There is a rich, full, powerful sound that emanates from the handcrafted acoustic guitars of the 1930’s. Using chisels and sandpaper, craftsmen realized that every piece of wood made a difference as they are coupled together to become a musical instrument. Varying frequencies of the neck, fretboard, neck block, sides, backs and tops must all be combined together with one goal in mind, to craft the most beautiful sounding and feeling guitar possible. The compound tapered dovetail neck joint takes much more time and skill, but the results are profound. This is why Bedell Guitars only builds with the traditional dove tail joint where other brands have evolved to more simple, easier to produce methods to attach guitar necks to guitar bodies.
Most production guitars today are crafted with a bolt on neck where two screws secure the neck to the guitar body or a Mortise and Tenon bolt on where a female slot is carved in the body and a similar male protrusion is shaped on the neck – again two screws are used to secure them together. The advantage of both of the bolt on approaches is they can be machine produced requiring little handcraftsmanship. Furthermore, it is arguable that neck resets are more accommodating. The sacrifice can be sound and feel.
The benefits of a dovetail neck are that the joint is structurally strong, and helps vibration of your playing travel throughout the instrument - you can really feel your music in your hand. Which connects you to the instrument, strengthens your playing and improves the experience overall. Furthermore, there is more efficient sound energy transmission from the neck and fretboard into the guitar body giving the player can also experience a warmer tone and more fullness in sound.
The Dovetail Joint
While the dovetail joint is more complicated to execute, it is worth the time investment as it makes the guitar more structurally sound. A dovetail joint is where the tongue of the neck is glued into the groove of the guitar body, rather than bolted on. It’s a tighter joint, which allows for the vibrations to travel around the instrument from part to part. Some luthier’s think that with more contact area in the joint, the wood-on-wood connection allows for more transfer of energy than a bolt-on.
It’s the most traditional of neck joints in guitars, and it’s been around for a while. Some believe that stringed instrument luthiers began using dovetail joints as far back as the 1500s or earlier.
When it comes to choosing bolt on necks vs. dovetail necks, each has their own set of pros and cons. It depends on the player, and the luthier. If you’re looking for a new acoustic guitar, it’s best to try many different models of guitars. Each has something unique about it, that might just spark your interest.
It’s important to play both styles as you might prefer the sound or connection that one offers, over the other. Many different musicians have their preferences on which joint they prefer. Once you’ve decided what type of neck joint you want, there are many other decisions to be made when it comes to the perfect guitar for you. At Bedell guitars we’re always looking for ways to enhance the art of playing the guitar. Learn more about our guitars at bedellguitars.com today.