As often, the initial reason for embarking on this project was my own Yanagisawa neck and the fact that it was loose. I could not tighten it and that playing a loose neck was creating all kinds of problems. Talking to other Yana bari players I realized that the necks were considered the reason for flat high notes.
I wanted to make a better neck for my Yanagisawa.
I wanted an accurate parametric neck design with rigidity. I Made the first one of aluminum, which is neutral and has been largely used for instruments from when it first became available to instrument builders. My first aluminum necks were even flatter than the original, but I was able to make the joint fit very snug. There was a clear improvement in intonation and performance in lower notes. At least big band bari players would appreciate both features.
However, the form required improvements to play better in tune.
Trials with plastic necks
I’m told that it is possible to calculate the perfect shape of a wind instrument. That may be. My experience is that the best results are achieved through lots of prototypes – trial and error. Experimenting with aluminum is way to expensive. So I had to learn to make plastic protos. The shape, dimensions and tuning needs to be set correct.
These necks play surprisingly good.
Trials with composite necks
Once I got the shape correct and the neck in tune with the baritone, it was time to experiment with know good acoustic materials. Composite materials required developing a totally new skill set and a lot of time. I made a lot of scrap from glass fiber and carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber composite neck
I tried several different techniques and finally the results started to be promising. The composite necks play much better than the original, even better than the aluminum and plastic ones. The intonation is great.
Composite neck challenges
Best performing necks are made of just one piece, think walled with controlled inner and outer surfaces. These features are are a challenge for available manufacturing technologies. After spending a couple of years practicing, we are getting there.
Composite Bari neck for Yanagisawa
This is the first prototype, and it’s performing great.
Here’s a video of the composite baritone neck for a Selmer MK6 in action