Neck Volute Question

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Tweaker, Sep 10, 2017.

  1. Tweaker

    Tweaker Senior Member

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    I've started paying more attention to guitar design and construction when I'm at a music shop or a friend's place, etc., and I recently saw a guitar with a neck volute. So I looked up volute images on google and noticed that many of the necks with a volute seem to be one piece necks. Or at least, there's no scarf joint at the headstock.

    I realize the volute is there to add strength to the headstock angle. But is it just coincidence that the images I've been seeing have been one piece necks, or was the volute more or less designed for one piece necks?

    It seems like a lot of people don't like one piece necks with a headstock angle due to the lack of strength...does a volute make a one piece neck "acceptable?"
     
  2. Bobby Mahogany

    Bobby Mahogany Senior Member

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    Except for the Norlin era (three piece necks, three piece maple necks),
    most Gibson's have essentially a one piece neck with small "wing pieces" on each side
    at the widest point at the top of the headstock.
    There are breaks happening at the headstock,
    often caused by dropping the guitar, even in its case.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here is the typical Gibson break:

    [​IMG]

    To avoid that the volute was created and then abandoned.

    Here's one (on a three piece neck!)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
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  3. Tweaker

    Tweaker Senior Member

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    I had no idea the Gibson headstock angle was cut from one piece of wood. That's really interesting.

    So if they created the volute to avoid the classic headstock break...why did they abandon it? Does it not work as effectively as desired, or has it just been associated with an era that has become "less desirable" and didn't want that association with the rest of their guitars?
     
  4. Bobby Mahogany

    Bobby Mahogany Senior Member

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    There is definitely some of that: "associated with an era that has become "less desirable" and didn't want that association with the rest of their guitars".

    Take a trip in time.
    I offer you 2012!
    Some good ones in there.

    http://www.mylespaul.com/threads/why-did-gibson-stop-using-a-volute.200099/
     
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  5. fatdaddypreacher

    fatdaddypreacher V.I.P. Member

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    i am strictly a hobby builder, and not great at it anyway, but being a belt and suspenders kinda guy, i use 3pc laminated necks with volutes. i feel more confident with the strength of the neck/headstock, plus, i just like the look of a volute. I don't build exact replicas.
     
  6. Who

    Who Who is not here. Please leave a message.... Premium Member

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    IMG_0274.PNG Gibson has a new one now. I like it. But it's not going to stop the headstock breaks.
     
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  7. kiko

    kiko Senior Member

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    How weird and creepy the 2nd picture showing how thin our Lp necks are in that area!:Ohno:
     
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  8. Tweaker

    Tweaker Senior Member

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    Thanks for that link...lots of great information!

    None of my guitars have a neck volute but I like the idea behind them and much prefer an angled headstock over a scooped fender style headstock. A laminated neck is also a cool idea, I may start borrowing that concept in future builds!
     
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  9. MooCheng

    MooCheng Senior Member

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    have never understood why Gibson dropped the volute, anything that helps to increase the strength at the most vulnerable area of the neck has to be a good thing. Cost, I guess, it must add to the time it takes to make a neck and the skill set.
    As for they "get in the way" ? its never been a problem, even the Martin with its whopping great diamond volute is unnoticeable while playing, If your thumbs landing on the volute, you got 'ya thumb parked in the wrong place (thumb out hitching a ride ) might be a sign technique needs a little sorting out
     
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  10. fatdaddypreacher

    fatdaddypreacher V.I.P. Member

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    never understood the 'they get in the way' thing...unless of course it was around the 3rd fret or so.:)
     
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  11. Joth

    Joth Senior Member

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    Tweaker I entirely agree with the idea that Gibson did away with the volutes because they are associated with model years that strayed away from the classic features, i.e. 59's didn't have them so we have to get rid of them. That being said, they are a fantastic feature, they replace a big piece of critical wood that is scooped out for the truss rod nut, and address the inherent weakness of the short woodgrain from the headstock angle.
    Gibson corrected the fragile one piece voluteless headstock in several ways from the late 60's to the early 80s via A-adding a volute, B- 3piece laminated neck, C- changing from mahogany to maple, but noooo the market wants the 50s style neck, so the Achilles heel remains.
    On most of the guitars I build, they will have a laminated neck with a volute, unless I am specifically building a replica thing when I want all the 50s features in place, because of course, they still do sound fantastic.
     
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  12. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    Thats a cross section only at the bottom of the TR cavity. Remember that there is only a very small potion of the headstock that is like that.

    The breakage in that area comes much more from the forces and leverage involved......not for the small lack of wood due to the TR access drilling.


    As to that era.....well people conveniently ignored that fact that the top of the line 50's Gibson acoustic had a 3-piece maple neck in their vintage argument.
    The worst of the Norlin bashers tend to also ignore the fact that it was the CMI era that gave us the volute/trans tenon/3-piece neck/reduced neck angle/thinner nut/pancake body too.
    It was also the norlin era that returned Gibson to the 1 piece body/1 piece neck/17 deg neck angle/no volute etc.


    The biggest issue is that its not the headstock angle nor the construction that is at 'fault', but clumsiness and a lack of due care that is the root cause. I see very few breaks in the larger of the classic stringed instruments - but I would doubt orchestra or string quartet players would ever let their instruments exist in the way electric guitar players do.

    The volute is like a bike helmet, or an airbag. If you seriously think these are going to prevent all injury then you have no grasp of reality.
     
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  13. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    I generally don't do a volute like a 70's Gibson if I'm doing any such angled headstock build. But as I like thick necks having extra mass in the area is always present. I have also from day 1 had thicker headstocks....such that the tuner string hole barely clears the bushing.

    In recent builds such as this Korina one I have also thickened the area with a hump. This makes the wood area close to what a regular volute would be anyhow, but yet it can still seem somewhat vintage in look from a back shot. The neck profile is 1" at the 1st fret....and humps slightly at the TRC access drilling.
    DSC00168.JPG DSC00169.JPG DSC00170.JPG
     
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  14. cmjohnson

    cmjohnson Senior Member

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    Some people just don't like volutes even though they make the neck stronger in its weakest point. I don't have a problem with them, and have put volutes on several of my guitars. I consider them to be primarily an artistic choice.
     
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  15. pshupe

    pshupe Senior Member

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    If you use a low profile truss rod with a allen key adjustment the route for the access is quite small and may help with strength in that area. The vintage one way rod with hex nut takes way too much meat out of the neck at the thinnest part for the access IMO. If not going for vintage accuracy design something stronger.

    Cheers Peter.
     
  16. Tweaker

    Tweaker Senior Member

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    I like this a lot. Very valid point...nearly every other professional musician treats their instrument with the utmost respect...rock and roll is hard on electric guitars!
     
  17. moreles

    moreles Senior Member

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    In the LP world, there seems to be lots of misunderstanding and subjective bias in play, and this combines into a general, fairly widespread dislike of volutes. The headstock/neck area is indeed somewhat physically weak to begin with, the grin often runs in a direction that makes for easier breaking in that region, and the headstock/heavy body do make a wickedly destructive lever. So Gibson strengthened the area (and pursued other goals) in two main ways: added volute; multipiece necks of other woods. On my Collings acoustic, he volute is beautiful, and like any decent volute, has no effect on playability. Scott Walker creates incredibly beautiful volutes on all his guitars, electrics included. Many would argue that volutes are a tonal plus. But for LPs, IMO, the anti-volute bias, which is strong, has no basis in anything but human attitude. Volutes, like multi-piece necks, or maple necks, have been used beautifully on other makes. I love 'em.
     
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