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Building Scroll Basses
The Neck...Page 1

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I spend about 30 hours building each Scroll Bass neck, not including the finish. About 12 hours of that is in hand carving and shaping the headstock. There are very few flat surfaces on this neck. To get the right look, everything curves and blends into each other. As you'll see below, I use routers in specialized fixtures to establish some major surfaces and the basic round rings of the scrolls. After that, all of the curved areas are hand carved and smoothed with files and scrapers. There are no CNC machines used here.

Here's where it all starts...I cut strips of "hard rock" maple in matched sets from the same board, carefully orienting the grain. The strips are labeled and grouped, and stored for at least a year in this cabinet. This is important. As the strips dry out, they may bend or twist. I want them to settle into a relaxed state.

This fixture is used with a router to face the surfaces of the strips that will be glued. The strips are allowed to float in the vertical plane in this fixture, so that any bending that happened during the drying time will be machined out. It's very important that the strips are relaxed and naturally flat as they are glued together.

Here's the glued up neck blank. Next to it on the bench is the master template.

After some layout and drilling of reference holes, the neck blank gets routed for the truss rod. This fixture cuts the curved channel that the truss rod fits into. Note the curved side rails of the fixture, which the router base rides in.

Here are two neck blanks, routed and machined in preparation for installation of the truss rods.

Here's how the strips of maple go together into the neck. The center strip is vertical grain (quartersawn), with very tight grain. The outer strips are cut with the grain at about 45 degrees, and they are arranged to be at opposing angles. Because they are cut from the same board and arranged this way, hopefully any future movement of the wood will be balanced side to side.

Here two sets of strips are being glued up into Scroll Bass neck blanks. I use Smith's Oak & Teak Epoxy for this and all other structural joints. It's the best glue that I know of for difficult hardwoods.

The neck blank goes back into the surfacing fixture, and the top and back surfaces are routed flat.

This fixture is used to drill the hole for adjustment of the truss rod. The long shaft has a drill bit at the end, and it spins in the brass bearing blocks to hold it at the correct position and angle.

Here are the truss rod components that go into the neck; the truss rod, the double acting head assembly, the maple filler strip, and two strands of carbon fiber thread. The brass mandrel temporarily plugs the truss rod hole during the epoxy casting.

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