Made of American cedar or mahogany, it is an essential element of the structure of a guitar. Its design is made according to the guitar-player’s requirements to satisfy specific needs and taste. The neck is reinforced with an ebony strip in order to avoid neck bends due to the strings tension, a common problem not always solved in the best possible way.The whole neck affects the sonority of the guitar. It is usually light and resistant, however if a more sustained sound is needed, a denser wood such as mahogany can be used, along with a thicker ebony fingerboard.
Parts of a guitar
Made of the same woods as the sides, it closes the soundbox and it may have two different functions depending on the design. When the soundbox is rigid, the back is used as a sound reflector; this is the case for most Classic (60’s) and Contemporary (XXI century) guitars. For lighter guitars, such as Traditional and Flamenco guitars with live backs it can perform as a sound diffuser. In this case the back should be tuned so that it vibrates out of phase with respect to the top.
Neck joint and heel
Integrated in a single piece, they join the neck, sides and top with the back. They are the so called “Spanish heel”. For Fleta’s model guitars the join between the neck and the soundbox can be made following the dovetail system.
Top, bars and struts
They are the “engine” of the guitar. Its thickness and configuration define the type of the vibration of the instrument and, therefore, its sound. After the first planning, the elasticity and soundness define the kind of guitars they are appropriate for.The woods commonly used for tops, bars and struts are German spruce, Engelmann, spruce, sitka or red cedar.The bars have a structural function, while the struts command the vibrations of the top. The struts are designed with different heights, thickness and widths pairing with the top properties. The same applies to its number and placement structure: fan, parallel, radial strutting and so on.
Nut and bone
They are the setting points of the strings. These two pieces constitute a critical point on the tuning and playability of the instrument. Its height can influence the quality of the sound, that’s why sometimes it is necessary to make some compensation on the nut slots to mitigate any problem on tuning.Moreover, the correct placement of the strings on the nut and bridge slots ensures an efficient transmission of the string vibrations to the guitar. One of the common problems is that the nut slots are not wide enough and makes it difficult to correct setback of the strings after they are stroked or pressed.Having said that, a correct string fitting on the nut slots is a critical aspect.
Made of ebony, the frets are inserted on it. It gives rigidity to the neck and it provides sonority to the whole guitar, a feature commonly assumed within the electric guitar world, but not so common within classic guitar-players.
The sides and the back conform the soundbox. The sides are usually 1.8-2.3 mm thick and they are reinforced to a greater or lesser extent. Both aspects, thickness and reinforcement, affect the type of sound we want to transmit. In modern design guitars they can be made double or with thick laminates which avoid losses of energy and get more top vibration area, preferably on lower vibration modes. The sides are made of the same woods as the back:, rosewood, padouk, mongoy, cocobolo, pau ferro, maple, walnut, sycamore, cypress and bubinga among others.
Nowadays there is a wide variety of qualities and types of mechanics. However, the holes in the head should be precisely aligned and should have the right sizes according to the installed machine head. On the contrary, the mechanical parts will soon wear away and cause a malfunction of the tuning machine. Therefore the change of a tuning machine should be done by an expert. Otherwise, even if the new tuning machine is of a better quality or more expensive than the old one, its performance may not be the best one.Moreover, as noted before, if the keyholes of the saddle are wrongly settled or are narrower than the width of the strings, the tuning machine will lose its effectiveness.