Where the fourteenth fret falls - a first timer asks the community for input...

I'm building my first steel string, a small body cutaway, and I've arrived at an unresolved issue: I've cut my fret slots for a short scale. The fourteenth fret is falling 1/4" shy of the guitar body. I'm attaching 2 pics to illustrate. Is this detail merely a convention or is there a compelling reason to insist the neck meet the body under the 14th fret? Is there any other unforeseen problem I'm missing if I proceed without shortening the neck at the heel 1/4". I've checked that the bridge will still sit fully over the bridge plate. I'm using the bolt on method, no tenon. The inserts are placed and the joint was difficult to get perfect because the body-side is not quite flat at the joint. I don't want to have to refit that, and it would reduce the heel to 11/16" at it's bottom, assuming I can set the inserts in another 1/4". I fear it would weaken the heel too much to drive the inserts in further and reduce the heel thickness.

Tags: Neck, fingerboard, scale

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Hi Mark- I hear what you are saying about the 14th fret not meeting the body exactly at the 14th fret--
I have somewhat the same thing going with a classical guitar that I am making.. and the way I see it --
it depends on the scale length to deturmin where that 14th fret will fall.. ie.. if the scale length was 25-1/2 insted of
24.625 for instance then the 14th fret on the same neck will end up in a different place.. hope this helps--
NOTE--- make sure that your bridge goes in the rite place to meet your scale length---
Exactly my thinking, Donald. Back in gestation phase I was wondering how all this would work out, lacking specifics re: neck length and a custom short scale, but I forged ahead trusting the process to educate me and so it has. Fortunately, the 14th fret juncture appears to be merely a convention, and my bridge will fall 1/8" within the margin of the bridge plate, so I'm happy enough to proceed. In an ideal world I'd like to have my bridge further down into the lower bout, where I imagine it would cause a more even response from the top, like a pebble dropped into the middle of a pool instead of closer to the edge,
Are you making a classical guitar that meets the body at the 14th?
So it sounds like you also positioned the soundhole and the X bracing where it would go for a longer scale. Is that correct?

Shorter. : ) Serendipitously. At least if 5/8" makes that much difference regarding soundhole placement and x-bracing. For me, all that was strictly winging it, but before I placed the bridge plate I made sure it would accomodate my short scale. It was the first piece of top bracing I placed, so the x-bracing followed on that. The soundhole was kind of a guesstimate too, based on looks and "averaging" the pictures I was referencing. Not very helpful, huh?
It sounds as if you're going to get there just fine. You anticipated the short scale in the placement of the bracing and the bridge plate so the top is going to be mechanically sound. The only impact of a strange soundhole placement is that you might have more or fewer frets than normal between the 14th and the end of the fingerboard but, as with the 14th fret placement, who cares, right?

Have fun and keep us posted.

Thanks for that, Bob; yep, your right about the extra fret b/w #14 & sound hole. I blogged elsewhere on this site about the booboo I made on the fretboard, cutting the slots w/out making sure the edge was straight. Fortunately I caught it before proceeding beyond the slot cutting. My new ebony arrives tomorrow and then I can get back on track. For updates, check my blog posts occasionally.

As lots of people have already advised, you don't always need to have the 14th fret at the neck/body join (I have just finished a 13-fret L-00), but it does look a bit unusual to have the join fall between frets. Have you cut the upper end of the fingerboard for the nut yet? If not, a good solution for your problem is a zero fret. You would move the fingerboard down to have the 14th fret at the neck/body join, insert a zero fret where you were planning to have the nut, and put the nut a bit higher up the neck. Google "zero fret" if you are not sure what I mean. It is popular with European guitar builders and has some advantages for setup and acoustic properties also.
cheers Mark
This is an intriguing idea, Mark. I just rc'vd my new ebony blank from LMI to have a 2nd go at the fingerboard. I used to have an old Harptone dreadnaught with a zero fret. Thanks for a great suggestion, I may take you up on that.

Looks is very imported but the other thing that is more so is the placement of the bridge saddle!

The first guitar I made after making violins I took to the local guitar store and showed him and he tried to tune it and he got out his ruler and measured the placement of the saddle and he told me that I had it in the wrong place and my wise answered was what is wrong, it looks good to me and he said that there is a place for the saddle and I made it wrong. I have been learning ever since. The mistake was in 1963!!


Morning Ron.

Please check the dates on the threads you are reading. This one is 5 years old. I don't have a problem with the idea that anyone would go back and read these old threads but I would appreciate it if you could refrain from posting comments on them. The information in these is good but adding a comment to an old thread forces it to the top of the stack where everyone else must deal with something that hasn't been "live" for years.

I just read almost of the first page of this thread before I realized that it was 5 years old and, pretty much, dead. Please check the dates and Please withhold your comments on these old threads.


I support Ned's comment.

Sorry Ned   I don't mean to take up everyone's time.  I have every one of the old frets magazines and all the Guild of Luther's  and there red book and many more mags and books from the first Years I started building and I learn things over and over again.  Did you remember what the thread talked about when you read it or just that it was a old one.  I am 79 years old and and started building violins when I was 15  years old and I learn every day.

Sorry to take others time.  I have a delute button that I just delete what I don't want to read.

Robro ron


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