V neck to head joint

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments

Re: V neck to head joint

Postby David LaPlante » Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:29 pm

I've used the "V" joint on and off now for almost twenty years. The advantage in joining the head to the neck shaft is in material saving (though I will make a solid neck if the material is available) whether it is scarfed or "V".
It can be argued that a joined neck is stronger but on a nylon strung guitar I don't think this is too important.
Aesthetically the "V" has it all over the scarf joint, and to many of us, this is very important. Contrasting woods between peg head and neck shaft will highlight this bit of construction and I have chosen particular pieces for this reason.
Many of the features found in Classical guitars have no bearing on the sound (rosettes, bindings, purflings, spruce quality etc.) but makers consider these features vital and what sets their work apart.
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby Michael.N. » Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:13 pm

My first 'V' joint took 2 days and turned out pretty good. I don't time myself but I think it takes me 3 - 4 hours now. I dare not tell you how fast Geza Burghardt claims he can do one but it's quick. GAL issue 63 has his article.
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby Marcus Dominelli » Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:28 pm

I know how fast Geza can do it too!! He was the guy that taught me how to do it (in exchange for some red cedar tops I gave him).
What Geza has that most people do not, is a whole set of perfectly machined tools for laying out all the necessary lines for doing this joint. These tools really speed up the process, because they are so accurate. Less time is spent fine tuning to get a perfect fit.
I think he does 5 or 6 in a day!!!!
Maybe it's the coffee?
MD
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby jfdana » Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:52 pm

As a player, I agree with David, and Geza (via Marcus), that the V headstock joint is aesthetic and structurally appealing, and really inspiring to look at while playing a concert. Past and present collide, and provide a sense continuity, looking simultaneously to the past and the future.
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby Aaron Green » Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:31 am

I have done a number of V joints and still do them from time to time. Technically it is a stronger joint as the string tension actually pulls the joint together, unlike a scarf joint where the tension is working against the joint. The issue with it coming apart if the guitar suffers a blow is still an attribute, not a negative. IF you use hide glue, which is the only glue to use IMO then it's a simple matter of putting in more glue and off you go. I think the main reason that you see 300 year old violins is due to the fact that they can be taken apart and in the case of a sudden shock or humidity change, whatever, the joints come apart. Much easier to repair a seperated hide glue joint than a gaping crack. I have seen cracked scarf joints more than seperated V joints actually. Thankfully if you line everything back up and use really fresh and strong hide glue, you can make them dissapear, this is of course on a mahogony or cedar neck, on maple I think you won't be so lucky.

The biggest time consumer with V joints is the chalk fitting. That does have a habit of taking a very long time. However if you do enough of them, you will get quicker.
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby Jason Wolverton » Tue Dec 18, 2007 6:36 am

"V" joints and scarf joints are so passé ! Now here's a joint that has class... :lol:
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby Alan Carruth » Tue Dec 25, 2007 11:17 pm

I have has some experience with the repairability of a V-joint. One of my customers was teaching a beginners class, and one young lady had a guitar that had such high action she couldn't play it. He traded for the duration of the class, and told her to come in early next time so he could fix her instrument. At the end, while he was erasing the blackboard, she stood his guitar on a chair and left. He heard it start to fall, but was too late. He set a chair over the wreckage, finished cleaning up, and swept it into the case without looking too closely. The next morning he was at my door when I opened.

The break was 100% along the glue line. Hide glue, although strong in normal loading, has very low shock resistance. When the back of the headstock hit the floor the glue simply broke, taking no wood along with it. It was a simple matter to wash it off with warm water, and reglue it. He was out of the shop two hours later, with the admonition not to string it up for at least six more hours. That was about ten years ago, and he says he is seldom more than 10 feet from that guitar.

At this point, on a good day, I can cut a V-join in about 1/2 hour. On a bad day it takes more like 2 hours. I find there is a strong correlation betwen how good the day is and how sharp my chisels are. Hmmmm.

The so-called 'Fusen V-joint' that Hauser used is a modified bridle joint. It is very hard to disassemble, and when stressed I fear would always break wood. It is actually a fairly easy joint to cut and fit if you have a table saw, and I imagine some clever jigging would make it easy enough with hand tools.

The scarf joint works well, but perhaps better with synthetic than hide glue. The synthetics are more flexible, thus tougher and more shock resistant. I have seen scarfs that have come entirely unglued, with the head held on only by the face veneers. Once they start to peel up, these glues just keep going. Sadly, the modern glues are harder to repair well, since they don't 'burn in'; new aliphatic resin glue does not stick very well to old glue.

I often feel that all of the traditional Spanish methods make a lot of sense if you keep in mind that wood was expensive and labor relatively cheap. They would go to some lengths to use a little less wood.
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby Vesuvio » Wed Dec 26, 2007 8:12 am

Hello Alan,

Welcome to the forum!

You have hardly arrived here and yet you have been most generous with your advice. I have read your posts with great interest and would like to thank you for your efforts.

I discovered your website too and enjoyed looking around. You might consider mentioning it and your work in the Self-Promotion section.

