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Ken_N

Built up Cello neck

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I just ordered maple and spruce for a cello.  I don't have any firm plans, but I was wondering something that  I read in "Making Stringed Instruments" by George Buchanan.  It is a nice, get in there and do it, book.  Anyway, he, to save wood, and hopefully prevent future cracks, builds up a cello neck.  He makes the scroll separate, which is pretty straight forward, and not the controversial part, and also builds up the heel with four pieces.  He then reinforces it with a 3/16" piece of hardwood the same as I read Melvin Goldsmith suggest.  It seems like a method that would save a lot of innocent wood.   Is it done?  Is it a viable method?  thanks,

Ken

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I never see it but I suppose it would work. I'm guessing most don't want to do something like that because of aesthetics. That is what would stop me. But I do put back pieces and side pieces on the neck heel when doing neck resets. I then have to work to conceal it though and with a new instrument wouldn't want the extra headache.

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You could make that work, guitar heels are made that way, especially with the spline hidden underneath. You can with good wood selection and excellent joinery make that stack line up grain wise so that only another maker looking closely would know it's not one piece. 

 

You pick a maple board and cut sections of it and then line them up in the order they were cut, it if you pick wood with straight grain that is uniform you can line up all the grain lines. The key to joining them so you can see the seams is to fine plane both surfaces of the board and do some scraping with really smooth really flat scraper. Check for flatness with a good straight edge an think about the target area of the joints, it's pretty small. Basically you have the neck and three or four pieces that join in a 1-1/2" square and a 2" area on the neck. And you don't have to join them all at once. You could do the stack and then attach them to the neck. 

 

The place it will show is where the neck meets the stack...there will be an elliptical arc shaped line...which could be where the varnish ends on the root before the neck. 

 

I speculate that it might raise eyebrows, but if done well I bet it would hold. I thought about it, but cancelled because I chickened out because I did not want to get "the look" from the heavies.  :D

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I speculate that it might raise eyebrows, but if done well I bet it would hold. I thought about it, but cancelled because I chickened out because I did not want to get "the look" from the heavies.  :D

 

Hah, That's what I was thinking.  Lucky for me I have no shame.

Ken

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Also, Ken, is this your first one?  If so, you could take some liberties like this, knowing it's not going to be your masterpiece anyway.

 

Still, for all the hundreds of hours you will put into that cello, and all the money you're spending on wood for the front and back anyway, is it really worth it to cobble together a neck blank like this?  What will you really save?

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It seems like a lot of work for not a lot of benefit.

The scroll graft is pretty conventional, but the rest not so much. Aesthetically, I personally would find the four piece heel distracting and ugly.

 

As far as saving wood, there is lots of plain maple to be had, which is what you really want for the grafted neck. Any lumber yard should have something suitable.

 

As far as stability,  Melvin's method is great, but there are better ways to stabilize the heel then glueing together four pieces. Ideas here.http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/329159-carbon-fiber-rods-in-the-neck/

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Well, maybe I will go traditional. What are the dimensions of a cello neck block?  Maybe I could find one somewhere.  I know what size you need for a violin, or viola.  I see I could get one for about $70.  

What is a grafting neck block?  and why is it more money?  Oh, wait a minute, maybe it is cheaper, but doesn't come in lower grades.

 I never even notice the heel of a violin, it just sort of holds it on; but I do notice wings, and 5 piece tops on cellos, and that never seems to bother anyone.  Very strange. 

Ken

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See you get "the look" before you even begin.  :D   

But if you bought a piece of maple at the lumber yard and it was old enough, for the price of one grafting block you can get two out of a board of 6 quarter maple x 8" at 2 lineal ft.  

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