This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (April 2016)
Set-in neck (often shortened to set neck) is one of mainly three methods of guitar (or similar stringed instrument) construction that involves joining neck and body with a tightly fitted mortise-and-tenon or dovetail joint, secured with some sort of adhesive. It is a common belief that this yields a stronger body-to-neck connection than a bolt-on neck, though some luthiers believe a well-executed bolt-on neck joint is equally strong and provides similar neck-to-body contact. However, neither of these joints is as strong as a neck-through construction, which requires more material and is usually found only on high-end solid body guitars.
Set-in necks are the most popular on acoustic guitars. Almost all major acoustic guitar manufacturers (notable exceptions being Taylor Guitars, Godin Guitars, Collings Guitars) use set-in necks and have applied this method also to their electric guitars, for example Gibson. With hollow body set-in neck electric guitars of the 1940s being rather expensive to buy and repair, newcomer Fender in 1950 introduced electric guitars that were easier to manufacture, combining a simple solid body with a bolt-on neck. With a longer neck bolted to such a solid guitar body, Fender also introduced the electric bass guitar, and the Fender bass since has mostly replaced the much larger acoustic double bass.
In rare cases, makers use other solutions. Babicz Guitars makes a mechanically joined neck that can be "wound" up or down to adjust action height.
Wooden musical instrument construction relies on four widely used types of glues:
Typically cited advantages of set-in neck include:
- Warmer tone
- More sustain
- Often, better access to top frets compared bolt-on necks that use a square metal plate
- Because the increased surface area results in more transmission of strings vibration, set in necks can feel more "alive" than if bolted on.
- Certain models seem prone to neck breakage. Though this may be due to weaker neck wood (mahogany instead of maple), the greater difficulty in replacing a neck that is glued-in vs. one that is bolted on should be apparent.
- Harder and more expensive to mass manufacture than bolt-on necks—harder to repair or service because the glue must be steamed or melted with a hot knife
- The player has no control over the neck-to-body angle; changing it requires disassembling the instrument and re-glueing the neck by an experienced luthier.
- Glue comparison chart on frets.com