admin: First posted on 2007 10 29
Some time ago I wrote about ordering a new strat neck from Warmoth Direct. I ordered a maple-rosewood neck, with boat contour, brass/nickel medium jumbo frets, compound radius, corian nut, a truss rod, no binding, clear gloss finish, etc. The neck arrived promptly, looked just as I ordered, and felt as I expected. The rosewood looked a bit cracked, but maybe that is just the way it was supposed to be. There was one problem with the neck though: the keys were not mounted on.
This is the first time I custom order a neck and, frankly, it did not even occur to me to ask Warmoth to put the keys on. Warmoth were nice enough to ask me about what keys I would put and what size holes they should drill. I wanted to use my original strat keys, but I had no idea what size those are, so I opted for 9 mm holes (the original ones turned out to be 10 mm). As I was not sure, I ordered 9 mm keys to go with the 9 mm holes. After ten weeks the neck and the keys from Warmoth arrived, but separately.
The new keys required screws, which I had. The problem was that there were no leading holes for the screws. Putting a 1-2 mm screw into the finished maple is impossible – you risk breaking the screw into the wood (which I did; I have zero patience) or worse, cracking the wood. Moreover, drilling a 1 mm hole into the finished maple is impossible too, especially with a handheld drill. I was afraid that the drill would run on the hard wood or that the wood would split. Not to mention that it is difficult to control the drill when going from the finish to the wood underneath.
First, I have no idea why anyone would make keys with wood screws. The keys I use now have a nut and a bolt. Second, I am in the middle of the desert (only temporarily – someone carried the neck in a suitcase here). Good woodworkers in the desert do not really exist as there is little wood here. Third, I really should have asked Warmoth to put the keys in.
I opted for the keys from the original strat neck, which stay on with simple nuts and bolts. I took these keys to try them on the new neck and ran into two issues: 1) the holes were obviously smaller (9 mm instead of 10 mm); and 2) the keys had two pins each to prevent them from rotating. I was back to square one, having to drill holes with a manual drill into the wood to either expand the key holes or to make holes for the pins.
If I was smarter and more patient I would have probably filed each of the holes larger, but patience is not one of my virtues. Actually, if I was smarter I would have probably asked Warmoth to put the keys on themselves. At this point the neck I have is useless, unless I find a good woodworking shop.
Warmoth did a good job – the neck looks good and feels good at least. I am tempted to order the same neck from them again. This time though I will definitely ask them to put the keys in.