BUILDER PROFILE > HERITAGE GUITAR
In addition to setting the frets more
quickly, the fret press does a much better job
of leveling the frets, Lamb explains. “It’s very
difficult to press frets in one at a time and
get them fairly level. If they are not level,
when you go to do your fret filing, you have
to take more off of one than another to get
them level.” After the fretboard has been
fretted, binding is applied and the fretboard
is ready to be attached to a neck.
Rather than using computer numerical
control (CNC) or computer-aided manu-
facturing (CAM) programs to produce
necks, Lamb carves most of the necks
himself and then “rolls” each of them
individually, shaping the neck’s profile
on a belt sander. “All guitar players like
something a little different,” he says. “If
they specify what they want, we’ll get it to
that thickness and feel: cheeky, less cheeky,
Heritage creates three standard neck
constructions for their guitars: A five-piece
curly maple neck with a 25. 5"-scale ebony
fretboard and 20 bound frets; a one-piece
mahogany neck with a 24. 75"-scale rose-
wood fretboard and 22 bound frets; and a
one-piece mahogany neck with a 24. 75"-
scale rosewood fretboard and 20 unbound
frets. The five-piece maple neck is con-
structed with three pieces of curly maple
sandwiching two strips of mahogany. Inside
is the truss rod, which is seated and covered
with another strip of maple.
The neck center and angle are measured and
set. The tenon and mortise are covered in Titebond glue, the center and angle rechecked, and
clamped until dry.
Heritage guitars are bound, then the binding is se- cured with ropes until the homemade glue is set.
Arnold Hileski checks the neck pitch of a Heritage Kenny Burrell Groove Master.
Custom jazz guitar with spruce top, curly maple
back, rims, and neck, Heritage floating humbucker
pickup, and finger tailpiece, which eliminates feedback by varying the pressure on individual strings.
Freshly cut five-piece maple and mahogany necks.
“Why five pieces? That’s kind of an
artistic thing,” Deurloo says. “It’s traditional
but it also develops the feel. When you
introduce a glue line between two pieces of
wood, it introduces stability.”
Another notable feature of Heritage gui-
tars is the severe angle of the headstock. All
Heritage necks have a 17-degree headstock
pitch, which aims to enhance sustain by
increasing string tension at the nut. “We do
it the old way,” Lamb says. “We take a block
of wood and get two necks out of it—the
bigger the angle, the wider the block has
to be.” Many other manufacturers cut the
necks with a smaller angle so they can use a
thinner piece of wood and increase the yield
from each block, he explains.
The necks are joined with a simple
mortise-and-tenon joint, which offers better
support for the fretboard than a dovetail,
Lamb says, because the tenon, or “male”
part of the joint, extends further into the
guitar body. “If you don’t get the proper fit
and angle, then nothing works. We don’t
seem to have a lot of problems with loose
neck joints. It works.”
Truss rods are inserted into “bendy straws” to
keep the glue off them, tapped into the neck
and covered with a strip of maple.
Binding and Hardware
Heritage guitars are bound with ABS
plastic. Craig “Curly” Spink (who has
been with Heritage for 11 years, but has
also worked as a carpenter and trained to
be an art teacher) first bevels the edge of
the binding so it lays closer to the guitar
body. Then he lays glue into the bevel and
secures the binding to the guitar body
with strapping tape.
132 PREMIER GUITAR JUNE 2012