I am finally getting around to building some acoustics that have been on my mind for decades. I love working with wood, have done so all my adult life, and truly appreciate machining fine joints as much as the next gal.

So, it is not a lack of skill that is making me consider an alternative an alternative to the dovetail neck joint. The fact that a loved and played acoustic will eventually need a neck reset is making me challenge the prejudice I instinctively carry for anything but the time honored dovetail. ( By comparison... I am not willing to use anything but hide glue for most assembly, it was the great hide glue explain on that got me to this forum, thanks )

So, here is my question...Is there much in the way of experimenting/ experience / consensus among fine hand builders regarding alternatives to traditional dovetail joints ( for the purpose of disassembly, not ease of construction !! ) that do not compromise sound at all ?

I am sure there is prejudice against bolt on's from buyers in the marketplace ...but I am not concerned about that as I am not trying to sell my work.

Thanks in advance for any input.

Tags: bolt, building, neck, on

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Hi Valerie , Some of the best guitar makers use bolts Taylor are very popular (1/3 of the market I'm told) , and the Spanish tradition is to have the neck/block all one piece , and this works fine on steel strings too , some say it improves the sound.I think the hoo doo is coming undone over bolts. Len
i hope you come up with something new and share it with us
I have resisted the temptation to try and reinvent the wheel when I build, and I am a happier person for it - Taylor and others use bolt-ons and I just love them from a repair and maintenance standpoint - I also like the way they play and sound but that's due to a whole bunch of things I guess. I can replace a Taylor neck and set it up in 20 minutes - that's what I like. My two bobs worth. Rusty.
I like the Taylor neck joint a lot. The shims are available so it might be a nice system for others to adopt but I understand that the pockets are all done on a CNC milling machine so the tolerances are very tight. It might be a bit hard to reproduce in a smaller operation.

I use a Stauffer style bolt on with a floating fingerboard.
Resetting the neck angle takes me a total of 10 seconds without tools or removing the strings
I'm building bolt on mandolas(flat)w/ no problems or lack of quality tone w/ease of disassembly to work on action frets,whatever! I like 'em.
Valerie Just for your Interest I have been building bolt on necks since 1991 I use a 3\4" by 3\4" joint with a threaded insert 1\4\20 thread & a bolt you buy at Home Dep with a Allen head you can get them in different legths and I can't see any difference in sound .Best of all you can reset a neck in no time at all just like Russell has said.P.S. don't be afraid to try some thing different thats what its all about.Good luck Bill."""""""
As many others have responded, Taylor's bolt on neck is famous -- Mr. Ford has a great article on it at I notice that the Taylor neck is precise (crafted using CNC machines), whereas many others are using mortise and tenon joints with bolts (including low end Martins, Collings, and others). I think most luthiers and players have grown to accept bolt-on necks in modern guitars. As noted, most of the bolt-on necks use a threaded insert in the tenon (you can buy the threaded inserts at any hardware store, or at LMI if you want). Many people like to use belleville washers on the bolt in lieu of a lock washer. Mr. Cumpiano describes an interesting alternative to the threaded insert -- the barrel nut (

It will be interesting to see if your extensive woodworking background provides us with another great alternative.
Here are a couple of clarifications to my note.

The Martin "bolt-on" mortise and tenon neck does have a bolt, but it is only used to hold the neck in place while the neck is being glued into place (this is explained in the August 1996 Martin Soundboard, page 4). Martin says that once the glue dries, you could remove the bolt if you wanted to do so. So this neck is a glued mortise and tenon.

As I understand it, part of the justification for a bolt-on neck is that it will be easier to remove than a (glued) dovetail neck. However, in the mortise & tenon neck (as opposed to the Taylor neck), something has to hold the fretboard tight to the soundboard/top. The instructions for the StewMac kit direct you to glue the fretboard to the top when using a bolt-on neck, but it also says not to put any glue in the joint area. It is my impression that this technique is widely used with mortise & tenon bolt-on necks.

Finally, I have tried the barrel nuts: rather than use the KD connector bolt (clunky) I use the same kind of bolt and washer that is normally used with a threaded insert (see the bolt-on neck insert product at LMI) -- 1/4-20 allen head bolts and belleville washers. I have had good results with this, including being able to remove the neck without too much effort (remove the bolts, then heat the glue under the fretboard until the neck comes loose). And as Tim remarks, it looks just like a threaded insert bolt-on neck.
Hi Valerie, Here is a different approach to the bolt on neck that I use all the time--
Take and put a 5/16 hole in the heel of the neck about 3/4 of the way down from the bottom of the fret board and then-
put a 5/16 NC threaded rod stock (the proper length) in the hole.
Then turn the neck over so the flat surface where the fret board is to be attached and drill another hole 1/8" thru the bolt and the 3/4 X 3/4 tenon that you made to attach the neck to the neck block , and put a 1/8"piece of steel in that hole and thru the 5/16 rod stock and it will never come loose. Use a 5/16 conical washer and a 5/16 locking nut inside the box and walla
you are done------- Hope I splained all of this so ya can understand--
I'm having a hard time visualizing this, Donald. Got any pictures?

I tried the barrel bolt method on a failed mando.It works fine so far but it's not as neat as the brass insert that I put on my masterful mandola.I use the black hex bolt which presents a much cleaner look inside.No tenon w/a
contoured neck end to body.3-4degree neg.Pulls right up tight as any.


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