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I think a little discussion about my decision to adopt the cantilevered neck design would be in order. This could be very lengthy but I will keep it short.

There has been a debate for years about neck joints on guitars and opinions vary widely. Here is what I have heard.

Proponents of the dovetail neck joint claim that the strength of the joint adds to the resonance of the guitar because the mass of the neck is more soundly joined to the body. I would put a mortise and tennon joint into this category since they are both glued on.

Proponents of the bolt on neck feel that a neck easily removed simply makes the instrument more serviceable and feel that the mass of the neck is still firmly attached to the body.

Whichever side you choose there is a reality that is widely agreed upon. During the lifetime of a well made guitar the neck will need to be removed and reinstalled at a correct angle to adjust for the distortion of the instrument caused by string tension. This procedure may happen more than once during an instruments life. A dovetail neck joint is a far more complicated joint to not only take apart, but to reinstall correctly. I would say there are only a few dozen repair people in the US that can expertly provide this service. A bolt on neck however is far easier to remove and reinstall correctly.

With either method there is still one downside that exists. When a neck is attached with either of these methods the tongue of the fretboard still lays on and is glued to the top of the guitar and therefore the top influences its alignment. If you have seen a guitar that has had a reset and sight down the neck, you will notice that the fretboard experiences an angle change where it comes in contact with the top and typically "dives into the soundhole" as it is commonly referred to. That means the action over the body is higher than it should be because the fretboard cannot continue on the correct plane because the top geometry has changed. Some repair people will actually shim up the end of the fretboard to adjust for this but to me it always looks like a fix.

 

Having said all of that let me explain why I have adopted the cantilevered neck joint.

I prefer my necks to bolt on. A neck needs to come off a guitar and why should it be so difficult. I can attach a neck as firmly as the next guy and I don't personally believe that a glued joint is superior for the purposes of the transfer of mass to the body.

Secondly the cantilevered fretboard is in no way influenced by the geometry of the top since they don't touch. When I have to adjust the neck angle on my guitars the result is not higher action beyond the 14th fret. It is lower action everywhere.

Aside from the mechanical advantages that I feel this neck design offers I also think that there are significant tonal advantages as well. Most makers look at the upper bout of the guitar as structural and a place for the neck to anchor to. They brace heavily the underside of the top in that area to support the downward force of the fretboard and therefore kill any available tone in that area.

If you look at the picture on this page labeled Martin style bracing you will see a braced top for a traditional Martin style guitar with a substantial fretboard brace that runs across the entire top. This is there to support the fretboard that is glued to the top. This brace essentially chokes that area of the top from generating any useful tone.

The final image is a top of mine that I have braced for a 00 size instrument. You will note that I do provide some reinforcement in that area of the top, but since my fretboard does not touch the top my reinforcement is very light.

If you get the opportunity to play one of my instruments, strum a full E chord and then as the chord rings, lightly touch the upper bout of the guitar with your pick hand. You will definitely feel vibration in that area. Now try that on a more traditional instrument and I am confident that you will find far less vibration as a result of the bracing that lies beneath.

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Dovetail joints on two Santa Cruz necks.

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Bolt on design used by Breedlove

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Heel of a Corcoran neck

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Cantilivered Corcoran neck

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Martin style bracing

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Corcoran bracing

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