually will end up as an argument.

A local custom luthier in Michigan, Charis, uses beautifully laminated necks in his gits.

I think they are lovely.

I have to believe that they are very stable.

I'm guessing they are less likely to break than one-piece necks.



-Scott
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Zohn
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2008, 06:48:20 PM »


A local custom luthier in Michigan, Charis, uses beautifully laminated necks in his gits.
I think they are lovely.
I have to believe that they are very stable.
I'm guessing they are less likely to break than one-piece necks.

-Scott
Bill Wise builds exceptional guitars. Very much in the same mold as what I believe to be the "elite-circle" of builders nl. Olson, Ryan, Applegate. (and in that order)Their styles are very alike, but each has unique specialities. Brian Applegate also uses the same laminated necks as on the Charis. Kevin Ryan's "Bevel flutes" are stunning.
I agree in that I also think their neck designs are very stable and strong. 
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Dale_I
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« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2008, 08:08:02 AM »

I don't think the argument would be with how stable the multi-piece necks are... because they are inherently stronger due to the lamination process. You could end up in a discussion about if they are sonically better or not. But, that's for another thread at another time.
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Zohn
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« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2008, 08:49:07 AM »

I don't think the argument would be with how stable the multi-piece necks are... because they are inherently stronger due to the lamination process. You could end up in a discussion about if they are sonically better or not. But, that's for another thread at another time.
I have no qualification to comment on that, except that if Olson, Charis, Applegate, McIllroy and Avalon use laminated necks, then there must surely be some sort of significance.
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Dale_I
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2008, 01:20:36 AM »

You can add a lot of builders to that list as well. Lowden, early Gibson, Carvin, McCollum, and I could go on.
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ronmac
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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2008, 12:20:11 PM »

I agree with other posters that a laminated neck will be stronger and stiffer than a one piece neck.

The "wings" do nothing to add structural strength, but do serve a purpose in keeping the size of neck blanks smaller. They are used in both of my Bourgeois guitars, and are present in lots of high end builds.
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Ron

jeremy3220
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« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2008, 08:17:33 PM »

I agree with other posters that a laminated neck will be stronger and stiffer than a one piece neck.

The "wings" do nothing to add structural strength, but do serve a purpose in keeping the size of neck blanks smaller. They are used in both of my Bourgeois guitars, and are present in lots of high end builds.

What's the difference between wings(3 pieces laminated together) and a 3 piece laminated neck in the headstock area?
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ronmac
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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2008, 12:44:14 AM »

A laminated neck gives additional structural strength and stiffness along the entire length of the neck. Laminating wings is only done to conserve wood.
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Ron

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« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2008, 01:13:53 AM »

A laminated neck gives additional structural strength and stiffness along the entire length of the neck. Laminating wings is only done to conserve wood.

Then wouldn't there be additional structural strength and stiffness along the length of the wings?
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ronmac
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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2008, 03:26:22 AM »

I suppose there is, but I think that it doesn't offer much in the way of break protection. Almost every break I have seen is at the junction of the neck and the headstock.
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Ron

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« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2008, 04:13:23 AM »

I suppose there is, but I think that it doesn't offer much in the way of break protection. Almost every break I have seen is at the junction of the neck and the headstock.

That's where the weakness would be - at the angle between neck and headstock; guaranteed 'runout' there.

Volutes would theoretically help to distribute the stress over a less sharp angle.

Lamination, if using grains at right angles or different angles to adjacent lamination slabs, distributes stress in all directions.  I'm sure there is likely debate about what this does for tone - but I have to believe that most of the top and internal volume of a well-voiced acoustic guitar occurs with string vibration transferred to the bridge, then top and bracing - not through the neck.

-Scott
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2008, 04:31:17 AM »

That's where the weakness would be - at the angle between neck and headstock; guaranteed 'runout' there.

Volutes would theoretically help to distribute the stress over a less sharp angle.


There's also the same amount of run out across the rest of the headstock (assuming the neck is quatersawn and the headstock is flat). The reason the breaks occur at the junction is because that angle forms a stress riser, so you're probably right about the volute distributing stress. Wings usually don't run down that far so they probably don't help in a practical way.
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Zohn
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2008, 10:09:04 AM »

There's also the same amount of run out across the rest of the headstock (assuming the neck is quatersawn and the headstock is flat). The reason the breaks occur at the junction is because that angle forms a stress riser, so you're probably right about the volute distributing stress. Wings usually don't run down that far so they probably don't help in a practical way.

I think the critical area where the Headstock needs additional support besides the volute, is little more than the thickness of the stock past the very point where the break-angle starts, and one would ideally want to start the wing before that part (around the nut-area), and extend it to past the critical part where there's the least meat. The thickest part of the wing at the top of the Headstock "does the least" in terms of support or strengthening. There is no doubt that they offer extra strength though, because the grain of the wings are parallel to the head stock, and the head stock's grain runs parallel to the neck's grain. It is for that very reason that some Luths install dowels perpendicular to the neck's grain in the heel for additional strength.
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Zohn
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« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2008, 10:13:54 AM »

There's also the same amount of run out across the rest of the headstock (assuming the neck is quatersawn and the headstock is flat). The reason the breaks occur at the junction is because that angle forms a stress riser, so you're probably right about the volute distributing stress. Wings usually don't run down that far so they probably don't help in a practical way.

The critical area where the Headstock needs additional support besides the volute, is little more than the thickness of the stock past the very point where the break-angle starts, and one would ideally want to start the wing before that part (around the nut-area), and extend it to past the critical part where there's the least meat. The thickest part of the wing's wedge-shape at the top of the headstock as seen on the Martin-neck, "does the least" in terms of support or strengthening. There is no doubt that they offer extra strength though, because the grain of the wings are parallel to the head stock, and the head stock's grain runs parallel to the neck's grain. It is for that very reason that some Luths install dowels perpendicular to the neck's grain in the heel for additional strength at the heel.
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Zohn
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« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2008, 10:16:47 AM »

The critical area where the Headstock needs additional support besides the volute, is little more than the thickness of the head stock past the very point where the break-angle starts, and one would ideally want to start the wing before that part (preferably around the nut-area), and extend it to past the critical part where there's the least meat along the grain. The thickest part of the wing's wedge-shape at the top of the headstock as seen on the Martin-neck, "does the least" in terms of support or strengthening. There is no doubt that they offer extra strength though, because the grain of the wings are parallel to the head stock, and the head stock's grain runs parallel to the neck's grain. It is for that very reason that some Luths install dowels perpendicular to the neck's grain in the heel for additional strength at the heel.
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