Is there truly a benefit to set or neck through versus bolt on necks?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by SonicBlur, Nov 1, 2014.

  1. SonicBlur

    SonicBlur SS.org Regular

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    For the longest time I have thought that neck through or set neck designs were "better" or more durable. Is this the truth? Reason I ask is that there has been a vast influx of very high end custom guitars (re: Ran, Skervessen, Mayones, Daemoness, etc...) and so many of these are now bolt on necks. Now, I have many guitars, some of each variety and I'm going to be 100% honest I can't really tell a difference....I sound like garbage on all of them, LOL!

    Before it was always the lower end models got the bolt on neck and the high end versions got the set/neck through.

    Sorry of this has been asked before, I was just curious as I was browsing the various high-dollar guitars that I will never be able to afford, LMAO!
     
  2. Zhysick

    Zhysick SS.org Regular

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    I can understand why cheaper guitars are bolt on. For a bolt-on guitar you don't need "guitar long" pieces of wood for the neck so it is easier (and cheaper) to buy wood for bolt-on necks.

    On the other hand... I prefer the sound of a bolt-on guitar. A bit snappier with a little bit more attack.

    Depends a lot of the woods, pickups how you play, etc. but for me bolt-on guitars works better.

    I don't think one is better than the other. A well done bolt-on neck joint is as good as a well done set neck and, if you break the neck, it is easier (and cheaper) to replace a bolt-on so...
     
  3. Prophetable

    Prophetable Prophet For Profit

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    As I've heard it, guitar companies started to make set necks because it was less expensive to glue the neck into place than it was to buy the hardware to bolt it on.

    Having now built a through neck, it was a bit more effort than I'd think making a bolt on would be, and the cost of wood was higher.

    So, from the production standpoint, those are the issues that come to mind.
     
  4. jwade

    jwade Doooooooooom

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    Something to consider here is that with these 'high-end' guitars you've mentioned, it's fairly common to see them using rare/pricey woods. A lot of the fancier woods being used are quite expensive to begin with, so getting pieces big enough for a neck-through can be fairly difficult/impossible and very expensive.
     
  5. neun Arme

    neun Arme SS.org Regular

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    The main benefit, in my opinion, is that you can carve a nice smooth comfortable neck joint with a set neck or neck through providing better access to the upper frets than with a bolt-on neck.
     
  6. Promit

    Promit SS.org Regular

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    This is the only concrete advantage I've ever seen. Modern set neck constructions, or neck thrus, can essentially dispense with the neck heel and it's pretty comfy to play.

    All the other stuff people say about tone and sustain seems completely lacking in actual evidence.
     
  7. ElysianGuitars

    ElysianGuitars SS.org Regular

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    I personally feel a bolt on with proper bolts instead of wood screws is all anyone really needs. A properly designed bolt on can eliminate or minimize the heel, and you get the benefit of immense clamping pressure without the dampening effects (however minimal) of glue.
     
  8. yingmin

    yingmin Parker über alles

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    I'm pretty sure the opposite is true: companies like Fender started making bolt-on guitars instead of set necks because they were both cheaper to produce and easier to repair. If you look at the history of guitar construction, pretty much all guitars were set necks (Rickenbackers being the only early example of neck-through guitars that spring to mind) until the 60s or so. Even the cheapest, shoddiest guitars I've seen from the 50s have set necks. Consider the evolution of the electric guitar: they started as archtop acoustics (glued-in neck) with an added pickup.

    Also, consider that however the price of glue might compare to the price of mounting hardware for bolt-on necks, gluing a neck in, or building a neck-through, requires both more labor and more time, both of which argue against gluing a neck in being a cost-saving measure.
     
  9. Prophetable

    Prophetable Prophet For Profit

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    Eh, it's just something I read somewhere along the line. It's been too long to have a source to provide and isn't worth it for me to try to back up. Haha.
     
  10. Scordare

    Scordare SS.org Regular

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    I grew up on a Fender Contemporary Strat with the micro-tilt adjustment, and always enjoyed being able to tweak the neck angle adjustment...something you can only do on a bolt-on. But I also just thought if the neck ever broke, or if I wanted a different body, its easy to replace.

