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Letter: John Calkin Article in AL#99 on Spanish Neck Style

Letter: John Calkin Article in AL#99 on Spanish Neck Style

by David Freeman

Originally published in American Lutherie #102, 2010

Hello Tim —

After reading John Calkin’s article in AL#99, I would like to add to the discussion of neck rake.

It is true that building in the Spanish integral-neck style allows everything to be attached flat. The top is held flat, more to get the sides on at 90° than to get the neck rake proper. As soon as the body is off the form, the top rises in a curve, depending on the bracing style and relative humidity. These deviations will affect final neck set.

The full-size side-view drawing John discusses is a valuable exercise to determine angles to aim for in neck rake. The variable of top arch is the most difficult to determine. In the Spanish style, I will allow 1/16"–1/8" for top arch. This varies with top graduation and brace straightness or taper on the glue edge. Both will add to top arch. I also keep my relative humidity between 40%–50% when assembling the body. I try to dry the top to 25%–30% humidity when I am bracing them. This allows the top to swell considerably and have a lot of shrink before it cracks in dry conditions.

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