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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Richard in Manchester Tapering necks on string instruments (22) RE: Tapering necks on string instruments 05 Aug 07

Thanks McG of H. "Making a neck which is thin at the far end parallel all the way would mean it'd be liable to break at the point where it met the body of the instrument"
Why would a neck which is the same width along its full length be more liable to break than one which gets thinner? Why would it be more liable than a tapering neck to break (and "...with traditional materials"? Like erm, wood?) at the point where it meets the body?

"Keeping it fat all the way would feel clumsy to anyone used to playing with a tapered thin neck". OK, but at some point in the past, no-one had played with a tapered neck, so a parallel one wouldn't feel clumsy. It would feel normal. So why taper the neck?

Thanks RB. I know none of those instruments. I play the guitar, and I've dabbled with the mandolin in the past. String spacing doesn't answer the question; it doesn't explain why the neck on all instruments in the guitar/mandolin and violin families tapers toward the head. String spacing varies according to the instrument and the uses for which it has been designed. But every single one has a tapered neck. How come?

The mountain dulcimer, McG of H, is a very good point. Like a guitar or mandolin, you can strum it or pick it. You can tune it up to pitch with the same degree of accuracy as a guitar, mandolin or fiddle; you can vary the tuning of the strings just like you can on a guitar or mandolin. It has a fingerboard which, like the guitar, violin or mandolin, is neither too fat nor too thin for the majority of human beings who may wish to play it. But no taper. If the mountain dulcimer doesn't need a tapered neck, why do all those other instruments need tapered necks?

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