    Sonically...I never really noticed too much of a difference on guitars, but after owning a few basses with these different styles of construction, I would say that bolt on and set necks definitely have a snappier/faster attack...which I prefer. I have NEVER noticed the claim of longer sustain with neck-thru instruments.

    I think that bolt on construction...like zero frets..which started off as a cheaper and faster construction method..actually is a better way of doing it.
     
  11. jwade

    jwade Doooooooooom

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    In terms of electrics, Leo Fender's design was bolt on specifically for the purpose of being able to easily remove the neck to repair/replace it.
     
  12. Eliguy666

    Eliguy666 Holy shit I've been inactive for awhile

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    There are three reasons to use a neck-through design in a guitar:
    1. If the tone of the neck wood is preferred to that of the body wood, and the neck wood does not make a suitable body wood, for reasons of price, aesthetic, weight, workability, or lumber availability.
    2. If frets 17 or higher are used frequently enough to make the heel of a bolt-on guitar uncomfortable.
    3. If you like the appearance of a neck-through's heel or wood contrast.

    For the first two reasons, I personally prefer neck-through guitars (ebonies are my favorite guitar woods, for appearance or tone, but do not make bodies easily).

    The vast majority of people, however, do not need or even benefit from a neck-through guitar design.
     
  13. patsanger

    patsanger SS.org Regular

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    jwade nailed it abotu Fender - he wanted it to be swappable and easily replaceable. Since there are still many of the originals still playing, I'd say they were pretty solid.

    As for the set neck - you have to remember that Gibson (I'm picking on them as they were the next biggest producer at the time) built acoustics (of all kinds) and as a result their production line, when they started to move to solid body electrics they wanted to use their existing production lines and the carved tops etc that they were known for. So, in reality it was done because making massive changes would A) change from their style and B) it would cost money to change over their production lines from glue to bolt on...

    At the time they weren't doing studies over which was best, more of what would enable them to get guitars out the door.
     
  14. TRENCHLORD

    TRENCHLORD Banned

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    I'd say with most players it's either one or the other in the same way we seem to choose a particular bridge type and stick with it for most/all our guitars, just the feel we're most acclimated with.
     
  15. narad

    narad Progressive metal and politics

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    Not "better" or more durable, but how can you argue with this?

    [​IMG]
     
  16. ElysianGuitars

    ElysianGuitars SS.org Regular

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    If every neck through was like that I'd definitely never argue :drool: Love Parkers.
     
  17. canuck brian

    canuck brian Bowes Guitars Contributor

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    I only went with set neck construction because i didn't want to buy the hardware for bolt on guitars and i like being able to work on the neck before actually setting it into the guitar.

    All 3 designs have their own advantages and disadvantages.
     
  18. yingmin

    yingmin Parker über alles

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    Parker's aren't actually neck-through. Instead of traditional set-neck designs, they use a finger joint, so there's no heel. And to Narad, Fly necks are unbelievably durable, because there's a composite baked on the the entire guitar.
     
  19. Wolfhorsky

    Wolfhorsky Regular idiot

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    I've got 3 bold-ons and 1 set-through (or neck-through - i dunno). From my experience bold-ons have more snappier attack and prescence - more acoustic piezo kind of high end. My Soloist has got a bit less harshness, and more upper mids/lower trebble. I can only describe it like that. The lack of the mentioned attack i had to compensate (successfully) with pick-sensitive SD Full Shreds.
    Heels on my Ibanez guitars are super comfy AANJs, but Jackson is more comfortable, hands down. By far the most effortless playing the highest bends and other bad notes ;-). My next axe will be probably neck-through only for that ergonomics.
     
  20. Zhysick

    Zhysick SS.org Regular

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    Aha.. yeah... I understand... bolt-on guitars have worse higher frets access... yeah...

    [​IMG]

    Nothing more to declare my highness.

    /END OF "argument of better access"
     

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