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Thread: Any issues with RCA-4 Bass Neck?

  1. #1

    Any issues with RCA-4 Bass Neck?

    Hi All, I'm preparing to glue the bass neck to the body and it seems like the neck wood is softer than the ash body,

    Also, it's a composite glue job - three pieces of wood glued together to form the head, neck and base that will ultimately mate with the body.

    As well, to get the neck flat for fret leveling, I had to completely loosen the tie rod.

    Gluing in the neck permanently is a pretty big commitment to the project:

    1) based on the above, should I have any concerns?
    2) is using a base plate with screws an option, given how thin the neck cradle bottom is?

    Thank you, b

  2. #2
    Mentor Andyxlh's Avatar
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    Hello!
    I have built this kit. I'd be surprised if the neck wood is softer than the body wood, it should be maple which is very hard indeed, why do you think that? The tongue which you will glue into the body might be ash perhaps.
    I would not use a neck plate, the body timber is too thin. When gluing this you must use the titebond or PBG neck glue, and get it on the entire mating surface, ends and sides. Without full contact the neck tension can bow the thin body wood at the cavity.
    The main things to think about are the alignment of the neck when gluing- the side to side positioning. Check with a straight edge or piece of cotton taped to the centre of the nut and pulled down the neck and body when in position
    The other issue with this kit can be the neck break angle. I used a different bridge on mine and had to rout it into the body so I could set it up correctly as the neck was too 'flat' in relation to the bridge, the lowest position gave an action a little too high.
    You will want to use a g clamp to hold the neck and body as one for 24 hours after gluing. Do not use pva!
    There's a link to my RCA4 build diary in my signature where I detail these issues

  3. #3
    Thank you Andy - the neck is made up of three pieces of wood (see attached pics) plus the tuning peg holes were very roughly cut.

    I was hoping to keep the neck natural, but visually the woodjoint is very obvious

    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4
    Overlord of Music andrewdosborne's Avatar
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    I think the joint at the headstock end is a scarf joint. Provides a lot of strength and I think more robust than one piece


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  5. #5
    Overlord of Music Sonic Mountain's Avatar
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    This is all completely normal.

    Many commercial guitars have this same scarf joint on the neck and extra piece on the heel. You can still finish it in clear, yes the joins will be visible, but that's just the way they are made. Not sure the scarf join add's strength, it's a bit of a known failure point on Gibson necks. I believe the main reason is to get a steeper string break angle past the nut.

    Tuning holes is a known issue on the kits, it's not terribly hard to rectify if they are misaligned. If the are just a bit rough then they should clean up fine.

    From what I can tell from other builds of this kit, it can be advantageous to increase the neck angle away from the body slightly to allow a bit more adjustment of string height at the bridge. I would line it all up and temporarily clamp the neck in place, install the E and G tuners and uses some string to check alignment and adjustment before gluing.

    I wouldn't be too concerned about the neck joint being strong enough (re your mention of a back plate and screws) Once set and glued properly its a very strong joint and plenty of people have put them together no worries.

    With the truss rod, again, pretty normal to have to back it off to get it level initially. The neck will go through a lot of settling and once you have it installed with string tension it will need a bit of adjustment again over a couple of days to get right.
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  6. #6
    Overlord of Music FrankenWashie's Avatar
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    The gibson method is to cut the neck from a single blank so that you end up with short cross grain through the headstock/neck transition.
    Scarf joints are much stronger than this as you've laid long grain structure in a much wider contact area. The long grain runs down the headstock perpendicular to the tuner shafts. see below:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    In all of the scarf jointed necks I've made, i use the top method as i feel its easier to achieve a strong joint this way, and its can be done from a 1' /25mm board, rather than a deeper block of wood.
    The G company uses the bottom method, which gives you that short grain weakness, then they cut a TRC adjuster cavity into that already weaker section. That is the genesis of G's reputation for headstock breakage according to everything i've read.
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  7. #7
    Overlord of Music Sonic Mountain's Avatar
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    Ah well there you go, I guess I assumed that since all my guitars with that style of head stock are scarf that the Gibsons would be as well... Seems a bit odd to do it that way from both a strength and wasted material perspective.
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  8. #8
    Overlord of Music FrankenWashie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonic Mountain View Post
    Ah well there you go, I guess I assumed that since all my guitars with that style of head stock are scarf that the Gibsons would be as well... Seems a bit odd to do it that way from both a strength and wasted material perspective.
    Yeah but they’ve been doing it that way since forever and they won’t change because it’s “tradition”. Possibly part of the reason they have the issues they have at the moment.
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  9. #9
    Mentor Andyxlh's Avatar
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    I'd not worry about seeing the scarf joint either. Original rickenbackers don't have it as the headstock is parallel with the fretboard.
    Re gluing the neck, someone on here just put glue on the bottom of the tongue, and the tension in the neck bowed the back of the body slightly, if you get it on the sides and heel too the extra contact surface seems to be a good idea. Mine has not done this. It is a small glue area on these kits.

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