#1
Hi. First post here, but I've lurked for years. I'm in the process of putting together my first build. I've played guitar (and various other this's and that's) for about 35 years. And what I've learned is: I like to play, I'm pretty good at it, but I've never been interested in spending much time on tone or specs or anything technical. I find a guitar I dig, I buy it, same with amps and pedals. So this question probably seems dumb - but what makes a neck play good? I know "good" is subjective, but hear me out. Yesterday I spent some time in several shops trying various guitars for the sole purpose of figuring out my neck specs. I played a Fender Strat Elite (compound radius neck) that blew me away. I loved the feel, the ease of bending. If I didn't already have 2 Strats I'd have said screw it and bought it. But then I played a Charvel San Dimas. Almost the exact same neck specs. But it just felt ok. The action was similar on both. So - why did one have a smooth, slinky feel that made me want to play for hours, while the other seemed rather stiff? I hope that makes sense. I'd like to buy a compound neck (say from Warmoth) and believe my guitar can feel similar to that Fender, rather than that Charvel. Granted I know i might pick up 2 of the same guitars and have the exact opposite result. Is it all about setup? Nut? Bridge? All the above? Just looking for advice before I move forward. I can actually purchase that exact Elite neck, but it's expensive and I'm still not sure that guaranty's me the same result. Ok - sorry for rambling. Thanks!

Timmy 
#2
Quote by TimmysUsername
So - why did one have a smooth, slinky feel that made me want to play for hours, while the other seemed rather stiff?


It can be a lot of things, including newer strings, a different brand of strings, a different gauge, smoother frets, less spring tension on the trem, etc.

BTW, if you buy a neck from Warmoth, be sure to notice that Warmoth doesn't do anything to their frets other than install them. They may not be smooth, crowned properly, level, etc., etc. You need to do (or have done) the fretwork that manufacturers usually do for you. You'll want to ask the folks who offer other necks what their preparation is.
#3
Things like the break angle at the neck, truss rod type/installation method and neck construction apparently have a big impact. It could all be snake oil, but there's definitely something about some necks. I have a neck through Jackson RR that I've set up exactly the same as my other guitars and I can't quite save it. It's a great-playing guitar and sounds as you'd expect with EMGs in, it's just the neck that lets it down a bit. It feels kind of... dead. My ESP/LTD Alexi 600 has the same construction and feels like it's alive.
#4
Quote by dspellman
It can be a lot of things, including newer strings, a different brand of strings, a different gauge, smoother frets, less spring tension on the trem, etc.

BTW, if you buy a neck from Warmoth, be sure to notice that Warmoth doesn't do anything to their frets other than install them. They may not be smooth, crowned properly, level, etc., etc. You need to do (or have done) the fretwork that manufacturers usually do for you. You'll want to ask the folks who offer other necks what their preparation is.

I did not know that. I've gone through the online neck builder and it never mentions that. Probably does just before you hit "order". I haven't gotten that far. That may very well cause me to look a different direction. Thanks for that info. 
#5
Quote by -MintSauce-
Things like the break angle at the neck, truss rod type/installation method and neck construction apparently have a big impact. It could all be snake oil, but there's definitely something about some necks. I have a neck through Jackson RR that I've set up exactly the same as my other guitars and I can't quite save it. It's a great-playing guitar and sounds as you'd expect with EMGs in, it's just the neck that lets it down a bit. It feels kind of... dead. My ESP/LTD Alexi 600 has the same construction and feels like it's alive.

And that's what scares me, and what almost made me buy the Strat, even though I already have several. The next Elite Strat I play might feel completely different. For example, several years ago I was saving up for a new acoustic. I walked into a shop and picked up a Taylor 614. Wow. It felt more like playing a Strat than an acoustic. It just played like butter. But I didn't have that much $$ yet. Fast forward a month or so when I had the money I knew for sure I wanted a Taylor 614. I played a dozen and never found one that felt like that one. They were nice. But not the same. And I find these days when I buy a guitar it's 80% due to how it plays and feels. I can usually get the tone I want. But when it feels right it just feels right. And that's why I hate letting that Elite get away!! It's actually still there and i'm still tempted, but will likely pass. Hopefully I won't regret it and i can make my build play as well in the end. 
#6
Quote by TimmysUsername
I did not know that. I've gone through the online neck builder and it never mentions that. Probably does just before you hit "order". I haven't gotten that far. That may very well cause me to look a different direction. Thanks for that info. 


I don't think that would deter me from buying a Warmoth neck at all (in fact, I have two guitars with Warmoth necks).

http://www.warmoth.com/Guitar/Necks/Fretwork.aspx

Please note, Warmoth does not perform fret leveling. Most Warmoth necks are playable as they are received and do not require fret leveling. However, because wood moves with changes in temperature, humidity and string tension fret leveling may be required. This is best done after the neck has been strung up to pitch for several days and allowed to adjust in the assembled state. For this reason, Warmoth leaves this fine tuning to the end user.

The good news is that, unlike most manufacturers, Warmoth superglues its frets. The bad news is that you don't really know if the frets are level until you string the guitar up. I've PLEK'd both necks. But thanks to the fact that they superglue them when they put the frets in, you don't have "flyer" frets when the weather changes, and once you get them set, you rarely have to tweak anything.
#7
Quote by dspellman
I don't think that would deter me from buying a Warmoth neck at all (in fact, I have two guitars with Warmoth necks).

http://www.warmoth.com/Guitar/Necks/Fretwork.aspx

Please note, Warmoth does not perform fret leveling. Most Warmoth necks are playable as they are received and do not require fret leveling. However, because wood moves with changes in temperature, humidity and string tension fret leveling may be required. This is best done after the neck has been strung up to pitch for several days and allowed to adjust in the assembled state. For this reason, Warmoth leaves this fine tuning to the end user.

The good news is that, unlike most manufacturers, Warmoth superglues its frets. The bad news is that you don't really know if the frets are level until you string the guitar up. I've PLEK'd both necks. But thanks to the fact that they superglue them when they put the frets in, you don't have "flyer" frets when the weather changes, and once you get them set, you rarely have to tweak anything.

I see. I actually talked to a local luthier after I read your post and said he thought Warmoth would actually do a fret level for about $70 but he wasn't sure. But that being said - I've been leaning toward a 24.75 scale neck. Looks like I can only get that with the double truss rod version. I have heard from many (and it makes sense) that the extra metal in those necks doesn't do your tone any favors, so I was going to select the vintage modern. You have any opinions about that??

Thanks again!
#8
TimmysUsername 

Re double truss rods, I think the tonal effect is all part of the great tone wood debate, and I personally wouldn't give it any mind at at. If there is any effect, I can't see any argument for calling it either better or worse, just different.  I bought a used Warmoth Pro neck locally, very pretty birdseye/birdseye, and like the Gotoh style side adjustment for neck relief. It works very well if you set it up properly in the first place.