|The 1500G neck modification
is Ed Roman's secret recipe for unfinished necks. Originally conceived by Alec Steidl, Barry Lipman & Ed Roman the 1500G takes it's name from 1500 grit sandpaper. This process has been fine tuned by a number of Luthiers for over
In the early early days of G&L Guitars, before the corporate
moguls bought it from Leo Fender, there used to be an option available called a
"Gunstock Finish" this finish was very expensive. I recall it was almost
$300.00 (someone please correct me if
wrong) I am positive it was more than $200.00. I
remember ordering it on a guitar just to see what it was.
(Remember these are 1980's
In my opinion, it was a good attempt by a large company, to
try and capture the handmade feel of an unfinished neck on an $800.00 list price,
production made guitar. The idea failed, because no one could afford that
expensive of an option on a cheaper guitar. I failed to understand exactly why
it was so expensive. One theory about the high price makes sense. That the
company was figuring in the cost of a replacement neck, if that neck were
to warp or have serious problems due to it's lack of finish.
Fender & PRS are, by far, the greater amount of guitars
to which we
do this process. In fact the finish on a Fender guitar is so unbelievably
thick that removing the finish makes the neck a full 30 mills thinner. Removing
the finish in the neck cavity also makes the guitar sound considerably better.
(See Direct Coupling) We have done this
to many Rickenbackers see
Van Campen Mod.
There has been little success with imported and cheaper
brands like Music Yo' s Kramers & Steinbergers, Epiphones etc Simply
because the quality of the maple is inferior. On the inferior grade woods the
grain refuses to smooth out when we apply the process. I remember doing a Gibson
Zakk Wylde model over & over. We just couldn't get the grain to lay flat. This problem,
of course, greatly affected the playability and general feel of the guitar.
Finally, we had to make a replacement neck out of some higher quality eastern hard rock maple.
At this time PRS is still using exceptionally high quality
maple. We get the most success out of doing the PRS guitars. Usually the 1500G
is installed when we are doing a heel reduction job. The
Pearlcaster guitars come with this at no extra cost.
OK, The Process Itself....
Simply it's a controlled oil treatment of the raw wood. We
sometimes actually reshape the neck to the customers particular specs at the
As I stated above this modification has
been developed over 30 years by a large number of luthiers, techs and players
alike. I feel obliged to listing them. The original Alec, Barry & Ed mod has
been refined, and re-refined at least 30 times. Martin Ortiz, Ron Blake, Jim Van Campen,
Ethan Bunce, AJ Heady, Brent Lynch, Danny Joe Carter & Dave Raiford to name some of the
techie propeller heads that have experimented with this project. There has
been disagreements aplenty about technique, application and temperatures of hot
oils, Types of sandpapers even brands of sandpaper. Over 30 different oils and
blends of oils have been tried till we got the current finish that everyone has
been able to agree upon.
Wood when left untreated will always have problems.
look at many of the unfinished Ibanez necks for example; Large manufacturers
don't want warranty problems so they will clear coat the neck repeatedly. This
clear coat impedes speed and hinders sound tremendously. Some of the companies
are tinting the clear a little so it will look vintage.
In any case that thick poly coating clogs the wood pores
and detracts tremendously from tonal quality. Especially when it gets in neck
Neck cavities need to be super tight fitting, nothing should prevent
wood from coming into direct contact with wood. (I am not a fan of glued
in set necks) I never understood why companies charged more for them. Glue
is a tone freak's worst enemy.
BTW Gibson guitars have always been
glued in set necks. (Except for "The Firebird " model
which is a neck through.) This is one of the main
reasons why Ed Roman is just not a Gibson fan. Of course the
constant neck breakage and
coupled with the company's snotty attitude didn't help much either!!!
Must See This Comparison !!!
Read The Page
Sometimes I'll be walking through the shop, and I hear all
kinds of little arguments as to which is the best way to make the application,
treat the wood, and what are the best materials etc etc. Someone is always
proudly bringing me a neck and telling me about their latest innovation and
improvement. Just when I think it's impossible to get it any better,
someone will surprise me.
I truly believe, that a large part of the success of the
is due to the fact that
1500G neck mod is included. When someone picks it up they can't put it
Dec 03 2002