Most ergonomic bolt-on heel joint/contour

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by kindsage, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. kindsage

    kindsage SS.org Regular

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    What guitar, in your experience, has had the most ergonomic bolt-on heel joint you've tried?

    I'm using Fusion 360 to make a bolt on guitar and I've been looking at Jackson and Ibanez heel joints for reference. While they look better than fender heel joints I'm betting there's some really slick heel joints out there I haven't seen.
     
  2. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    The joint itself isn't the issue, it's where the fretboard ends. If you configure the placement of the fretboard relative to the joint just right, you're not going to run into the heel no matter what the joint looks like.

    Look at old Yamaha Pacifica models, the heel is just a big flat block, but it's extended back so far you don't run into it.
     
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  3. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    From the bolt on guitars I've tried the least noticeable and closest to a good neck heel feel has been the Ibanez AANJ. I haven't tried the new Jackson or the Kiesel heel so I can't compare. What Max says though makes more sense as the worst fret access I've encounteted so far is from my Gibson LP. That heel is even worse than bolt on guitars.
     
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  4. spudmunkey

    spudmunkey SS.org Regular

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    It also depends on how much you want to send. There's a whole thread dedicated to sexy neck heels. While most are neck-through or similar, there are lots of sexy bolt-on heels that look slick as heck, but are on guitars that are basically hand-built by, like, one guy.
     
  5. cardinal

    cardinal Strat 7 Guy

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    Of all the ones I’ve played, the most unobtrusive joint is the Stephens Extended Cutaway. I had a Nuno N7, and I think I could play every single fret without my left hand ever touching the body.

    It honestly freaked me out a bit and was hard to get use to. I would lose my place up there because I’m used to feeling the heel as a reference point.
     
  6. kindsage

    kindsage SS.org Regular

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    Ah i see. the only trade off is the neck pickup is moved closer to the bridge but, i guess that’s more of a preference thing than anything else
     
  7. kindsage

    kindsage SS.org Regular

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    That’s a pretty sweet neck joint but would mean using much larger pieces of wood for the neck in order to have enough material for that half moon shape at the heel
     
  8. kindsage

    kindsage SS.org Regular

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    I’ll do a search for that!
     
  9. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Not at all.

    You're moving the location of the joint (where the neck mates up to the body), not moving the location of the fretboard (playing surface).

    What you would do, is sit the pickup on top of neck heel.
     
  10. kindsage

    kindsage SS.org Regular

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    Ooohh! Like how Fast Guitars does it?
     
  11. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    I'm not too familiar with what they do, but it's a configuration that's been used for many years by some brands, going back to at least the 80's.
     
  12. Floppystrings

    Floppystrings No like the floppy

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  13. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    Claas Guitars have the best idea in my opinion, but as someone here pointed out it could be improved: The neck end of the body possibly intrudes a little too far over the side of the back of the neck, the tip of your thumb might contact it. If this type of design is used might as well get the body completely out of the way, which is easily possible.
    Also the back of the body at the base of the neck has a curve which means the area behind the frets is not completely unobstructed, again seems easily improvable.

    Bolt on neck joints on guitars mostly disappoint me. It seems obvious to me that behind the full length of every fret the neck should remain at it's thinnest and be completely unobstructed. Apparently the tradition of guitar design is that the neck pickup needs to be as close to the highest fret as possible, and this is what ruins the design of neck joints and weakens the guitar in a critical area.

    Considering the amount of tension on the end of the neck and the leverage, bolt-on neck joints almost always seem too small and too weak, with too few bolts. The Claas design seems to get this right.

    I also find that the term 'bolt-on' is misleading, i was very disappointed when i discovered these are not actually bolts but just wood screws, no inserts. I guess 'screw-on neck' sounds too cheap and weak to use as a term, but that's actually the reality.
     
  14. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    Placing the neck pickup above the neck as mentioned by @MaxOfMetal is indeed the only way to do it and keep things 'normal ' (at least, I haven't managed to think of anything else).
    It does however mean a thicker neck blank to allow for the step-down shelf at the end, and you end up with really not much material making the joint.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    You can see the solution without the need for a close neck pickup used by many bass companies:
    [​IMG]

    PRS never really took advantage of the opportunity to shave away all that bulk and have the step-down inline with the actual body edge. I've been playing with a similar idea on my designs but with the neck not getting thicker until it meets the body and the fretboard ends.

    I'm still not keen on the lack of material or needing a thicker blank, but it works and stability doesn't seem to be an issue at all.

    What are the other brands that have been doing it since the 80s, Max? I thought of this joint before seeing the PRS and to date it's the only one I can recall - curious to see more.

    @ixlramp how would you feel about the above design but with the last fret inline with the body edge, the neck remaining thin until the body edge, threaded machine inserts, and the tenon extending to between the pickups rather than just under the neck pickup? (Perhaps even gaining thickness again once the neck pickup has passed).

    As a side note I've been particularly interested in minimizing the required height/thickness of neck pickup designs for this reason.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
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  15. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    Would be much better than what is pictured in your post, which isn't at all ergonomic because there is a deep neck heel long before the highest fret.

    However what you suggest doesn't allow the neck pickup to be anywhere near the highest fret because there needs to be lots of room for a strong enough step-down.
    Moving the majority of the joint to the side of the neck instead of at the base of the neck seems the optimum approach. A Claas type design still allows the neck pickup to be within an inch of the highest fret.

    I suspect many brands avoid a side-neck approach due to the number of guitarists with bad technique who hang their thumb over the top of the neck :]

    13365871_800.jpg
     
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  16. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD Bass Player in Exile

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    I thought about this a lot when I was designing my Paradigm bass body.

    I came up with this shape for the single cut.
    89_neck_mounted_1.jpg

    It is a deep cut.
    98_assy_2.jpg
    There is enough room head-ward of the 24th fret that my thumb just comes to rest on the neck pocket heel when my pinky is at the 24th fret.
    (And yes, I moved the bridge after I took this photo so that the strings are equally spaced from the edges of the neck.)
     
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  17. cardinal

    cardinal Strat 7 Guy

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    So the problem with having a neck super thin under all the frets is that the neck is very long and thin: so it resonates with the strings and the sustain can be terrible. PRS used to shave the heel down to the body but now leaves more material to try to make it stiffer.

    The Claas-type design is another solution to try to make the unsupported-length of the neck shorter to eliminate the resonance and deadspots. That design is more common on basses, which have super long scales and necks, and dead spots are a huge problem.

    Other solutions are things like graphite or titanium to stiffen the neck, but that still can resonate a lot.

    That’s why IMHO the big bulky heels survive today. They just sound better.
     
  18. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire despair ahead

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    totally disagree, bulky heels survive because because they're far easier to produce, not because they "sound better". I have neckthroughs and set necks with just as much sustain as my prs mushok, and some that have even more.
    but since we're on the topic of unobtrusive neck heels, here's some of my personal favorites:
    blackwater
    [​IMG]
    parker
    [​IMG]
    rick toone
    [​IMG]
    conklin
    [​IMG]
     
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  19. kindsage

    kindsage SS.org Regular

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    Tons of great ideas. I actually ended up modeling something similar that black water up above because it worked better with the body shape.
     

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