Manchester Guitar & Bass Building Academy

Building Information

The most important part of an electric guitar is the pick ups, they define the sound that is created although the whole make up of the instrument will go in to shaping the sound, by far the pick up is the most vital link in the chain as with out it there would be no sound at all from a solid electrical instrument. 

The sound of an instrument is a fine balancing act involving the pickups used,  construction method, timbers used, anchoring points, the hardware and their material makeup and stringing method.  

I believe that the tone of an instrument starts in the neck, I always try to keep the maximum amount of timber in the neck as possible.

There are many methods used to produce a guitars neck, this is a list of some that are available, one piece or two piece neck, two piece  being timber and fingerboard, necks with a correctly selected timber structure are the most desirable, durable and less likely to warp or twist. There is also opposing grain theory necks, this is were two pieces of timber are bounded together with opposing grain, these will counter act each other keeping the neck strait, dependent on the joining method two or three pieces the glue will act as a stabilizer keeping the neck in good shape unless the glue join runs in the truss rod slot when this is compromised.  

Pick Ups 

There are an infant amount of different pick up styles, constructions and materials that can be used to make up a pick up so I will keep this simple, Low out put pickups sense more of the natural guitar high out put tend to over power the timbers used. This is the same for magnets, high powered magnets tend to have a specific sound no matter if the pick up its self is high powered or not. 

Construction Types

Bolt on Neck

The bolt on neck design is the work horse of the music industry, it is probably by far the most used type of construction, the modular design makes for interchangeable parts that gives you limitless variations upon the theme of a standard design. 

With a break between the neck and the body and the possibility of shims being used to correct the neck angle, this can effectively reduce the sustain of the instrument. This is not always the case as over powerful pick ups can mask this effect. 

Tremolo/Vibrato tends to take the tone away from the body timbers and in to the anchor point metals where as a top mounted bridge will bring them a little more in to play and string through will bring if fully in to the tone. 

Glue in Neck

A glue in neck instrument will offer you a better sustain, the length of the note, than a bolt on neck guitar it is a bit more complicated to build as you will need to make sure that where the neck meets the body the joint is exactly correct. The sound vibrations are able to travel through the guitar without any major interruptions bringing the body of the instrument into the over all tone. 

Through Neck

A through neck instrument offers the best sustain possible as the strings are secured at both ends along one single piece or laminated piece of timer. All the strings components are mounted along this central piece transferring the vibrations of the strings giving the instrument the maximum sustain possible.

Purists believe that the reduction of glue joins that could act as barriers to the transfer of sound can be reduced using this construction method. In my opinion a through neck strung through the body provides the best sustain. 

Very wasteful on timber but a fun experiment is the one piece instrument, one piece of timber for the neck and body with just the addition of a fret board.