If you have time please visit the Introduce Yourself area where you might like to tell us a little about your musical background and interests,

Best wishes and a Happy New Year, V
"There are only two things worth aiming for, good music and a clean conscience." Paul Hindemith
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby Michael.N. » Wed Dec 26, 2007 11:15 am

Going back some 6 or 7 years ago I did some testing of various glues including Hide, PVA and Titebond. Hardly scientific in its approach and instead of applying a measurable load or stress onto the joints I simply took a big hammer and duly employed a bit of destructive testing. I tried various combinations of wood and combinations of grain direction eg. some joints were end grain to end grain, end to side grain, side grain to side grain etc. All the joints were simple, overlapping pieces of wood. The tests didn't teach me a great deal, all the glues performed fairly well except Hide glue, that performed poorly but only when end grain was involved.
Since then I have repeated the test with Hide glue and joints that involve end grain. This time I had greater knowledge and experience of using this particular glue, in fact I received a lot of advice from an experienced violin maker. The 'trick' to using hide glue when end grain is involved is to 'seal the end grain'. That might involve 4, 5 or even 6 applications of a dilute mixture of glue, allowing each 'application' to dry and rubbing back with a fine abrasive. Eventually the end grain will begin to take on a glazed, varnished like appearance. Only then are you ready to make the joint proper. That's how the violin makers use it and it makes a huge difference to it's performance.
Al Carruths point that Hide glue isn't quite as good as PVA at taking shocks doesn't surprise me. You only have to look at a couple of lumps of the dried Hide and PVA glue to know why. Hide dries like glass, hard and brittle whereas PVA is more rubbery like and flexible. It is probably because of this very point why some people claim that Hide is superior from a sonic point of view.
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby Aaron Green » Wed Dec 26, 2007 3:20 pm

Hi Alan, great to see you here!

I have a few experiences with repairing broken heads that were contructed with a scarf joint and hide glue. In both instances the guitars fell over in their fancy looking but cheaply made fiberglass cases. Those cases did nothing to absorb the blow and passed it right along through the neck rest to the transistion point between the neck and head. The first one was the joint simply delaminated almost in it's entirerty till it got to the head venner which made a mess of things when it broke. The headstock was completely off the guitar. By rigging up holding jig using my solera I was able to line everything up perfectly and reglue the joint. Once that was done I removed the old head venner and replaced it. The results was that it is impossible to tell anything had happened. In the second case the wood cracked around the joint but not in the joint. The head did not seperate from the guitar and it was simply a matter of working some hide glue in there and clamping, the results were also like it never happened. I am a holy rolling born again hide glue convert.

Micheal, sizing is definetly the way to go when you want to glue end grain. In my experience one good coat of glue is enough to get you there though. Let it dry and scrap, file, sand (superfine grit) whatever till you get back to a nice clean surface and off you go.
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby Michael.N. » Wed Dec 26, 2007 9:02 pm

That's just the way I was taught from the violin maker. He went to Newark (UK) so perhaps that is how he was taught. I am referring to watery thin glue though and it's applied, rubbed back and this continues until it glazes. Perhaps it's overkill but that might depend on the type of wood.
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby yowsa52 » Thu Dec 27, 2007 2:41 pm

Is Hide glue synthetic these days or is it made the old fashion way?
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby Michael.N. » Thu Dec 27, 2007 3:42 pm

Hide glue is still hide glue. There is a product known as 'liquid hide glue' that comes in a bottle and dispenses pretty much like white PVA glue, in other words it is treated to make it liquid at room temperature. Quite often gets a bad press but whatever the truth of the matter I'm not too fond of it's working properties so I stick (ugh) with good old fashioned high clarity hide glue.
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby Aaron Green » Thu Dec 27, 2007 4:15 pm

I have not tried the premixed hide glue variety but have not heard anything good about it so I am with Michael, hot hide glue, freshly mixed is the best way to go. Fish glue is a different story I have heard pretty good things about that and you do not have to heat it up. I have not done any tests but for those who don't like the hassle of a glue pot etc. might not be a bad way to go. I personally don't find any of the prep around hide glue to be a bother.
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Re: V neck to head joint

Postby Alan Carruth » Thu Dec 27, 2007 8:22 pm

One of my students is just finishing up a guitar built entirely with the liquid fish glue. It's interesting stuff. It seems to act like HHG, except that it does not gel at room temperature. Once it is dry it has quite similar properties. I have heard from one or two makers who have done more rigorous comparisons, and they say that it does not suffer from a notable suceptibilty to high humidity or other problems.

The major advantage I can see with cold fish glue is that it has an incredibly long working time. My student had put his top bindings on, and wanted to try to do the back ones in the same session. We made up small glue block samples, clamped with spring clips, and tried to break one after about twenty minutes. The glue was still quite sticky, and it simply came apart. I clipped the two pieces back together and set them aside. Twenty minutes later we tried another sample, and got good wood shear, so we took the 'rubber rope' off and did the back bindings. The very ends of the top bindings started to comwe up, but a little more glue in the openings and lots of pressure on the rope fixed that.

The next day I took the previously opened and re-clamped sample, set one part in the vice, and hit it with a hammer. I got 100% wood shear. It seems as though you could spread the glue, go off and make a sandwich, come back and clamp it.

THe down side of this is that it has at least as long a clamp time as HHG, and maybe longer. I suspect it would not 'self clamp' as well in something like a rub joint, or when building rosette tiles. Still, for what it is it's an intersting addition to the arsenal.
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