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THE NECK INFLUENCE IN GUITAR TONE
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.
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.
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.