Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #92559  by Cmnaround
 Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:52 pm
Anyone have any thoughts around through neck vs. Set necks for guitars? It's about time for a new one and this obviously plays into the decision. Currently playing an American fat strat (HSS), which is a bolt on. I guess bolts aren't too bad as that's what Fender does but time to add something new.

Looking at Carvins - DC series, which are neck-through, and look very nice with the 5-piece neck visible, but the CT-6 california carved tops are also looking pretty good - they are set necks.

I was pretty convinced neck-through is the way to go for bettter sustain, maybe bettter intonation and all around more solid, but am curious of the pros-cons of each since the CT-6s look so fine.

The CT-6 has a 20mm carved top - would go w quilted maple. What is the trade off on neck-through vs. Set neck, especially considering the one piece thicker carved top? Impact on sound, intonation, all around stability and longevity?

Thanks -
 #92569  by tcsned
 Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:58 pm
My advice would be to try to find a few similar to what you're looking for and play them for a while. Through neck guitars have the pickups mounted in the neck and that contributes to the sustain and vibration transfer. Saying, "I want a set neck," or a through neck or a bolt neck is limiting to finding the one that feels right. A bolt neck was fine for Jimi Hendrix, Jerry played them all and sounded fine on them all. Two different set neck guitars are as likely to sound as different as a through neck and a set neck.
 #92574  by zambiland
 Fri Jan 21, 2011 9:57 pm
I forget where I saw it (maybe on the Alembic site or maybe here) that the neck-throughs can be a bit sterile, which is why the Alembic Series guitars never reached the popularity of their basses. Jerry's later guitars were set necks as are most Gibsons and some people think they are the best compromise between bolt on and neck through.

For myself, I like them all!
 #92589  by tcsned
 Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:33 am
Tiger was a set neck and I think Rosebud too, obviously the LPs and Guilds were too.
 #92594  by tigerstrat
 Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:30 pm
I believe Jerry's only neck-throughs were Wolf, the Cripes, and the Travis Beans
 #92597  by Utah Joe
 Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:58 pm
Wikipedia has a nice, short synopsis of the differences between bolt-on and set neck designs:

I've played a '73 strat for years but was never really satisfied with what I considered its insufficient sustain and lack of harmonic overtones compared to some other guitars I've played. I recently made some modifications, including a fat-o-caster V.2 tone pickup selector (, an alembic stratoblaster (, and copper shielding ( ... #pickguard). The results were impressive; the only drawback was that the guitar tech cracked my pickguard in half after installing the shielding. Got the labor for free though.

Another interesting device that supposedly increases sustain in bolt-on neck guitars can be found here:

I don't have any experience with these screws but they're relatively inexpensive and might be worth a try.
 #92598  by strumminsix
 Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:58 pm
Regarding sustain... I own a few thru's and few bolts and all sustain about the same. Now my 2010 AS Tele didn't. So I took off the neck and reseated and voila she sustains as well as the thru's.
 #92658  by barefootdave
 Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:19 am
I own all three types: bolted, set, and neck thru, and find the differences in sustain to be fairly minimal when amplified. Acoustically, the neck thru has the most sustain, and it's obvious. As strumminsix mentioned, even a bolted neck will sustain well if it is a quality instrument set up correctly. I had a bolt on Ernie Ball / Music Man Steve Morse model that had spectacular sustain.

The neck joint can rob a guitar of sustain, and since a neck thru has no neck joint, it is clearly the best from that respect in theory, but doesn't make a huge difference as long as adhere to the above principles. A tremolo is more likely to hurt your sustain (vs. fixed bridge) than the neck design.

That said, I do think that neck thrus I have played give a SLIGHTLY purer singing tone like I hear from Jerry.

Intonation is completely independent of neck type, having more to do with the relationship between string length and height, as well as saddle and fret placement.

I have owned several Alembics, and currently have a Cripe Bolt replica; all neck thru. What I reach for most on stage is are my set necks: Les Paul, PRS, and Robben Ford.

Bottom line: if you get a high quality guitar, it won't make a huge difference. Feel free to focus on other aspects.
 #92753  by strummingturtle
 Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:10 pm
I have a couple through necks and a few set neck guitars. what I like most about the through neck is that you can get all the way to your highest fret without any interference. Set necks and bolt on have a block on the neck right before it meets the body.
 #93040  by Jon S.
 Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:58 am
Y'all are discussing set necks like they're all the same but they're not. There are various permutations. The neck tenon on PRSs, for example, are different than on Gibsons. Personally, I think you can get at least close to the best of both worlds with a set neck with an exceptionally long tenon and that's how my luthier and I designed my own Tiger replica.

Here are some views of different options:
 #93075  by Cmnaround
 Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:41 pm
strummingturtle wrote:I have a couple through necks and a few set neck guitars. what I like most about the through neck is that you can get all the way to your highest fret without any interference. Set necks and bolt on have a block on the neck right before it meets the body.
After reading all the kind advice - this seems to me to be the most important factor for what I'm looking for personally. I have never had a 24 fret guitar and am definitely going with 24 frets so I can get the full 2 octaves. I should probably go play some 24 fret set necks just to see, but it seems like - based on pics - the set neck gives the best access all the way up the neck. Anything has to be better than the huge chunk-o-block that is at the intersection of the neck and body on my strat - holy crap - if I didn't have really long fingers I wouldn't be able to get past the 17th fret.
 #93094  by Chuckles
 Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:41 pm
I've got Ibanez Musician and Troy Post through-necks and love em. I think they definitely sustain longer and more brilliantly (could be a + or -, depending on what you're looking for). That said, one of my favorite things to do on my Tele was the "neck trem" - bending the note by pushing on the back of the neck. I'd never try that with a neck through, but the bolt-ons give you enough play to do it. Depends on what you're going for, I guess.

Wow... that wasn't at all helpfull! :oops:
 #93098  by Jon S.
 Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:59 am
I'm sure you've caught Bill Kirchen - he bends his Tele's neck a step and a half! eek!