“Roasted Maple” Guitar Necks
Be careful when adding a “Roasted Maple” neck on to a guitar body.
While there are advantages such as being less expensive when no finish is required and the fact that the roasting process brings out a beautiful caramel color in the wood. There are drawbacks.
Remember the nature of “Roasted Maple” is to be very brittle.
Remember the nature of “Roasted Maple” is to be very brittle. Therefore, look closer at the roasted neck than you normally do other necks, specifically the screw holes. It’s very interesting but can be a difficult problem if you are not aware of the characteristics of the roasted wood. Screw threads on the neck plate screws can strip out in the neck holes. It’s caused by the roasted wood being so brittle that the insides of the holes are much more prone to strip out versus an non-roasted Maple neck. If you have ever worked with 100 year old wood then you know what you’re dealing with. Roasting ages wood significantly.
The stripping of the brittle wood screw threads inside the holes cause the screws to loosen their grip. Strings will pull with lots of pressure when in tune and can cause the screws to slip and the neck to pull away from the body-thus lifting the strings off of the fret board.
This will cause higher action and make it much more difficult to play. Soon you will be “Fighting with your guitar”, Eventually, the action will to be way too high to play.
Shipping can be rough on a guitar
When I set it the action on this guitar the last time before shipping, it was very low however the vibration and bumping of travel plus the tension of string pulling can cause the very slow release of the screw threads, screw slippage and thus higher action. This is all very imperceptible at first but will accelerate over time and causes lots of playing problems.
I sent back to a customer, a Roasted Maple neck, he asked me to add to a body. When he got it back he told me it was difficult to play. The whole “difficult to play” problem was very puzzling for me. It went out playing great. Since he didn’t change anything I needed to look further into what could have happened. He sent it back and I went to work. I took the whole guitar apart and studied every piece to try and track down what happened. Then, I remembered, the nature of “Roasted Maple” is to be very brittle.
the nature of “Roasted Maple” is to be very brittle
After I discovered this could be an issue not widely known, I filled the neck holes with some small dowels to decrease the size and increase the grip of the screws.
Next, I found some screws with a larger diameter thread to further decrease the hole size.
With those two changes it made the holes extremely tight and much less prone to slipping and more able to keep the neck where I wanted it for great low action.
I re-assembled the entire guitar, re-aligned the neck, oiled the fret board to lessen the loss of moisture which causes even more brittleness. leveled the frets, polished them, added new strings, lowered the action more, re-set the intonation, tuned it and tested and it plays just great. So with all of the changes bear in mind the characteristics of the wood. I think the mystery of the Roasted Maple neck has been solved.