Adding A Roasted Maple Guitar Neck Requires Vigilance
Be Careful When Adding A Roasted Maple Guitar Neck. 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 when adding a roasted maple guitar neck.
“Roasted Maple” Neck Issues…..
Remember the nature of a roasted maple guitar neck is to be very brittle. Therefore, look closer at the roasted maple guitar neck than you normally do other necks, specifically the screw holes. It’s very subtle 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 standard kiln dried Maple neck. If you have ever worked with 100 year old wood then you know what you’re dealing with. Roasting ages and weakens wood significantly.
The stripping of the brittle wood screw threads inside the holes of a roasted maple neck 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.
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.
string pulling can cause the very slow release of the screw threads
I sent the fully assembled guitar back to a customer, including 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.
loss of moisture which causes even more brittleness
After I discovered this could be an issue not widely known, I filled the neck holes. I used some small dowels to decrease the hole 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. Moisture loss causes even more brittleness. Next the frets were leveled and we polished them, added new strings, lowered the action more, re-set the intonation, tuned it and tested and it plays just great. Because of the changes bearing in mind the characteristics of the wood, it worked. I think the mystery of a roasted maple neck has been solved.