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70% of the strings’ vibrations travel along the neck. Yet, since the neck is a lot smaller than the body (indeed it has a mass 10/12 times smaller on average), the neck vibrates and supports the vibration of the strings in much greater measure and because of this the influence of the neck on the sound of the guitar and the electric bass is noticeably greater than that of the body itself.

Proportion between body and neck dimensions (cross-section).

This is why the choice of wood with which the neck is made, its thickness, its tendency to resound, its specific density, the type of truss rod used, the way the truss rod is installed, the shape and build of the headstock, etc, are factors which have a decisive impact on the sound of the instrument.

70% of the strings’ vibrations travel along the neck

Among the physical properties of the wood which most interest us sound-wise are:

  • stiffness the stiffness (contributing factor for elasticity along the grain) which is of great interest for the construction of instruments equipped with soundboards, such as violins and acoustic guitars,
  • the density of the wood (which determines the spreading of the sound inside it),
  • the internal friction factor (the ability of a material - in our case wood - to dampen the applied energy),
  • the type of truss rod installed,
  • the method of installing the truss rod, the seasoning of the wood that makes up the neck.

Maple is, of the woods used in the production of electric guitars, the one that provides the best ratio between rigidity and density.

Among the best woods used in guitar making in terms of sound diffusion, maple is surpassed only by Norway spruce, which is used for the construction of soundboards in violins and acoustic guitars. The spruce, however, is not as rigid and therefore cannot be used for the construction of necks.

Galeazzo Frudua

Galeazzo Frudua

As a luthier and guitar making and repair teacher, since 1988 he has built making more than 350 boutique guitars and basses priced from 2,900 to 5,600 Euros and repaired and customized thousands of stringed instruments. His instruments and amplifiers are used by flagship artists, such as Chick Corea, Peter Gabriel, Ennio Morricone, Carl Verheyen. He owns two YouTube channels—where he teaches music—that count up to 40 millions views and almost 200.000 subscribers.

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